Battered and broken elephant lumbers towards St. Paul

The chairman of the Michigan Republican party, Saul Anuzis, in an article over at Politico, has this to say of the state of the GOP in 2008: “After twelve years of being in power, you tend to get fat and lazy, and in some cases arrogant with respect to your positions ... If you go back to 2006 most people would agree that not only did we lose our brand, that we damaged our brand significantly. We are clearly rebuilding.”

Politico documents the "dire straits" of state GOP parties. Here are some highlights:

  • CALIFORNIA: "According to figures compiled by the California secretary of state’s office, the number of registered Republicans there has dropped by roughly 207,000 since October 2006."

  • NEW YORK: "A January 2008 state Board of Elections report shows the state Democratic party took in $491,302 and had closing balance of $1.4 million. Republicans, by contrast, took in $26,000 and had a closing balance of $395,000."

  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: "the state GOP has been driven by a dispute between moderates and conservatives, the state Democratic party took in four times as much money as its Republican counterpart in 2007. At the end of the most recent reporting period in February, the state GOP reported just $64,000 cash on hand to the Democrats’ $159,000."

  • ARKANSAS: "In Arkansas, where Republicans lost the governorship in 2006 and are outnumbered in the state House and Senate by 3-1 margins, state GOP Chairman Dennis Milligan said he is facing defections and malaise."

    Perhaps the best (though surely not the most dramatic) indicator of a party tangled up in a mess of identity crises and low morale was this nugget, about a a meeting of Republican state chairs held in Vegas in early March:

    ...roughly a dozen Republican state chairmen met in Las Vegas --the first gathering of its kind in recent memory, according to one of the chairmen who attended.

    Formally, the purpose was to exchange ideas on “improving each state party’s performance,” said Sean McCaffrey, the executive director of the Arizona Republican party. But there was widespread concern expressed over the direction of the party as a whole.

    Even that effort to strengthen the individual state parties fell short of the mark. With the exception of Florida, no Southern chairmen were in attendance. Many, it seems, were uncomfortable with the symbolism of meeting inside a Las Vegas hotel the same weekend as Palm Sunday.

    “That’s a real problem with the Republican party that they went to a casino on Palm Sunday,” said one GOP state party chairman, who refused to come due to the timing.

    “Here we are the values party,” the chairman added. “You’ve got to walk the walk here. If you don’t, you’re going to lose. You can’t disaffect your base.”

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