If the 2018 mid-term election cannot be considered a Republican victory due to the loss of the House, the much-heralded “Blue Wave” at least dwindled to an average loss of seats in Congress’ lower chamber for the party in power’s first mid-term. We can take much comfort from Republican successes in the Senate and the rough equivalent of a trade-off in governorships, which was unexpected. The election certainly did not turn out to be a repudiation of President Trump, as Democrats had long hoped. Truth be told, the President’s near-superhuman efforts on the campaign trail in the months leading up to the election probably avoided an outright electoral defeat for Republicans.
Well deserved congratulations are due to our Congressmen and other successful Republican officials who were on the ballot in Louisiana! We are almost ready to move on the to the crucial 2019 state election cycle. I say “almost,” because we still have a run-off in the Secretary of State race on December 6th, and this race is my subject for today:
To be frank, the race has caused considerable angst among party leaders and activists for months. Contrary to what many voters may think about this office, it is not a purely ministerial, paper-shuffling position. It is the third ranking office in state government after the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer in the state. The Democrats know this and they have active and well-funded operations throughout the country to capture as many Secretary of State offices as they can. As a party which has openly disavowed the requirement of voter identification credentials at the polls, a Democrat in this office would be disastrous. A republic without confidence in the integrity of its elections is a doomed republic.
I was initially somewhat disturbed by the number of underfunded Republican candidates seeking an office for which it has historically been very difficult to raise money to fund an expensive, statewide campaign. But as the campaign wore on, I was absolutely shocked at the vitriol and mudslinging, most of which was directed by Republicans against Republicans!
Ideology and political differences are legitimate points of attack, as are every candidate’s competency and experience for the job at issue. Unfounded allegations of impropriety and insinuations of wrongdoing where there have been none, are beyond the bounds of legitimate political discourse. Unfortunately, just such unsupported and irresponsible attacks were made with some frequency during this election, primarily but not exclusively by one particular Republican against another.
The excessive number of Republican candidates, combined with the fratricidal attacks among our own candidates, came within sixty thousand votes of giving Louisiana voters a completely unrepresentative choice between two Democrats in the Dec. 8th run-off, for the third highest office in the state. This despite the fact that the Democrats combined vote total was barely over a third of the 1.45M votes cast!
Considering that Louisiana conservatives are living daily with the grim results of the 2015 gubernatorial election, one would think that the lessons had been learned- Republicans running against each other must be held to a higher political standard and required to stick to relevant issues and avoid mudslinging. They must also declare for office with the understanding that the party will expect a hearty and unreserved endorsement for the successful Republican candidate who makes the run-off, from all unsuccessful candidates who ran under the Republican banner.
Until that hallowed day when the return to closed primaries finally dawns in Louisiana, we as a party must also insist that potential Republican candidates carefully assess their chances of winning before declaring for any race. The LAGOP must discourage the thrill-seekers, the resume-builders, the delusional long-shot gamblers, and even otherwise legitimate candidates lacking the financial resources and ability to successfully compete for the intended office.
On these principles we as a party will either continue to prosper or begin to decline as we fritter away our resources and credibility in bitter internecine struggles based on egos instead of ideas. As the philosopher George Santayana warned us: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Louis Gurvich, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana