Union Leader: Mike Biundo: The NH GOP desperately needs an all-of-the-above strategy

December 12

Union Leader: Mike Biundo: The NH GOP desperately needs an all-of-the-above strategy

Call it a Republican wave election; call it a Republican tsunami; call it a day of reckoning for Democrats all across our country. However, if you are a New Hampshire Republican, you would be fooling yourself to call the 2014 election results anything more favorable than a mixed bag.

Listen up, my fellow Republicans. I want you to do something for me. No, do it for yourself. Repeat after me: “We live in a purple state; we live in a purple state; we live in a…” I know, I know, you get it. However, getting it and actually acting on it are two entirely different things. 

I truly believe that if the GOP is going to be successful in New Hampshire, we need to change course and immediately implement an “All-of-the-Above Victory Strategy.” That means we need to include all factions of our party in the rebuilding efforts, treat fellow Republicans with respect, and be willing to make some serious changes to our party’s structure to ensure we can build our grassroots and win elections.

First, I want to be clear, including all factions in the rebuilding of our party does not mean I am asking you to stop believing in the values you hold dear or to stop standing up against things you disagree with. The willingness to allow for a public discussion of the issues is something that sets us apart from the modern Democratic Party, which has become so homogenous that there are almost no competitive primaries or debates on the issues. However, I am suggesting that when you passionately advocate your viewpoints, you treat your fellow Republicans who might disagree with you with the same respect you would expect in return.

Former Gov. Hugh Gregg was one of the first people to mentor me in the political process. He did so with no agenda or expectation of payback. As a matter of fact, we were typically on opposite sides of many issue and candidate battles during primaries. However, I remember some advice he gave me that I still apply today. He said (and I’m slightly paraphrasing), “Always remember, just because you are working on opposite sides of an issue or campaign of someone today, doesn’t mean you won’t be fighting hand-in-hand with them tomorrow. Try to conduct yourself in a manner that reflects that reality.”

We can all use that advice. 

While treating each other with respect and allowing for Republicans of varying views to have a seat at the table is important, if we do not begin to make serious changes to our state party’s structure and grassroots investment, we will continue to lose.

The first major change must be to move the date of our state primary election. Only three other states in the nation have a state primary as late as ours. Legislation has already been filed, and it is time to come together and move the state primary from September to May or June. The late primary takes the healthy intra-Republican Party debate of ideas and extends it into the general election season. While candidates throughout the rest of the country have moved on to their respective general election opponents, New Hampshire candidates are still fighting against members of their own party.                                                                                                             

It is equally important that we begin paying the party chairman, or at the very least come up for a way to infuse some continuity into our party’s operation. Because the New Hampshire GOP’s chief official is a volunteer, New Hampshire Republicans have had absolutely no consistency, which has led to there being little institutional knowledge in the Concord office. Party chairmen come and go every two years. Each new chairman brings in a new set of staff. While we certainly have had some good executive directors and some good chairmen, their time with us is almost always minimal. If we do not figure out a way to infuse some long-term professionalism and consistency, we are going to continue to struggle.

Once we achieve the goals I outlined above, we can focus on the important task of building a deep grassroots network. We must train homegrown staff and cultivate a strong bench of potential candidates. We need to begin to build long-term relationships with existing donors and start bringing in new ones. By investing early and building up the party’s infrastructure, we would save significant amounts of money on the other end of a campaign cycle when saturation dollars on TV commercials are often wasted.

While it is a difficult pill to swallow, and even harder for me to say, our party in New Hampshire seems to be playing a short game that lasts from cycle to cycle while the Democrats are thinking many elections ahead. Their strategic planning allows them to see the whole field, build their grassroots, and implement a better operation to suit their goals. 

To be blunt, while we Republicans might offer better ideas, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is far more advanced with its consistent infrastructure and superior grassroots investments. The Republican ground game has gotten better over the years, and I give a lot of credit to the current team in Concord, but there is much more room for improvement.

Winning won’t be easy in a purple state, but it is very doable and is going to take the willingness to embrace an “All-of-the-Above Victory Strategy.” I truly believe the New Hampshire Republican Party has the ideas, talent and effort to be successful, but we must make structural changes to see the results at the ballot box.

Mike Biundo of Manchester, co-founder of RightOn Strategies, was national campaign manager for Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign. He is chief New England strategist for RANDPAC, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s political action committee.