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It’s the Primaries, Stupid: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

CHQ Chairman Richard A Viguerie

In response to my recent column, “It’s the Primaries, Stupid: Have You Filed For Office Yet?” some CHQ readers have (quite fairly) asked the question, “How do I know if my elected official is a RINO who deserves a Primary challenge?”

My answer is one shared by the First Lady of the Conservative Movement Phyllis Schlafly: Today, all incumbent Republican Members of Congress are ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ by their actions and votes.

What this means is that even though your Congressman, your State Representative, your County Clerk, your local School Board Member, Fire Control District Commissioner or City Councilman talks like a conservative you must honestly and diligently investigate whether they actually spent their past term governing like a conservative.

If they haven’t, they deserve a Primary challenge.

Doing your due diligence is especially important with regard to Congress, the Republican establishment has mastered the art of campaigning like conservatives and governing like John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell – they are more like con men than the principled defenders of constitutional liberty that the Founders envisioned their successors would be.

Fortunately, we conservatives have many resources to help us identify who on Capitol Hill is a real conservative and who is a con man.

Heritage Action for America, The American Conservative Union, Gun Owners of America, Conservative Review, The Club for Growth, The National Rifle Association, The Family Research Council, Americans for Prosperity and National Right to Life to name but a few all publish ratings of Congress and track votes on the conservative agenda and are worth using as a starting point for your research.

None of these are individually by themselves dispositive of which Member of Congress is a conservative and which one is a con man, and some of them may even be in conflict, but taken as a whole they offer a good starting point in your research as to whether or not your Representative in Congress is innocent of being a RINO.

I say they are a good starting point because none of them really measures the key element that separates the conservatives from the RINO con men – the willingness to rock the boat and stand on principle and vote against the establishment Republican leadership.

And determining whether or not your Congressman is a boat-rocker is absolutely vital, because a big part of the incumbent Republican congressional con is the use of “show votes” to cover the con.

“Show votes” are votes that are meaningless because the establishment leadership does not intend for them to go anywhere once taken, sometimes they are set-up so incumbents being challenged on the Right can vote against leadership, knowing that Democrats will provide the votes to pass the bills the leadership wants – the recent Omnibus was a classic example of a “show vote.”

The Omnibus gave Democrats everything they wanted, so of course they were going to vote for it, giving establishment Republicans who are facing challenges from the Right the opportunity to vote “NO” without actually producing a result that was contrary to what the RINO leadership really wanted.

The key vote, the vote that actually separated the “boat rockers” from the go-along-get-along crowd was the vote on the Rule to bring the Omnibus to the Floor, and only a handful of principled conservative Republicans actually opposed the Rule, whereas 95 House Republicans including several like incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2), who are facing stiff conservative primary challenges ended up voting against the bill.

But what do you do about your local offices that aren’t covered by the national conservative organization scorecards?

Some scorecards do cover state legislators and can be helpful, but for your local offices, like County Clerk and Commissioner, City Council and the various Boards, like School Board, Fire Control or Soil and Water Conservation Districts you are pretty much on your own, so here are a few foolproof tests.

Did your local elected official campaign on being a fiscal conservative and holding down taxes and spending and then take a taxpayer-funded trip to a resort destination, like Las Vegas?

If they did, they deserve a primary challenge.

Does your local elected official claim to be a conservative and then act like national issues, such as same-sex marriage, funding of Planned Parenthood, the Muslim invasion and the like have nothing to do with them?

If they do, and they are unwilling to use the power of their office to stand for constitutional liberty, then they deserve a primary challenge.

Of course, there are some incumbents and many good candidates already running who are limited government constitutional conservatives and share our values. Some like principled limited government constitutional conservative All-Star Representatives Dave Brat and Louie Gohmert, may be facing a Primary challenge from establishment Republicans, and so they need your help.

However, if you apply the “guilty until proven innocent” test to your elected officials you will discover that the vast majority of positions on the ballot this year do not have limited government constitutional conservatives running, and many will have incumbents who have not faced a contest in years.

And because they have become professional politicians, rather than public servants, they are going to have all of the establishment money and resources behind them – don’t let that intimidate you!

As I documented in my book TAKEOVER, ever since 2010 and the Tea Party Wave incumbent RINOs have been on the bubble.

In 2012 Tea Party-backed candidate Ted Cruz announced his campaign for Senate against the incumbent Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst. Cruz started the campaign at 2% as measured by a poll with a 3% margin of error, against a candidate whose support read like a Who’s Who of DC and Austin lobbyists and influence peddlers – and who was prepared to spend over $20 million of his own money to fund his campaign. 

As I explained in TAKEOVER, Ted Cruz won that election by assembling a vast grassroots army of limited government constitutional conservatives and campaigning relentlessly on the conservative agenda.

Dave Brat’s stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia was likewise accomplished through a grassroots “zen campaign” that turned Cantor’s overwhelming fundraising advantage among lobbyists and influence groups into an anchor around his neck that drowned him in a sea of voter outrage over his double-talk and betrayals of the conservative principles voters expected their Congressman to stand for.

So don’t be intimidated - if there was ever a year in which being an incumbent and having the support of lobbyists, insiders and political powerbrokers was a hindrance, not a help, this is that year.

And remember, you don’t have to run for Congress to make a difference. Running for any office, no matter how far down the ballot, is worthy of your efforts.

If constitutional conservatives are to govern America, we must not only elect a President and a Congress, but also County Clerks, City Council members, School Board members, state legislators, Secretaries of State, Lt. Governors, etc., etc.

Remember, the only time we conservatives are guaranteed to lose is when we don’t compete. 

Please read my other recent columns on the important of the 2016 Republican Primaries:

It’s the Primaries, Stupid: The Most Important Office On The Ballot

It’s the Primaries, Stupid: Have You Filed For Office Yet?

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