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2020 May Be The Best Year In A Decade For Conservatives To Run For Congress

Viguerie at desk
So far this year, 13 GOP House members and four senators are forgoing reelection next year without declaring their candidacy for another office. While conservatives will miss a few of the retirees, most of them are either RINOs or have been unreliable disappointments to us when the tough votes came to the floor.

The establishment news media has done its best to make this string of retirements look like a disaster for Republicans, but while it may be a disaster for the Republican establishment it is a once in a decade opportunity for conservatives.

Recall the wave of House Republican defeats and retirements in 2006 and 2008 that preceded the Tea Party wave election of 2010. Some of those losses hurt, but they also cleared out a lot of dead wood – establishment Republicans who decided they no longer wanted to serve once their six-year tenure as a committee chairman had passed and a number of others whose anti-conservative views were out of synch with the rising tide of constitutional conservatism espoused by the Tea Party.

Rather than bemoan the clearing of this dead wood conservatives should look back at history and recognize the opportunity the 2020 election offers.

As I noted in my book TAKEOVER, those of us who have been around the conservative movement for many years don’t root for Republicans to lose, but we understand history well enough not to fear defeat:

We recognized that the defeat of Republican senator Barry Goldwater in 1964, the resignation, in light of the Watergate scandal, of President Richard Nixon in 1974, and the defeat of President Gerald Ford in 1976, and in 1992 the defeat of George H. W. Bush, each swept away many of the older Republican leaders of the time.

[In 2006] As I saw things from the perspective of my then forty-plus years (now fifty-plus years) in conservative politics at the national level, when Republicans were defeated, it has invariably led to the growth of the conservative movement.

The resounding defeat suffered by Goldwater at the hands of President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 cleared a lot of dead wood out of the Republican Party, which made it easier for us to increase our influence on the GOP, utilizing new technology, more effective techniques, and fresh ideas.

Likewise, the Watergate scandal in 1974 eliminated more Republican officeholders who stood in the way of creating a more broad-based party. It dramatically weakened the Party establishment, making it much easier for Ronald Reagan to mount a nearly successful challenge, just two years later, to an incumbent Republican president. And the 1992 election of Bill Clinton led directly to the conservative “Contract with America” and the Republican takeover of Congress two years later.

Those defeats allowed younger leaders, like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Bob Walker, and other young conservatives, to rise to positions of leadership that normally would have taken them another twenty years.

Such is the case today with the Republican retirements going in to 2020.

While more than a dozen mostly #NeverTrump and squishy Republicans are leaving Congress the key players in the House Freedom Caucus are staying.

And while the Republican establishment’s designated candidate recruiter, Susan Brooks of Indiana’s Fifth Congressional District, is herself retiring, the House Freedom Caucus is busily recruiting constitutional conservatives to run for Congress.

Today conservatives are like the Biblical Jews who had to wander through the desert for 40 years until that generation of failed and flawed leaders had passed away. Conservatives and Republicans will never get to the political promised land until we get new leadership in Congress.

The Ryan and McCarthy leadership teams’ abysmal performance in advancing President Trump’s agenda and the disastrous results of their campaign strategy and fundraising discredited them with grassroots conservative voters to the point that any House Republican Conference that wished to regain the majority should have replaced every one of them with a principled limited government constitutional conservative, such as Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan or North Carolina’s Mark Meadows.

But that didn’t happen after the 2018 election, which means limited government constitutional conservatives must step up and put themselves forward to run for Congress, not only to advance the conservative agenda, but to replace each member of the existing House Republican leadership team, from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to Republican Whip Steve Scalise, to Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry and the rest of the leftovers from Paul Ryan’s disastrous tenure as Speaker.

As an abstract principle, it is usually better for conservatives when Republicans hold the majority in the House than it is when Democrats hold the majority in the House.

However, in the real world of what has gone on in Congress from the time Paul Ryan became Speaker until today, the difference between what might be expected from Democrats and what was produced by Republicans receded to the horizon as government grew, spending and the deficit increased, and the legislative goals of President Trump and the conservative coalition that elected him were ignored – and when the Republican establishment fails, as it most certainly has since the 2016 election, conservatism advances.

In 1992, Bill Clinton’s senior advisor James Carville famously and repeatedly said, “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.”

His purpose was to urge all Clinton supporters, especially the leadership, to focus like a laser on making the economy the central issue in the campaign.

To paraphrase Mr. Carville, I regularly say to limited government constitutional conservatives and Trump supporters, “IT’S THE PRIMARIES, STUPID.”

The filing deadlines in seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina will be here before you know it.

Filing in Texas, where five winnable seats in Congress are now open, begins Saturday, November 9, 2019 and closes Monday, December 9, 2019. Texas conservatives should also keep an ear to the ground for any last-minute retirements in the days before filing closes. This strategy is often used by the Republican establishment to finesse their candidate on to the ballot without giving conservatives a vote in a primary election.

Conservatives, if you, or someone you know, is interested in running for Congress, or any other political office, I urge you to recruit your team and file as soon as possible, the 2020 election is going to be a great year for conservatives.

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