Conservatives who had backed Howell’s opponent, Susan Stimpson, are rightly disappointed in her loss. But let’s get some perspective here. Howell outraised her 10-to-1, and had a veritable army of paid door knockers, lobbyists, and legislative aides doing a textbook job of individual voter contact, along with all of the financial resources one could need in order to target the right doors to knock, and which mail piece to send to which door, and so forth. Objectively speaking, the odds were always very long.
But even though we don’t have an X in the Win column, not all was lost. Susan courageously took on the state’s most powerful politician and gave him a run for his money. Although not a total victory, Susan’s performance has the salutary effect of telling all other Republican elected officials “Stray from the GOP Creed at your peril.” Primaries against incumbents are about holding elected officials accountable for their actions. All of the legislators without Howell’s resources (in other words, the rest of them) have gotten the message loud and clear.
The other message that should come through loud and clear is that party unity starts with party leaders adhering to our shared principles.
I disagreed with the Speaker on a few very important things. But now it’s time for all of us to unify behind our nominees until the next time. That’s the deal. We face off internally in the nomination contest, then we get behind the Republican candidate even if he/she is not our guy. Rinse and repeat next year. That’s the only way a political party can function. We don’t get to simply walk away when the nominee wasn’t our favorite, and we don’t get to justify such actions by pointing to the likes of Bill Bolling. The “they started it” defense doesn’t cut it.
I congratulate the Speaker, and am looking forward to backing him and all of our nominees this fall. And I congratulate #TeamHowell for all their efforts and hard work. In particular I’d like to tip the hat to Matt Moran, who did a fantastic job dealing with the press and the blogs on Bill’s behalf. From where I sit, Matt is truly an asset to the Speaker and the caucus.
Now, let’s keep our Senate majority, and turn our focus to registering and engaging new voters to push us over the top in 2016.