The 'architect' has good advice for Democrats

Before the next election, Democrats in Maine and Washington, D.C., could do worse than take a page from an oil-burner repairman from Farmington.

Charlie Webster may know his way around a furnace, but he is also being praised as "the architect" behind the sweeping Republican Party in Maine last month.

On Nov. 2, Republican candidates wrested control of state government — the governorship and State House — from Democratic control.

Webster revealed some of the not-so-complicated tactics that guided the Republicans' Election Day victory.

While Republicans got a big assist from a prolonged national recession, high unemployment and voter disappointment, they also had a practical game plan that worked.

1. Connect with the concerns of Maine's wage-earning electorate. Webster and fellow Republicans tapped into blue-collar worries about the state's business climate and job losses.

2. Have a clear, easy-to-understand message. Webster said he distilled the GOP message into a dozen talking points.

3. Recruit candidates who fit their districts and mirror local voters. "We recruited teachers, nurses, truck drivers, lobstermen," Webster told the Sun Journal.

The Republican candidates tapped in southern Maine were generally less conservative than candidates in northern Maine.

That's called practical politics, and it wins elections, although it runs counter to the no-compromise dogma of the tea party wing of the GOP.

"(We) don't want to introduce or propose anything too earth-shattering," Webster told the Sun Journal, which doesn't sound much like the Republican Party platform adopted in May, which calls for adopting "Austrian economics" and "rejecting the Law of the Sea Treaty."

Not exactly mainstream concerns.

One key behind the Republican victory in Maine was setting priorities that reflected real concerns and then sticking with them.

This simple idea still seems to elude Democrats in Washington.

Despite the now infamous "shellacking" last month, congressional Democrats have pushed repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and getting the immigration "DREAM Act" onto the agenda for the lame-duck session.

Important issues, to be sure, but if Americans said anything in last month's election, it was that the economy and unemployment are the top priorities.

Charlie Webster points out that he spent his first term in the Maine Legislature as a Democrat, but soon concluded that Democrats no longer represented the best interests of working people.

We will find out in two years whether Democrats can recapture the confidence of those ordinary Mainers.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

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 's picture

And there's more

What the GOP did that paid the biggest dividends was to play off the fears of Maine's populace by continuing to toss out the rumors and urban legend that fuels the anger of people here that fear change most of all.
The most memorable for me is Gov elect LePage and his campaign promises about welfare. Remember the promise to cut them off and give them a bus ticket back to Mass? It turns out there really is no flood of hordes of people from away coming to collect our welfare $$.
He spoke of how outrageously high our electric bills are, but compare them to neighboring states, they are actually quite low. Check this info from the US Energy Information Administration, all sector rates in august 2010, we had the lowest per kilowatt rate in all of New England.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html
And then theres the tax issue, just by continuing to toss out those old incorrect ourdated figures that at one time claimed we had the highest taxes in the nation, he fueled continuing fears that our money flew out of our wallets faster every day.
Wake the hell up Maine!

 's picture

yup

You said it better than I could! It will take a few years, but I hope we as a state learn a valuable lesson.

GARY SAVARD's picture

The democratic party has

The democratic party has firmly established itself as the party of the people that feel entitlements and special treatment are a constitutional right. The party mantra seems to be that, whether you choose to be a self-sufficient, productive member of society or to live off the public dole, you shouldn't have to put up with a different standard of living. That buys them a lot of votes, but this time around, for many of them, not enough.

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