The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 23, 2013

GOP hears off-year pep talk

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — With no races this year, Republicans at the Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Days on Saturday talked about next year and the need for a strategy to take more state offices in 2016.

The auditor’s race is the only statewide office on the ballot in 2014. Republican incumbent Tom Schweich said he will run for another term. Schweich, as the keynote speaker for the night, spent less time talking about his race and more time talking about what the party needs to do to win the other statewide offices in 2016.

Other speakers, before a large crowd at the Butcher’s Block Banquet Center, were U.S. Rep. Billy Long; Tim Jones, speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives; and state Sens. Ron Richard and John Lamping.

Though the Mitt Romney ticket won by a large margin in Missouri in last year’s presidential race, the party lost five of the six state races.

“In 2016, we have to take back all those offices, and we need to do a better job to do that,” Schweich said.

He said Republican candidates and party leaders must get more in touch with grass-roots party members, and the party must be more welcoming and less factionalized. Republicans should not “sit in judgment” and should encourage others who want to get involved in the party, he said.

Democrats, as a party, are more united and Republicans should not be critical of others in the party if their beliefs are not exactly the same. He said some party members rail at others for being “establishment,” “Republican in name only” or “right-wing wackos.”

“That’s a code name for Christian conservative, which is at least 30 percent of the party and probably 70 percent of this room; God is a part of the Republican Party,” he said to applause from the crowd.

The description “tea party crazy” also should be left out of the GOP lexicon, he said, “because they’re the ones who brought the debt and deficit into focus.”

Schweich also said party leaders should do more to discourage primary races, saying $25 million was spent on GOP primaries last year.

“It we’d have had 10 percent of that for November, we’d have won more races. We can’t spend $25 million beating up on each other and then win elections.”

Long also touched briefly on Schweich’s theme. He said he believed Democrats worked harder than Republicans in the November election.

“We spent all our time saying Barack Obama was nothing but a community organizer. He organized his community and got out the vote,” he said.

The congressman criticized Obama’s foreign policy and his appointments of John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.

“Kerry gave his first speech the other day, and it was on global warming,” he said.

Long said he had been flooded with calls and other contacts from constituents concerned about Obama’s calls for federal gun controls. He said he did not think there is support in Congress for the restrictions.

“I’ve never had any more contacts on anything since I’ve been in Washington,” he said. “We need to keep our Second Amendment in place. People need to be able to protect themselves, because the police won’t always be close by.”

Majorities

Republican leaders noted the party did have victories to celebrate, including veto-proof Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate.