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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Saul Anuzis Responds to Red State

An important excerpt:

1. Please state your qualifications for the job and why those qualifications make you the best choice.

We must be the party that offers hope to all of America. Too many, in our own Party, have lost touch with voters in places like my home state of Michigan, and the Great Lakes states. For a long time, we have written off entire regions like the northeast and the west coast. And now we are beginning to see our party lose ground in the south and the mountain states. It is time to look at the fundamentals and stop focusing only on the tactics. When we are true to our ideals, that message resonates in every corner of America.

It’s time that the Republican Party looked at America through a different set of eyes. I’m not part of the Republican establishment. I wasn’t born and raised a Republican. I joined the Republican Party in my teens because it was the party that reflected my values, hopes and dreams.

As the son of an immigrant who found the American dream in a car factory in Detroit, Michigan, I know that the American dream is still alive – in every coal miner, grocery store clerk, hotel maid, school teacher and yes, every auto worker – in every corner of this country. And you’ll never convince me that Republican ideas cannot win those Americans hearts and minds.

2. Please explain how you see the role of RNC Chairman.

When we have a Republican President in the White House it is critical that the RNC and the White House work hand in glove for two critical reasons:

First, no matter how great the RNC Chairman is, he/she will never have more of a pulpit than the Oval Office. The party is defined by the President and we must recognize that fact.

Second, the President is the strongest fundraising tool the RNC has. If the President is going to use his “brand” to raise money for the RNC he has a right to have some influence over where those funds are going.

When the President is not a Republican, the role of the Chairman is very different. The Chairman must now wear many hats. The Chairman must be:

A Strong Communicator – From Meet the Press to local cable access, it will be our party chairman’s job to take the party’s message to the nation. Whether it’s online, print, radio or TV media the Chairman must be confident and prepared to go toe-to-toe with the press. I have developed relationships with many national political reporters. I am passionate about our party, passionate about our values and have the experience and the ability to effectively communicate our message in any medium. I also view it as the duty of the Chairman to “shine a spotlight” on all our GOP leaders as we start our comeback. The party should not be represented by just one celebrity spokesperson. Instead, I will work to bring all of our Governors, Senators, Members of Congress and other Republican leaders to highlight their talents and look to them to carry our message to the American people.

An Effective Fundraiser – Fundraising is much more difficult without a Republican President. We must look to our chairman to be innovative, aggressive and energetic in communicating the merits of investing in our party. This person must feel as comfortable with party donors as they are with grassroots activists and they must instill confidence in donors at every level. When I became state chairman in Michigan, I didn’t know most of our donors personally. But I set out to create an environment of communication, to expand our donor pool and pursue activities that would energize the donor community. We created a party worthy of investment. I have built an infrastructure that has raised significant resources, using every available tool. And during my tenure as chairman, even though we had no Governor and no U.S. Senators to assist our efforts, we were one of the top state parties in the nation in terms of fundraising.

A Valued Partner to State Party Leaders – There is a tendency in Washington to think that all of the best ideas, best strategy and best minds – are in Washington. Out in the states, we know that isn’t true. We see our Governors as leaders, committed to conservative principles and dedicated to producing results. We have great talent in our state party offices. In some states, the leadership has been largely ignored because they aren’t seen as a “battleground.” In some states, the state leadership hasn’t been consulted, as the national campaigns have pursued strategy and tactics. In nearly every case, the flow of information between Washington and the states has been inadequate. And state-to-state sharing of ideas and best practices has been discouraged. I want to change this relationship. I want to work with our field teams to think of their state leadership as partners. I want to hold “best practices” roundtables at our RNC meetings.

A Dynamic Leader in the Use of New Media – In 2008, we saw the Obama campaign “own” the field of new media. Their use of the Internet to raise small contributions not only created a fundraising juggernaut, but also very likely changed the world of Presidential campaign finance as we know it. Obama’s use of text messaging opened politics to a new generation of voters. And their effective and consistent use of YouTube, web banner advertising, and social networking sites, created a field army that was unparalleled. Our ground efforts were strong and as inadequate as the media would have you believe. But they were no match for the Obama network that had penetrated every neighborhood in the country. We cannot continue to lag behind on this front. I have used every resource there is to communicate our message in Michigan. Four years ago, I was the first state party chairman to start a blog. I immediately saw the difference it was making in my state and I shared those best practices with every other state party chair through emails, letters, memorandums, and phone calls. To that end, I have been honored to be a Redstate diarist, commenter, and even a front-page contributor. I will continue to use modern tools to effectively communicate and I will make it a point to train others how to do so effectively. With regard to “What’s next?” I believe the RNC should act as an incubator for good ideas and best practices. I plan to create a network of technologists, artists, consultants, and other new media specialists to consistently meet and work together to find better ways to communicate. No single consulting firm or person should be responsible of helping the party to catch up comprehensively online and I look forward to working alongside an array of folks to do just that.

A Conscientious Manager and Administrator – The RNC raises and expends hundreds of millions of dollars, employs more than 100 full-time staff, and conducts business throughout the United States and the Territories. The Chairman must ensure sound managerial and administrative oversight of the RNC and all its operations. I have served as the CEO of a large company and of one of the largest state party organizations. I understand the necessity of hiring quality managers possessing demonstrable experience, maturity, and commitment. We have improved the business practices and transparency of our state party operations. I inherited a state party organization with no debt, and ended each of my two election-cycles as state chairman with no debt.

In addition must ensure that our staff structure and vendor relationships reflect our new realities and goals. Where people and programs are the best in their field, I will be wise enough to retain them. Where improvements can be made, I will not be shy about making changes. We must seek the best people and best companies to work for and with the RNC. We must always be mindful of our fiduciary responsibilities and make sure every dollar spent on staff, vendors, programs, and products is maximized. And I will demand that staff and vendors understand that they work for the committee and not the other way around.

Source: Red State (please go read the whole thing)

Related: Saul Anuzis for Chair

Saul Anuzis is my number one pick at the moment (with Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele not far behind) because I feel that the mistake that party leaders have made in the recent past selection of chairmen by picking RINOs and people who don't get tech and the importance of building online and offline communities of activists.