I’m used to being disappointed by politics. After all, I used to be a Republican, so disappointment is a default setting. But every once in a while you get a nice surprise, and this time it was the governor of my home state who provided it.
I honestly didn’t think Kim Reynolds had it in her, and it of course remains to be seen if she will consistently be the same conservative voice while in office as she was campaigning to secure an election that was very much in doubt the last few months.
It was little more than a month ago I wrote this for Conservative Review about her chances:
So far, she’s doing it wrong, and she’s not alone. As I watch candidates’ ads across the country, Republicans by and large seem to want to address everything except the cultural transformation sought by the Left. After all, wasn’t one of the reasons Donald Trump shocked forecasters such as myself in 2016 his willingness to embrace those cultural flash points the GOP base cares most about?
Instead, Reynolds is running a campaign commercial that attacked her opponent for being a corporate zombie who hates the working man.
Note to Reynolds: That’s a Democrat campaign commercial, and a bad one at that.
What on earth is she doing? The voters who believe that class warfare crap are already well ensconced within the progressive cult. So by courting them, you are not only failing to improve your stock among imaginary legions of moderates, but you are also depressing your own base. There’s a ton of conservative red meat out there that Reynolds is clearly choosing to ignore and that she’s earned the right to use.
Message received, I guess, because not only did Reynolds change her message, but it pushed her over the top in what might have been the toughest statewide electoral circumstances to navigate in 2018.
Or as my buddy Bob Vander Plaats, perhaps my state’s foremost conservative activist, put it on my show this week, “We had a local congressional tsunami. Republican David Young, voted out. Republican Rod Blum, voted out. Republican Steve King, barely held on to his seat after a month of controversy about a political endorsement he made.”
There were clearly no inspiring GOP coattails to see Reynolds through to victory. She would have to do it on her own. She would, gulp, actually have to campaign as a conservative.
And so she did. She addressed her conservative base — the thing too-smart-by-half Republican politicians always run away from — on the show of local pastor and talk radio host Michael Demastus on three separate occasions to speak about the heartbeat bill she signed earlier in the year to protect innocent human life. That was a stark contrast to her Democrat opponent, who is a longtime proud benefactor of Planned Parenthood.
The choice was hers to make. He was going to get all the votes from the baby-killing lobby no matter what she did or said. But would she get all the votes she could possibly get from those looking for a champion to end the slaughter?
Let Team GOP learn a much-needed lesson from her decision not to equivocate on that front, but to emancipate.
“When people have a chance to vote on life, I think it delivers,” Vander Plaats said while on my show this week. “Voters with principles said we are voting [Reynolds] back to lead.”
Republicans have largely spent the last three years showcasing alienating personas and few substantive accomplishments relative to their previous campaign promises. Reynolds, on the other hand, has one of the biggest policy accomplishments nationwide in that same time frame, and she finally found the guts to talk about it.
In other words, she gave voters something to believe in. And how crazy is it that it worked? Not at all, really. Unless all you do for two darned years is a temporary tax cut. You need accomplishments to run on accomplishments.