Dr. Ada Fisher: Younger cadre redirects GOP
In its vote on Jan. 14, the Republican National Committee chose to clean house and shift directions. Missed in the media coverage focused on outgoing chairman Michael Steele was the empowerment of a younger cadre of leaders to go with the Congressional Young Guns of Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California in shifting the focus of the Republican Party.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin State Republican Party and former lieutenant of Steele as his general counsel, became the RNC chairman by the seventh round of voting. Priebus had led his state’s effort in reclaiming the governorship, state House and state Senate for Republicans.
Sharon Day from Florida pulled off a narrow victory over incumbent co-chair Jan Larimer.
Demetra Demonte of Illinois was chosen as secretary. Tony Parker of Washington, D.C., was selected as treasurer. Current general counsel Norman Semanko has been in office less than two months and is from the state of Idaho.
With a chairman less than 40 years old and only the gray hairs of the treasurer showing any signs of age, it is clear that the party has shifted to building for tomorrow with a steady hand on the finances.
Behind the scenes, efforts for candidates also revealed some power brokers who knew how to support their candidates and what tone was necessary for their candidates and the party.
Priebus, endorsed early by Henry Barbour of Mississippi, had an effective advocate who brought Southern support to the top of the party. Day pulled in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s endorsement and the entire list of Florida Power Players, including Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio. Elder statesman and likely the most respected RNC member John Sununu Sr. of New Hampshire in nominating Tony Parker made the most effective case for having a treasurer in Washington, D.C. to have daily access to financial records which have been a concern of many RNC members.
Missed in much of what is happening is the dwindling of political machines and party influence in preference to the rise of independents and others who are sipping TEA. With its hands firmly on the reins of the party and having heard the grassroots voices, the 168-member body clearly exerted its independence. This group will be one segment of the new power brokers until the economy turns around, but the old guard had its hands firmly on this convention.
On Jan. 15, the North Carolina RNC members were all present as the state party met to select a replacement for outgoing chairman Thomas Fetzer. Former 8th District Congressman Robin Hayes of Concord swept the field with 67 percent of the vote — running against current party Vice Chairman Timothy Johnson, County Party Chairman Associations President Bob Pruett and prior Guilford County Party Chairman Marcus Kindley.
With new elections for all party officers except the RNC committeepersons to be held in June at its Wilmington convention, it was clear that this vote appreciated the need for a fundraiser and someone who had insights into the legislative process, as the Republicans assume the helm of the state Senate and House for the first time since the 1880s.
The eyes of the state will be on the party, which faces a daunting challenge in redistricting, getting the deficit state budget under control and dealing with the surge of conservative voices from its flanks.
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Dr. Ada Fisher of Salisbury is Republican National Committeewoman for the state of North Carolina.