J.C. Watts mulls bid for RNC chair

posted at 10:31 am on December 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

After the shocking loss in the November election, Republicans are once again considering whether to change leadership at the top.  Reince Priebus wants a second term as RNC chair and still has considerable support for another go, but apparently some committee members have begun recruiting alternative candidates, among them former Congressman J.C. Watts.  Watts tells Politico that he’s not sure he’ll run, but he’s interested:

Watts, an African-American conservative who served in the House from 1994-2002, said the GOP defeat on Election Day demonstrates that Republicans need to broaden their appeal to minority voters, and cannot continue on their current path if the party is to be successful in presidential races.

“My concern right now, and I don’t say this necessarily as a candidate [for RNC chairman], my concern is that as a Republican, every single Republican in America ought to be concerned about what has happened in 2008 and 2012,” Watts said in an interview with POLITICO. “In this business, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Watts would not identify who is lobbying him to challenge Priebus, and reiterated that he has not made a decision to definitely jump into the race.

Watts also says that he believes the RNC needs to fundamentally rethink its “ad hoc” approach to outreach:

Watts complained that Republican efforts to reach out to minority groups have not been sustained or consistent during his 20-plus years as a politician, but rather are executed on ad hoc basis – usually in election years. In Watts’ view, and that of many other Republican leaders and party operatives, if the GOP doesn’t dramatically improve its image with black and Hispanic voters, it will not be able to win back the White House.

“These old, tired, pathetic models of saying, ‘Okay, in the black [community], when there’s a presidential election, we will form an African-American Coalition for [Mitt] Romney or [Sen. John] McCain,’ I’ll never do that again. That is a joke, that is so tired,” Watts said. “It’s window dressing to say, ‘African Americans for Romney’ or ‘African-American Coalition’ or ‘African-American Advisory Council.’ That’s insulting to the people that they ask to do it when you don’t put an permanent infrastructure in place to give it credibility.”

I think Priebus did a pretty good job, considering the state of the RNC when he first took over.  The organization was deeply in debt, and fundraising was in disarray.  The RNC didn’t have a credible GOTV effort in 2010 in the week before Election Day in those midterms, and ended up relying out outside groups to drive their message.  They were better prepared in this cycle, but just got out-organized by Team Obama and the DNC.

That said, I’m a big fan of J. C. Watts for precisely the kind of insight he has here.  Republicans cannot compete with the kind of lackluster effort that has been made in urban centers.  It isn’t just the infrastructure that’s the problem, though; it’s also a lack of vision and specific policies from candidates and the party to put conservative principles to work in these communities to make the lives of voters better.  We need both infrastructure and policies, on an ongoing basis, and not just — as Watts says — in the last few months before an election.  Republicans have to make themselves part of these communities, not just occasional tourists.

Perhaps Watts won’t run for RNC chair, or the RNC will think someone else will serve better.  They’d better find a way to put Watts in position to make his insights a reality, though, if the GOP wants to compete in future elections.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

This is the core issue. As with hispanics, conservative groups simply do not have a permanent presence in the big cities. They aren’t at the community board meetings, they aren’t forming after school programs, they aren’t going door to door in the projects. Liberals are. Until you stop being so scared of the inner city, you’ll wither along with the exurban and suburban populations.

ernesto on December 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Even if conservatives did all this, I doubt it would make a difference anyway. As you say, Liberals are in fact ubiquitous throughout the inner cities – promising ever more handouts and freebie’s for the masses, and talk of retribution against the wealthy and redistribution of what those horrible wealthy have earned for themselves.
The conservative message is about self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and the eventual benefits of hard work. That just doesn’t play against “more free stuff paid for by those nasty rich people”.

dentarthurdent on December 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

You can jiggle all you want, but the Republicans are no friends to conservatives. Republicans constantly get punked by the Dems, yet they come back smiling.

williampeck1958 on December 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

You can’t expect the inner cities to take up the message of people they never see, who never take their message to them. You’re just dismissing them as ignorant or incapable of understanding your enlightened political message. How are you going to win votes that way????

ernesto on December 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

I didn’t dismiss them as ignorant or incapable of understanding Conservativism. These principles are for everybody, and eveybody is welcome to Conservatism.

Get off you soapbox. You liberals are the ones who want affirmative action, have low expectations of minorities, to keep them on the plantation, and to dangle freebies in front of them.

Furthermore, when people try to bring Conservative principles to minorites, they’re demonized. Just like Mia Love, Star Parker, and the Tea Party.

The GOP can take the blame for how the message is relayed. But there’s still accountability for these minorities who don’t want to listen even as the GOP reaches across the aisles.

Kyle_Reese on December 3, 2012 at 5:27 PM

“sloppy and disorganized”? You’re going to have to back that up with some sort of evidence or reference.

rayra on December 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM

He jumped from his old district to a more Republican-leaning district, so the nonsense about Republicans gerrymandering him out of a seat is just that: nonsense.

West spent $17 million on his reelection campaign. More than 4 times his opponent. West’s campaigns made some wild accusations in TV ads that were later embarrassingly shown to be false. He blew a race that he should easily have won. He lost to an absolutely nobody with no real track record of accomplishment.

Sloppy. Disorganized.

AngusMc on December 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Kyle_Reese on December 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM
Kyle_Reese on December 3, 2012 at 2:53 PM
Kyle_Reese on December 3, 2012 at 5:27 PM
dentarthurdent on December 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Dummies… The same recalcitrant attitude I have encountered again and again and again… Republicans

But you have to GO AND TELL THEM YOUR MESSAGE before you can expect them to just accept it.

ernesto on December 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Again, from a black conservative. ERNESTO IS RIGHT!! Republicans do not campaign for votes in cities. They just don’t care. Republicans have abandoned education and media and they are paying the price. Half the country has been culturally programmed against the GOP, not necessarily conservatism. It is easy for liberals because this programming goes completely uncontested. I think there is an assumption that black people only want things that are the anti-thesis of what Republicans are about, so it is easy to write of black people.

These black people are potential allies. Are they worthy of a trip to an NAACP meeting by a Republican? A meeting that isn’t the national meeting that the GOP president or candidate goes to but a local meeting. Republicans have the PERFECT issue. School choice. If Republicans really believed in school choice they would be fighting for it regardless. They would have spent the last 4 years trying to restore the DC voucher program.

Ernesto is right.

Theworldisnotenough on December 3, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Are they worthy of a trip to an NAACP meeting by a Republican? A meeting that isn’t the national meeting that the GOP president or candidate goes to but a local meeting. Republicans have the PERFECT issue. School choice. If Republicans really believed in school choice they would be fighting for it regardless. They would have spent the last 4 years trying to restore the DC voucher program.

Ernesto is right.

Theworldisnotenough on December 3, 2012 at 8:16 PM

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2012/07/mitt-romney-naacp-speech-/1

You are both wrong. Romney went to the NAACP. He got booed because he did talked about reating jobs instead of freebies and handouts and pandering. He tried to tell them the truth about which direction this country is going and how he would fix it. And he got booed.
Too many minorities don’t want to hear the hard truth.

dentarthurdent on December 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Republicans have the PERFECT issue. School choice. If Republicans really believed in school choice they would be fighting for it regardless. They would have spent the last 4 years trying to restore the DC voucher program.

Ernesto is right.

Theworldisnotenough on December 3, 2012 at 8:16 PM

And again you’re wrong. How much more can you show belief in school choice than by actually putting it in place everywhere you can? Republicans have been talking about and actually implementing school choice all across the country. And everywhere it’s tried it is successful, and the Dems and their union buddies and liberal judges do everything they can to stop it – and the minorities keep re-electing them.

dentarthurdent on December 3, 2012 at 9:46 PM

ernesto on December 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Doing a quick ad buy a month before a presidential election won’t do a damn thing.

You can’t expect the inner cities to take up the message of people they never see, who never take their message to them.

The End Times must be upon us, for today I find myself in full agreement with something ernesto has posted.

He is quite correct.

coldwarrior on December 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I’m with you coldwarrior. Never did I ever think I would agree with Ernesto on anything, but he is absolutely right on this. Meeting with the NAACP or the Urban League before election is never going to cut it. There needs to be a consistent presence over a period of time in order to change hearts and minds. It will not be easy, but it can be done. The Dems have had what, 40-50 years? Why do Republicans think that a couple of visits before election will do the trick? You’re talking about people who have been conditioned and brainwashed to believe that Republicans and conservatives are racist, no matter how good their ideas may be.

macblanegirl on December 3, 2012 at 9:57 PM

J.C. Watts as the Republican Chair, I love it. I have watched him since he played football for University of Oklahoma. He served in the Congress and was a member of the Freshman class of 1995 and said, if elected he would stay for only two terms and that is what he did. His integrity is beyond reproach. It is time we got some younger blood in the leadership positions of the Republican Party. This is the wises move I have seen to date. Hope he gets it.

old war horse on December 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Comment pages: 1 2