Since most of the media mavens love a good GOP civil war story, we may as well check in on what’s going on with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY21) and the incoming chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota. Stefanik was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress until this cycle and she has risen to become one of the lead recruiters of female candidates for the NRCC. But after the dismal performance of Republican women in the midterms (Stefanik will be one of only 13 GOP women in the House next year), she announced that she would be stepping back from those duties and using her own PAC to identify and support more female candidates during the primaries in the next cycle.
This didn’t sit too well with Emmer, who said that would be a “mistake” on her part. That’s when things turned even more acerbic. (The Hill)
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is firing back at the incoming chairman of the House GOP’s campaign arm, after he dismissed her calls to get involved in primary races to help more Republican women get elected to Congress.
“NEWSFLASH… I wasn’t asking for permission,” tweeted Stefanik, who lead candidate recruitment efforts for the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) this year.
Stefanik’s tweet was in response to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the newly elected NRCC chairman, telling Roll Call it would be a “mistake” for Stefanik to intervene in primaries next election cycle – long considered a taboo in the GOP.
Credit where due, the congresswoman isn’t beating around the bush. And this wasn’t a new idea she just latched onto this week. She’s been airing the same complaint and looking for solutions since the election. Back before Thanksgiving Stefanik told one of the local papers in New York that, “it wasn’t a recruitment failure, it was a failure to provide support to fantastic candidates early.”
That much seems obvious. She helped recruit at least 100 female Republican candidates. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t make it through the primary and even more lost in the general election. But is injecting more cash into the primary process based solely on gender the way to go?
Personally, I think it’s healthy for the party to have more women involved, though frankly I’d be satisfied if we just focused on getting the best, most electable candidates and letting the demographics sort itself out after the dust settles. So more women running in the general election would be a good thing, but they have to be the right women in order to make it over the finish line. Fielding candidates based on demographics doesn’t do you any good if they’re never sworn into office.
Frankly, I think the standing NRCC policy has been the best way to go. All politics is local and that’s particularly true in House races. Let the local party leaders and GOP voters sort out the primary. Having the national party come storming in with a lot of money to put their thumb on the scales only fosters resentment. The best candidates will attract the most support (at least the majority of the time) and they’ll be able to raise the money they need to mount a good campaign. Let the Democrats specialize in gender, racial and religious politics. The GOP should continue to focus on sorting out the best, most electable candidates in each district.