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Weighing a second presidential bid,
Perry picks up pace on 2016 prep

December 05, 2014

GOP's tech hurdle: They don't always get it

2016 candidates want tech money but clash
with industry on policy.

November 29, 2014

Carly Fiorina could shake up a crowded 2016 GOP field

May change race that lacks prominent women with possible bid

November 26, 2014

By Seth McLaughlin

With the 2016 GOP presidential race starting in earnest in the new year, there is a dearth of prominent women candidates. But a number of Republicans say that Carly Fiorina could change that.

Mrs. Fiorina, the first woman to run a Fortune 50 company and 2010 Senate candidate, has made visits to the early caucus and primary states and left the definite impression she’s testing the waters for a potential dark-horse candidacy that could shake up the already crowded field.

“It is clear to me she is kicking the tires,” said Jim Merrill, a GOP strategist in New Hampshire who served as a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard has a slim electoral office record, amounting to the failed bid for California’s Senate seat in 2010 — a race she lost to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer by 10 percentage points. She also served in positions on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and Mr. Romney’s 2012 campaign.

But analysts said her business experience could make her a serious contender despite the relatively thin political resume. She would also stand out in what is now an all-male GOP field.

“If she is the only woman in the race, I think that is going to give her some advantage, some strength there,” said Will Rogers, chairman of the Polk County Iowa GOP. “I think people also are going to look to her as a business leader, and there is a number of people in the Republican base that like that.”

Mrs. Fiorina could not be reached for comment about her plans, but those familiar with her thinking said she is seriously considering a bid.

She is scheduled to visit New Hampshire next month and to take part in a “Freedom Summit” in January being hosted by Citizens United and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King.

If Mrs. Fiorina does run, it could put a finer point on the GOP’s problems wooing women voters, especially unmarried women, who have strongly favored Democrats in recent presidential cycles.

Strategists said having candidates such as Mrs. Fiorina, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Nikki Haley of South Carolina run would be a good thing.

Some conservatives also hope that retiring Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, runs again and that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, enters the fray.

Despite never being elected to public office, Mrs. Fiorina has been a regular in Republican circles since her high-profile ouster from Hewlett-Packard in 2006.


Most recently, she established a super PAC, called Unlocking Potential, aimed at bolstering the GOP’s ground game and boosting women voter turnout in key battleground states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Along the way, she campaigned with gubernatorial and Senate candidates, and met with local kingmakers, including former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu.

“She has created a lot of IOUs for herself,” said Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California.

The super PAC also has given the 60-year-old a platform to introduce herself to voters in key states, where she talks about her history as a cancer survivor and how her Christian faith helped her cope with the loss of a stepdaughter in 2009.

She also criticized what she calls the big-government policies of the Obama administration, which she blames for the sluggish economic and job growth, while rejecting the Democrats’ “war on women” attack line.

“We are not waging a war on women simply because we see no reason for birth control to be free. We respect all women, and we do not insult them as the Democratic Party does by assuming that women care only about reproductive rights,” Mrs. Fiorina said in a speech earlier this year at the Northeast Republican Conference in New Hampshire. “All issues are women issues. We are half of this great nation.”

Keith Appell, a GOP strategist, said Mrs. Fiorina would be a formidable presidential candidate because she is a good communicator with a message that plays well with lots of voters.

“The 2016 GOP field will be of a higher caliber than 2012 no matter who runs, but it only helps the Republicans if they have at least one high-quality woman in that field, and Carly would be at the top of that list,” he said.

Mr. Rogers and other Republicans said Mrs. Fiorina’s style could give her more staying power than Mrs. Bachmann or Mrs. Palin, who took a more aggressive approach to campaigning.

“Not aggressive in a bad way, but they tend to be more willing to lob grenades,” he said. “I think Carly Fiorina’s approach is rather than try to separate people, let’s get them together. If she makes it into a general [election], she is going to have a lot of broad appeal.”


The submerging Democratic majority

November 24, 2014


It’s been a well-established conceit of U.S. politics that the Republican Party is a bastion of white men while Democrats are the party of diversity. Precisely for that reason, the most interesting aspect of the GOP’s victories in 2014 was its candidates’ improved performance with ethnic minorities.

In 2002, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” in which they cogently argued that “sometime in this decade” a new coalition of ethnic minorities, single women and college-educated professionals would emerge as a dominant electoral force on behalf of the Democratic Party. Each of these left-leaning groups was destined to grow in size, Judis and Teixera observed, suggesting that Democrats would enjoy a long-term structural advantage in future elections.

“While the ranks of white working-class voters will not grow over the next decade,” they wrote, “the numbers of professionals, working, single and highly educated women and minorities will swell. They are products of a new postindustrial capitalism, rooted in diversity and social equality and emphasizing the production of ideas and services rather than goods.”

The Judis-Teixeira thesis seemed to have been vindicated by the victories of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, with 2012 particularly notable because a poor economy should have made it easier for Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But the 2014 elections suggest that Republicans may be making inroads with these communities — especially with ethnic minorities — without diluting their policy message. If that’s true, the Obama coalition may erode when he leaves office. It’s this fear that drove the president last week to grant partial reprieves to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants who hail predominantly from Latin America and Asia.

It’s undeniable that, in recent years, the U.S. electorate has been whiter in midterm elections, such as 2010 and 2014, relative to presidential elections, such as 2008 and 2012. But not by much: Whites represented 75 percent of the electorate in 2014 and 74 percent in 2008. In the intervening six years, Republicans increased their performance among blacks by 6 percentage points (from 4 percent to 10 percent), among Hispanics by 5 points (from 31 percent to 36 percent) and among Asians by 15 points (from 35 percent to 50 percent).

You could explain these differences in a number of ways. Perhaps Obama’s name at the top of the ticket drove minorities in his direction. Younger voters tend to vote Democratic, and more young voters have turned out in presidential years. But the effort by Republicans to reach out to minorities on their own terms can’t be dismissed.

After the 2012 rout, the Republican National Committee published an “autopsy” detailing the GOP’s failure with minority voters. “The pervasive mentality of writing off blocks of states or demographic votes for the Republican Party must be completely forgotten,” the authors wrote, and the RNC committed to a full-time minority engagement operation.

The GOP rebound with Asians is particularly striking. In 2012, Asians voted for Obama over Romney by a greater margin (47 points) than Hispanics did (44 points). In 2014, Republicans won among Asians, 50 percent to 49 percent, something they had not done since 1996.

A 24-point swing in the Asian vote does not happen by accident. Republicans see Asian-Americans as natural conservatives whose family orientation and entrepreneurial tendencies line up with their own.

“Direct personal engagement makes all the difference in the world,” says Shawn Steel, a former chairman of the Republican Party in California, where Asians represent 11 percent of the electorate, compared with 3 percent nationally. “Asian Americans … are the easiest [demographic] to move toward Republican quality candidates.”

In Virginia, underdog Republican candidates such as Ed Gillespie and Barbara Comstock held events in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Filipino communities. Comstock won her House race, and Gillespie far exceeded expectations in a close loss to incumbent Sen. Mark Warner.

Why has it taken so long for Republicans to engage in direct voter outreach to Asians and other minority groups? Two reasons predominate. First, ethnic minorities, like most immigrants throughout history, are concentrated in urban areas, which tend to be Democratic strongholds, leaving few Republican politicians catering to minorities’ needs at the local level.

Second, many conservative intellectuals believe they are resisting identity politics by refusing to tailor messages to ethnic minorities. But what conservatives call identity politics, operatives call retail politics. In 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove saw that gun-owning Republicans were the best people to reach out to gun-owning independents. Minority outreach is no different.

The great American tradition, conservatives reason, is for immigrants to assimilate into the broader American culture. What conservatives have long missed is that Asian and Hispanic immigrants are assimilating into the broader American culture, just as German and Italian and Irish immigrants did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Judis and Teixeira were not the first analysts to argue that their side would achieve enduring majority status. The title of their book was adapted from one by Kevin Phillips, “The Emerging Republican Majority.” Philips, a strategist for President Richard Nixon, predicted that white Democrats would turn the then-solidly Democratic South into Republican territory. Democrats responded by turning the North blue. It’s Republicans’ turn to once again turn the tables.

The Republican Rainbow Coalition Is Real

November 18, 2014

 by Tim Mak


No, seriously. The Republicans now have more top-flight minority candidates than the Democrats. How did this happen?

Picture the first Democratic presidential debate next year: presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, surrounded by a group of white men hoping to play spoiler.

Then picture the Republican presidential debate stage: two Hispanic Americans, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; an African American, Ben Carson; and an Indian American, Bobby Jindal. Add to that Jeb Bush, a Spanish-speaking former governor with a Mexican-born wife; and Rand Paul, a senator who has made appealing to black voters a central part of his political identity.

At its highest levels, the Republican Party is building a noticeably more diverse group of talent—call it the GOP’s Rainbow Coalition.

This didn’t happen by accident. While the Republican Party’s minority-outreach programs have been mocked in years past—often since they were so at odds with GOP policies that alienated black and Hispanic voters—in the wake of 2012 drubbing at the hands of Barack Obama, the party began a concerted effort to aggressively recruit black and Hispanic candidates.

Today, the Republicans can call upon an array of minority senators, governors, and congressmen. Black Sen. Tim Scott was elected to fill out Jim DeMint’s Senate term. Black Republican members-elect include Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas. Minority governors Susana Martinez, Nikki Haley, and Brian Sandoval all won reelection. Along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, that gives the GOP four people of color in charge of statehouses. The Democrats have just one, the governor-elect of Hawaii.

It’s a far cry from 2010 and the height of the Tea Party insurgency, when the GOP relied heavily on a single figure to speak to minorities: African-American Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

That’s because previous minority outreach in the Republican Party had been “nothing more than a cocktail party and a photo op,” Steele told The Daily Beast. Attitudes within the party were essentially unchanged; they just put new faces on an old, melanin-deprived product. Steele said that’s starting to change, at least a bit. “You now have a growing number of candidates and elected officials who can do that without having to fall into that trap.”

But so far, minority candidates aren’t translating into minority votes. Exit-polling data from the midterms show that Democrats won the support of 90 percent of black Americans, 63 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 49 percent of Asian Americans, even with midterm turnout that is favorable toward Republicans.

And in South Carolina, Sen. Scott received just 10 percent of the black vote.

“Do not misread this election to think that black folks are falling over themselves to support Republicans because we picked up a few black votes here and there,” Steele said. “it’s an opening, but it is not at all dispositive of success. There’s a lot more work to be done.”

The work began in earnest after Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign loss in 2012, when the GOP was faced with a choice. It could have doubled down on white candidates and white voters, or it could start reaching out to Latinos, Asian American and black voters—and recruited individuals who these voters could relate to.

In the post-2012 Republican autopsy report commissioned by the RNC, the authors stressed the need to be “actively engaging women and minorities” in their candidate recruitment efforts.

“We put an emphasis on recruiting candidates because we need to get younger, and we need to get more diverse,” RNC spokesman Jason Chung said.

At the time, those words were viewed as just diversity happy talk. But then something funny happened: The GOP actually began to recruit black and Hispanic candidates. When DeMint retired, just months after Romney’s loss, Gov. Haley turned to a popular congressman in the midst of just his second term, Tim Scott, to be his successor.

Utah’s Mia Love spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention, before losing her House race that year by just 800 votes. The Republican-led legislature oversaw state redistricting just the year before—prompting charges of gerrymandering from state Democrats—but it wasn’t enough for her to eke out a win. When Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson opted not to run again, Love won by several thousand votes in the 2014 midterms.

And Asian-American Republican Michelle Park Steel won election this month as Orange County supervisor, a bright point in the party’s explicit efforts to elect minority candidates in the Golden State.

Her husband, Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committeeman and the former chairman of the California GOP, has been working on recruiting and promoting minority candidates for years.

“It’s quite subtle, but it’s becoming more clear every day,” Steel said. “We’ve got a young, diverse talent pool, and I’m looking very seriously at Sandoval or Susana Martinez as vice-presidential material.”

Thinking inside the conservative movement is also changing, slowly, on the topic of race. Not long ago, the concept of diversity was viewed as anti-meritocratic—even harmful. It was associated with government heavy-handedness and viewed with disdain. Now it’s viewed by a growing segment of conservatives as integral.

“In the Republican Party, when you heard the word diversity a few years ago, it meant affirmative action, quotas. That to this day is something that is unacceptable to most conservatives,” said Steel, the California GOP national committeeman. “Today, the meaning for Republicans has changed—[it means] an inclusion of people from different backgrounds.”

Republicans argue that they have a different spin on diversity, however. Sen. Ted Cruz, one of two Hispanic Republicans in the Senate, accused Democrats of “pigeonholing” minority candidates.

“They have a very difficult time running statewide, where you have to appeal to more than one ethnic or racial slice—you’ve got to appeal to a big tent, and the Democratic Party has such an unfortunate history of pigeonholing candidates that it has proven very difficult for Hispanic candidates... to appeal statewide,” Cruz said.

Roland Martin, a prominent black newscaster and Daily Beast contributor, disagrees, saying minority Cabinet members aren’t typically governors—or even national politicians. And though Republicans are racking up minority leaders at the national level, it continues to face a fundamental obstacle.

“The GOP still has a basic problem: Its policies aren’t building a diverse electorate,” Martin said.

Both Republican policies and offensive statements made by some GOP politicians have had a hand in this. Immigration activists argue that the Republican Party is alienating Hispanic voters by not allowing comprehensive immigration reform to pass. And some House Republicans supported speeding up the deportations of Central American minors who arrived alone in the United States.

Sen. Rand Paul has also been frank in arguing that Republican efforts to restrict voting rights and toughen drug laws alienate minority voters.

Then there are the outrageous remarks. Take Rep. Steve King’s claim that for every undocumented immigrant valedictorian, there are 100 who have “calves the size of cantaloupes” due to drug smuggling across the border. House Speaker John Boehner condemned the remark, but the damage was done.

And there was broad Republican support for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over the issue of federal land-grazing rights, which quickly turned into backpedalling after the rancher wondered if black Americans would be better off as slaves.

Even when GOP minority candidates get elected, they get attacked for being less than genuinely black or Hispanic because of their political beliefs. Democrats argue that a real member of these groups wouldn’t represent a party that operated so totally against their interests.

Cruz, for one, has been the subject of such jabs. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said that Cruz shouldn’t “be defined as a Hispanic.”

Cruz, who certainly considers himself Hispanic, had fighting words in response.

“I’m always amused at people who set themselves up as the arbiters of ethnicity. I would be amused to see if they would have had the same view when my father arrived in Austin, Texas, in 1957 at the age of 18, not speaking a word of English, having been imprisoned and tortured and coming here seeking the American dream,” Cruz said on Election Night.

Mere minutes later, Cruz delivered a speech at the victory party for Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott, who won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. 

“One of the reasons I’m a Republican is that we treat people as individuals. When I ran for Senate, I didn’t run saying, ‘Vote for the Hispanic guy,’” he told The Daily Beast. “I ran saying, ‘Vote for a proven conservative’… who also happens to be the son of an immigrant who came from Cuba with nothing, not speaking English, seeking the American dream. And that’s the right relationship, I think.”


Bartlett and Steel Win Supervisor Seats

November 05, 2014


Orange County's Board of Supervisors will have two new women assuming leadership slots just as the last two female supervisors both move into the California State Senate.

In the second supervisorial district, representing several coastal communities like Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Michelle Park Steel came out ahead of Republican State Assemblyman Alan Mansoor, garnering nearly 63 percent, or 52,842 votes.

Mansoor gathered 32,978 votes or 37.3 percent of the vote with 362 of 421 precincts reporting results into the early hours of Wednesday.

In the fifth supervisorial district, representing most of South County, Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett bested Laguna Niguel Mayor Mayor Robert Ming, earning 55.6 percent of early returns with 51,141 votes.

Ming had earned 41,996 votes -- giving him 45 percent of the vote with 433 of 438 precincts reporting results.

Steel – a termed out member of the State Board of Equalization - was out in front of Mansoor from the outset of the campaign, both in terms of fundraising and political endorsements.

The Korean American candidate raised more than $758,766 in direct contributions, tapping into a statewide profile -- she serves on the California Republican Party Board of Directors and is married to former party chairman Shawn Steel.

In addition to hundreds of donations from Korean American professionals and business owners, Steel’s contributors include: OC Business Council’s BIZPAC; Assoc. Builders and Contractors of Southern California; AT&T California Employee PAC; Building Industry of Southern California PAC; California Bankers Assn. PAC and the California Professional Firefighters PAC, to name some.

Steel’s endorsements include District Attorney Tony Rackauckas; Sheriff Sandra Hutchens; Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa; former state Assemblyman Curt Pringle; and Supervisors Shawn Nelson, Patricia Bates, Todd Spitzer and Janet Nguyen.

Mansoor, who is a former Costa Mesa city councilman, highlighted a local twist to his endorsements, with backing from elected officials within his assembly district like Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer and Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper.

Mansoor’s fundraising was far behind Steel, raising $161,348 from local politicians, business interests and several health industry political action committees.

His donors included: the National Federation of Independent Business; California Real Estate PAC; Philip Morris USA, California Beer and Beverage Distributors Community Affairs PAC; California Cable and Telecom Assn. PAC; Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. Small Contributor Committee; and more than $17,000 from state health industry PACs.

Meanwhile, the fundraising battle for the fifth district was far closer with Bartlett and Ming raising nearly identical amounts.

Ming's total as of Nov. 1 was $255,201, just ahead of Bartlett’s $246,922 in contributions.

Ming’s contributors include the Family Action PAC; Los Angeles County Republican Leadership Voter Guide; and California Construction Trucking Assn.

Bartlett’s contributors include the Dana Point Shipyard; Stop the Dock Tax Assn. PAC; and six companies or committees associated with the bail bond industry.

Both candidates have received donations from construction, building and real estate political committees.

Ming, who has been endorsed by the county Republican Party, edged ahead of Bartlett in the primary by just 2.5 percent.

Shawn Steel Thinks Tribal Politics Will Solve California Republican Party Woes

July 17, 2014

Identity politics just hasn't been popular with Republicans, whose national conventions earned the reputation for being a gathering of crotchety, old white people anxious to return to the country club or golf course.

But upbeat, old white dude Shawn Steel, an Orange County member of the Republican National Committee, argued in a Washington Times article this week that the GOP faces a dire choice given demographic shifts underscoring the rise of minority voting power: "adapt or die."

Steel told Times reporter Seth McLaughlin, "California is a precursor of the dynamic change, demographicswise, in America. So this is a harbinger. This is a call in the dark night saying, 'Look, let's change.'"

Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh stated similar worries in our January 2013 cover story: OC GOP's Apocalypse Now.

Baugh focused primarily on improving the GOP's image with Hispanic voters by recruiting candidates from that community; prior related attempts largely produced horrible campaigns by warped characters.

For Steel--husband to county supervisor candidate Michelle Steel, the mission is also to recruit "Republican Asians," who'll run for public office.

This year, at least four other GOP Asians are running for various offices in Orange County: Ling-Ling Chang (state assembly), Young Kim (state assembly), Lisa Bartlett (supervisor) and Janet Nguyen (state senate).

(In coming months, Susan Kang Schroeder could be appointed interim district attorney if Tony Rackauckas--currently 71 years old--prematurely retires during his upcoming, four-year term.)

By stealing the "old tactic" of Democratic Party identity or "tribal" politics, the Republican Party will become more "robust," Shawn Steel told the Times.

Steel is a smart, colorful fellow, but is his judgment always sound?

The article notes a frightening factoid: He took Dana Rohrabacher--Orange County's senior, career politician known for mental instability, angry rants and food/booze stained bad ties--with him on his first date with Michelle.

Steel's Ironclad Argument for Legal Immigration Reform

January 18, 2014

California Republican Party National Committeeman Shawn Steel published the following article, "How About Amnesty for Legal Immigrants?"  in the latest edition of Human Events, which addressed Washington D.C.'s push for immigration reform this year. Like many fair-minded reformers, who recognize the importance of immigration as well as the rule of law, Steel reminds his readers that there is another "undocumented" group of immigrants, i.e. those individuals who have sought naturalization status legally by submitting the proper reforms, passing all the necessary tests, paying the required fees, and completing all mandate interviews to achieve American citizenship, as opposed to demanding it as an entitlement. These people are still waiting for their finalized naturalization status, yet have not broken the law as they reside in the United States on provisional visas.

In reality, they are the only individuals one can justly call undocumented, for they are waiting patiently (all too long, in my opinion) to achieve full legal status in their adopted country. In his Human Event s piece, Steel relates the long struggle of his wife Michelle, born in Korea but raised and thriving in America, who followed all the steps to become a legal American citizen.

Michelle's story, along with millions of other legal residents earning American citizenship, are the stories that Americans need to be learning about. In addition to Ms. Steel’s rewarding pathway to prosperity as a legal resident, I have read about another Korean-American born deaf, who had to learn English and American Sign Language, who became a successful baker. I know an state assembly candidate whose wife emigrated from Costa Rica and waited ten years to become a US citizen.

Another friend of mine, born in the French protectorate of Tunisia, shared the frustrations which she had faced in order to receive her citizenship papers. But she did it legally. She also lamented that the students in her French class did not understand the struggles which legal residents willingly endured, and how a massive amnesty is a slap in the face to those naturalized American citizens. Another older gentleman whom I met in Torrance, from Eritrea, shared with me the outrageous stalling he had to put up with from the federal bureaucracy to receive his citizenship papers. But he was waiting, and he was present in this country on a legal visa while waiting.

Putting aside these personal accounts, however, consider the following statistics on legal immigration.
4.4 million people are waiting legally to enter. Those individuals are wondering why they are not receiving their own version of amnesty, since they played by the rules. And the usual wait time for legal immigrants, with all the rules and loopholes? An average of six to twenty years!

This country does need immigration reform, but for those who sought legal status. . .legally!

US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)
chided his colleagues two years ago for lapsing on one sure-fire maneuver for legal immigration reform: the STEM Jobs Act, which would permit graduate students with training in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to receive a green card.

To this day, the STEM Jobs Act has not taken root, so to speak.

All of the current political wrangling and interest group pandering which is taking up space in Congress has ignored the legal immigrants and their stories, including Ms. Steel. They deserve respect and recognition for all that they have accomplished for this country, and that they sought to join legally.

Furthermore, I have delineated time and again (and again and once more this week) that free immigration to work is welcome, but not to welfare, and with the grandiose expansion of the welfare state under President Obama (including advertisements for American food stamps in Mexico) along with the failed rollout of Obamacare, the last thing that this country needs is a failed immigration reform which rewards thirty million people who broke the law, who can easily abuse, defraud, and certainly overwhelm the bloated and bankrupt American welfare state.


I am grateful for Mr. Steel's ironclad argument on behalf of the legal immigrants in our country, including the truly undocumented individuals who reside in this country legally, yet are still waiting an unjust length of time to receive their naturalization status.