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Winning Purple: Here’s How

March 11, 2023

Michelle Steel. (Photo: Michelle Steel for Congress)


National journalists and astroturf outside groups relentlessly attacked Michelle for having the audacity to challenge subversive Communist influence

By Shawn Steel, April 11, 2023 6:26 am

Republican victories aren’t easy to come by in California.

Last November, my wife, Rep. Michelle Park Steel, overcame relentless attacks from swamp-funded special interests to win reelection in a new district that President Joe Biden carried by 7 points. Democrats may have a 5-percent registration advantage in Steel’s 45th Congressional District, but on Election Day, this first-generation Korean-American immigrant not only flipped the purple district but won by a commanding margin.

How did she do it? Steel outworked her opponent, campaigned early and connected with the needs of her community. Admittedly, as her husband, I’m a biased source. Nevertheless, my wife’s victory offers important lessons for how Republicans can win in California and other purple districts across the country.

In purple districts, Republicans must campaign for every vote in every language in every community. This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: if Republicans want to win over swing voters, we must run multi-lingual campaigns. Michelle Steel campaigned in six languages with more than 50 unique mail pieces, nearly 5 dozen peer-to-peer voter contacts, and more than 680,000 phone calls.

California’s 45th Congressional District is one of the most diverse districts in the country, including strong and vibrant Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Indian-American communities. By speaking the language of her constituents, she was able to earn their trust and support. The results speak for themselves. In the ten highest Vietnamese-speaking precincts, the largest demographic community in the 45th District, Michelle Steel outperformed her opponent by double-digits. In Korean-American precincts, Michelle defeated her opponent by a 15-percent margin.

Thanks to the support of RNC Chair Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and CA GOP Chair Jessica Milan Patterson, Republicans invested early in a Little Saigon field office to support all local candidates in Central Orange County. That helped Michelle Steel’s campaign build a strong presence in the community, connect with voters, and serve the needs of her constituents.  By having a physical presence in Little Saigon, voters understood that Michelle is here to serve the long-term needs of her community.

The RNC ‘community center’ field office also served as a critical gathering point for other like-minded candidates for local offices. It has been critical in supporting a strong team of Orange County Republicans, ranging from concerned parents on school boards to fiscal watchdogs on city councils. This coalition helps expand our network of volunteers, and ultimately boosts Republican turnout on Election Day.

Speaking of Election Day, Republicans can’t continue to wait for Election Day to turnout votes. Yes, Democrats are undermining voting integrity with ballot harvesting programs. In states where ballot harvesting is legal, Republicans must beat Democrats at their own game.

GOP ballot harvesting programs are a necessary evil. Republicans cannot take the chance that our voters will have the time, or remember to show up at a polling place on Election Day. Every Republican campaign in California must have a system in place to collect ballots from supporters. Collect ballots from churches, friends, supporters, and other surrogates.

Door-to-door canvassing and phone calling may seem old-fashioned, but more than ever are still effective campaign strategies, especially for building trust as part of a ballot harvesting program. Michelle’s team knocked on 193,000 doors, a Calif record. Walking door-to-door not only allows you to meet voters in person, but it also gives you a chance to hear their concerns and answer their questions. This is invaluable and builds trust and rapport with your neighbors. Michelle (and her team) is already walking door-to-door in advance of her 2024 reelection campaign.

Finally, Republicans must ignore the Swamp and remain steadfast to the voters they were elected to serve. Instead of covering the horrific human rights abuses by totalitarian regimes, national journalists and astroturf outside groups relentlessly attacked Michelle for having the audacity to challenge subversive Communist influence. Michelle is undeterred.

A member of the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, Michelle has made standing up to the Chinese Communist Party her highest priority in Congress. That reflects the concerns of her constituents, many of whom fled political persecution under Communist regimes.