Their view: GOP’s top-down approach must change

John Billingsley is 1st vice chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico. Here's a snippet from his recent column on post-election strategy:

Election Day was a tough one for Republicans. It was tough for our candidates, our volunteers and Gov. Martinez.

Despite an investment of nearly $3 million by the governor and her related political action committees, a well-funded U.S. Senate race and an active GOP Victory operation, let's not fool ourselves; the Republican Party frankly got wiped out.

Although Republicans had a net gain of three in the state Senate, we experienced a net loss of at least two in the House of Representatives, thus dashing our hopes of taking control of this chamber.

In addition, most of the governor's judicial appointees won't be returning to the bench in January.

Finally, our electoral votes again went for President Obama and three of our four candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress lost.

It's an unfortunate outcome — particularly on the state level — because New Mexicans overwhelmingly agree with Martinez's agenda.

They agree that our state government should live within its means; that we should reform our tax code to diversify and grow our economy; that elementary children should be proficient in reading at their grade level; and that people here in the U.S. illegally should not have driver's licenses.

As a longtime conservative and Republican activist, I believe our party must return to the lead role in grassroots, candidate recruitment, messaging, and fundraising.

For too long, the party has adopted a top-down approach when it comes to communicating our message and values to voters.

Multi-million dollar TV campaigns and mailers go a long way, but they don't take the place of direct personal engagement in our communities and having frank but civil conversations with people about how we can alleviate our national, state, and local problems.

I envision a state Republican Party that encourages county organizations to develop innovative outreach efforts that work best for their communities and a party that does not wait until an election to get involved with business groups, churches, charities, and neighborhood organizations where people who agree with us on the issues exist.

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