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GOP Touts Mail-In Ballots; Will Its Voters Embrace Them?

To improve voter turnout, Republicans are now embracing mail-in ballots, an innovation Democrats readily adopted.

Party leaders hope to combat skepticism among the rank and file by touting mail-in voting to ensure their voters can vote no matter what happens on Election Day.

In a press phone call on Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said the new program, Bank Your Vote, is needed, using a sports analogy.

“We can all agree you don’t want your football team to start scoring in the fourth quarter and think you’re going to win the game. We all know there’s no longer just an election day. There’s an election season,” McDaniel said.

Pennsylvania GOP Chair Lawrence Tabas said the 2023 election is “critical,” with statewide judicial races and municipal and school board races.

“You have until Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. to apply for (a mail-in) ballot,” said Tabas. He said the Pennsylvania GOP has been closing the voter gap and now stands at 235,000. “We’re committed that winning in ’23 is the path to winning in ’24.”

“Bank Your Vote is a crucial step,” Tabas said.

Dave McCormick, the endorsed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said, “The stakes are high.”

“With inflation from gas to groceries, Keystone State families are suffering from high inflation of a 20 percent rise in prices under the failed leadership of (President) Joe Biden and (Sen.) Bob Casey and that’s hurting all Pennsylvanians. But it’s hurting elders on fixed incomes. It’s hurting working families. As a result of this, Pennsylvania remains in the worst half of states for unemployment rates. And this is also killing small business owners.”

Treasurer Stacy Garrity, who will be running for reelection in 2024 and was also recently endorsed by the party, also urged people to bank their votes.

It helps so “life doesn’t get in the way.”

“We also need our most reliable voters to vote before election day to help our Republican candidates know who voted,” said Garrity. That pre-voting saves campaigns money that they won’t have to spend sending out mailings and reminders, so they can use it to target infrequent voters or independent voters.

The DVJournal asked how the GOP can reassure skeptical voters that their votes are secure if they use mail-in ballots.

McDaniel said in 2022, 80,000 poll workers were recruited nationwide who were there not just on election day but throughout the voting period.

“On top of that, we have a robust team of election integrity lawyers that are being deployed to the states. Pennsylvania already has some in place that are on the ground working with the counties to make sure that we know they’re going to administer the elections and making sure that’s being done,” she said. “And we can take decisive action quickly to protect your vote.”

Echoing Garrity, she said, “We cannot afford to chase ballots all the way through Election Day…We have to get these ballots in earlier.”

Tabas said a system was in place to track mail-in ballots. If a voter contacts their county party and says they did not get their ballot or their confirmation, “We’re on top of that,” he said.

Another question asked concerned “curing” ballots or allowing voters to fix mistakes, which has differed from county to county in the past.

Tabas blamed the courts for that discrepancy and said it was important for every county to operate under the same rules.

“Pennsylvania has to be assured that there are uniform rules so that if they’re counting your ballot anywhere in the commonwealth, it will be counted on the same basis, no matter where you live. Your ZIP code shouldn’t determine how your ballot ends up getting counted.”

Asked why the party has had a “change of heart” regarding mail-in ballots, McDaniel said it was necessary to adopt them to be competitive.

“This is a 2023, 2024 strategy that’s going to go on in the future and will result in big victories for Republicans in Pennsylvania,” said Tabas.

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POWELL: House Republicans Should Look To FDR for the Road Forward

Eight Republicans joined 208 Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives and opened the door for unforeseen consequences.

There are many paths to leadership in Congress, but the tried-and-true route is having the ability and willingness to raise money to help elect candidates. As CNN reported, “Kevin McCarthy raised $21.7 million in the second quarter in 2023 … bringing the total amount he raised this cycle to $62.5 million.” The story reports that money was transferred with “$17.6 million (going to) the House Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and $8.3 million directly to GOP incumbents.”

Whoever is elected speaker may face challenges raising money because most donors do not want drastic and unmanageable change, the impeachment of President Biden, or a government shutdown. So, the conference may lack funds to protect members in 2024.

Republicans lament that they lack the party discipline asserted by Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker. She had to manage the radical fringe members known as the “Squad,” but there was never a peep that they would oust her if they did not get everything they wanted. The glue that holds Democrats together is that they are the “party of more.” Every member will get at least part of what they want at some point, but they need to stick together. On vital issues, they vote as one because no caucus member wants to go to the back of the line or be primaried in the next election.

Republicans govern as the “party of less” without a doable plan for getting there. The Republican radical minority is openly critical of leaders who do not support every part of their agenda and want bills brought to the floor that cannot pass and create issues for more moderate members. That is not a recipe for organizational cohesion or long-term success. They would rather be philosophically pure in the minority than in a majority that had to compromise with Democrats.

On the other hand, The New York Times reported there are “18 Republicans who represent districts that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won in 2020. Many of these lawmakers, who include 11 newcomers, have indicated a greater willingness to work on bipartisan legislation than their peers.” 

The trouble with the moderate approach is that compromise still provides Democrats with “more” and leaves Republicans to explain why they can’t control spending, making either approach a lose-lose for House Republicans.

Many Republican purists point to Ronald Reagan as the true north star of conservatism. They do not understand that Reagan was a pragmatist and an excellent issues manager. He kept his focus on the big things and was always willing to bargain to get or keep what was most important to him. Reagan’s profile by the National Governors Association captured these skills as governor of California: “During his first term, Reagan temporarily stopped government hiring to slow the growth of the state workforce, but he also approved tax increases to balance the state budget. He cut funding for the University of California, a center of the student protest movement of the late 1960s, but after protests died down, he increased funding for higher education.” 

He did the same as president when he never enjoyed Republican control of both houses of Congress, building his brand by linking his policies to growing prosperity in America. House Republicans have no idea how to grow support using the effective management of issues.

The first move of the next speaker must be the right move for moving America forward. Neither impeaching Biden nor disrupting the government by shutting it down are issues that grow support for Republicans or alter their current course toward contraction. The speaker will need to gain control of the narrative, and to do that he needs to address big issues that matter to the American people and craft workable solutions.

That will require carefully selecting a problem they can solve (not a process issue like regular order) and delivering small results quickly to show that House Republicans can be trusted to craft a bigger solution. 

Republicans should look to Reagan for inspiration but also to Franklin Roosevelt to learn how he asked for and was given permission to fundamentally change the relationship between the American people and the federal government before he enacted his New Deal beginning in 1933.

This is a requirement for a party that wants to rethink how the government delivers services and change the trajectory of government spending. FDR built momentum and support throughout his first term in office because he solved well-framed problems by delivering measurable results. The next speaker should understand that action needs to build support. 

House Republicans need to be focused on things that matter to the American people and on leaving the American people wanting more of what Republicans are delivering. That is what FDR did in building a governing coalition that would last for generations.

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POPRIK: Lessons Learned from 2022 Election Cycle

As we end the year and the 2022 election cycle, it is important that we look back at the most important lessons and takeaways.  The next election is never too far away, and 2022 can teach us a lot of what success looks like for the Republican Party here in Southeast Pennsylvania in 2023.

First, let’s look at the results here in Bucks County. After years of failing to beat our Republican state representatives and senators at the ballot box, Democrats took it upon themselves to try and beat us through the redistricting process. The maps they produced were a blatant partisan power grab.

Despite the best efforts of Harrisburg Democrats, Bucks County elected five Republican state representatives and two Republican state senators this year.  This represents a critical voting bloc in a Pennsylvania House which, as I write this, is under Democratic control by just a single seat. Maintaining this presence for our party in the House is just one of the keys to judging our success in 2022.

This success was due in no small part thanks to the next topic I’d like to discuss, which is candidate quality. This election proved that after all this time, candidate quality is still an absolutely crucial factor in a campaign’s success. Here in Bucks County, we were proud to have a wonderful slate of candidates up and down the ballot, who worked hard and fought every day to represent our community and its values.

When the new Pennsylvania House and Senate and U.S. Congress are sworn in, Bucks County will be home to the majority of Republican state representatives and senators in our region, and the only Republican congressman to represent the Delaware Valley.  This is thanks in part to the quality of men and women who go out and make their case to their neighbors on behalf of themselves and the party.

The final important lesson we must take away from 2022, and one that I am hopeful we as a party are quickly learning, is the clear need to make better use of early voting. While I would like to see Act 77 repealed as much as the next person, we must recognize that early voting is not going away any time soon.

For too long, too many in our party refused to make use of early voting, whether in person at your local Board of Elections office, or by mail. Democrats start with hundreds of thousands of votes in the bank, and we spend just one day playing catch up. Here in Bucks County, we started an early vote program back in 2021, and have seen great success. It’s time to expand that across the Commonwealth.

As we all prepare for our county and local elections in 2023, we cannot soon forget the lessons from both our successes and failures in 2022. We know what we must do to win, and we are fired up and ready to go in the new year.

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PODCAST: Sen. Dan Laughlin’s Bid for Governor Based on Bringing People Together

Click Here for the Delaware Valley Journal Podcast

On this edition of the Delaware Valley Journal “On The Air,” State Sen. Dan Laughlin talks about his plans to run for governor and the pitch he plans to make to Pennsylvania GOP primary voters:

‘Nobody hates me.’

Is there room in the Grand Old Party of 2021 for a consensus-building candidate? Laughlin thinks there is and he explains why.

With DVJournal News Editor Linda Stein and Michael Graham of InsideSources.