Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

Hostility to women not responsible for Wagner’s withdrawal

The Unablogger

Consistent with the mainsteam media’s continuing campaign to paint the Republican Party as inhospitable to women, Roll Call published a Nathan Gonzales column blaming perceived GOP hostility to women for the withdrawal of Congresswoman Ann Wagner from consideration for the GOP nomination to oppose Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s reelection next year. Gonzales is wrong.

Wagner was justifiably concerned about two sources of opposition to her candidacy within her party. The first and best known, and touched on by Gonzales, is the effort by establishment party elders like former Sen. Jack Danforth (generally regarded as the father of the 1970s Republican revival in Missouri) to get newly elected Attorney General Josh Hawley into the race instead of Wagner. Sam Fox, a major Missouri Republican donor and Danforth ally, had publicly urged Republican donors to hold off donating to any senate contenders until Hawley decided whether to enter the contest. That put a slight crimp in Wagner’s impressive early fundraising. Danforth and Fox’s motives were not sexist; they were based on concerns that Wagner might not be a strong enough candidate to beat McCaskill, or at least not as strong as Hawley would be. Hawley led the Republican ticket last year with 58.5% of the vote in the first statewide Republican sweep in Missouri in nearly a century. It is important for Republicans, both in Missouri and nationally, to take down McCaskill in 2018, important enough to go with their best shot, not just good enough to get it done with no margin of error. That’s how the establishment thinks, and in this case it makes sense.

The second and less publicized source of concern was vocal opposition to Wagner from the Tea Party faction. While Wagner scores relatively well on national measures of conservatism (88% American Conservative Union rating for 2016, but only 63% on the Heritage Action scorecard), the Tea Party is angered by her actions and votes designed to benefit Big Business donors at the expense of fiscal responsibility, a core Tea Party value. Wagner’s vote to save the Export-Import Bank is an example. The Tea Party regards Wagner and Sen. Roy Blunt as part of the pay-to-play swamp that President Trump wants to drain.

Another possible GOP senate contender, especially if dream candidate Hawley opts out, is Rep. Vicky Hartzler from western Missouri. I have heard no Tea Party complaints about Hartzler, who sports an excellent 2016 ACA rating of 96, although she scores only slightly better than Wagner on the Heritage Action scorecard with 69%. If any sexism exists towards Missouri Republican women, it rests with Gonzales, who indirectly dismissed Hartzler by calling Wagner “the GOP’s . . . only top-tier female hopeful,” even though Hartzler has won more elections and served longer in Congress than Wagner. Hartzler won her seat in the Tea Party revolt of 2010, prevailing over a tough primary field before unseating venerable 34-year incumbent Rep. Ike Skelton. At the time, Skelton was chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Like the establishment elders, the Tea Party opposition to Wagner has nothing to do with gender; unlike the establishment elders, it has everything to do with policy concerns. While the establishment is quite comfortable with Wagner’s policies, the Tea Party is not.

Rubio is more Tea Party than ‘establishment’

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

I continue to read, in both the lamestream media and conservative outlets like Fox News, that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is competing with Jeb Bush in the “establishment” subprimary for the Republican presidential nomination. Well, if “establishment” donors want to help a principled conservative like Rubio win the nomination, I’m fine with that, but don’t burden Rubio with the “establishment” label. It’s false.

Let’s remember Rubio’s rise to national prominence. In 2010, when the Republican establishment wanted then-popular (and then Republican) Gov. Charlie Crist to take the open Republican-held senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez (and appointed successor George LeMieux), Rubio challenged Crist from the right. When polls showed Rubio ahead, Crist pulled out and ran as an independent. Rubio won. In the senate, Rubio teamed up with two other newly elected principled conservatives, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), joined two years later by Ted Cruz (R-TX), to form a solid conservative bloc in the dysfunctional, moderate U.S. Senate.

Rubio was a conservative hero. He still is.

Most conservative disappointment in Rubio stems from his joining Sen. John McCain and six others (the notorious “Gang of Eight”) to support a bad plan for so-called immigration reform. Rubio’s motives were based in the feelings of his base in the conservative Cuban-American community. To his credit, he listened to the bill’s critics who attacked him for his position, he realized that the bill was a mistake, and he backed off. While it’s best to have instincts that make you right the first time, I also appreciate the ability to see one’s mistake, admit it, and fix it. Rubio did.

My initial choice for president in 2016 was Gov. Scott Walker. I don’t know why his support evaporated when Donald Trump entered the race, but it did, Walker bowed out, and that’s that. Every day I am more convinced that Rubio is the real deal. If you subscribe to the Buckley Rule, the most conservative choice in the current field who is electable is Rubio. He is not “establishment.” If establishment types want to support him, that would be a great help in securing Rubio’s win, and it would be a great first step on the part of the establishment to make peace with the Tea Party.

Lessons from Ferguson

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Democrat pols are busily seeking to take political advantage of the Ferguson tragedy by linking voter registration to the protests. Perhaps the Democrats should be careful what they wish for.

The Ferguson tragedy occurred just days after the first African American St. Louis County Executive was ousted by a white challenger in a racially charged Democratic primary. Primary victor Steve Stenger made a point of viciously trashing the African American incumbent. A key element of the campaign was the endorsement by Democratic County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who made vague accusations of corruption even though he never brought charges or convened a grand jury on the subject. Yes, that’s the same Bob McCulloch who is resisting protesters’ demands for charges against the police officer who killed Michael Brown.

The other key players are also Democrats. Although nominally non-partisan, it is inconceivable that Ferguson city officials like Mayor James Knowles could have been elected without the blessing of local Democratic leaders. Embattled Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson was placed in office by the mayor and city council, all likely Democrats. County police chief Jon Belmar is a “non-partisan” political appointee of a police board appointed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who is under fire for his delayed, then ambiguous and ultimately inadequate reaction to the Ferguson riots.

More significantly, almost all of African Americans long-term problems have been brought on by a parade of policy failures by Democrats. Blacks remain proud of and loyal to President Obama, but their economic plight has worsened during his administration. While overall unemployment has rebounded back to the level when the President took office, black unemployment remains high. Democrat economic policies have eliminated full-time jobs, replaced them with part-time jobs without benefits. Cuts in military personnel are cutting off a major avenue of African American advancement. Meanwhile, a soaring stock market, driven by cheap-money monetary policies, makes the top 1% even richer, thereby worsening the very income gap between the races that the party rails against. And now, the President’s encouragement of illegal immigration threatens to provide competition for the poorest blacks for the low-wage entry-level jobs that they need for subsistence.

So, let’s get this straight. Stenger. McCulloch. Nixon. Social and economic woes brought on or worsened by Democratic office holders. This is what African Americans are expected to rally and support?

In contrast, on the same day county Democrats were denying renomination to the black county executive, a contested Republican primary in predominantly white southwest St. Louis County resoundingly nominated Ballwin Alderman Shamed Dogan, an African American former aide to former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), for a seat in the Missouri legislature. Dogan now runs unopposed for the safely Republican seat in the general election. And during the Ferguson crisis itself, while prominent Democrats were jockeying for time on camera, the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition organized a BUYcott to help Ferguson shops that had been devastated by the riots.

For sure, African Americans have supported Democratic candidates since the Great Depression, but the popular definition of insanity is the repeating the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Apparently Democrats are counting on African American voters being crazy.

What should concerned African Americans learn from the Ferguson debacle? A better strategy for this election year would be to stand down and refuse to validate their Democrat oppressors. Ferguson underscores how their leaders have misled them. While significant ticket splitting for Rick Stream, the Republican candidate for county executive, would send a powerful message, standing down and refusing to vote at all would send an even stronger message. Instead of being reliable votes for a Democratic Party that takes them for granted and fails to produce for them, African Americans would be better served by listening and giving serious consideration to different approaches. Iowa farmers get whatever they want from Congress because they shift their votes back and forth depending on whichever party best serves their interests. African Americans should learn from their example.

The spontaneous Tea Party BUYcott demonstrated that conservatives aren’t out to get African Americans and do really care. Democrat opportunists seeking to fan the flames of violence demonstrated that Democrats really don’t.

Junior college candidate attacks Tea Party

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

In the non-partisan contest for Trustee of the Junior College District for St. Louis Community College (City and County of St. Louis),  subdistrict 3, one candidate, Allison Stenger, has attacked her opponent, incumbent Trustee Joan McGivney, for being (gasp!) a friend of the Tea Party. In a glossy, full-color mailing, Stenger says she will “stand up to Joan McGivney and her Tea Party friends.”

Apparently Stenger regards the Tea Party to be so negative, so repulsive, that she can win votes by tying her opponent to it, even worth fabricating such a connection. I have never seen McGivney at a Tea Party function. Of course, Stenger merely implied, without actually saying, that McGivney is a Tea Partier; the reference was to McGivney “and her Tea Party friends.” So, Stenger must think it’s evil merely to befriend a Tea Partier!

McGivney, Stenger’s opponent, has been a college trustee for just under a year, having won a special election for an unexpired term last year, when she defeated former Claire McCaskill campaign aide (now State Rep.) Bob Burns (D-Lemay). McGivney has 23 years of real-world work experience, including her own small business and 17 years as a Southwestern Bell executive. According to the Webster-Kirkwood Times, her resume is loaded with dedicated public service, having served on her local city council and school board, as a volunteer tutor at OASIS, and as a mentor at St. Louis City public schools. The Times notes that she was Webster Groves Citizen of the Year in 2002.

In contrast, Stenger’s qualifications are pretty slim. She doesn’t even have a campaign web site or Facebook page, probably because there’s nothing to say. Just turned 26, she has been out of school for less than a year. She is a personal injury attorney with the firm for whom she clerked during law school. During that clerkship she married one of the firm’s partners, St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger (D-Affton), 41, whose name and photograph appear prominently in her campaign materials. So, she filled in the gaps in her resume by cheap-shotting the Tea Party.

Stenger’s other “qualification” is her willingness to be the pawn of teachers unions, who want to oust the college’s chancellor. Teachers unions oppose McGivney because she acts independently of special interests, including the teachers unions, and bases her decisions on facts. McGivney also acts as a guardian of taxpayers interests, which are often at odds with those of the unions.

From the standpoint of good government, it makes sense that the management of the Junior College District’s multimillion dollar budget is better entrusted to a thoughtful, experienced taxpayer advocate than someone just a year out of school who would owe her election to unions representing the district’s employees.

And from the standpoint of the Tea Party, now it’s personal. Just like the Starbucks CEO’s recent declaration that opponents of same sex marriage are no longer welcome at his stores, Stenger’s pledge to “stand up to Joan McGivney and her Tea Party friends” makes it clear that Stenger does not want Tea Party votes. And McGivney’s taxpayer advocacy and independence from special interests also make her attractive to Tea Party supporters, even if she isn’t actually a member.

Jr. College candidate attacks Tea Party

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

In the non-partisan contest for Trustee of the Junior College District for St. Louis Community College (City and County of St. Louis),  subdistrict 3, one candidate, Allison Stenger, has attacked her opponent, incumbent Trustee Joan McGivney, for being (gasp!) a friend of the Tea Party. In a glossy, full-color mailing, Stenger says she will “stand up to Joan McGivney and her Tea Party friends.”

Apparently Stenger regards the Tea Party to be so negative, so repulsive, that she can win votes by tying her opponent to it, even worth fabricating such a connection. I have never seen McGivney at a Tea Party function. Of course, Stenger merely implied, without actually saying, that McGivney is a Tea Partier; the reference was to McGivney “and her Tea Party friends.” So, Stenger must think it’s evil merely to befriend a Tea Partier!

McGivney, Stenger’s opponent, has been a college trustee for just under a year, having won a special election for an unexpired term last year, when she defeated former Claire McCaskill campaign aide (now State Rep.) Bob Burns (D-Lemay). McGivney has 23 years of real-world work experience, including her own small business and 17 years as a Southwestern Bell executive. According to the Webster-Kirkwood Times, her resume is loaded with dedicated public service, having served on her local city council and school board, as a volunteer tutor at OASIS, and as a mentor at St. Louis City public schools. The Times notes that she was Webster Groves Citizen of the Year in 2002.

In contrast, Stenger’s qualifications are pretty slim. She doesn’t even have a campaign web site or Facebook page, probably because there’s nothing to say. Just turned 26, she has been out of school for less than a year. She is a personal injury attorney with the firm for whom she clerked during law school. During that clerkship she married one of the firm’s partners, St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger (D-Affton), 41, whose name and photograph appear prominently in her campaign materials. So, she filled in the gaps in her resume by cheap-shotting the Tea Party.

Stenger’s other “qualification” is her willingness to be the pawn of teachers unions, who want to oust the college’s chancellor. Teachers unions oppose McGivney because she acts independently of special interests, including the teachers unions, and bases her decisions on facts. McGivney also acts as a guardian of taxpayers interests, which are often at odds with those of the unions.

From the standpoint of good government, it makes sense that the management of the Junior College District’s multimillion dollar budget is better entrusted to a thoughtful, experienced taxpayer advocate than someone just a year out of school who would owe her election to unions representing the district’s employees.

And from the standpoint of the Tea Party, now it’s personal. Just like the Starbucks CEO’s recent declaration that opponents of same sex marriage are no longer welcome at his stores, Stenger’s pledge to “stand up to Joan McGivney and her Tea Party friends” makes it clear that Stenger does not want Tea Party votes. And McGivney’s taxpayer advocacy and independence from special interests also make her attractive to Tea Party supporters, even if she isn’t actually a member.

A serious response to the S&P downgrade

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

The Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. debt is a genuine wake-up call. The country is in deep financial dodo. We need to get serious about enacting government policies that will right the ship.

S&P stated that the downgrade was issued, even after the much ballyhooed deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit, because of (1)  the nation’s continuing budget deficits and climbing debt burden and (2) the political gridlock in Washington.

The first problem, of course, is that the government is spending more than it takes in. A lot more. In order to reduce the deficit (and ultimately, the debt), the U.S. must either increase revenue, reduce spending, or do some of both. President Obama and Democrats in Congress (notably in the Senate where they hold the majority) propose to increase revenue via tax increases. while Republicans in Congress (notably in the House where they hold the majority) propose to reduce government spending. Their disagreement produces the second problem – the gridlock.

The Democrat policy is flawed because it is based on the fallacious assumption that higher taxation automatically generates a proportionate increase in revenue. The problem is, higher tax rates act as a disincentive for business expansion, consumer spending and job creation. Those in turn result in less income subject to the higher rates, reducing or even eliminating the assumed gains in government revenue. The Heritage Foundation points out that tax revenues correlate with economic growth, not tax rates. Since 1952, the highest marginal income tax rate has dropped from 92% to 35%, and tax revenues have grown in inflation-adjusted terms while remaining constant as a percent of GDP. Democrats temper their tax increases by proposing to increase taxes only on “the rich.” Unfortunately, “the rich” includes most of the employers whose employment decisions are impacted by tax rates. Heritage notes that tax changes favoring “the rich” create growth better than tax cuts favoring low- and middle-income taxpayers. The other side of that coin dictates than tax changes targeting “the rich” will harm economic growth more than tax increases targeting low- and middle-income taxpayers.

Democrats in the debt debate have tiptoed around actual tax rate increases by proposing the elimination of certain deductions (e.g., the President’s rhetoric about corporate jets). But, as with tax rates, that policy’s  impact on related employment and other tax-generating activities needs to be considered carefully. For example, the 1993 tax increases included an excise tax on yachts that sharply reduced yacht sales and led to loss of jobs in the yacht building industry. Current Democrat proposals to cap itemized deductions for the wealthy would effectively eliminate deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable donations by the very people who can afford to make such personal expenditures. That in turn would further harm a housing industry whose slide helped precipitate the Great Recession, and reduce the resources available to charities at the very time they are needed most.

The Republican strategy of cutting government spending is more sound. Eliminating the trillion dollar Obamacare boondoggle (which a clear majority want Congress to do) would be an excellent first step. While Obamacare repeal wouldn’t save its entire trillion dollar cost because of the need to restore the Medicare cuts that Obamacare imposed, the net savings would be significant. A smaller but symbolically important gesture by the President would be to reduce expenditures on his personal staff. Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris notes that pay increases to the President’s top 20 employees increased this year by an average of 48%. That’s unconscionable in these perilous economic times. And, of course, cut the pork.

Keynesian Democrats, flashing back to the 1960s, argue that reduced government spending adversely impacts government revenues in the same way as tax increases. Democrats liken increased government spending to tax cuts, claiming that both strategies utilize a “multiplier effect” by putting  money in people’s pockets that they spend on other goods and services. But government spending doesn’t really pump any new money into the economy, because, as the Heritage Foundation notes, government must first tax or borrow that money out of the economy. In contrast, pro-growth tax cuts support incentives for economically productive behavior. The right tax cuts help the economy by reducing government’s influence on economic decisions and allowing people to respond more to market mechanisms. Most tax increases do exactly the opposite.

Unfortunately, principled but simplistic solutions like “raise taxes” and “cut spending” are not sufficient by themselves to solve a problem as complex and as federal debt accumulated over a number of years. While cutting federal spending is a much better solution than raising taxes, spending cuts alone many not be enough. But revenue sources should be chosen that don’t negatively impact economic growth and job creation. The government can raise some revenue without taxing anybody at all by simply selling off unused or underutilized government assets, like certain office buildings and other real estate. Reducing or eliminating deductions for state and local taxes should be considered because such a policy wouldn’t really provide a disincentive for anything within a taxpayer’s control (other than the extreme step of moving to a lower taxed state or locality). The so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes, alcohol and similar products whose consumption has not historically been adversely affected by higher cost are another avenue to explore. Another realistic conservative sacrifice could be reinstating pre-Bush levels of estate and inheritance taxation. Conservatives recently reduced these taxes on the basis of fairness, but can we legitimately argue that higher death taxes will be a disincentive to death? If so, bring it on!

The “political gridlock”part of the problem must be solved by voters in 2012. We need to turn the presidency and control of both houses of Congress over to a single political party. If a constitutional amendment (like the Balanced Budget Amendment) is part of the solution, the straight-party vote should also extend to members of state legislatures, where constitutional amendments are ratified. The personal popularity of politicians from the other party must be disregarded in this time of crisis. In order to get a government that is decisive, the voters must be decisive. One way or the other, full bore.

The Buckley Rule and the concept of ‘electability’

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

As tea partiers and other conservatives begin to recruit candidates to continue the revolution through the 2012 elections, we must learn from both our successes and failures in 2010. Many establishment types have chastised us for “ruining” Republican chances of capturing the U.S. Senate and some governorships by nominating genuinely conservative candidates who ultimately didn’t win. We are urged to invoke The Buckley Rule, promulgated by the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr., “Nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable.

I wholeheartedly agree with The Buckley Rule. But to follow the rule, we (and anyone else who is preaching it) need to understand it. Simplistically pointing to the defeats of GOP senate nominees Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle and Ken Buck and gubernatorial nominees Dan Maes, Carl Paladino and Bill Brady doesn’t cut it. Similarly, the successful campaigns of Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte and Dan Coats, all establishment-backed candidates who overcame tea-party candidates, do not provide any meaningful support for moderates’ case. After all, tea-party backed senate candidates Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Idaho congressional nominee Raul Labrador were also on the moderates’ rant list, but these candidates’ big general election wins diverted the moderates’ scorn to other targets. Other establishment-backed primary winners, notably Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and Dino Rossi, failed to bring home wins. In most of those cases, other more objective measures of electability were the primary reason for victory or defeat. And sometimes, you fight the good fight but still lose.

Moderates and their allies in the mainstream media tend to assume that “electable” is synonymous with “moderate.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Electability is a complex measure that is unique to each particular contest. I would suggest the following criteria be utilized, and certainly my savvy, perceptive readers can offer others in the comments below.

Ideological compatibility with the electorate. Electability varies with the ideological complexion of the district’s voters. On the west coast, the east coast north of the nation’s capitol, and in many urban areas, conservatism realistically does not sell well. In the case of the 2010 Delaware senate contest, a principled conservative like Christine O’Donnell may have been ideologically incompatible with the electorate in a state where liberalism has dominated for the past generation. In contrast, moderate Sen. Scott Brown turned out to be perfect for the Massachusetts special election that proved to be the national momentum changer in 2010. On the other hand, conservatives were right to push for more principled candidates for the senate seat in Utah and the one-term-Democrat house seat in Idaho, where conservatism is king. For those electorates, the more conservative candidates were the more electable candidates.

Risk of liberal Democrat victory. Conservatives need to assess whether it is necessary to settle for a “lesser evil” in order to avert something even worse than a RINO. As I have written before, virtually every RINO Republican is more conservative than any elected Democrat. How much worse would the Democrat be than the RINO alternative? Would a principled nominee who does not appeal to the needed votes of moderate independent voters expose the seat to an over-the-top leftist? In Delaware, Sen. Chris Coons was often referred to as the “bearded Marxist.” If Coons’ voting record begins to track that of avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), conservatives may come to regret not settling for the arguably electable RINO alternative, Mike Castle. But in Colorado, milquetoast Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, though an unfortunate obstacle to the quest for control of the senate, wasn’t as big a risk.

Risk of moderate Republican victory. This is a corollary to the previous factor. Sometimes getting the party victory that you want is worse than losing. Would a more moderate nominee, if elected, discredit the conservative or Republican brands? The poster child for this factor is Dede Scozzafava, the disastrous RINO congressional nominee in a 2009 special election in upstate New York. The pro-abortion, ACORN-endorsed Republican nominee lost what was then a historically safe Republican seat when most grassroots Republican voters bolted to the nominee of the Conservative Party. But if elected, her performance in office would have damaged the Republican Party’s credibility with its base. Before jumping to the conclusion that we have to settle for a RINO, we need to stop, think and ascertain as best we can the potential damage to the party that can result from embarrassing unreliable representation by a RINO.

Vetting of personal issues. A candidate’s ideological purity doesn’t matter if a history of dishonest or unethical behavior or other personal misconduct (or the mere appearance of same) renders the candidate unelectable. This is an area where an established party organization has vetting resources and experience that grassroots tea party organizations lack. But that difference is meaningless if the party organization fails to do the job. In a low-visibility Republican primary for Missouri state auditor in 2002, the Republican organization recruited a capable but little-known candidate, but failed to check into Al Hanson, a perennial candidate who also filed. Missouri Citizens for Life, a pro-life group that was (and remains) very influential in Republican primaries, endorsed Hanson based on pro-life positions expressed in his response to their questionnaire, after the establishment recruit failed to respond. The grassroots organization looked only to its questionnaire and made no effort to vet their pick on anything else. The endorsement propelled Hanson to a shocking 65-35 win over the recruited candidate in the Republican Primary. Then, immediately after the primary (but not in time to inform primary voters), the mainstream media disclosed that Hanson was a convicted felon. Hanson refused the party’s pleas to withdraw, and incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill won big in November, perhaps enhancing her image enough to defeat Republican Sen. Jim Talent four years later. Though not as telling as a criminal felony record, significant problems with unsuccessful Republican senate nominees in both Delaware and Nevada helped Democrats withstand the 2010 Republican wave and hold those seats. Moral: We need to know everything about potential candidates, warts and all, to avoid serving up an easy target for negative Democrat campaigning.

Conservatives need to recruit top-flight candidates in 2012, from the presidency on down. Being a solid conservative is an important requirement, but the other factors listed above also need to be considered objectively. They need to be addressed during the recruitment process, so that the opportunity to recruit someone else remains if the early favorite is found to be unacceptable. It’s also better not to have to air dirty laundry publicly in a resource-wasting contested primary.

Over a dozen serious candidates may vie for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and a solid handful of serious choices will seek the right to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. It is essential that capable conservative candidates win the general elections for both offices. We must be able to make an informed and reasoned decision who “the most conservative candidate that is electable” is.