(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Think the Republican establishment is alone in obsessing about candidate recruitment and the quality of GOP nominees? Think again.
The Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday held a panel discussion to examine disagreements between grass-roots activists and the party establishment over candidate viability that cost the GOP enough Senate races in 2010 and 2012 to constitute a majority. What was clear from the panelists and the activists that participated in the question-and-answer session was that conservatives are just as concerned as the establishment with the failure of Republican nominees to win general elections.
Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvanian who serves on the board of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, suggested that conservatives are frustrated with the GOP’s failure in the 1990s and 2000s to deliver on the promises Republicans ran on to cut spending and to rein in government. Gerow indicated that the grass roots have run out of patience, leading many in recent years to ignore candidate viability and competence and to reflexively oppose those backed by the establishment.
However, Gerow argued that recruiting conservatives to run for office who are also capable politicians should be a top priority of grass-roots activists who are interested in seeing a Washington, D.C., that reflects their values.