MARC CHASE: National 'architect' offers local GOP blueprint

2014-01-23T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: National 'architect' offers local GOP blueprintMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
January 23, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Conventional wisdom dictates rampant political corruption radiating from certain members of a county political party — coupled with excessive government taxing and spending — should create the perfect environment for fresh faces to sweep into elected offices.

But Lake County is anything but conventional, with its solid blue Democratic foothold in an otherwise purplish-red conservative state.

So how can the local GOP build inroads with voters in upcoming election cycles? This week, I turned to an expert "architect" for answers.

National GOP strategist Karl Rove — dubbed the architect for his sturdy construction of the successful George W. Bush presidential campaigns — weighed in on Lake County's political climate. Rove spoke to me in advance of his Feb. 8 keynote address scheduled for the Lake County Republican's Lincoln Day Dinner.

The first bit of advice Rove had for the local GOP was simple: Be active.

Rove pointed out Republicans can and typically do win majorities and major offices in Indiana without the benefit of Lake County support. However, he said staying politically active — despite the uphill odds in Lake County — can help divide the local vote, ultimately aiding in GOP success in state and national races.

Rove also is up on his Lake County political specifics. He noted last year's freshman political successes of Indiana House Reps. Hal Slager, R-Scherverville, and Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, helped put the Lake County GOP on the radar of the state party.

In his first term, Slager, successfully pushed through legislation forcing spending reforms in Calumet Township, a stronghold of long-unchecked fiscal bloat.

"Those things help a lot to build credibility among Republican colleagues elsewhere in the state," Rove said.

They also show real fiscal conservative reforms on the local level, something sorely lacking in much of Lake County.

I also asked Rove to weigh in on the statewide GOP's strategy to make the possible addition of a gay marriage ban a part of the Indiana Constitution.

I agree with a number of local Republicans who feel this inflammatory social issue should have been left on the cutting room floor, regardless of individual viewpoints. After all, state law already defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. What political football needs to be spiked to drive the issue any further home?

Rove wasn't biting on the issue, though, steering clear of this statewide debate.

The state GOP should have left that social issue alone as well, placing more emphasis on sensible fiscal policies.

Rove cautions state, local and national Republicans to keep the focus on upcoming 2014 elections — particularly congressional races — rather than looking too far ahead to the 2016 presidential race.

A loss of focus has plagued the party recently, whether through divisions over the federal government shutdown nationally or the county GOP spat over a replacement for late County Assessor Hank Adams.

Maintaining focus on the here-and-now is sound advice given the recent counterproductive infighting.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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