Updated: Jan 18
After several successful radio interviews, TBORAF President John Pudner concluded his mid-term radio tour across America after recently appearing on WERC in Birmingham, Alabama, wherein he highlighted Take Back Action's work on the Final Five ballot initiative and how, if implemented, the system would encourage a diverse range of candidates while disincentivizing the divisive primaries that currently hurt Republicans across the board.
For more on TBORA's efforts on Final Five, please click here.
The following transcript from this interview is presented in its entirety with minor edits:
Final Five, Kevin McCarthy, Republicans, Democrats, infighting, problem, primaries.
JT and John Pudner.
As the Republicans gained control of the House, which is a good thing, Nancy Pelosi is on her way out. Actually, you know, is she going completely out? Let's talk with John Pudner now on that first and we'll talk about the balance of what's happening in Congress. John is the president of Take Back Action Fund, who was a Bush aide as well, and the only person in US history to run a campaign defeating a majority leader. John, welcome, and thanks for being back with me.
John Pudner 00:24
Great to be back in Alabama. Glad this segment was sponsored by my former employer, Alpha. It was good to hear from there.
We've got Kevin McCarthy now, he has won the Republican's designation as House Speaker. First of all, let's talk about Nancy Pelosi. Do they have to pry the gavel out of her hand or did she willingly go without any incident?
John Pudner 00:46
I didn't hear of an incident so I think it's gonna be smooth.
Is she done with politics? Is this her going home, taking care of her husband, and calling it a day, or is she going to stick around?
John Pudner 00:58
I think it's awfully hard to stick around. You know, you've run things, becoming Minority Leader, I think she's getting out, but we will see, I guess she's making an announcement today.
Kevin McCarthy is our guy now, he got that final tally, and the vote was 188-31. The 31, let's talk about them. Most of these folks came from a guy named Andy Biggs and his group. He's a representative from Arizona and was kind of pushing in a different direction. Why, first of all, did they not want Kevin McCarthy, that 31, and who did they want?
John Pudner 01:35
Well, I guess it was him, but you know, the Freedom Caucus, I think if they were seriously mounting a challenge, or trying to win, Jordan would have been the obvious leader. I think if they thought, "Hey, we really have a chance to beat McCarthy", I think Jordan would have been the guy, but you don't want to burn that one with him because he's in such a leadership spot. But, you know, that's a showing enough that maybe they tell him, "Hey, we need this chair or that chair," you know, there may be a couple of concessions they get just officially be on board. But I mean, he's going to be Speaker, I don't see any other scenario.
We were talking about this a little bit earlier, and Governor DeSantis was asked about the infighting and the civil war inside the Republican Party, mainly because Donald Trump has announced, and everybody's like, "Oh, no. Now what are we going to do?" But is there any infighting inside Congress now with Republicans, with these 31? Will they create some humps and hurdles for the Republicans in Congress and cause some problems, or once this decision has been made with Kevin McCarthy, are these 31 buying in and are we all going to be on the same team?
John Pudner 02:43
I think they are. You know, it's honestly a little easier to start fighting If you have a 20 majority and you're kind of comfortable with it. That's when it seems like people really fight. They generally have to bond when it's this tight. Now, if they were not to take any of these last half dozen races, and it really was 218-217. Of course, then they'd have the same problem that the Democrats had with Manchin, you know, if it's one vote, you know, particular issues or switching on items. And, of course, what always happens in those scenarios is the minority party goes to someone, or the majority party says, "Hey, we will actually make you speaker if you appoint all of us as chair," so he doesn't want 218. It shouldn't be, there are six races out there, you assume they win a few of them, but it would be awfully scary 218-217.
Democrats are masters at joining the ranks and supporting each other and their party, no matter what. Republicans need to take a little lesson from that book, don't you think?
John Pudner 03:45
Oh, absolutely. And just the coming out of primaries, I mean, it was taken a while to get people on board. I mean, I was involved in the Wisconsin governors' race here, the closest primaries in the country, and we had millions of dollars in conservative ads attacking each other through primary day in August. So, you know, all the damage is done. You've got an incumbent Democrat governor just handing out taxpayer money for a year, like they always do in their election years, and this is why 12/13 Democrats survived challengers in governors' races. So the infighting and the bad feelings, that's why I've talked about Final Five where you just don't trash each other with millions of dollars in conservative money. I'm happy to have two Republicans on the ballot and rank them at the end when you're down to five, something like that. But, It's costly - It's costing races the way we're doing it now.
Absolutely, and business has got to change a little bit as far as business as usual each day with Republicans, because if they don't unify and send that message all the time, that doesn't sit well with voters either.
John Pudner 04:55
That's right. It's really a tough one. McCarthy was kind of sticking it to corporate, which I've always been in favor of, we did the race against Eric Candor, we were definitely the anti-corporate, I'd say, you know, the Trumpian way. But you do that, but then you also look at just getting outspent four, and five, and six to one in some of these races, and people say, "Hey, the Republican messaging wasn't good." Well, in Arizona and other places, they weren't going on TV until a week or two out. I mean, the Democrats had months of TV. So, it's fine now for us to say, "Well, your messaging wasn't good enough," but if your message isn't on the air anyway, that might be the bigger problem. So the money difference is tough. I mean, it's really tough how much more money Democrats have right now for campaigns.
I want to ask you one last question. Where physically is that gavel right now? Is it in her House chambers or in her desk drawer? Who's got the gavel? Where is it?
John Pudner 05:50
You started and finished with a question I can answer to - stumped me twice during this interview.
All right, well, John Pudner, always good to catch up with you.