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One Mission Unites TBOR Action’s Frantic 1st Week of 2023

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Before giving a wide-ranging update on the last week and our incredibly busy meetings with dozens of Republican Chairs choosing nominating methods, one of the greatest statewide officials in America, Virginia Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, talking with Members of Congress during a brief recess between votes on the next Speaker of the House, and making a presentation to the leaders of hundreds of conservative organizations in DC that was broadcast to similar conservative gatherings across the US, we need to take a breath to explain …

why was that such a long run-on sentence, and what is the mission of Take Back Our Republic Action Fund that ties together so much activity? Read below to find out!

Pictured: (left to right) TBOR Action President John Pudner, Steve Horton of McGuire-Woods Consulting, where Pudner was Sr. VP of Grassroots, Lt. Governor Chief-of-Staff Julianne Condrey who, like President Pudner, was in Dave Brat’s 2014 election announced nine years ago today in New Kent, and Virginia Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears after productive meetings in Richmond, VA.

Feedback from End-of-Year Calls: Good and Bad

Two themes developed during hundreds of phone conversations and completed surveys in December. First, on the good side, people are blown away that our three full-time employees have run grassroots efforts on the ground in all 48 continental US states and continue with only two additional monthly contractors and a 6-figure budget to have such reach. However, on the bad side, we have not made it clear how all these efforts are related under the core mission that drives Take Back Our Republic Action Fund (TBORAF).

In addition to thanking all those who made end-of-year contributions (we received $20,455 total in December, the only month we ask), we felt we owed you a cohesive answer. To do a better job of keeping the overall mission front and center, will now permanently feature our Mission Statement and what you can do to help at the top of the web page prior to blogs on our latest activities. While we have a wide range of efforts, they all fall under our central theme and mission as the only center-right group that has fought since 2015 for rules of elections that will reinforce Americans' confidence in the Republic.

The Explosive 1st Full Week of 2023

Most of you likely share our belief that the first full week of the new year is usually one of the busiest as everyone gets back on the job after celebrating Christmas or other holidays with family and friends. An unrelated observation is that the two toughest jobs in politics are Speaker of the House and County Party Chair.

Rules of Elections: Who Gets on the Ballot Before You Vote:

I crisscrossed Virginia with Field Director Byron Sheehee last week to talk to dozens of Republican leaders as they chose how to nominate their candidates for the state’s unique odd-year legislative elections, which could put Republicans or Democrats in charge of the House of Delegates and the State Senate. We appreciate leaders considering options like the one used to nominate the Republican ticket that ended years of Democratic Statewide rule — a fire house primary using ranked ballots to settle on Governor Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares and Lt. Governor Winsome Sears. Among the dozens of Chairs we reached out to the last few days, we found a pretty even split between Chairs opting for traditional state-run primaries, and those opting for traditional conventions.

I've ran more than a dozen winning convention nominations in the state as well as Dave Brat’s win in the state-run primary in 2014 (nine years ago today, I was driving with Dave Brat from New Kent to Richmond, VA on the kickoff announcement tour of his challenging of Eric Cantor, after National Review leaked the story). However, we hope after November’s election the state will revisit rule changes in Code Section § 24.2-509 attempting to outlaw certain nomination processes starting next year, and while they are at it, consider proposals we’ve advanced that go past a firehouse primary and eliminate spoiler candidates through those innovations to impact how candidates campaign and govern.

Pictured: National Review's article leaking Dave Brat's challenge of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who would go on to lose in a historic upset primary as the first ever sitting House majority leader to lose a primary.

Nine years ago, many conservatives questioned why I would help challenge Majority Leader Cantor after he had done so much to help conservatives sweep through Congress in 2010. I simply believed some in the party had started to veer a bit off course by letting “pro-business and low tax” extend to not challenging China and multinational corporations who were running the true American entrepreneurial spirit of small business. I have long viewed the Heritage Foundation as the most important policy group in the country since he started reading their material as a teenager, and likewise one of their top scholars is Hans A. Von Spakovsky, with whom our team agrees with his work on Civil Rights, Election Integrity, the First Amendment, Immigration and Government Regulation. Take Back Our Republican Action Fund even shares a couple of major donors with Heritage.

TBORAF just believes Spakovsky is veering a little off on one issue - his condemnation of voting that has any aspect of ranked-choice voting such as the Virginia ranked-choice convention that picked Youngkin or a version of the Final Five system we support. Spakovsky is absolutely correct that some try to use some versions of ranked-choice voting to confuse voters by either not allowing voters to know which candidate on their ballot is supported by which party - either by letting multiple candidates list themselves as Republicans and Democrats or by not listing the party by any candidate's name on the ballot.

However, those problems can easily be solved by letting each party determine who gets the R or D by their name via a convention or primary, while also letting more than one candidate on the final ballot to turn out more voters and then a limited ranking of only the Final Five candidates in November (as opposed to New York when voters were expected to rank 13 candidates at the beginning of the process). Solutions along these lines prevent liberal billionaires from funding spoiler candidates by making the process backfire by letting supporters of the pro-life, Constitution Party, Conservative, Libertarian, or even a runner-up in a GOP nomination battle appear on the final ballot with almost all of the above listing the Republican candidate second on the ballot to get them to a majority (or a Green Party candidate picking the Democrat second).

For most of the history of our Republic, candidates made the ballot via a party convention. Then the vast majority changed their process radically to the primary system. With the modern practices of pouring money into digital efforts to siphon off a few percent of the conservative vote in many races, veering the process for getting on the ballot may be the minority view right now among conservatives just like moving from a pro-corporate position to a conservative populist system was in the recent past - but in the end helped advance the conservative agenda.

Rules of Elections: 2nd State Legislature Rejects GOP Choice for Speaker, McCarthy Wins

Prior to Shehee and I crisscrossing Virginia, and Grassroots Director Erin Yager doing the same in Wisconsin, we met with Members of Congress during recess between balloting for Speaker of the House just days after 22 Ohio Republican Legislators successfully split to pick a more moderate Speaker supported by all 32 Democrats. In Congress, the 20 dissenting Republicans were not successful in preventing Kevin McCarthy from becoming the Speaker.

Ohio follows Alaska’s move in 2018 to go to a “coalition government,” likewise rejecting the Speaker chosen by the more conservative Republican Caucus and thus making it hard for a Republican governor to advance a conservative agenda. Critics who pretend Alaska’s Top 4 primary caused more “moderate” elected officials and leadership ignore how moderately Republican the state always has been. If you’ve been reading attacks on the new Top 4 system there, you may be shocked to learn that two of the last three Alaskan Members of Congress were Democrats, and the one in between them (Don Young) may have been the most moderate member of Congress who conservatives tried to replace for decades. Likewise, when the Republican Party rejected Senator Murkowski to nominate a more conservative US Senator in 2010, Murkowski beat the GOP nominee running in a traditional election (not Top 4 or ranked-choice voting) as a write-in candidate.

As we’ve recently highlighted, Republican Nick Begich beat both Sarah Palin and now-Cong. Mary Peltola head-to-head if the consensus voting method of Final 4 voting had been used, but he needed Palin to drop out when her unfavorable ratings passed 60 percent if anyone was going to be the first conservative Republican elected in 50 years. In fact, Republicans could have won if Palin had simply stopped telling voters to choose the Democrat Peltola rather than Republican Begich.

Rules of Elections: Michigan Guts Voter ID and Signature Verification in Blow to Election Integrity

In a speech Wednesday to leaders of hundreds of conservative organizations in DC that was watched at conservative gatherings in many states, I mentioned the blow to election integrity in all future Michigan elections. Look for details in my next NewsMax column or look for my next series of Fox News Radio interviews on Wednesday. This became my top issue when I was first allowed to register to vote as a student on the spot (without any process to see if he had voted in his home state of Virginia before casting his vote in Wisconsin) and Yager first focused on chain of custody rules and voting windows not being followed. We would hope that all would want to do basic steps of checking Voter ID or a strong signature match when a ballot is mailed as the baseline Voter Integrity Measures.

Rules of Elections: Campaign Experience

As noted in past blogs, our team comes back from various leaves working campaigns in multiple states to make sure we are addressing the most pressing issues regarding the rules of elections. As alluded to earlier, while Shehee and I were in DC and crisscrossing Virginia last week, Director of Grassroots Erin Yager was in Wisconsin knocking on hundreds of doors and setting up meetings around the state, so we look forward to crisscrossing Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

Look for more updates on Election Rules, from Term Limits, to ActBlue’s unverified billions to pay-for-play politics as we see which Election Rules might be changed by party officials, legislators or other leaders in 2023 before we are back in another Presidential Election year.

Many election rules need to be improved - that is our Mission.

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