Updated: Jan 11
Happy New Year! While we look forward to TBORAF’s exciting future in 2023, I wanted to take some time to look back on the big moves, great additions, and historic successes we’ve had this past year. From expanding our team to numerous success stories around the country, it’s been a huge year for TBORAF and our team members across our Republic thanks to your support.
The 2022 year started off with finalizing moving operations (and myself) to Wisconsin, a state I’ve always been fond of ever since I attended Marquette University and, coincidentally, THE battleground state for electoral politics. As such, it not only serves as a great base of operations but also a hotspot for TBORAF’s top issue - election integrity. I spent much of my time early in the year meeting with conservative leaders and speaking at conservative events on this important issue, highlighting common-sense election security measures as well as keys to campaign success.
Pictured: (left) TBORAF President John Pudner speaking at a campaign event in Eau Claire, WI as well as meeting with Waukesha County GOP Chairman Terry Dittrich (right).
My last campaign effort prior to forming Take Back was the defeat of Eric Cantor in 2014, after which we decided to form Take Back Our Republic (2014) and then our current Take Back Our Republic Action Fund (2015) to fill a void. Plenty of liberal groups focused on the rules of how elections were run - but there seemed to be no center-right group focused on the rules of elections. Some did not understand our change in focus, until the rules of elections in 2020 included changes such as ballots being passed out in Wisconsin parks before it was legal to start voting, and live ballots were mailed out to tens of thousands of non-voters in Nevada.
To address these and other election rules, we decided to allow team members to take partial or full unpaid leaves to jump back into campaigns for a few months for a refresher on how rules had changed and how we could address them. Team members ran a winning upset State Senate race in the East (Maine), ran door-to-door teams in Nevada that helped Republican Joe Lombardo win out West (Nevada, the only challenger to win against a Governor, as the other 27 Governors won re-election), knock 30,000 doors on an outside campaign for a Midwest legislator to improve from winning a narrow race to winning 2-to-1 though the Gubernatorial candidate lost in the same state (Wisconsin) and elected the first Republican Mayor in a Southern city this century (Shreveport, LA).
The value of meeting elected officials, candidates, political officials, and thousands of people at events and door-to-door efforts was invaluable as we returned with new, real-life experience to tackle election integrity issues and Final Five efforts based on our campaign experience outlined here.
Pictured: (left) TBORAF President John Pudner with an enthusiastic voter, (center) Portage County Republican and Michels Campaign volunteers, (left) and with grandson/door-knocker extraordinaire Finn.
The Maine race entailed Johnny Babilon taking unpaid leave to win a hotly-contested race to elect now Senator-elect Matt Harrington in a year where only 1 in 3 State Senate candidates won saw victory on election night. This was due to Johnny’s efforts and a highly-organized and prolonged voter contact program that helped to secure victory.
Pictured: (left) TBORAF Northeast FIeld Director Johnny Babilon knocking doors and organizing local events to petition candidacy signatures (right).
The Louisiana race entailed Field Director Byron Shehee taking unpaid leave to win another historic upset in Shreveport with now Mayor-elect Tom Arceneaux, who has just become the first Republican mayor in the city this century. This was not only accomplished thanks to Byron Shehee’s guidance and leadership, but also to aggressive early voting efforts, a hard-won digital ad battle, Election Day pushes in key neighborhoods, and of course, the majority runoff system similar to Final Five. I went more into detail on the keys to victory in this race here.
Pictured: TBORAF President John Pudner and Field Director Byron Shehee with Wendell Delaney (left), also known as “Coach”, and Mayor-elect Tom Arceneaux of Shreveport, LA (right).
On top of these great individual success stories, our team members gained inroads and had success on TBORAF's key issues. In South Carolina, TBORAF Government Affairs Director Anne Louise Peterson grew relations with key State Representatives on election security solutions. Specifically, she focused her time on how instant runoffs could play a key part in ensuring election integrity.
Pictured: TBORAF Government Affairs Director Anne Louise Peterson with SC State Rep. Brandon Newton (left), Rep. Spencer Wetmore (center), and Rep. Jay Jordan (right).
In Arizona, we won a key legislative victory in defeating HCR 2015, a bill that would’ve made statewide referenda nearly impossible. This was thanks to efforts from TBORAF lobbyist Constantin Querard, who led the fight in defeating this bill, and TBORAF Board Member Matt Braynard, who spearheaded an effort that registered tens of thousands of new Arizona voters.
Pictured: TBORAF President John Pudner (left) meeting with TBORAF lobbyist Constantin Querard (center) and TBORAF Board Member Matt Braynard (left) following their victory in Arizona.
In Wisconsin, I, and well as later Noel Wilkins and Erin Yager, split the year as a registered lobbyist, grassroots coordinator to advance Election Integrity and Final Five, as well as on a legislative race, and acted as Deputy Campaign Manager for then-gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels. Similarly, Lars Wiechman split his time between instant runoff efforts in South Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio, as well as running door-to-door efforts in Nevada, where we supported Lombardo, as well as Issue 3, a statewide referendum to adopt Final Five instant runoff voting. This makes Nevada the first state to implement this innovative voting system after Alaska’s adoption of a top-four system. I talked more about these historic victories here.
Pictured: Now former Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak (top), a prominent opponent to Final Five in Nevada, following his loss to now Governor-elect Joe Lombardo and Issue 3’s success (bottom).
After these historic victories across our Republic, TBORAF thanks Babilon and Wiechmann for fantastic years of service as they move on from TBORAF to turn their focus more exclusively back to Republican campaigns. We move into 2023 with a tight team of three hard-working full-time employees in Pudner, Shehee and Yager, and two monthly contractors in Anna Carter (Treasurer and Compliance) and Noel Wilkins (Communications). While we tighten our team to ensure donors' money is going straight into programs with very low overhead and administrative costs, we also have a wonderful team of project workers available on a per-project basis to ramp up whenever we need to on a particular effort.
Our email list of key conservative leaders and officials across the country who actually open our emails regularly, regular NewsMax columns, and dozens of Fox Radio News appearances, make this a great platform to discuss these ideas.
Pictured: TBORAF Field Director Byron Shehee (top left), Director of Grassroots Erin Yager (top center) and Communications Coordinator Noel Wilkins (top right). Not pictured only because they’ve been pictured since the doors opened in 2014 are John Pudner (President) and Anna Carter (Treasurer and Compliance).
All of this is to say that, despite the absence of the “red-wave”, TBORAF had a historic year full of big change and major upset victories thanks to your generosity and support. We hope to continue to deliver these important victories that will help ensure we take back our Republic. If you would like to further support our efforts into the new year, please donate here.