Podcast 16

Show Notes:

Texas Republicans, led by candidate Peter Flores, won a special election on Tuesday in the Texas State Senate. Hillary Clinton won this district by 12 points just 22 months ago, and Flores won by 6 points on Tuesday evening. This district has not been represented by a Republican in the State Senate since 1879. That’s right, 1879. Rutherford B. Hayes was president in 1879. And Albert Einstein, he of the theory of relativity and E=MC2, was born in 1879.

Nationally, Republicans should take heart from this victory and keep fighting. Do NOT fall for the media’s narrative of a “blue wave” or unicorn dust or anything else. Get out there and persuade the people on the fence, the people who decide late, that you are the right person for the job.

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Winning AmRen Client Gilbert Pena Feature In Sunday Paper

Theodore Schleifer of the Houston Chronicle wrote a Sunday feature on American Renaissance Political Consulting Group client Gilbert Pena’s upset victory in November.

houston-chronicle

 TEXAS POLITICS

Perseverance, work ethic define area’s newest state rep

By Theodore Schleifer
December 27, 2014

gilbert-pena-american-renaissance-pcg

By the time Harris County’s conservative leaders fished for their car keys at their Election Night watch party, there were few candidates left to congratulate. Nearly every Republican had won, and each had earned a handshake or name-check from the movement’s political class. Every one, that is, but Gilbert Pena.

Pena finally had triumphed in his fifth run for political office to score the biggest local upset of the evening, but his name remained unsaid. Amid the post-election jubilation, the new state representative was unnoticed. Pena’s supporters would argue that’s because he had been underestimated – again.

“If you underestimate Gilbert Pena, you’re making a mistake,” said his treasurer, Bill Treneer.

Pena, an unassuming retiree derided as a perennial candidate by those Republican signal-callers, rode a GOP wave to oust Pasadena Rep. Mary Ann Perez by 155 votes in November. Pena struggled to woo any donors or political support – Perez’s war chest was 250 times the size of his – but the short and reserved man is used to upending how others perceive him.

The 65-year-old rose from a hardscrabble early life to become a new legislator thanks to a work ethic that can make him impossible to ignore.

Learning to read

Neither of Pena’s parents was in the picture when he moved to Houston in first grade to live with his aunt. She spoke only Spanish, and that showed in the classroom.

Teachers would ask the future state representative to read English – which he insisted he could – and when he inevitably failed his teachers’ challenges, he had his first experiences with racism and hatred, Pena said.

“You can’t read,” his first-grade teacher said, according to Pena. “Don’t you ever tell anybody you can read.”

He continued to tell them just that, even if he had to spend three years in first grade. He sat in the back of classrooms, avoiding pesky classmates as he taught himself quietly to do what other kids had done for years. When he reached Ms. Walker’s seventh-grade classroom, he believed he had made some progress with his reading.

“How come Gilbert’s just reading a book?” one classmate asked Ms. Walker.

“Don’t you worry about what Gilbert’s doing,” Pena recalled her saying. “I got him on a special assignment.”

After Walker’s first year with him, she no longer separated him from the rest of his T.H. Rogers Junior High class.

“If God told her, ‘Ms. Walker, you can’t make it into heaven unless you can tell me one person you did good by,’ ” Pena said wistfully last month, “she could point down to me and say – ‘Gilbert, right there.’ ”

He finally had learned to read, but that skill wouldn’t help support his aunt at home. So, Pena began busing tables for 50 hours a week at El Patio on Westheimer Road. At 50 cents an hour, Pena’s weekly paycheck meant his aunt no longer had to pick cotton to make the same $25 a week.

“We did anything to make a dollar for our parents,” said Ben Pena, Gilbert’s first cousin. During the summers, Pena and his two younger brothers would visit Ben’s family in Wharton County to pick cotton and pecans from sunrise to sunset.

To make those dollars, Pena admits he short-changed his education, which he began to view as merely offering a bus ride to his job at the country club. When he had washed the last dinner dish there, he would walk the three hours home.

‘I had to do something’

He soon dropped out of high school to work three or more jobs at once. A paper route in the morning. An eight-hour shift at a steel company in the afternoon. Cleaning offices at night. Odd job led to odd job for the next two decades. Before long, inevitable layoffs would slide Pena down the ladder back to minimum wage work, erasing any gains he had made since high school.

“I had to do something that would better my life,” he said. “I’m getting to an elder age and I’m thinking, how much longer am I going to have to work like this?”

A drunken driver whose vehicle busted through the median on Interstate 10 accelerated his timeline. The accident wrecked Pena’s left knee, but it also forced him out of his newfound trucking job and created time for college – something no teacher, not even Ms. Walker, believed he could enter or finish. He earned a political science degree from Texas Southern University at age 47.

Pena later found some financial stability installing refrigerators across Texas, working weeks at a time on trips that capitalized on his work ethic and built the bank account to raise his four kids. He spent any free time he had feeding, bathing and tending to his special needs son, who today is 25 and still lives with Pena and his wife.

“I don’t think I could do that 24/7,” said Ben Pena. “But he does it with a smile on his face.”

As he became more secure, the Pasadena resident’s thoughts began to turn to politics as he saw rising taxes cut into what he had earned. He ran for state Senate in 2008 to “get my name out,” he said, and his performance in the Republican primary encouraged him to run for state representative in 2010. His retirement in 2011 enabled him to treat the campaign like a full-time job in 2012. He lost then, too.

Almost no funds raised

Pena said he was unsure about running for the Legislature a fourth time this year. He decided he would make a bid only if he received assurances from Austin power brokers and political action committees that they would financially support him.

And he received those assurances, he said.

But when Pena’s campaign manager, Temo Muniz, presented Pena’s proposed path to victory to Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Associated Republicans of Texas, two of the state’s premier conservative PACs, neither one cut checks, Muniz said.

So, Pena worked even harder. He raised virtually no money and had none of the professional frills that typically accompany a legislative race in one of Texas’ few competitive districts. Instead, he knocked on doors for around four hours every day, almost always by himself and pitching the district’s Hispanic voters a socially conservative message.

“I’ve never seen a guy who works that hard from dawn till dusk every day,” said Treneer.

And he won.

Pena does not have any policy experience or expertise – he does know he plans to support Joe Straus for speaker and that he cares most about education issues – but he said that his “hard times” separates him from the lawyers and businessmen who dominate the Legislature. Many of them have called him to offer their congratulations, but he said he will remember that the Austin establishment never had his back.

“I want to be able to come back and say, ‘You didn’t believe in me,’ ” Pena said. “I’m waiting. They’ll come knocking.”

Welcome California GOP Convention Attendees

California Republican Party Convention 2013 Banner

If you’re attending the California Republican Party Fall Convention in Anaheim this weekend and you found one of our cards in your welcome packet…welcome. Jump right in here, the water’s fine. Take a look around our website, you’re sure to find something of interest.

If you know someone thinking about running for office, or someone ready to take that plunge, but they’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. Let’s take back California, one community, one neighborhood, one precinct, one voter at a time.

Thank you for checking us out, and have a great fall convention.

Why We Can’t Give Up

By Joe Gruters

Yes. November was disheartening for Republicans, conservatives, traditionalists and all those who want to see a free and prosperous country for generations to come.

But disheartening can’t mean giving up.

We can’t continue in the current direction. Republicans know that.

We don’t need to.

In the fifth year of the Obama presidency, we have a barely sputtering economic recovery nationally, always on the brink of slipping back into a recession. We have a record number of people on food stamps and other welfare programs. Democrats will continue to say things would be worse without their interventions. But that embarrassingly weak defense can be defeated, and must be.

We’ve printed, borrowed and spent trillions more than we collected, all in the name of compassion and stimulating the economy. The economy stinks and we have record numbers of people not working, slogging along at the bottom of the economy with declining hope. The March employments numbers were dismal, well below even modest expectations. That is failure, but not just politics. It’s awful for the future of the country.

By the end of Obama’s second term, if Congress remains status quo, Democrats will have added $10 trillion to the national debt, on top of George W. Bush’s $4 trillion, which was bad enough. We don’t just need Republicans, we need actual, honest-go-gosh, principled conservative Republicans.

They must overturn the worst elements of Obamacare. Once it is fully implemented next year, it will be revealed for the bait-and-switch con we all suspected it was but were never sure because nobody actually knew what was in the bill. The opposite of what was promised will come to be in several areas: health-care premiums will go up, not down; health care will begin to be rationed, not expanded; doctors will be harder to find, not more plentiful; and jobs will be axed in the industry. We may never overturn Obamacare by name, but we can gut it, cutting out much of the government-takeover elements that will ruin our health care system.

Social Security and Medicare are headed for the shoals. The demographics against them are too strong without changes in the programs. Romney made the case, but he faced too many other problems. It’s a steep climb, but it must be done. People like Paul Ryan, who lives in a Democrat district in Wisconsin, has taken it on repeatedly. That’s what we need more of.

The reality is that these things can be done because we are right. But it will take a lot of work and devotion on our part. We’ve already had victories when the raw facts became overwhelming. For instance, most conservatives were skeptical of the man-made climate-warming hysteria and political control agenda behind it.

Carbon emissions have been continuing to increase since 2000, but the planet has not heated up since then. Some politicized scientists, many in the media and hysterical fringes like Al Gore may still keep yelling that the sky is falling. But they are already being marginalized by the plain facts. There is no real movement anymore to make the ridiculous changes that Kyoto and other insanities once proposed. Green energy won’t go away, but as long as it’s subsidies are kept under control or, dare we hope, eliminated, it’s a net positive. If the market will sustain it, great. Otherwise, chuck it.

The good news is that Republicans continue winning at the state level and conservative ideas are rising triumphant whenever tried. Florida is a perfect example, as our economy, which was worse when Gov. Scott took office, has roared past the national recovery — such as that is. If it were not for Republican-run states such as Florida, Texas, South Carolina, North Dakota and so, the nation would probably be in a recession.

Conservative economic policies work — when they are tried.

We must make sure they are tried again. Too much rests on it.

The direction has been to institutionalize massive government programs and intervention in the economy while steadily sapping the American people of the very qualities that made the country great: love of freedom, risk-taking, hard work, personal responsibility, faith.

We must change this direction. We fight for change, from top to bottom. Because Greece, Spain, Cyprus are our future if we don’t.

It starts next year, to maintain and expand our control of the House in Congress and try to pick up seats in the Senate — with conservative Republicans.

Thanks for being informed and engaged.

Paul Ryan: A Balanced Budget By 2023

The Path to Prosperity, Paul Ryan, GPH Consulting

Congressman Paul Ryan has taken to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to explain the new Republican balanced budget proposal. There are many great things to like in this balanced budget, and you can view the entire budget here, view many useful charts and tools here, but today’s op-ed below is a good place to start.

 

Wall Street Journal GPH-Consulting.com

By Paul Ryan

America’s national debt is over $16 trillion. Yet Washington can’t figure out how to cut $85 billion—or just 2% of the federal budget—without resorting to arbitrary, across-the-board cuts. Clearly, the budget process is broken. In four of the past five years, the president has missed his budget deadline. Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in over 1,400 days. By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation’s debt—or simply to write a budget—Washington lurches from crisis to crisis.

House Republicans have a plan to change course. On Tuesday, we’re introducing a budget that balances in 10 years—without raising taxes. How do we do it? We stop spending money the government doesn’t have. Historically, Americans have paid a little less than one-fifth of their income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent more.

So our budget matches spending with income. Under our proposal, the government spends no more than it collects in revenue—or 19.1% of gross domestic product each year. As a result, we’ll spend $4.6 trillion less over the next decade.

Our opponents will shout austerity, but let’s put this in perspective. On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we’ll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy.

Yet the most important question isn’t how we balance the budget. It’s why. A budget is a means to an end, and the end isn’t a neat and tidy spreadsheet. It’s the well-being of all Americans. By giving families stability and protecting them from tax hikes, our budget will promote a healthier economy and help create jobs. Most important, our budget will reignite the American Dream, the idea that anyone can make it in this country.

The truth is, the nation’s debt is a sign of overreach. Government is trying to do too much, and when government does too much, it doesn’t do anything well. So a balanced budget is a reasonable goal, because it returns government to its proper limits and focus. By curbing government’s overreach, our budget will give families the space they need to thrive.

The other side will warn of a relapse into recession—just as they predicted economic disaster when the budget sequester hit. But a balanced budget will help the economy. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire. It’s no surprise, then, that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office believes that legislation reducing the deficit as much as our budget does would boost gross national product by 1.7% in 2023.

We must take action now. Our budget will expand opportunity in major areas like energy. It will protect and strengthen key priorities like Medicare. It will encourage social mobility by retooling welfare. It will fix the broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages.

First, energy. America has the world’s largest natural-gas, oil and coal reserves—enough natural gas to meet the country’s needs for 90 years. Yet the administration is buying up land to prevent further development. Our budget opens these lands to development, so families will have affordable energy. It approves the Keystone XL pipeline, which will create 20,000 direct jobs—and 118,000 indirect jobs. Our budget puts the country on the path to North American energy independence.

Second, health care. Our budget repeals the president’s health-care law and replaces it with patient-centered reforms. It also protects and strengthens Medicare. I want Medicare to be there for my kids—just as it’s there for my mom today. But Medicare is going broke. Under our proposal, those in or near retirement will see no changes, and future beneficiaries will inherit a program they can count on. Starting in 2024, we’ll offer eligible seniors a range of insurance plans from which they can choose—including traditional Medicare—and help them pay the premiums.

The other side will demagogue this issue. But remember: Anyone who attacks our Medicare proposal without offering a credible alternative is complicit in the program’s demise.

Third, welfare reform. After the welfare reforms of 1996, child poverty fell by double digits. This budget extends those reforms to other federal aid programs. It gives states flexibility so they can tailor programs like Medicaid and food stamps to their people’s needs. It encourages states to get people off the welfare rolls and onto payrolls. We shouldn’t measure success by how much we spend. We should measure it by how many people we help. Those who protect the status quo must answer to the 46 million Americans living in poverty.

Fourth, tax reform. The current tax code is a Rubik’s cube that Americans spend six billion hours—and $160 billion—each year trying to solve. The U.S. corporate tax is the highest in the industrialized world. So our budget paves the way for comprehensive tax reform. It calls for Congress to simplify the code by closing loopholes and consolidating tax rates. Our goal is to have just two brackets: 10% and 25%. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp has committed to pass a specific bill this year.

If we take these steps, the United States will once again become a haven of opportunity. The economy will grow, and the country will regain its strength. All we need is leadership. Washington owes the American people a balanced budget. It isn’t fair to take more from families so government can spend more.

A balanced budget isn’t unprecedented. President Bill Clinton worked with a Republican Congress to get it done. House Republicans’ last two budgets balanced, too—albeit at a later date. But a balanced budget is still a noteworthy achievement, considering the competition.

The recent debt-ceiling agreement forced Senate Democrats to write a budget this year, and we expect to see it this week. I hate to break the suspense, but their budget won’t balance—ever. Instead, it will raise taxes to pay for more spending. The president, meanwhile, is standing on the sidelines. He is expected to submit his budget in April—two months past his deadline.

We House Republicans have done our part. We’re offering a credible plan for all the country to see. We’re outlining how to solve the greatest problems facing America today. Now we invite the president and Senate Democrats to join in the effort.

— Mr. Ryan, a Republican, represents Wisconsin’s first congressional district and is chairman of the House Budget Committee.

– –

A version of this article appeared March 12, 2013, on page A17 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023.

Gingrich Puts Consultants On Notice

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has a very good column today in which he takes the old model of political consultants to task, along with a few of those practitioners. The column is very lengthy and I didn’t want to post it in its entirety.

After the column open, Speaker Gingrich begins to hit his stride here:

It is appalling how little some Republican consultants have learned from the 2012 defeat.

It is even more disturbing how arrogant their plans for the future are.

Of course these consultants have made an amazing amount of money asserting an expertise they clearly don’t have.

They have existed in a system in which the candidate was supposed to focus on raising money and the smart consultant would design the strategy, spend the money and do the thinking.

This is a terrible system.

Watch the movie “Lincoln.” This was a politician who thought long and deeply.

Read Craig Shirley’s histories of the 1976 and 1980 campaigns (or watch the documentary Callista and I made, “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny”). Reagan knew what he believed, why he was running, and what he wanted to accomplish.

Republicans need to drop the consultant-centric model and go back to a system in which candidates have to think and consultants are adviser and implementers but understand that the elected official is the one who has to represent the voters and make the key decisions.

This part of Gingrich’s column cannot be ignored (this is Gingrich’s writing, and the STEVENS quote is from a joint tv appearance with Romney consultant Stuart Stevens):

The depth of Republican obsolescence on communications technology was highlighted in this comment:

“STEVENS: Really made — if I had tweeted in this campaign this whole discussion we’ve been having about the second amendment would probably be replaced one about the first amendment and whether it should apply to tweeting.”

Cute but insulting. Republicans will not understand why we are losing younger Americans so badly until we realize how many of our consultants don’t have a clue and don’t intend to change.

Finally, Stevens said something profound but I don’t think he understood how profound it was:

“Listen, I don’t think — it would be a great mistake if we felt that technology in itself is going to save the Republican Party. Technology is something to a large degree you can go out and purchase and if we think there’s an off the shelf solution that you can go out and purchase for the Republican Party it’s wrong.

“You know, we’ve had a lot of chance now since the campaign to spend time with the Obama folks and sometimes they had better technology, some cases we have better technology. We don’t have 140 character problem in the Republican Party. We have a larger problem that we have to look at and be patient about it. And trying to think that there’s one solution like this, I just don’t think…”

I went on to agree with him but I don’t think he understood my agreement. In effect I was repudiating the entire structure, budget and culture of the campaign he dominated:

“GINGRICH: I think the way Stuart just said it is exactly right. The technology problem is a culture problem. I mean the Democrats had 54 data analysts and were hiring Ph.Ds in advanced math because they were using the most advanced decision processes in the country. They were bringing in behavioral scientists. They were trying to figure out how you talk to 311 million people and do so in a way that you can survive 8 percent unemployment and get re-elected and it worked.

“Now, I think it’s actually — he’s right in a sense it’s a cultural problem. None of our consultants would have imagined hiring 54 people in the decision area, none of them would have imagined having 24 people [who] did nothing full time except e-mails and then blind tested the best e-mails to see which ones worked. I mean, this — they are a Super Bowl team that we ought to respect deeply. And we are currently a midlevel college team floundering around and I agree. It’s not just — you can’t just go out and buy this, this is a fundamental rethinking of how you relate to the American people.”

As Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told me, “Commercial radio was a new technology in the early 1930′s and Reagan adapted to it. Talking movies were a new technology in the late 30′s and Reagan adapted to it. Network television was a new technology in the early 1950′s and Reagan adapted to it. If Reagan were alive today, he’d be tweeting.”

That final point about Ronald Reagan is exactly right. Reagan would be tweeting today. We have to get tech or die trying, this current approach is seriously hurting our cause.

As you can well imagine, this closing by Speaker Gingrich made my day:

The debate over Rove-Stevens versus the new 21st century model may be the most important intra-Republican debate since the emergence of Reagan and Kemp to challenge the old order in the 1970s.

Newt Gingrich has long advocated a different model of political consulting from the one that current exists. We at GPH Consulting have striven to be different, it probably doesn’t take much looking around to realize that we are indeed different. Engage us here on the blog, tweet with us or pin with us and discover for yourself.

Rubio Delivers Republican Response, Twice

Marco Rubio, United States Senator from Florida, pulled off quite a feat tonight. He offered the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State Of The Union address. That seems ordinary enough, but Senator Rubio went a step further and delivered the speech, once in English and once in Spanish. Videos of both speeches are posted below.

English:

Spanish:

If you watched either video, you likely noticed the moment where Senator Rubio reached for a drink of water. It was a very human moment, and Senator Rubio made the most of it after he spoke, take a look at this tweet and picture:

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Saunders: A Smart Conservative Position on War on Drugs

Debra J. Saunders has written an interesting column at Townhall about conservatives and the war on drugs. I’m interesting in your thoughts on this as well:

“Mandatory sentences breed injustice,” Judge Roger Vinson told the New York Times. A Ronald Reagan appointee to the federal bench in Florida, Vinson was railing against a federal system that forced him to sentence a 27-year-old single mother to prison life without parole because her dealer ex-boyfriend had stored cocaine in her house.

Note to D.C. Republicans: This would be a great time to take on the excesses of the war on drugs.

The Times was writing about conservatives, including Jeb Bush and former Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson, who advocate for smarter, more humane incarceration policies under the rubric “Right on Crime.” In light of the GOP’s need to woo more young voters, drug-war reforms offer an ideological good — limited government — and also might be politically savvy. Think: Ron Paul and his rock star status on college campuses.

Two areas cry for immediate action.

Find the rest of the column here.