Republican chairman urges party to build base

SALEM – National Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said Republicans have to put an end to the national party that shows up every four years with a U-Haul trailer filled with cash for the nominee and build infrastructure that attracts African-American and Hispanic votes.

“We’re a mid-term party that doesn’t lose,” he told about 350 people attending the Columbiana County Party Lincoln Day Dinner at the Salem Community Center on Friday.

It’s the presidential election we can’t win he said, otherwise, “we’re winning it all.”

Republicans have to put their heads down, raise money and stay committed but voters want people who keep their word and govern as they campaigned, he said and noted U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson as an example of that.

While saying he was grateful to have the opportunity to lead the party, he was particularly grateful for the fact it was a party that prays.

He visited the World War II National Memorial and noted it marked “the price of freedom” and said, “that’s what we’re trying to do here … save the country.”

Noting that Mitt Romney collected 60 million votes in 2012, Priebus said the party needed to figure out how to get a lot more votes.

“I need to go where I’m weak,” he said.

Priebus noted when he was named chairman in 2011 the party was $26 million in debt, both credit cards were suspended and there were 80 people on the national office, while noting President Obama had 800 in Florida alone.

He called for the party to “work like dogs” building infrastructure so instead of getting 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, “why not get 35 percent?”

He called it “getting obsessed on the ground.”

He added, “If we build our base, we’re going to win again.”

The party is implementing a $35 million digital upgrade aimed at finding people who influence prime leaders as a keystone to that “ground” effort.

The presidential primary process that Priebus called a “total disaster” in 2012 will be discarded.

For what reason did candidates “slice and dice” each other before an Iowa caucus that didn’t even produce a delegate, he wondered.

The process will be narrowed to 60 days and 23 debates reduced to seven and “we’re going to pick the moderators,” he said so the party can take control of “our own nominating process.”

He added the party must become interested in the selling the mechanics and “be in the community non-stop.”

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges said he wanted to keep Ohio moving in the right direction.

“We don’t just want to win elections, we want to elections for people doing the right thing for the state.”

Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson read a proclamation from Gov. John Kasich naming special guest Mary Alice Groppe as Ohio Republican of the Century.

Celebrating her 105th birthday, Groppe, is a lifelong Republican and 75-year poll worker.

In addition to Priebus and Borges, U. S. Rep. Bill Johnson, Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judy French were featured guests along with all of the county Republican officials and candidates.