By Paul Bremmer
A longtime conservative trendsetter says his team is winning, even if in some races an “establishment GOP” candidate eventually comes out on top.
“We are setting the tone, the agenda, the issues for the 2016 presidential election, and the fact that [President Obama] is operating outside the Constitution is important to communicate to the American people,” said Richard Viguerie.
The author of “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It,” Viguerie said the Republican Party is much more conservative now than it was five or 10 years ago as demonstrated by the voting of many members of Congress.
With the midterm elections only days away, many analysts believe the Republican Party has a good chance of gaining the six seats it needs to control the U.S. Senate.
The GOP also could pad its lead in the House.
Statistical guru Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight blog correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states in the 2012 presidential election, forecast earlier this week that Republicans have a 63.3 percent chance of retaking the Senate. The New York Times gave the GOP a 70 percent chance and the Washington Post 93 percent.
So Republicans may very well be in charge of the Senate in January, but does that necessarily mean conservatives will lead the upper chamber?
After all, among the 45 current Republican senators are several moderates, such as Susan Collins of Maine, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
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Also, many GOP candidates running for Democrat-held seats are of a more moderate persuasion, such as Terri Lynn Land of Michigan, Scott Brown of New Hampshire and Ed Gillespie of Virginia.
And media coverage of the election cycle has focused on the supposed dominance of the GOP’s establishment wing over the tea-party influences.
But Viguerie, known for his barrier-breaking work in direct mail fundraising, says conservatives should not necessarily worry when their preferred candidates fail to win GOP nominations.
“One of the mistakes that conservatives make is they think everything depends on winning primaries,” Viguerie said. “Not so. Our main purpose for us being involved in politics is to change America, and if we can do that by changing people who are already holding office, we’re winning.
“So in the big picture, the big scheme of things, conservatives are winning by changing the Republican Party,” he said.
Viguerie, the chairman of American Target Advertising, said he expects Republicans to retake the Senate Tuesday. And when the new GOP Senate takes office, Viguerie expects it to be more conservative than any other Senates in recent memory.
It doesn’t matter to him if the incoming class is full of establishment types, because they had to move to the right to defeat tea-party candidates in their primaries, he said.
“Those who won by outspending their opponent 10-to-1, working hard the last year or two, are sending a message to their colleagues: If you’re going to be able to fend off a primary challenger, you’re gonna have to be more conservative,” he said.
Viguerie stressed the importance of a big Republican victory Tuesday, because the GOP will have to defend 24 seats in the 2016 Senate elections, probably including a number of first-term senators in Democrat-leaning states.
To achieve a big victory, the conservative activist believes Republicans need to nationalize the election. He said this is how the party achieved major victories in the elections of 1980, 1984, 1994 and 2010.
“When the voters went to the polls for those elections, [the GOP] had given the voters a tune they could whistle,” Viguerie said. “They had urged the voters to focus on just a few national issues, and the Republicans have not done that this year.
“If conservatives focus on nationalizing the election around those three issues – amnesty, security and corruption of lies and lawlessness – I think you’re going to see the Republicans have a big victory Tuesday,” he said.
Some might say this year’s Senate elections don’t matter because President Obama will continue to impose his will on the American public through executive actions.
However, Viguerie said it’s still important to elect a Republican House and Senate that is willing to hold the president accountable for his actions. An all-Republican Congress would be able to hold more hearings to get to the bottom of Obama’s abuses of power, he said.
In Viguerie’s recently published book “Takeover,” he set four ambitious goals for conservatives in the 2014 midterm elections: Elect at least 30 new principled conservatives to the U.S. House of Representatives, elect at least eight new principled conservatives to the U.S. Senate, defeat at least eight establishment Republican members of the House and defeat at least two establishment Republican senators.
Viguerie said, however, even coming up with less than everything is good, because there are good conservative candidates coming along.
“The goal is not necessarily to win elections,” Viguerie said. “That’s important. The No. 1 goal is to save America, change America, move it back to constitutional government, and I think in that arena we are prevailing.”
Media wishing to interview Richard Viguerie, please contact [email protected]