Donating money to a political party never appealed to me. Why give to a faceless organization when you can donate directly to a candidate that is close to your own values? Avoiding donations to party organizations might be in keeping with Republican individualism, but on the state and local level it causes a great deal of harm.
It wasn’t until I became a state senate district chair that I realized why my “only to candidates” policy was so problematic. I always tended to see “The Republican Party” as a singular entity. It is not. There are municipal, county, congressional, state legislative, and judicial party units that are all responsible for their own activities and fundraising.
When you’re dealing with local elections, a candidate wants to know that there’s going to be some support. Campaigning for any office is intimidating, and part of the reason to run with a party is the built in structure of donors and volunteers. A robust party unit can organize candidate fundraisers, provide a cadre of volunteers, and directly donate to candidates. These are all crucial in the early stages of a campaign, especially for a first time office seeker.
In between elections, a local party unit can keep volunteers active and sustain community involvement. Continuous Republican engagement provides a natural structure for a candidate, and could make all the difference in a close election.
Ultimately, this is an issue of long vs. short term orientation. Having a great candidate is essential and exciting, but the flash in the pan enthusiasm only lasts a few months. While Republicans often move to other pursuits between elections, Democrats are building, organizing, and sustaining their community engagement. Helping Republicans maintain a continuous presence will make elections more winnable, and we need your help to do it.
-Guest post by David Pascoe, Republican Chair, Minnesota Senate District 60