Archive for the ‘Republican Party’ Category

Painting the Midwest Red: A Sea Change is Coming in this Year’s Governors’ Races

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The big news and focus in right-of-center and Republican circles this time of year is always CPAC. For many students and young people, it is their first exposure to the wide-ranging and yes, diverse people and organizations that make up the conservative movement, and it is very important. But it’s also not the only important event that happens this time.

As it happens, I spent three days this month at the Winter session of the Republican Governors Association. This is where sitting governors and candidates for the 2010 races can get together and plan for the coming year. It may not have the grand quality of a packed ballroom, but it is a very exciting thing to be part of, and I have the honor of chairing the Executive Roundtable meetings.

My main takeaway is that we have recruited superb candidates this cycle and I do believe we will enjoy some major victories this year, particularly across the middle of the country. It is not my intent here to comment on all races, but I would like to focus on the Midwest, plus Pennsylvania and Colorado.

For example, I believe Republicans will hold big states like Florida with Bill McCollum. I think we will also hold on to California, likely with Meg Whitman. California has a long history of Republican leadership, of course including Ronald Reagan. And in the Midwest I think we are in very good position to win some back: Right now we are on track to take over governorships in Kansas with Sam Brownback and Oklahoma with Mary Fallin.

But the big news, in my view, is that we will elect Republican governors in six large states that will be pivotal both to the 2011 re-districting and to winning these states in the 2012 Presidential election. These states are Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa.

The reasons Republicans will win are due partly to public resentment of the Obama Administration’s lurch to the left, highlighted by big government, mounting deficits, and spiraling debt burdens with increasing interest. However, the cause of victories will be mostly due to the quality of candidates. Having spent parts of four decades in and out of politics, I am more convinced than ever that candidate quality really matters, and boy are we loaded. I predict victory in all six of the following:

  • Ohio: John Kasich is a proven deficit hawk and a charismatic leader. Ohio is always tough, but John (a fellow Czech-American) will prevail. He will also be helped by a strong and winning Senate candidate, Rob Portman.
  • Wisconsin: I have written before about my enthusiasm for Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. He has reduced spending, kept a balanced budget, and at age 40 still won re-election in 2008 by a large margin in a very blue county. He is a proven leader who will control spending, and he’ll get to do so at the statewide level next.
  • Pennsylvania: Tom Corbett has been an enormously effective as Attorney General, and in his last election received more votes than any Republican in Pennsylvania history. He too will be helped by a winning Senate candidate, Pat Toomey.
  • Iowa: Terry Branstad is a proven leader as a former Iowa Governor, and it is fortunate he has decided to run again. His great capacity combined with current Gov. Chet Culver’s unpopularity gives me great confidence in an Iowa victory.
  • Colorado: Former Sheriff and Congressman Scott McInnis is the real deal, especially when it comes to creating jobs and controlling spending. Here is a guy who slept in his office during his early time in Congress and who has an unmatched worth ethic, along with a contagious optimism. He will win and also be aided by winning Senate candidate, Jane Norton.
  • Michigan: We have a contested primary in Michigan but have truly outstanding candidates battling for the nomination. Whoever emerges as the winner of the primary will win the general election in this most battered and mismanaged of states.

So there you have it – six out of six, and well positioned to create jobs, control spending, and help win these states for the 2012 Presidential candidate. Too optimistic or euphoric? Nope – good candidates really do matter, and we have the best.

P.S. Lastly, I want to say that Gov. Haley Barbour, the RGA’s chairman, and Nick Ayers, the executive director, continue to inspire. They are providing excellent leadership and Republicans will have them and their hard work to thank for the victories ahead. Meanwhile, this was the first time we had newly-elected Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Both led panels at this year’s session and both showed why they are effective leaders. I don’t think the governor’s office is the last stop for either of them.

Talking about Sarah Palin on NewsHour

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Because of my friendship with Sarah Palin I have been receiving more interviews than usual. Most I have turned down because I do not want to “feed the beast” or in any way have someone think I am trading on that friendship. I also am careful because even though everybody wants to know whether she will run for president in 2012, the truth is I don’t know what she plans. However, it is my estimation that she will not. One of the few interviews I have given aired on PBS last week. It is a short appearance, but here it is:

Talking NY 23, the GOP and Pres. Obama on Morning Joe

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Joe Scarborough invited me on “Morning Joe” today to talk about the Republican Party and what the election in New York’s 23 congressional district meant (it wasn’t about conservatives vs. moderates) and a subject I have written about before, President Obama’s troubling indecision in Afghanistan, among other topics. Here is the video in case you missed it:

Talking Election 2009 on MSNBC

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I was on MSNBC this afternoon with Andrea Mitchell talking about my support for Doug Hoffman and why the Republican Party still needs Olympia Snowe just as it needs Sarah Palin. Hope you enjoy:

10 Republican Leaders Who Could Be President

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I have enjoyed the recent top ten lists for Republican leaders, Senate races, and the like published by smart observers like Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and have occasionally ventured forth my own. Most of us who pay any attention to politics have a pretty good sense of the most influential Republican leaders today; and they include impressive people such as Romney, Pawlenty, Barbour, McConnell, Boehner, Gingrich, Palin, and others.

Less visible, however, and in some ways more intriguing to me are identifying those less visible figures who will emerge over the next five to ten years as leaders in the House, Senate, state capitols, and Presidential primaries. Here is my crack at the top ten, most under 50 and a few just past that age.

There are undoubtedly others that should be included, but whom I haven’t had the opportunity to meet, and thus haven’t assessed.  Here are the ones I have:

  1. Bob McDonnell. I predicted many months ago that Bob would be the next Governor of Virginia and that prediction looks very good now. For that reason he is included near the top of the most influential Republicans for the present as well as the future. He has been an enormously effective candidate and I believe will be elected next week. While he will be a great Governor for my home state, his national influence will soar as the first symbol of a Republican comeback and as an example of how to run a model and winning campaign.
  2. Mark Kirk. Mark is the moderate, progressive, and effective young Congressman from Illinois who should be elected to Obama’s old Senate seat in November 2010. Illinois has been a blue state for a number of years and has a pronounced registration advantage in favor of Democrats. Because he will capture the Obama seat in a blue state, and because his voice is both persuasive and moderate, he will emerge as an influential consensus builder in the U.S. Senate.
  3. Eric Cantor. As the #2 Republican in the House and a master of policy, Eric has been a strong and sensible voice for the center-right arguments that represent the Republican Party and the majority of Americans. He will have an increasingly important role in shaping the Republican agenda for many years.
  4. Scott Walker. The 41 year old Milwaukee County Executive has proven he knows how to contain costs, balance budgets, and win elections. In 2008, he won re-election with 59%, in a county Obama won by more than 60%. I believe he will be elected Governor of Wisconsin in November 2010 and represent the new wave of conservative leadership that knows how to bring needed services to the people by providing incentives and ingenuity vs. big spending.
  5. Paul Ryan. Another young man from Wisconsin, who at 39 is ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. He has mastery of budgeting and economic issues and learned his trade at the foot of the late Jack Kemp, perhaps the most influential Republican of our era who never became President. Paul is smart, charismatic, and dedicated and can hold any office he sets his mind to.
  6. Rob Portman. Rob has a tough challenge on winning the Ohio Senate race as the State has been tilting blue lately. However, he’s just too good to fail. As a former Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and Special Trade Representative, he has a terrific background to blend with his intellect and charm. He will immediately emerge as a leading voice in the Senate and in the future will be on everyone’s list for the big one or number two.
  7. Bobby Jindal. Bobby has proven himself at everything he has done, consistently taking on and meeting great challenges. He is developing into an articulate and charismatic leader whose future holds no bounds. He is a fine Governor for Louisiana and will continue to be a major policy voice in the Republican Party.
  8. Meg Whitman. Meg has a long road ahead to first win the primary in California and then defeat Jerry Brown to become Governor. Then, of course, she will have the tough challenge of fixing California. However, she is enormously talented and competent, and I believe she will win. If so, she will vault to number one overall, as the most influential and sought after leader in the Republican Party.
  9. Kelly Ayotte. The young and proven Attorney General of New Hampshire is poised to win this Senate seat next year. She has the friendly and reasonable comportment of an Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins but is more center right in her philosophy and thus better positioned for future leadership.
  10. Chris Christie. I am hopeful Chris will be elected Governor of New Jersey next week. However, his victory will be more a referendum on Jon Corzines’s out of control spending, high taxes and ineffective governance, all awash in a sea of corruption in the NJ Democrat Party. Nevertheless, a victory in this blue state will give Chris a commanding platform.

There are three others who should be on the list, but I’m not sure where or how to place them:

  • Sarah Palin. Charismatic, effective, and beloved by so many in the Republican Party. Since I know her reasonably well and like her a lot, people always ask me about her future plans. The answer is I have no idea, and my sense is she hasn’t ruled anything out and is truly undecided. Maybe her book next month will provide some clues.
  • Marco Rubio. We desperately need in our own party a young Hispanic leader. We cannot again be a majority party without better understanding and appealing to minorities, especially Hispanics. As a former speaker of the House in Florida, Mark is an attractive and charismatic, conservative voice. The problem is he has nowhere to go right now. He is unlikely to defeat Charlie Crist in the Florida primary for the U.S. Senate but could be poised to win the subsequent Senate contest against Bill Nelson.
  • Jon Huntsman, Jr. Jon has gone far away and so is out of mind. However, he was an effective deputy special trade representative, and effective Ambassador to Singapore, and a super Governor of Utah. Plus, he has the charm, dedication, financial resources, and great family to ensure he will be back and be a powerful player on the national stage.

There you have it–please let me know your reactions to these names and help me evolve my thinking.

GOP Rising Tide ’09: It Came From the States

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I have written before of the paramount importance of governors in providing leadership to the Republican Party and to our country. One my joys this year has been to work closely with Governors Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty in my role as Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association Executive Roundtable.

My view is that we are poised to win the two gubernatorial races this year with Bob McDonnell capturing Virginia and Chris Christie becoming governor of New Jersey.  Yes, there is a lot of time between now and Election Day, but I feel good about both of these key races.  Just as in 1993, with victories for George Allen and Christie Todd Whitman in these states, this will mark a turning point for the Republicans’ march back to a majority center-right party.

Keep in mind, the quality of candidates really matters, and over 50% of newly elected members of Congress and the Senate in 1994 made the decision to run after being emboldened by the Allen and Whitman wins.

Four days during early August reaffirmed my conviction that the revival of the Republican Party will be led by our governors and gubernatorial candidates. In this post, I will address the first of two separate events.

On August 3 and 4, Governors Barbour, Pawlenty, and Rick Perry along with a strong group of Roundtable members attended the annual Aspen Institute conference.  It was an invigorating two days, and we were all particularly impressed by the forward-looking, problem-solving approach of the governors.  We started with Haley speaking on energy to a bipartisan audience at the Aspen Institute.  He was strong, articulate, balanced, and his speech was well-received.  That evening, we had a buffet reception at our home, highlighted by insightful remarks from Tim Pawlenty.

The next day we had panel discussions with Haley and former governor and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt leading health care and Gov. Perry leading the discussion on reviewing our economy and creating jobs. Rick also spoke that night at a dinner hosted by Roundtable members Rick and Erica Horvitz, who hosted a wonderful Western dinner at their beautiful Wildcat Ranch.

It was an opportunity to review how far we have come this cycle. As an organization, we have recruited over 225 top executives, entrepreneurs, and other people of great merit who contribute $25,000 per year to the RGA and attend a series of policy oriented sessions with our governors.  This means that over the two year election cycle leading to 2010, the RGA has another $11million to pump into key races, and it is growing.

This entire event reminded me why I love politics.  No, it didn’t have the grassroots spontaneity of the incredibly impactful Tea Party movement, but  it was a committed group of people enjoying in deeply substantive discussions of the key problems facing our country, enjoying a camaraderie in a setting of environmental beauty, and getting to know our political leaders in an up close and personal way.

In my next post, I’ll talk about our Candidate Forum the following weekend.

Remembering Jack Kemp, a Conservative Star and a Wonderful Friend

Monday, May 4th, 2009

It is with great regret that this is the second time in less than a week that I am sharing my thoughts with you about a recently departed friend.  That said, this one is much different and far more heart-wrenching than the first.

I have been a Jack Kemp Republican my entire life. His message of hope and compassion mixed with fiscal conservatism, lower taxes, less government, and individual empowerment have guided me throughout my years in both business and politics. I always thought Jack was the true heir to Ronald Reagan and he was an incredible inspiration to so many of us.

His influence on Republican policy can hardly be measured. Jack was one of the earliest to recognize the importance of Arthur Laffer’s supply-side theories. He was instrumental in putting tax cuts at the top of Ronald Reagan’s agenda, and the Kemp-Roth tax cuts are among the most important economic policies of the 20th century.  Without them, it’s impossible to say whether President Bush would have taken the same course twenty years later.  And thanks to his past as a championship-winning quarterback with the AFL Buffalo Bills, Jack understood minorities and others outside of the usual, traditional Republican constituencies better than most of us.  For decades he urged us to go outside of our electoral comfort zone and reach out to African-Americans and Latinos because he believed they shared our values and that by sharing the power of our ideas with more people we could help lift millions out of poverty and into the “opportunity society,” as he aptly called it.  We are not all the way there yet, but when we arrive, Jack will deserve a big share of the credit.

Jack was also a great personal friend.  For years we traveled together, Marlene and I stayed with the Kemps at their home in Colorado to celebrate his 70th, and they visited often with us at our home as well.

I’ll never forget last August in Colorado when John McCain came to be with our most successful fundraisers and supporters, and the next day Mark Sanford, Jon Huntsman, John Thune, and Jack talked to the group.  Of course, the former QB was the ultimate closer and Jack wound it up with soaring rhetoric that argued passionately and compellingly for a greater control of government spending, more emphasis on growth incentives, and an increased reliance on the individual vs. government to lead us out of our current malaise. At the conclusion he tossed the mic to me and walked off to a standing and rousing ovation. It was Jack at his best, as I will always remember him.

He was a treasure to the cause and our country and he will be deeply missed.  As our own party seeks new ideas and new leadership for the future, I can only hope that in doing so, we are reminded of Jack Kemp.  If we are lucky and if we are smart, we will find someone who can channel his passion for conservative principle and policy, his energy, his inclusiveness and his passion that excited and inspired so many for so long.

Goodbye for now, old friend, but you will always be with us.


John McCain And Virginia

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I have a piece in today’s Washington Times about John McCain and keeping Virginia Republican.  Please take a look.  Here’s the link — and here’s the full article:

McCain and Virginia

November 30, 2007

By Frederic V. Malek

I am doing double duty in politics this year, serving as both co-chairman of the McCain campaign for president and as finance chairman for the Republican Party of Virginia. Officially, a state finance chair is supposed to remain neutral in primaries. But in this case, I committed to John McCain before accepting Ed Gillespie’s request to be state finance chair. I am glad I did and now see a nexus between the two.

That 2008 will be a tough battle for Republicans will not come as news to anyone. In Virginia, we Republicans have suffered three consecutive statewide losses (governor, governor and senator), and earlier this month lost our majority in the state Senate.

Furthermore, we face a popular former governor, Mark Warner, in the 2008 Senate race. Most of the margin for Democrats has come from Northern Virginia, and The Washington Post in fact has already endorsed Mr. Warner, declaring in Sunday’s editorial that the leading announced Republican candidate, former Gov. Jim Gilmore, was confrontational and irresponsible. In fact, Mr. Gilmore was a tax cutter who controlled spending and was an outstanding governor. He also helped carry the state for President Bush. Nevertheless, The Post editorial underscores the challenge we face in both the senatorial and presidential race.

We will easily keep the Commonwealth of Virginia in the red column in 2008 with a strong presidential candidate with unchanged and unshakable conservative principles and the proven national security experience to lead our nation in time of war and peril. Mr. McCain is the only candidate who meets these criteria, and this is why I enthusiastically support him. He can win in Virginia, and his lead will help our Senate candidate win as well. Both races will be helped by the two outstanding leaders who occupy the other two top statewide offices, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Why Mr. McCain, and why can he win, especially in Virginia? There are four core reasons: Principles, consistency, character and national security. Let’s briefly review each of these:

Principles: You may or may not agree with Mr. McCain on all of his positions, but one thing you can be sure of is that he will always be guided by his core beliefs and not by polls. Isn’t this the definition of leadership, and isn’t this what America needs in a leader?

Consistency: There is only one candidate in either party who has demonstrated consistency in his beliefs over time — who knows clearly who he is and what he stands for. The consistency in core beliefs extends from his defense of an unpopular “surge” strategy in Iraq (which now seems to be working) to social issues such as the right to life. He hasn’t changed his views to comply with voter preference — he has led voters toward his views.

Character: At my alma mater, West Point, we had a clause in the cadet motto that extolled “the courage to choose the harder right vs. the easier wrong.” Make the right choice no matter what the personal or political price might be. It encompasses principle and consistency, but is the embodiment of character. No one in recent history has demonstrated this more vividly than Mr. McCain. Most of us are aware of his refusal to be released after 3 years of torture and deprivation in a Viet Cong hell hole, unless his men and colleagues accompanied him. Who among us could show such courage? Such honor? He has continued these choices throughout his career and taking on the administration’s conduct of the Iraq war early on (supporting more troops and different tactics), forcing the administration to tighten its standards on torture prevention (who could know more about this or speak with more moral authority), and recently supporting the vastly politically unpopular but successful surge in troops.

National security: Mr. McCain has been immersed in national security his entire life and has shown leadership and skill at every turn. This extends from his time leading a Navy fighter squadron and his leadership of a group of prisoners of war, to his twenty years in the United States Senate where he has been a rigorous, consistent and effective voice on defending our country. He knows his stuff — he doesn’t need on the job training. And he has the right staff to make those truly hard decisions under duress that strike the right balance between national defense, moral authority, and respect for others.

These are the reasons I support Mr. McCain. They are also the reasons why Mr. McCain can carry the Commonwealth of Virginia and lead our Senate and congressional candidates to victory. A principled, consistent, experienced man of proven high character in a state that since the birth of the Republic has itself exemplified these characteristics.

Frederic V. Malek is a graduate of West Point and the Harvard Business School, and served in Vietnam. He also serves on a number of charitable and educational Boards.


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The Future of the Republican Party of Virginia

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

A few months ago, I accepted the post of Finance Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. I’d like to share a little bit about why I accepted that position, and the Fred Malek Blog gives me a good opportunity to do so.

I believe very strongly in the importance of the Republican Party of Virginia, because I believe that Virginia is a crucial state for Republican Presidential candidates. If Republicans cannot win Virginia, then we cannot win the Presidency. To keep Virginia in the (political) Red, we absolutely have to rebuild our Party here in Virginia in order to give it the structure and leadership it needs to make our case to the people of the Commonwealth.

While then-RPV Chairman Ed Gillespie initially persuaded me to take this role, the people I have watched since then have only strengthened my resolve and my enthusiasm. The competence and dedication of other leaders in our Party has been impressive – from Lt. Gov Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell, to the members of the Central Committee and the District Chairs, to my Finance Co-Chair Lisa Gable and the many others who have stepped forward to help.

While Ed Gillespie’s resignation to become Counselor to the President seemed like a loss, I now believe we are in best shape ever due to the impressive leadership of the aforementioned people, and two other important people:

  • Former Lt. Gov. John Hager, who was elected RPV Chair, is a dedicated public servant. He resigned his position as Assistant Secretary of Education to take on the RPV Chair position where he will work full time without pay. That kind of dedication, combined with his leadership and competence will show great results for the RPV.
  • Charlie Judd is an exceptional Executive Director, with the experience, judgment, and staff to run one of the finest state political organizations in the country.

So where do we go with this tremendous team?

  1. Our first priority is this Fall’s State Assembly and Senate races, where Democrats are making a full on assault to achieve majority in one or both of these chambers.
  2. This must be followed by attention to Congressional, Senate, and Presidential races in 2008.

This team, led by John Hager, has the ability to make the Party of Lincoln the majority party in Virginia for years to come. I’m excited to be a part of this, and excited to keep Virginia in the Republican column for a long, long time.