Guest Commentary

Hey, Tucson Republicans: Be a part of history, and step up to run for public office!

At the national level, Republicans are wandering around shell-shocked in the wilderness, while the Democrats are lookin' fly and rollin' phat.

However, many Republicans who dare to look at the future see a glimmer of hope in 2010. They know that, historically speaking, midterm elections usually result in electoral advances for the party that is out of power--and if a party was ever out of power, it is certainly today's Republican Party. Between 1946 and 1996, the president's party suffered an average loss of about 24 seats in midterm elections, according to the book The American Congress, by Steven S. Smith, Jason M. Roberts and Ryan J. Vander Wielen. The authors went on to state that the president's party does not get routed only when the president's approval rating is very high.

President Barack Obama's approval rating today is still high, but so are people's expectations for his presidency. If, in 20 months, the economy has not recovered dramatically, unemployment is high or the voters generally feel that their desires have not been fulfilled, they may be inclined to make it a good year for Republicans. Twenty months is a long time in politics.

What the Republicans need are a few good candidates and campaign organizations. Perhaps there are some past successes from which they could glean ideas.

Let us now go back in time from 2010 to 2009 (that would be now), and narrow our focus from the nation to Tucson (that would be here). We may have a microcosm of the national scene in 2010.

Four years ago, Democrats Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich succeeded Republicans Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar. This put Tucson firmly under control of the Democrats. The newly elected Democrats were to transform Tucson into a happy, crime-free, traffic-jam-free, neighborly city with a vibrant downtown in which one could not swing a cat without hitting some kind of artist. One big plank in the Democrats' platform was to at least consider the elimination of the trash fee, originally instituted by those nasty Republicans.

Reality, of course, turned out to be much different. People are not moving around town on greenways and bicycles; rather, the City Council has approved plans by the Regional Transportation Authority to make roads bigger and better for, gasp, automobiles. The Rio Nuevo project, that was supposed to "revitalize" downtown Tucson, has been so poorly managed that there is little to show after 10 years and tens of millions of dollars. I just checked my water bill and, yep, the trash fee is still there. Then there is the goofy stuff, like classes that teach kids how to spray graffiti. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, Tucson really is the laboratory in which Republicans can test ways to win against floundering Democrats. The old "loser" approaches should be abandoned. Republicans should focus on technology, particularly social networking. More resources should be directed at grassroots efforts, with more autonomy at that grassroots level. There is certainly enough disenchantment throughout the community that money should not be a problem.

The only major stumbling block is the party itself--they are three months behind already! I recently asked Bob Westerman, chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, if they were on it. He said that they were actively recruiting. I hope so. This is an opportunity that ought not be missed.

If you have been griping about how you find the current City Council embarrassing, and if you are aggravated by what you see as an anti-business climate in this town, now is your chance to step up to the plate. Imagine being on the cutting edge, beating the majority party and being the example to which the big boys look for ideas and guidance. In other words, you can make history. Any takers?

About The Author

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman moved to Tucson from Connecticut in 1977 and never looked back. He attended the UA, ran for City Council Ward III in 2001, and made regular contributions to the Guest Commentary section of the Tucson Weekly for over five years. He helped launch the Southern Arizona News Examiner. He is a former...
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