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Confident GOP has high hopes for Bainbridge

Island Republicans received an early campaign-season pep talk Saturday during a rare visit from the party’s national committee training team.

“Republicans have the right ideas – we just have to let people know about them,” said Linda Dealy, a campaign strategist with GOPAC, a political action committee that recruits and trains Republican candidates, campaign staff and activists.

The five-hour event, held at Bainbridge Island City Hall for about 30 party members, marked the first GOPAC training in Kitsap County, and the first time in over 10 years that the group has presented in Washington, according to the event’s organizers.

Dealy, a longtime Republican consultant and former candidate for state offices in California, stressed the need to raise campaign funds in the early lead-up to November’s elections.

“Money’s not the most important thing in a campaign but it is essential,” she said, adding that a candidate challenging an incumbent may spend about half of his or her time raising funds.

That money must be spent judiciously and on elements of a campaign that matter most.

“Spend campaign money like it’s your own,” she said. “Republicans understand money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Volunteers may balk at a campaign that invests contributions on fancy office equipment rather than flyers, TV ads and other media.

“You don’t want (volunteers) walking into the office and saying ‘wow, you’re really successful,’” she said. “You want orange crates for papers, plank shelves and old furniture.”

Borrowing a page from the opposition’s playbook, Dealy urged GOP supporters to drive home the party message at a steady pace.

“Republicans don’t use repetition enough,” she said. “Democrats have done that much better.”

She also cautioned the Republicans, many of whom she said have backgrounds in business, to refrain from using marketing strategies when campaigning.

“It’s not a product, it’s about persuasion,” she said. “People in business marketing don’t understand it’s about power and regaining power, which Republicans want to do right here.”

While Republicans may feel outnumbered on Bainbridge Island and in Western Washington, Dealy said keeping the faith is central to reversing current political trends.

“You may live in ‘Tree-Hug City’ (but) but don’t be ashamed,” she said. “Show your passion. More people will react to sincere passion than accommodation.”

Dealy advised attendees to counter criticism with positive elements the Republican party strives for.

“Because Republicans are right on the issues, you don’t have to be ashamed of anything,” she said. “If they call you a ‘war-mongering baby-killer,’ let’s talk about the need for sacrifice in protecting the free world.”

Republicans must also do their homework on issues regular citizens care about, regardless of whether or not they the topic fits core party values.

“Forty-three percent of the population thinks UFOs are real,” she said. “Twenty-eight percent think Social Security will be solvent when they need it, and the vast majority can name all of the Three Stooges but can’t name three Supreme Court Justices,” she said. “Most people may not have the breadth of knowledge we do (or) the passion you do.”

Republicans must counter this by openly listening to others.

“The more passionate you are the less listening you do,” she said. “Listen. It’s amazing the information you can glean (as well as) essential points for persuasion and an understanding of voters’ perspectives.”

Training attendee Anne-Marie Lake, an island native who serves as a host on the syndicated Republican Radio show, said the importance of listening to other perspectives was a key lesson she took away from the event.

“We have all these issues that are important to us, but we’re the geeks,” said Lake, now a resident of Mountlake Terrace. “They may not be that important to other people. We have to listen to people who are the actual voters.

“That’s a more effective tool than beating them over the head with what’s important to me.”

Dennis Krautz, a Republican activist from Gig Harbor, said the event recharged his conviction that the state will meet its full potential as political power shifts toward the GOP.

“This state should have the top economy in the nation,” he said. “We’re at the crossroads of international trade, we have great natural resources, the best demographics and it’s the greatest place on earth to live.

“We’re going to unleash the vibrancy this state has.”

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Whistle stop

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Mike McGavick will make a Kitsap County campaign stop tomorrow, when he headlines a fundraiser at the Kitsap Golf and Country Club in Bremerton.

McGavick’s local supporters feel that he has a good chance to outpoll incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell in the fall. Both are their respective party’s presumptive nominees.

“I think his chances are very good,” said Kitsap County Republican Chairman Matt Cleverly. “The more people see him, the more they like him.”

The McGavick fundraiser begins at 11:30 with a social segment, followed by lunch at noon. Tickets ate $15 per person. For more information call (360) 779-2215 or email shirleyjbrown@comcast.net.

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