Ford O'Connell: GOP Needs 'Electable' Candidates and Grassroots

Wednesday, 07 May 2014 05:27 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The important lesson from the North Carolina primary is that the GOP needs to find "the most electable candidate" they can, because it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

"What most people don't understand is an incumbent, even as vulnerable as Kay Hagan, always has the upper hand," O'Connell told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis won the Republican Senate primary against tea party favorite Greg Brannon. Tillis will challenge Hagan in the November midterm elections.

Many are touting the primary as a win for the Republican establishment.

"What I'm concerned about here is that if Thom Tillis should lose to Kay Hagan, we're going to see [people say], "oh, I told you so, we should've gone with Greg Brannon, and I don't think the people realize how hard it is to unseat an incumbent in the general election," O'Connell said Wednesday.

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Even though it is important for the GOP to find electable candidates, it is also important that it not ignore the grassroots, O'Connell says.

"I would like to see the GOP establishment listen to the grassroots more because . . . the Republican Party has a lot of diverse wings to it, and if you can't keep the party together and the base together, then you're not going to win overall," he added. "A party without a base is not a party."

The Washington Post recently gave Republicans an 82 percent chance of taking the Senate in November, but the GOP analyst says that while the odds appear to be in the Republicans' favor, there are still a lot of variables that make such a prediction a bit premature.

"One, because it doesn't include fundraising numbers," O'Connell told Newsmax. "Two, it doesn't include polling  . . . because we don't know who the candidates are in many of these key Senate races."

He said that at this point he gives the GOP "about a 50 to 55 percent chance of taking over the Senate," but said a lot of it will depend on who the candidates are and whether "the base is going to solidify around those candidates."


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