Christie the Barbarian

Mongol General: “What is best in life?”
Conan: “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”

Cochris

If you are not familiar with the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian” staring Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, then go rent it.

The Republican Winter Gala was quite the event.  Catered by Gobeille Hospitality, the owners of Breakwaters, Shanty on the Shore and Burlington Bay Cafe, the food was quite good and certainly plentiful.  I was surprised at the number of people I knew there (mostly lawyers, but some Burlington business folk and Montpelier types as well) and they were all generally receptive to my presence.   Tim Halvorson of Halvorson’s fame MCed the event and stated that Vermonters would’t accept a “tea-party” so  he was creating a “cocktail party.”  Halvorson also indicated that “if you like your current bartender, you can keep him” in a not so oblique reference to Obamacare’s failed promise of individuals always being able to keep their doctors.

Food

Lt. Governor Phil Scott had my favorite quote of the evening when he announced that almost all the food at the event was from Vermont and that “buying local isn’t just for hippies any more.” Scott declared that the night was a “new chapter in the Vermont GOP”.  Quoting Calvin Coolidge, Scott stated “you never know what you can do until you try.”

Scott

Governor Chris Christie was no Conan.  (I just thought it would make a catchy headline). Perhaps dear reader you were looking for some “red meat” to come out of the Christie speech last night.  His speech was positive, humorous and forward looking. And no, I’m not going soft on him for sentimental reasons.  Here are some quotes from the evening:

“Candidates matter more then money or data mining…”

“People say we have a party problem.  We don’t have a party problem, we have a candidate problem.”

To get elected Republicans need to “show-up, show-up at places that are uncomfortable.”

He encouraged candidates to “start going to communities where Latinos and African-Americans live and work every day.”

“You don’t go from 49% [of the vote] to 61% by going back to the Chamber of Commerce.”

“It never crossed my mind to say no to the President [in the wake of Sandy] ” But the “President does stuff wrong 90% of the time” (IMHO this was the most “red meat” statement of the evening. And frankly was more like a medium-rare burger).

If Vermont gets “great candidates up and down the ballot in 2014, you will see me back here.”

Christie

So what is the take away?  First, the Republican Party (at least the non-tea-party faction), knows it is in a deep hole and has to start climbing out.  It knows it has an image problem.  That the demographics of the United States are rapidly changing.  The Vermont GOP and the National GOP that Christie is a part of, is starting the process of re-branding itself.  That re-branding is going to take place swiftly and rapidly.

Second, if the Republicans are re-branding to look more like Democrats, where are the Democrats going to go?  By engaging in this re-branding now, early, the Republicans if successful will occupy the “sweet center” of the political spectrum.  As such they will become a force to be reckoned with.  Here in Vermont, they hope the tide is turning in their favor.  With the Democrats and their oft allies, holding super-majorities in the Golden Dome, as well as the Governor’s Office, it is just a matter of time before the public starts to become weary of a monolithic government.

Lastly, it is good to confirm in Vermont, that many of our Republican friends and neighbors would likely be considered Democrats in many other states.

Oh and by the way, there was at least one other Democrat at the event.  Addison State Sen. Chris Bray (shown here with former Auditor and Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Brock).

Bray

 

* This piece was edited for spelling and grammar after being initially “published”.