The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Thursday that a red state/blue state analysis of national politics is a “road to nowhere” for the party’s future.
Reince Priebus, in Seattle to listen to party activists and spread his message of growth and renewal, said that no state is permanently blue and Republicans should not cede any to the Democrats, as they did in the 2012 presidential election by concentrating just on eight swing states.
Had GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney not written off Washington state, Priebus said, Republican Rob McKenna would be governor today.
“Local candidates suffer when the national camp doesn’t come into a state to compete,” Priebus said. “Rob was rowing alone.” McKenna, a moderate and two-term state attorney general, lost to Jay Inslee by about three percentage points in November.
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McKenna stood with Priebus for a brief news conference following what the chairman described as a spirited conversation with state GOP leaders about how the party could improve and become more competitive.
Priebus, 40, has been touring the country over the past few weeks, including meetings with black leaders in Atlanta and Hispanic and Asian-American leaders in Los Angeles.
President Obama beat Romney in just about every demographic except white males. Priebus said the GOP had to become more open and inclusive of new members.
“We need to work with everyone. Our party won’t grow by division and subtraction,” he said.
The GOP also must build permanent outreach and get-out-the-vote operations and not just mount campaigns in the nine months before an election.
“We are in a world of permanent politics,” Priebus said.
The party chairman won re-election in January promising to bring more modern campaigning to political races, including more use of data, technology and social media.
Priebus, an attorney, is a former chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party where within two years he helped elect a Republican senator and governor, as well as new representatives to Congress, in a state that had been traditionally Democratic.
He said the success of other Republicans around the country underline his point.
“When candidates like Scott Walker and Chris Christie win in Massachusetts and New Jersey, they prove that no blue state is reliably blue,” Priebus said.
Lynn Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8305. On Twitter:@lthompsontimes