The Republican sweep of all five contested Mercer County Board races did not just happen. A number of factors came together in God’s Providence, and it is proper to attribute the victory ultimately to Him. Looking back on how things came together, here are a few observations we can make.
We begin by looking at the 2012 General Election, which broke down what had been a crushing majority of Democrats on the Mercer County Board. After that election, the Republicans held four of the ten seats, and though they were still a minority, they were an effective minority. Nevertheless, it became quite apparent that, with anything short of a real majority of Republicans on the county board, we were not going to turn around the county’s deteriorating condition. Thus was born the motivation to work hard for a Republican majority in the next election.
Then there were changes within the Mercer County Republican Party. There was a push to expand the Republican Central Committee (which consists of all of the precinct committeemen). In 2012 and 2013 we had only five precinct committeeman positions filled. By April of 2014, 23 of the 24 positions were filled. As a result, we suited up a full team of committeemen and Republican regulars. As far as anybody’s memory could be stretched, the Republican Party in Mercer County had never been in such good shape.
A good manager assembles a team of many talents; then he plays their strengths and covers their weaknesses. Let’s talk about the strengths.
First, we were Republicans, and because we were Republicans, we knew what needed to be done. In fact, at one point that became our theme: We know what to do.
Eventually, that fact developed into a document wherein all five board candidates, along with the two sitting Republican board members, pledged that if the voters gave the Republicans a majority, they would do eight necessary things – things which the Democrats had no will to do.
This pledge eventually became a tool to leverage the voters our way.
The board candidates and members pledged that if they were given a majority on the county board, then they would:
1. Balance the budget. Stop spending more than we take in.
2. Relieve the tax payer. Stop raising property taxes, and eventually reduce them.
3. Upgrade the county board’s operation. Make the board more effective and government more efficient with a county administrator.
4. Serve the people. Republican board members would continue to forgo compensation at least until the budget shows a surplus.
5. Prosper Mercer County. Develop a plan to improve general prosperity by making Mercer County business and landowner friendly.
6. Implement full transparency. Improve the people’s access to county information, including putting the Mercer County checkbook, board meeting minutes, budgets, etc. online.
7. Manage the jail obligations. Protect the people from the burden of the obligations of the jail expansion.
8. Empower the people. Give the people of Mercer County direct say over large county projects involving potential tax increases.
Our five county board candidates ran as a team, and they won as a team.
There were some big financial donors, and there were lots of little donors, so we were able to raise enough money to put together a Republican campaign like hasn’t been seen in this county.
We ran full page newspaper ads and wrote letters to the editor. We distributed 4,000 red bags of literature door-to-door, from booths at the fair and other public events, and from floats and walkers in parades. We ran radio ads. We sent out mailers publishing our pledge to every household in the county. We redesigned our web page, worked our YouTube channel and several Facebook pages. We had press conferences and organized restaurant events.
The Democrats began following us around at events, but they would not show up where they were invited to debate us. They threw lots of false, misleading, and senseless stuff at us in letters to the editor, radio ads, and the usual public channels. We ignored all of the slanderous stuff, and most of the rest of the stuff, and moved right on.
On November 4th, the voters rewarded our efforts with a sweep. All five of our county board candidates won, carrying 21 out of the 24 precincts in the county. With the two Republicans already sitting on the board, Republicans now make up the Magnificent Seven. That leaves the Democrats with only three.
Many things contributed to our success. We have mentioned or alluded to only a few of those things. Each of you can likely think of a dozen things that you would add. The point that needs to be made is that though many things were necessary for our success, no one thing guaranteed success. We had some difficulties and some disappointments, but we were able to maintain solidarity and good communication among our regular members, and so we were able to keep things moving in the right direction. We assembled a good team, we worked with what we were given, we played our strengths, we covered our weaknesses, and when everything is said and done, that is the winning plan.
So count your blessings, give God the glory Who brought all of this together, and keep your promises.