What Can Mitt Romney and the GOP Learn from the Wisconsin Recall Election?

When I sat next to Gov. Scott Walker in Houston last year at a fund raising dinner for the recall election, I was worried. The poll numbers didn’t look good. The Democrats were resolute. They wanted Gov. Walker and anybody else they could take down with him out of office. Last night’s election let me breathe easily again. It also restored my faith in what can be done if there is hard work behind the effort.

Here are some of the things that need to be kept in mind as we move toward the November election:

First, some Democrats are insane and dangerous. “Kill Scott Walker” tweets are making the rounds. The GOP needs to make these public. You can read some of them here. The Democrats are the real extremists. Let the so-called Independents know it. Ultra-liberal Ed Schultz of MSNBC issued this insane prediction: “Scott Walker could very well be indicted in the coming days.” It wouldn’t surprise if the Democrats tried to indict the governor. Such a move will only show their deep-seeded desperation and fascist tactics.

John McCain wouldn’t “take it to Obama” in 2008. Romney better not make the same mistake. There is no need to attack the President personally. Nibble around the edges by showing the extremists that are the face of the party. There’s a good chance that a lot of Democrats will defect because they don’t want to be associated with the nutballs that make up a good percentage of the Democrat Party.

Second, the way to win elections is to stick to conservative principles. The first rule in politics is not “all politics is local” but “secure the base.” Gov. Walker did just that. He didn’t back down. He didn’t apologize. He stuck to his principles. Romney must adopt conservative (constitutional) principles and stick to them even if he doesn’t believe them.

Third, Democrat voter fraud is a reality. When reports came in that there was a “119% voter turnout in Madison,” you knew the Democrats had overplayed their hand. This does not mean that they’ll stop trying to fix elections. Eric Holder knows that he has to stop Florida and other states from purging voter lists of illegals and ineligible voters if Obama is going to win in November. The GOP needs to be out in front on this issue. Governors of voter fraud states need to tell Holder that the law is clear on cleaning up voter lists. It’s been mandated.

Fourth, the GOP beat the Democrats on the ground. This was surprising to me. We heard how Democrats are the best at getting out the vote. The GOP beat the Democrats at their own game.

“Working with the Wisconsin GOP, the RNC ran joint voter contact Victory operations and opened 26 statewide offices. Since January, our volunteers made over 4 million voter contacts, more than the GOP did in the entire 2008 campaign and substantially more than Democrats and their union allies in this election.

We spearheaded a joint effort with neighboring states to drive grassroots supporters to Wisconsin, and we mobilized volunteers from across the country to get involved through our innovative online Social Victory Center and phone-from-home program.

In the process, more than 3,400 Wisconsin volunteers have signed up to help the party. And the data collected by door-to-door volunteers for Governor Walker was all promptly added to the RNC’s data center, thanks to the use of iPads, iPhones, and iPods.”

Who would have thought that the stodgy GOP finally understood that there’s a new way to do politics?

Fifth, being a deficit cutter and a fiscal hawk is a winning combination. Romney and the GOP need to get serious on this issue. Walker has the numbers to show the policy work. Walker closed a $3 billion budget gap without layoffs or raising income taxes.

Sixth, as much as we might not like it, money wins elections. If the GOP puts up good candidates, people will donate. Walker raised a ton of money to beat back the Democrat machine. The millions the unions spent won’t be available to them in November.

Seventh, keep reminding conservatives what DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz infamously said that the following about the Wisconsin recall election:

“It’s given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do the dry run we need of our massive, significant dynamic grassroots presidential campaign.”

From her mouth to God’s ear. The base needs to be kept fired up for the next five months. Keep them in the game by reminding them that conservative principles win elections. Compromising policies lose elections.