The CNN story has it right.
Pennsylvania political operative to be considered as RNC chair, sources say
The story by ace reporters Dana Bash, Mark Preston, and Daniella Diaz says, in part, this:
Washington (CNN) — President-elect Donald Trump is considering Pennsylvania political operative Dave Urban as the next chair of the Republican National Committee, sources told CNN Tuesday.
Urban, who ran Trump’s successful Pennsylvania operation, would replace Reince Priebus, who was tapped by Trump on Sunday to become his chief of staff.
“Nothing is set in stone, but he is being strongly considered,” one source in the Trump campaign told CNN. “He has the trust of President-elect Donald J. Trump, he has the trust of the children and the trust of the senior staff. If Urban is able to replicate Pennsylvania in some of these other rust belt states that is a winning formula.”
Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has tweeted out:
“WPA” in Pennsylvania-speak is Western Pennsylvania.
Well, three cheers. As has been noted repeatedly since the election, Pennsylvania had not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988 — 28 years ago.
Some history here.
In 1976, during the famous Reagan-Ford showdown, I was repeatedly told by my Pennsylvania Republican elders that only a moderate, Establishment Republican could carry the state. Which meant, of course, that viewed this way the GOP nominee had to be then-President Gerald Ford. Which is to say, Ronald Reagan was seen as too “extreme,” too “conservative” and therefore a walking disaster as a GOP nominee in Pennsylvania and states like it in the Northeast and Midwest. In fact, Ford went on to lose Pennsylvania and the election to Jimmy Carter. While he held on to his home state of Michigan, Ford lost Wisconsin and Ohio to boot.
Four years later Reagan won the GOP nomination. — and went on to win a 44-state landslide. The only state Carter carried in the combined Northeast and Midwest “Rustbelt” was Minnesota — Vice President Walter Mondale’s home state. Four years later Minnesota was the only state to vote for Mondale against Reagan — and it was close. Four years after that George H.W. Bush carried Pennsylvania — and did so running as the “heir” to Reagan’s supposed “third term.” After four years of Bush’s “kinder, gentler” Establishment administration Pennsylvania was lost to Bill Clinton and would remain lost to every single Democratic nominee — until 2016.
Which is where David Urban comes in.
Without doubt it was Donald Trump’s ability to appeal to Pennsylvania’s many blue collar voters that resulted in victory in the Keystone State. He had exactly the ability Reagan himself demonstrated. Safe to say Reagan Democrats are now Trump Democrats. But as always in a campaign, that appeal had to be translated into a ground game and, in the case of those magnificent Trump rallies, it was critical to hold them in the right place.
It was Urban’s in-depth knowledge of Pennsylvania that translated Trump’s appeal into votes. As someone who came up through the Pennsylvania GOP and has crisscrossed this state countless times with candidates for president, senator and governor there was no question in my watching Urban at work that he knew exactly what he was doing. Repeatedly taking Trump to places like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg, Altoona, Johnstown, and Erie along with Republican Lancaster County and conservative Western Pennsylvania was precisely the way to channel the enthusiasm for Trump into the votes needed to overcome the Democratic margin in Philadelphia.
As Penn Live and Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter Candy Woodall noted back there on October 1, a Trump rally in Lancaster County’s Manheim was a sure sign of the Trump appeal and the Urban strategy at work. Her story was presciently headlined:
Lancaster crowd shows why Trump can win Pa.
MANHEIM — This is the type of Donald Trump crowd Democrats are sometimes quick to dismiss.
It’s the kind of group President Barack Obama once described as clinging to their guns and religion.
They chant “Lock her up!” when someone mentions Hillary Clinton’s name. They say the Pledge of Allegiance a little louder than everyone else. They take off their “Make America Great Again” hats during the invocation. They applaud every time someone mentions a police officer or veteran. They get tears in their eyes during the National Anthem, and they cheer “USA, USA, USA” when someone finishes singing it.
They are rural, blue collar and why Trump could be the first Republican since 1988 to win Pennsylvania.
This was exactly the Urban strategy — and it worked.
Not to mention going right into Philadelphia itself to lessen the vote turnout for Clinton.
Every time Hillary popped up in Philadelphia — not to mention President Obama himself — it was an admission that Democrats were petrified they could not muster their base. Urban understood this in his political bones. It was no accident that here in Central Pennsylvania the land was awash in Trump signs. They were everywhere, a literal sign of not only Trump’s popularity but that there was in fact a serious Trump ground game at work across Pennsylvania.
All of which means that Dave Urban is exactly the kind of guy who should replace outgoing RNC as chairman. The job is a different one when there is a president of your party in the White House. The chairman loses his central role as party spokesman to the president himself and the president’s senior staffers. Which in turn frees him to concentrate on continuing to build the party’s internal structure — the data, the digitals, the money and more.
But the advantage Urban has as a prospective-RNC chair is that he can build on the “Rust Belt” strategy that sent Clinton down to her shocking (to Democrats!) defeat. He would make it his mission to zero in on the New Jerseys, New Yorks, Minnesotas, and other Rust Belt states — this time with a President Trump to help. There would also be a play to finally break the stranglehold Democrats believe they have in both the black and Latino communities — making what was assumed to be a Trump weakness into even more of a GOP strength.
The job of national party chairman can be thankless. But it has been done with skill and energy by the best of them. In the case of the GOP that has meant, over the years, such chairmen as Ray Bliss from Ohio, Tennessee’s Bill Brock, Nevada’s Frank Fahrenkopf, South Carolina’s Lee Atwater, Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, and now Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus.
Among the many success stories of the Trump Revolution has been Pennsylvania’s David Urban. He would do a terrific job at the RNC.