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How I won.

It rapidly is becoming clear that 1994 will be the most important year in American politics since the 1980 race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Abandoning his "New Democratic" tax promises in the 1992 elections, President Clinton is unabashedly identifying the Democratic Party with the old-time religion of a large and activist federal government. The congressional elections of 1994 will be the first real opportunity for voters to say whether they agree with this direction.

If the Democratic Party maintains its overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress in 1994, then the Reagan Revolution truly will be over, and the federal government will likely grow in size and intrusiveness into American life. If, however, the Republican Party makes substantial gains, then there is a good chance that the Clinton presidency will be just a temporary interruption in the downsizing of central government. These choices were muddied in 1992 because Mr. Clinton ran to the right of President Bush on many taxing and spending issues. In 1994, the choices will be clearer.

If Republicans want to make major gains in Congress, they will have to run more effective campaigns than they did in 1992. Even with George Bush at the top of the ticket, the GOP should have picked up at least 25 or 30 seats in the House last November, simply as the result of redistricting and public unhappiness with incumbents in Washington, most of whom were Democrats. Instead, the GOP picked up only 10 seats.

The good news for the GOP is that its 47-member freshman class in the House is filled with energy and talent, and is a goldmine of information about how to run for office in the 1990s. Winning congressional elections is a matter of effective campaign strategy and organization as well as picking the right issues to win voters' confidence. The new Republican members of Congress had to do both.

Policy Review asked eight GOP freshmen to explain how they won House races in districts that could not be assumed to be automatic Republican victories. Their stories follow.

WILLIAM P. BAKER (R-CA)

How did I win my race for Congress? By outrunning bullets.

We started running seriously in December 1991. My campaign raised over $600,000. We recruited 1,000 precinct workers. We set up card tables at 40 shopping centers to pass out literature and register Republican voters.

We ran an old-fashioned grass-roots political campaign. While today's campaigns rely almost exclusively on television and direct mail, ours focused on getting out and actually meeting voters. We made phone calls, passed out flyers, and hung signs.

Our people knocked on every door in the district. We also held about 65 coffees in voters' homes, where I would meet with neighbors to learn what was on their minds and to discuss where I stood on major issues. This proved to be an effective way of overcoming many of the stereotypes in the media about conservative Republicans. Typically about 20 or 25 neighbors would meet with me. The coffees were a perfect opportunity to recruit campaign volunteers, and also to show that here was one politician who was not out of touch. As a congressman, I will continue to hold these types of neighborhood meetings whenever I'm back in the district.

I ran on three principal issues: balancing the federal budget; maintaining a strong defense; and improving transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 10th District is located in suburbs east of San Francisco in an area known as the East Bay.

I argued that the federal budget could be balanced in three- and-a-half years if we had an across-the-board freeze on spending. I didn't campaign against specific spending programs, each of which has its own constituency. Instead, I said $1.5 trillion was enough for the federal government to spend, and freezing expenditures at that level would force Congress to do a better job setting priorities, and would force federal agencies to prioritize within their own departments. I cited my four years of experience as a budget analyst for the state of California under Governor Reagan as a useful tool to work on the federal budget.

On defense I talked about the potential threat from countries like Iran, and argued that we have to maintain the strength to deter attacks from terrorist nations and organizations. I strongly supported the strategic defense initiative (SDI), which is all the more important in a time of proliferating nuclear weapons. My support for SDI is widely shared in the district, which includes both the Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories.

My transportation priority was to complete road and rail- line construction to encircle the Bay Area. I promised to work with Norm Mineta, a Democratic congressman from San Jose who chairs the Public Works and Transportation Committee, to make sure the job got done. To honor this campaign promise, I joined this committee after I was elected, as well as the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which oversees research and development on energy, technology transfers, and SDI.

Downplaying Abortion

I did not run against Congress in my campaign. I ran as someone who would represent my district effectively, and would work well with members of both parties in achieving my budget, defense, and transportation goals. I did, however, discuss possible congressional reform measures, with a focus on cutting wasteful spending. Such measures included passing a balanced- budget amendment and a presidential line-item veto. When asked my position, I said I was for term limits, but did not make this a major part of my campaign.

Nor did I make social issues a big part of my campaign. When asked about my views on abortion, I said I was pro-life, but thought there should be exceptions in the case of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother. I also supported the Supreme Court decision upholding Pennsylvania's parental consent law. My opponent tried to make my pro-life position an issue in the campaign, but even though I didn't go out of my way to advertise my views, I didn't waffle on the subject either. I concluded, I think correctly, that the voters would respect an honestly held view of abortion, even if they didn't always agree with it.

My 12 years of experience as a state legislator were both a help and a hindrance in the campaign. Obviously, it helped that many voters already knew my name and liked my work representing them. On the other hand, my opponent, Wendell Williams, ran against me on the grounds that I was a professional politician.

The biggest challenge of the campaign was running as a Republican in a state where George Bush lost by 2 million votes. I openly supported President Bush, and our tables at shopping centers worked for him as well as for me. But voters in California wanted change. Since President Bush did not aggressively make changing Congress the issue, they concluded it was easier to change a Republican president than a Democratic Congress.

This hurt Republican candidates across the state. In our district we registered 6,000 new voters in the last six weeks of the campaign, but the Democrats registered 9,000; during 1992, GOP registration in the district fell from 45 percent to 43 percent, while Democratic registration stayed at 42 percent.

In the end, I won with 52 percent of the vote to my opponent's 48 percent. I polled nine points ahead of registration, and 17 points ahead of President Bush. Without the hard work of my campaign -- especially the volunteers -- I would not have avoided the Democrats' tidal wave in California.

PETER BLUTE (R-MA)

"Congress doesn't work but Peter Blute will." My campaign slogan from last fall probably best describes how I defeated an 18-year Democratic incumbent. In a central Massachusetts district that Bill Clinton won overwhelmingly, with George Bush winning only 28 percent of the vote and Ross Perot garnering 20 percent, I was able to win with 53 percent.

The incumbent, Joseph Early, was a low-profile but very powerful congressman who had a reputation for delivering federal largesse to the district through his high-ranking position on the House Appropriations Committee. However, he also was one of the top-20 check-bouncers in the House of Representatives, and I used this fact to my advantage in shaping my slogan as well as my campaign strategy.

The three issues that I focused on were congressional reform, economic growth, and health care. I campaigned most aggressively on congressional reform -- where my opponent was weak due to the check episode and his acceptance of the congressional pay raise. I advocated term limits and the abolition of needless committees. To back up charges that Congress was abusing its financing privileges, I pledged not to send out massive, district-wide mailings. Additionally, I promised to reject the cost-of-living adjustment given to Congress and to shun such perks as the House barber shop and members-only parking at National Airport.

On the economy, I made a special effort to court Perot voters by making deficit reduction a cornerstone of my economic plan. I also called for research-and-development tax credits, a spending freeze, and a balanced-budget amendment. While the incumbent opposed the line-item veto, I reached out to potential Clinton voters by strongly advocating it and quoting Bill Clinton in support of my position.

In talking about health-care reform, I stressed the importance of maintaining a competitive system instead of a Canadian-style government-funded model. I stressed the need for more efficiency, but also made the point that in reforming America's health-care system, we must be careful not to throw out the good with the bad.

My victory was the result of strategy as well as my stands on issues. Because of redistricting, the ability of my campaign to adapt quickly to the new boundaries plus the accessibility and accountability of our campaign enabled us to be successful.

HENRY BONILLA (R-TX)

Can a Republican talking about free enterprise get elected in a district that is 62 percent Hispanic and 69 percent minority? You bet he can. I defeated Albert Bustamante, a four- term Democrat heavily supported by labor unions, by 59 percent to 41 percent. It was the largest margin against an incumbent anywhere in the country.

I campaigned as the candidate who would help small business and thereby generate jobs. Big government, I said, was killing business with its burden of taxes, paperwork, and over- regulation. I favored tax breaks for small businesses in their early years, and a "one-form rule" that would simplify paperwork. I also called for cutting the self-employment tax. Meanwhile, I pointed out, my opponent was voting against the National Federation of Independent Business position 80 percent of the time.

My message on taxes and regulation was hammered home by owners of small businesses who worked for the campaign -- like Jaime Saenz, an auto-parts distributor in Dimmit County, and Jose Cuevas, a restaurant owner in Midland. They won big support for me in some parts of southern Texas that had never listened to a Republican before. I also campaigned for a strong military and for reviving the domestic energy industry. Oil and gas means more jobs for Texas, as well as for the entire United States.

My opponent voted to raise taxes. I pledged not to, saying there was enormous waste in the federal government; until the politicians in Washington cut the waste, they should not even think of taking more money from working people.

My opponent had sponsored the Balanced-Budget Amendment, and then flip-flopped and voted against it. I promised to support such an amendment. My opponent had voted to raise congressional salaries; I pledged to give cost-of-living increases back to the district in charitable contributions. Instead of a pay raise, I said Congress should cut its pay in half unless it cuts the deficit in half.

I supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which would be very helpful for the entire Southwest. Already 3,000 trucks cross the border every day at Laredo, and the Wal- Mart in Laredo does the largest volume of any in the country. But my support for NAFTA helped me most among business people. It wasn't a big issue for most regular voters, and I didn't make it a big part of my campaign.

I attacked my opponent's bounced checks. I clobbered him for his junketing, his low attendance record, and missed votes. I also criticized him for providing almost no constituent service. He wasn't even answering his mail.

My opponent tried to undercut my support by saying I'd threaten Social Security and food stamps and vote to cut the minimum wage. These were false charges, and I denied them. But I did campaign for workfare, not welfare. This is a very popular issue in my district. I found strong support for my position in places like Zavala County, birthplace of the radical movement La Raza Unida. The people there are very concerned about a declining work ethic in America.

I found there is no need to tailor the Republican message to the Hispanic voter. The message of opportunity through free enterprise plays very well when you play it straight. It cuts across party, ethnic, and cultural lines throughout America.

STEPHEN E. BUYER (R-IN)

To run for Congress, you need "fire in the belly." I decided to run when I was serving in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, and I read in my hometown newspaper that my congressman had voted against the war. I felt deserted, as if the person who was supposed to be representing me in Washington had abandoned me.

Indiana's Fifth District encompasses all or part of 20 counties in the northwest part of the state. Agriculture, manufacturing, and small business account for most of the jobs in this family-oriented area.

The incumbent, Jim Jontz, was a tireless campaigner, known for attending numerous parades, door-to-door campaigning, and a heavy dose of mailings to the district. He served on the House Agriculture and Interior and Insular Affairs Committees. Prior to serving in Congress, he was a state senator and state representative in the Indiana General Assembly. Mr. Jontz had devoted his entire adult life to politics, never working in another profession. A goal of my campaign was to define him for what he was, a professional politician who was part of the problem in Washington. In addition, I sought to portray him as a radical environmentalist who was hurting agriculture and taking away jobs.

The Spotted Owl Albatross

Mr. Jontz was a strong advocate of the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest. He even gave up his assignment on the Veterans Affairs Committee to serve on the Interior Committee so he could work more effectively to protect the spotted owl. The spotted owl became his albatross. By citing rising timber prices that added $3,000 to new homes in Indiana, I was able to demonstrate how his policies affected people back in Indiana.

While I share his concern, I believe in a balanced approach to the environmental question. The benefits of environmental protection need to be weighed against their effects on families and jobs. Too often people are left out of the environmental equation.

In addition, farmers in the district became disenchanted with Mr. Jontz because he was on the wrong side of the wetlands issue. The federal government developed a very broad definition of what constituted a wetland, forcing many farmers to remove land from production. Mr. Jontz refused to intercede on the farmers' behalf in order to facilitate a fairer and more concise definition of wetlands. His actions afforded me with another example of his radical environmentalist policies that cost Hoosiers jobs.

Congressional reform was an issue I supported strongly during the campaign. I pointed out during the campaign that in order for Congress to begin to tackle the tough problems that are before our nation, it must begin to get its own house in order. Restoring integrity to Congress as an institution is critical and overdue. Contrasting my position with my opponent's, I focused on his heavy abuse of the franking privilege and pledged to limit myself to one district-wide postal patron mailing per term. In addition, I called for an end to career politicians, supporting term limits of 12 years for both senators and representatives.

The deficit and reduced government spending were two other areas where Mr. Jontz and I disagreed. I believe that small business is the engine of our economy. The investment tax credit, along with cuts in capital-gains taxes, will spur economic investment. Providing incentives to business to risk capital for job creation is critical to getting the economy moving. On the spending side, I called for a line-item veto and a balanced- budget amendment. My opponent sought only to cut government programs that did not affect the district as a means of dealing with the deficit. It was my opinion that we could do better, including restoring the public's faith and trust in their elected officials.

As I mentioned earlier, my opponent was a tireless campaigner, and I made the commitment in the beginning of the campaign that I was not going to be out-worked. During the campaign I knocked on over 19,000 doors, participated in over 70 parades, attended over 20 county fairs, and held more than 40 coffees or house parties throughout the district. It is hard work, and you need to make the commitment to yourself, your family, and your supporters that you are willing to work harder than your opponent to win.

The most important contribution to my victory came from volunteers and my family. During the early stages of the campaign, I spent a lot of time developing a volunteer organization. I knew the size of the district required a strong grass-roots network. Volunteers were recruited to become county, town, and precinct coordinators. The organization really flexed its muscle during the final month of the campaign when I became ill with pneumonia and was forced to stay in bed for two weeks. The volunteers stepped in and the campaign was able to continue. I would say that our momentum increased during my absence. We were able to continue with every event and every scheduled appearance during my absence. It was at this point that we realized that because of our volunteers' commitment and dedication, there would be a new congressman representing Indiana's Fifth District.

BOB INGLIS (R-SC)

Last year, the voters of the Fourth District chose me to represent them in my first and only bid for public office. Throughout the race, which involved a three-term incumbent, I repeated a very simple theme to bring home my point that it was time for a change.

My district is in the northwest part of our state, and includes Greenville and Spartanburg. During frequent door-to-door visits and meetings with community groups, I continually asked voters the same question, "Are you happy with the Congress you've got?" Invariably, their answer was "No."

I followed that question by describing how I would do things differently if I were elected -- how I would work with other reformers in Congress to make the institution more productive and more accountable to the people it serves. I advocated a series of changes: term limits, abolishing political action committees, and establishing real budgetary reform such as a true line-item veto.

I backed up my commitment to change by applying key principles to myself, believing strongly that anything less would by empty rhetoric. For example, I not only ran on a platform including term limits, but I also pledged to limit my own service if elected. After the election, I followed up on that commitment and vowed to limit my own service to three two-year terms.

Similarly, I refused PAC money during the campaign while pledging to work on abolishing PACs. To date, I've already returned three unsolicited PAC checks.

Unlike some past campaigns, I never tried to portray the incumbent, Liz Patterson, as a liberal who was out of touch with the district. The contest, as I saw it, involved nothing personal against her. Rather, the choice for voters was simply two different approaches to service in Congress. They had the option of maintaining the status quo in Washington with an entrenched incumbent or increasing the potential for real change with a committed reformer. The voters apparently agreed with me that it was time to give someone else a chance.

JOHN LINDER (R-GA)

Running for elected office is a difficult endeavor, and many elements factor into a winning equation. Probably as many people offer advice as there are precincts, but opinions often are contradictory, and a candidate is forced to distinguish the good from the best strategies. For me, the best strategy was going with my gut instincts and learning from the mistakes of my first run for Congress.

After serving in the Georgia General Assembly for 14 years - - which meant running for state office seven times -- I knew the people and the area well. Local issues that concerned them were issues that I had addressed in the legislature. My experience in state politics gave me a base of experience and knowledge to make judgments on what would and would not work in a campaign for Georgia's congressional delegation.

I have been told that most elected officials lose their first run for office. After losing my first campaign and winning my second, I understand why. The first campaign served as a testing ground and shaped my strategy in the second. The lessons I learned from my defeat in 1990 enabled me to achieve victory in 1992.

In 1990 I ran against a liberal Democrat incumbent, Representative Ben Jones. Our messages appealed to polarized groups, which meant I had to reach and appeal to those in the middle. My campaign adopted a mass-appeal strategy, which would have been effective if I had used a different approach. To reach a mass audience, you must use the mass medium. I used direct mail, which is not an effective way to reach voters because it has a shelf life of about 14 seconds. Direct mail also cannot counter an 11th-hour attack.

By starting a full campaign 18 months before the election, I started spending money too early. I hired a full staff without any substantial projects to warrant the expense. These unnecessary extra salaries took a big chunk from funds that were needed desperately in the end. Representative Jones staged a last-minute negative ad campaign that I was unable to challenge because I did not have the money for a counter-media blitz.

In 1992, reapportionment changed the makeup of the Fourth District dramatically. The home base that I had represented was removed, along with Ben Jones's home base. Jones decided to run in the 10th District, which pitted me against a fellow state legislator, Cathey Steinberg. The new Fourth District, which is in the Atlanta suburbs, included Ms. Steinberg's state district, giving her the home-base advantage, but I maintained the name recognition from my last campaign. That placed us on equal ground, with issues and strategy being the key.

The strategy in 1992 focused on maximizing campaign funds. I spent less money -- $500,000 versus $790,000 in 1990 -- but spent it more wisely. This time there was no elaborate campaign staff - - no press secretary, no finance manager, and no precinct organizers. Instead, two exceptional people ran the show. The money saved in salaries was used for an extensive TV campaign two weeks before election day. This TV campaign worked because it reached large numbers of voters, and also because people knew who I was and where I stood on the issues. In 1990 I was established as a hard-core conservative and people knew what that meant.

Softening the Image

Representative Jones had stereotyped me as a radical right- winger, and Ms. Steinberg tried to do the same. I learned from 1990 that I had to soften my image, so I ran commercials showing me with children. While she kept claiming, "He's extreme, but I'm mainstream," I repeatedly placed a softer image in the minds of the voters with these ads. Voters in the middle do not want an extremist on either side. Ms. Steinberg was the only person labeling the candidates and even labeled herself by saying, "He's going to call me a liberal." When I never did, people saw her calling herself a liberal, while I played with children and talked about the community.

Voters did not want to hear labels, but instead were interested in the issues. The presidential race made the economy the primary issue, with Ross Perot calling attention to the deficit. In one of my most effective TV commercials, I held a squalling baby in my arms and said, "He's only six weeks old and already his share of the national debt is $16,000. It is time to pay the bills." I supported a spending freeze for two to three years at last year's levels -- with everyone sharing the pain.

In addition to the spending freeze, I supported a balanced- budget amendment, a line-item veto, and called for some specific spending cuts -- for example, eliminating the National Helium Reserve. The government should not be in the business of subsidizing poor artists, rich farmers, bee keepers, boating enthusiasts, or any other group that can organize and hire a lobbyist.

I took a "no-new-taxes" pledge, citing the growth we experienced from Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. Every time we have cut taxes, revenues have risen; every time we raise taxes, we increase the deficit. We need to cut the capital-gains tax and lower payroll taxes, which would put cash back in the hands of investors.

Congressional reform was another major plank in my platform. I ran against Congress as an institution, criticizing the excessive perks and privileges. I favored a term-limits amendment and pledged to serve no more than six terms. One ad focused on irresponsible spending in Congress, showing a piggy bank crashing to the ground. As three young children pick up the pieces, I approach them, saying, "Congress broke the bank, folks. It's time to pick up the pieces."

Because Ms. Steinberg would not take a stand on any of these issues, the best angle of attack was her record in the General Assembly. My TV campaign focused on her voting for legislative pay raises three times, for increased expense allowances, and other perks. I pushed for a debate to crystallize our positions, but she refused to debate and continued to straddle many economic and reform issues, and even capital punishment.

The Year of the Woman and tremendous financial support from women's activist groups gave her a slight financial advantage. Abortion was her central issue, and her top priority was passing the Freedom of Choice Act. She tried to tar me with this issue, saying I was a hard-line extremist. My position was solidly pro- life and attracted support from right-to-life coalitions. They worked hard throughout the churches to rally support and effectively highlighted my position within the Christian community. Abortion was not the focus of our campaign, but my position had been strong and consistent. Instead of concentrating on abortion, my campaign centered around reform and the economy.

Ms. Steinberg relied on press shorthand and symbolism to carry her message, while I focused on major issues. Her strategy did not work, because while she was hammering at me as a supposedly inflexible ideologue, the voters saw John Linder with kids. They also heard me address the issues they were most interested in, while she focused on a single issue. The key was meeting the voters where they were and addressing their concerns. Ms. Steinberg may have outspent me, but I made a reasoned appeal for sensible politics and won.

DEBORAH PRYCE (R-OH)

I emphasized two essential themes in my campaign: restoring economic growth and rebuilding the American public's confidence in the U.S. Congress.

The residents of Ohio's 15th District, which includes Columbus and rural farmland to the west, were deeply concerned about the economy and the role the federal government could play in strengthening our competitiveness, creating new, lasting jobs, and preparing our nation's work force for the 21st century. I shared their concerns about stimulating the economy, and spoke often about government having become a hindrance to successful business, and being too intrusive in our lives.

In particular, I expressed my firm belief that government should provide incentives for investment and capital formation, which lead to job creation. Today, businesses, especially small businesses, are burdened by high taxes and costly government regulations.

To illustrate this point, I often recalled a Wall Street Journal article about former Senator George McGovern. As a legislator he often had supported costly regulations. However, when he retired from the Senate and opened a small New England inn, he discovered the difficulty of operating under the weight of government regulation.

I cited the Family and Medical Leave Act as an example. I place great importance on ensuring that our workers are not forced into choosing between secure employment and the need to care for family members. However, I could not support legislation that would impose mandates on businesses and that very likely would lead to discrimination against women in their child-bearing years.

On the key budget issues, I said we need control of runaway government spending before Congress considers raising a single dime more in taxes. I suggested a one-time, 10-percent average reduction in government expenditures, excluding Social Security and interest on the federal debt. In addition, I proposed a 3-percent limit on the growth in federal spending for five years, fiscal years 1995-1999.

I also supported enactment of a balanced-budget amendment to help restore fiscal discipline and simple common sense to the budget process. I said the president should have line-item veto authority so Congress and the White House would be held more accountable when spending hard-earned taxpayer money.

I also worked hard to appeal to the voters' desire for change. It was time to put aside "politics as usual" and make Congress truly representative. I pledged to do all I could to help break gridlock in Congress and to build the consensus and coalitions necessary to make progress on the key issues affecting our daily lives. I portrayed a vote in favor of my Democratic opponent as a vote for the status quo, supporting the tax-and- spend agenda of Speaker Foley and the Democratic leadership. I pointed out that the U.S. House of Representatives had been controlled by the Democrats since before Fidel Castro took control of Cuba!

The campaign had some difficult moments, particularly on the issue of abortion. In addition to a my Democratic opponent, I faced a formidable challenge from an independent, right-to-life candidate who ultimately captured 18 percent of the vote.

For me, preserving a woman's right to choose was imperative. However, by favoring reasonable restrictions such as parental notification, I staked out a middle ground on abortion between the pro-life and pro-choice extremes of my two opponents.

This was not my most important issue. Looking back at our efforts, and those of the hundreds of volunteers who covered neighborhoods door to door, the campaign was most successful in communicating the combined message of economic growth and real congressional reform.

JIM TALENT (R-MO)

Congress has forgotten the American middle class, the people who care about our country, who work hard, who take care of their families. Congress has been overburdening these people, taking too much in taxes, and not delivering enough services in return. We need term limits; above all, we need a Congress more responsive to the American people.

This was the central message in my campaign against Joan Kelly Horn, a one-term incumbent in my suburban St. Louis district. I portrayed Congress as an arrogant and isolated political elite.

Reducing the deficit was another major theme of my campaign, and it was very important in winning the support of Ross Perot's supporters. I strongly supported a balanced-budget amendment, and at the same time I emphasized my record against tax increases in the Missouri legislature. I often pointed out that federal taxes for the average family had risen from 2 percent to 25 percent over the past 40 years.

Maintaining a strong defense was an important issue. Our district does a lot of defense work. I argued that the world is still dangerous, and it is foolish to dismantle our military too rapidly. I strongly criticized my opponent for voting against Operation Desert Storm. I also criticized the incumbent for reversing herself and voting against the Balanced-Budget Amendment that she had co-sponsored. This won me support on the merits of the issue. It also got voters wondering: why did she switch?

I did not talk much about social issues, but my pro-life position was well-known. Pro-life volunteers were very helpful in our campaign, and pro-choice volunteers were very active in my opponent's. My pro-life position may have cost me some votes among pro-choice Republicans. On the other hand, it probably won me some support among ethnic Democrats, who were also attracted to my emphasis on term limits and a strong defense.

School choice, I believe, is emerging as an important political issue, but I did not push it in the 1992 campaign. It was not as important as other issues on voters' minds. The same was true of welfare reform. I also deliberately stayed away from a major busing conflict we have in St. Louis. It is important for Republicans not to appear racially divisive.

Nor, unlike some of my colleagues, did I run against professional politicians. If you want someone to represent you in government, no matter what your ideology, you want someone with political skills and experience. Voters don't dislike politicians. They dislike politicians who are part of the entrenched status quo. Bill Clinton is the epitome of a professional politician, but he got elected because he was identified with change.

I could not have won the race without a vigorous grass-roots operation. We held a couple of hundred coffees. We raised money in small group settings. We did a lot of mailings. We ran a major postcard campaign the weekend before the election, in which volunteers sent cards to friends and neighbors asking them to "Vote for Jim." Although my campaign did an enormous amount of door-to-door canvassing, I didn't do much of this myself; I didn't find it a very effective use of my time.

We were 20 points down in the polls at Labor Day, even though this is a Republican-leaning district. On Election Day, we won by 3 points. It was a tough year for Republicans. But hard work and a carefully chosen conservative message still can lead to victory.
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Title Annotation:Republican Congressmen and the secrets for their election
Publication:Policy Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:5783
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