Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?
Interview With Sarah Ledford - Candidate for MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair
With the 2011 MIGOP State Convention right around the corner, so to speak, the candidates for the various state party offices have been touring the various county and regional events relentlessly in order to engage Convention Delegates and attempt to secure their votes. Sunday afternoon I sat down with Sarah Ledford, one of the candidates for MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair.
Kevin: Good afternoon, Sarah, it's good to finally sit down with you for this.
Sarah: Yes, I am very excited to discuss the Youth Chair position with you! How are you doing?
Kevin: Great. I suppose we could have done this sooner, but global warming has been in full lake effect on the west side this weekend.
Sarah: Yes, this Global Warming is making everything quite difficult.
Kevin: I understand you were at an event in Wayne County back on Friday night. How'd that go?
Sarah: It went very well, many great supporters of mine there including Bob and Susan Chmielewski along with great friends from the Dr. Rob Steele Campaign.
Kevin: Would it be reasonable to say that we have an energized base on in SE Michigan?
Sarah: Yes, not only in South East Michigan, but across the state. It's been truly wonderful meeting old and new friends, sharing their experience along with mine with the successes of the 2010 elections, up and down the ticket.
Kevin: Now MI-15 has been a Dingell seat since its creation in 1932, either John sr. or John jr. MIGOP almost flipped it in 2010; what do you think the odds are that we can boot Dingellsaurus in 12?
Sarah: I have very high hopes for this seat turning Red in 2012. I have heard Dingell is considering retirement, so it is very likely the Dems will be needing to familiarize the voters in the 15th with a new candidate ... which is great for us Republicans to take advantage of. Especially if Dr. Rob Steele decides to run again; voters are already familiar with him and his message, especially against socialized health care.
Kevin: Unfortunately, the Dean of the House has recently declared his intention to run again. Do you think this makes it easier or more difficult to flip the 15th?
Sarah: Yes, it will be more difficult moving forward because this time we do not have the wind at our backs, but it will be in our face. However for the 15th district - the problem is Washtenaw County.
Kevin: Okay, why will that be a problem?
Sarah: In terms of taking back the 15th district? Well the problem is for the 15th, that we have had a Congressman representing us who has forgotten about his district, the people, and what is truly good for them. He has been in Washington for far too long. That is the problem. I know it is time to force Dingell to retire. However what has always carried Dingell, especially this past election, is the constant source of liberal voters, the students at the U of M.
Kevin: And Washtenaw is where you got your political start.
Sarah: Yes, I was accepted to the U of M College of Engineering and the School of Music. And once I arrived on campus to begin my studies, the orientations and coursework that they require students to take - is what I like to call "The Indoctrination Machine." Coming from a Christian conservative household where both my parents were Sergeants in the US Army, I knew immediately what they were trying to do, and I did not take to that very well.
Kevin: I'll bet not. So, you've been involved in Michigan politics since your freshman year of college ... tell me something about that that isn't necessarily on the bio sheet.
Sarah: Well for instance, the University Student Government, Michigan Student Assembly, petitioned the UM Regents to completely ban Coca-Cola on campus for "social justice" reasons, so what did the University do? They took student's consumer choices away, and emptied all the Coca-Cola machines on campus, but left all Pepsi products. And I am sure there was also a conflict of interest there as well, but I won't get into that.
I saw this as a problem, and brought the issue to light amongst all students. I brought the ideas of individual consumer choices, free markets - to the student body by campaigning for Student Government - our political party named "The Student Conservative Party." I was able to expose or "market" students to the ideas of conservatism with an issue that they could relate to. They saw the effects of an overbearing administration - or government - and how it infringed upon their lives. They saw those Coca-Cola machines empty.
And by explaining conservatism to them in a way they could relate and understand - that was what was truly effective for bringing them on board. And the students rallied behind me - they voted me to represent them, as a conservative, to be their Engineering Representative to the Michigan Student Assembly, where before there was no conservative representation whatsoever on the MSA.
Kevin: And all of this experience at U-of-M, you believe, has prepared you for the role of MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair?
Sarah: Yes, I know it has prepared me for it. Especially for the Presidential election. We are going to see the Obama Machine ramp up again. Especially on campuses, I saw it all - it is key to have a Youth Chair that has seen the best and the worst of what the Democrats will do. But not only has seen it, but understands how they think, and has acted upon it.
Kevin: And that brings me to this question: You're running for MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair. What does a Youth Vice-Chair do?
Sarah: The Youth Chair position is not clearly defined, and the MRP defines the position simply as the person responsible for organizing the youth for candidates for elections. However from what I know organizing youth, there is a lot more to the position than simply organizing. Youth do not and will not just "show up" for Republican candidates. We have external forces taking our youth away from conservatism every day, within the classrooms, media, and their own friends who have been fed inaccurate information about Republicans.
Kevin: Assuming you're elected to the post you seek, how do you see yourself advancing the MIGOP strategy for the 2012 election cycle?
Sarah: Effectively organizing. I have what I call my "Battle Plan for the Youth" (the full version is at my website). Some of the highlights being that:
A. There are fantastic Republican leaders, and we need a number of youth leaders across the state recruiting young people into the Republican Party; effective youth leaders who can talk one-on-one and attract them to the Republican Party. We have the message, we need effective leaders to convey it. There is power in numbers, this is key if we plan to turn Michigan Red for our next Presidential nominee.
B. Young people are always looking for the latest trends. Applying technology to politics is the latest trend and we need to talk to the youth through social networking and the web. We need a one-stop-shop website that young people can go to find organizations/candidates that match their interests. We need to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to convey Republican messages and talk to young people. Let's make it easier for them to connect and tell about events, internship opportunities, and all the great opportunities for Republicans.
Kevin: If I'm correct, then your opponent for Youth Vice-Chair, Alex Clark, was also at the Wayne County event. His strategy for 2012 is fairly impressive. What would you do that isn't part of his strategy?
Sarah: One, I will be implementing the Deputy Youth Chair Program. I will be appointing 5 Deputy Youth Chairs - by region - across the state; young leaders that I have gotten to know through the various campaigns I have worked on, Young Republicans, College Republicans, and Teenage Republicans.
Two, I will be working with the next MRP Chair specifically for fundraising for Youth Programs. I know how hard it was to balance trying to find money for the simple stuff like pizza and room rentals, when you are also trying to recruit and organize events. I want to help them, take some of the burden off of them. I know what difficulties you encounter trying to organize, and this was one of them. The MSA at U of M purposely underfunded, or didn't fund at all, conservative-oriented groups, to keep them from effectively organizing.
And then also education - it is key to explain to them why helping candidates is important for the vitality of our nation. If they only help candidates because "they are Republican", and they don't understand the conservative values that Republicans uphold, then they will not be motivated - and this is the problem we see now.
Kevin: So are you suggesting that, should you win, Alex Clark will have a position in your organization as a Deputy Vice-Chair?
Sarah: I have invited Alex to be one of my Deputy Youth Chairs, I am not sure if he will take me up on that offer but it is out there!
Kevin: Okay, a hot topic this week (for many reasons) has been Governor Snyder's very first State of the State address, delivered this past Wednesday. Your impression?
Sarah: I was very impressed by the Dashboard he handed out to every Representative, Senator, and other elected officials in the chamber - along with us Guests - and everyone to look at online. It was transparent and honest. Michigan is terrible; everyone knows it, especially the Engineers that I graduated with. At least half of them, a huge majority growing up in Michigan their whole lives, are forced to leave.
Kevin: And yet, here on RightMichigan, there's a blog post and lengthy comment thread that does a fairly thorough job of dissecting that address. Much of the criticism is targeted at two things: One, that Gov. Snyder advocates for government expansion (a criticism also leveled by the Mackinac Center) when what we need is government contraction. Two, that Gov. Snyder didn't substantively address any of the structural issues that are facing this state right now. Any thoughts on that?
Sarah: I have a very high respect for economic analysis coming from the Mackinac Center - and I agree that Government needs to be contracted significantly. And that's why I do not work in the public sector myself.
Kevin: So you might agree that the expansions of government spoken of in Gov. Snyder's address should be looked at suspiciously?
Sarah: There are structural changes that are going to have to occur, significant changes. I am going to give him along with the rest of the newly electeds a chance. However they know we are watching them closely, and thanks to RightMichigan, the Mackinac Center, MI Capitol Confidential, and even private citizens paying more attention to what our electeds are up to. They will be "treading" carefully. I know for years the Mackinac Center has been doing a great job at analyzing bills and policy changes in Michigan. But now we have the grassroots support, boots on the ground, to take the information and research, and hold their feet to the fire when they do not do what they promised.
Kevin: How concerned are you about the feedback from MDP Chairman, Mark Brewer, that about 80% of Gov. Snyder's address could have been delivered by a Democrat?
Sarah: Mark Brewer will say anything for attention.
Kevin: So, since you've already addressed it, let's talk about a movement that, contrary to what the left would have us believe, isn't going away any time soon. What's your impression of the rise of the tea party movement and its impact on Republican Party politics?
Sarah: Congressman Mike Rogers said it best, "What is wrong with a group of people that believes you shouldn't spend more than you take in?" I think the energy is great for the Party. We are all conservatives, the only difference being when and what made us get up off our couches and start caring about what our elected officials are doing with our money and future.
Kevin: The tea party movement is, so far as I know, aware that any substantive success politically has to be accomplished within the framework of the Republican Party. But many have a running problem with what they view as "moderates" or "centrists" -- RINOs if you will -- still in positions of control and influence within the GOP, whether as elected officials or as party officers. How do you think that should be constructively addressed?
Sarah: The Tea Party movement should be concerned about when Republicans go against their principles and vote poorly. And all conservatives should be concerned. But no matter what, we should not alienate Republicans for having one issue that we do not agree with. If we emphasize what makes us different, rather than what brings us together, we will fail as a party. And that is what I did with my conservative coalition at U of M, emphasized what brings us together. Inner fighting will not do us any good - the real fight is the one for our freedom.
Kevin: Fair enough, but there are some "republicans" within the ranks who certainly don't vote or behave as republicans should, do you agree?
Sarah: Our party has strayed from its roots. Yes there are "outside influences" that have swayed principled conservatives from voting against the best interests of their constituents. And that is lobbyists.
That is another comment I would like to say about the state of the state address: There were too many lobbyists in the chamber. Especially before the address, people that I have never seen before magically show up. Where were they on the campaign trail? And their slick suits they wear, paid for by taxpayer dollars - disgusts me.
Kevin: Okay, so how do we as Republicans deal with those within our own ranks who stray off the reservation? Or better yet, how do we prevent them from being on the reservation in the first place?
Sarah: We must fight against the forces that try to sway them against their ideals and their constituents. Lobbyists, special interests, so forth. And that takes having a well organized constituency - that communicates regularly with their elected officials and informs the elected officials if they do go against their constituents, there will be consequences. But it takes numbers to back that up.
Kevin: But even the tea parties are lobbying groups, aren't they?
Sarah: Yes - but they are lobbying for what Government is supposed to do - allowing for free markets and healthy economic conditions for our state to prosper.
Kevin: So you're saying that it's a question of what the lobbying group is there for.
Sarah: Yes. There is a prominent dominance of special interest lobbyist in Lansing, and why there needs to be more lobbyists for the people's interest. It shouldn't have to be this way; our elected officials should be responsible on their own and not have to be "baby-sat." That is why we entrusted them and elected them in the first place.
Kevin: So you think that the accountability project that has so many tea party groups already involved is a good idea?
Sarah: Yes it definitely is.
Kevin: What are your thoughts on the Independence Caucus of Michigan, which is a PAC allied with the Michigan Tea Party Patriot Alliance?
Sarah: I love iCaucus. I know Don Jakel very well; he and I have talked a lot about the future of iCaucus. For the past election, they were busy evaluating candidates, interviews, and endorsing them if they were principled. However one problem I saw with the questionnaire was that it was oriented towards national policy, and many candidates could not fairly fill the questionnaire out because the policy did not apply for their Michigan-only elected position they were vying for.
Kevin: I understand that they're developing a state-specific questionnaire, and the I-Caucus of Kent County is going to be making endorsements in the GRCC Trustees race. Would you recommend that MIGOP adopt as a policy a requirement that any candidate seeking state party support complete the I-Caucus vetting process?
Sarah: I don't know necessarily if the role of the Michigan Republican Party is to instruct candidates which questionnaires to fill out or not fill out. I enjoy working with I-Caucus and am a big supporter of their efforts, but conservatives have to decide for themselves what endorsements they seek.
Kevin: I also noticed in your bio that you did some campaign work for our new SOS, Ruth Johnson (who, by the way, was endorsed by the I-Caucus). Tell me about that.
Sarah: The SOS Primary race was a very contested, 5-way primary, that really wore down all of the candidates for SOS, while the Democrats had their nominee, Jocelyn Benson, since the beginning of the year. We had a lot to do, however Ruth was polling fairly well above Benson. Benson was a liberal university professor at Wayne State, everything that I have worked against and know personally from my experience at U of M.
So I asked Ruth, "What can I do for you?" I volunteered to coordinate her field team in full force since the convention all the way till Nov. 2, helping many other candidates along the way in targeted swing districts. For instance, we were able to get out thousands of yard signs in targeted democrat areas and coordinate door knocking with various state rep and state senate candidates.
Kevin: 2012 is the year we get our next chance to "pink slip" Senator Debbie Stabenow. I've heard somewhere in the immediate vicinity of a half-dozen names circulating as potential Republican challengers. Do you have any thoughts on who should be that challenger?
Sarah: It is up to the individuals that are "rumored" to be running, if they will actually throw their hat in the race. As the Youth Chair for the MRP, it is not my job to pick and choose the primary candidates, nor will I favor one over the other. It is my job to build a force of volunteers who are motivated, educated, and reach out to new coalitions of students to get them involved and working for the Party in 2012.
Kevin: Fair enough. Are you willing to share any thoughts on who you think might be a solid choice to run against President Obama?
Sarah: Again, it is not my job to pick or favor one candidate over the other as an official officer of the MRP. I do have some personal favorites; however a lot of it depends on who actually throws their hat in the race.
Kevin: And you know there's going to be some debate about that in the coming months. Okay, one more question before we ask for the sale: Right now, the Michigan HealthCare Freedom Initiative, the Michigan Right-To-Work Proposal, and the Michigan FairTax Proposal are all being discussed as potential ballot initiatives for 2012. What are your thoughts on any of them, or do you think something else might make a better 2012 ballot initiative?
Sarah: I am a large proponent of Right to Work, and have done some significant economic research in the subject already; I have the information and knowledge to back up a campaign for it. In regards to FairTax, I do like the idea and have heard many good things about it, but I want to do more studied academic research into the economic benefits and detriments - tax policy is not my specific area of expertise, and I leave the analysis up to the good people at the Mackinac Center.
Kevin: Okay, time to ask for the sale. As a Convention Delegate, why should I vote for you? Your closing arguments, Ms. Ledford.
Sarah: I have the passion, the desire, and years of experience working with multiple candidates up and down the ticket to build an effective statewide youth organization that will win for Republicans in 2012.
When I was about to graduate, at least HALF the engineers I was graduating with, many living in Michigan their entire lives, were forced to leave this state because of bad economic policies and choices of Governor Granholm and other elected officials. I decided that if I chose to leave and give up on this State, that I would regret it forever. It was time to take what I learned organizing conservative student coalitions at campuses and convert it to working for candidates for the upcoming midterm elections.
I quickly jumped in and began to build coalitions with the Tea Party, Pro-life, 2nd Amendment, and veterans groups. Because of my experience, I was able to help Ruth Johnson for the general election transform from a convention race to a general election campaign against liberal university professor Jocelyn Benson.
It's time to get serious. Now is the time to fight for the next generation and ensure our children live in a free country once again.
Kevin: Thank you very much for your time, ma'am. I know you're going to be really busy this week.
Interview With Sarah Ledford - Candidate for MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
Interview With Sarah Ledford - Candidate for MIGOP Youth Vice-Chair | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)