Chris Healy, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, tells National Review Online he’ll decide whether to run for chairman of the Republican National Committee by next week. “It’s a holiday period,” Healy says, “so I don’t want to bother committee members.”
Healy, 53, has led the Connecticut Republicans since January 2007, when he was elected to fill an unexpired term. Before that, he was campaign manager for former congressman Rob Simmons’s reelection effort in 2006. That year was a Republican wipe-out, but Simmons lost by the smallest margin in the country: 83 votes.
Republicans always need a ground game and fundraising prowess to win close races, even in good times, Healy argues. “Everything else really doesn’t matter. You really need a mechanic: someone who understands all aspects of operations and fundraising. Whether that’s me or someone else, I’ll leave that up to the committee to decide.”
Like the one declared candidate for RNC chair, Saul Anuzis, Healy thinks the chairman should be behind the scenes. “We have plenty of faces. . . . The party isn’t a face; the party is principles,” he contends. “The focus of a national party is to create opportunities for Republicans to run and to support those candidates to victory.”
Critics of Healy’s potential candidacy point to the fact that in the Nutmeg State this year, Republicans got creamed. They lost every statewide office — including the governorship, which they had held for 16 years — and every congressional race. Still, it’s unfair to pin the blame solely on Healy. Democrats saw Connecticut as one of their last redoubts and fortified it accordingly. Pres. Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and former president Bill Clinton all stumped for the Democratic ticket. And congressional candidates Dan Debicella and Sam Caligiuri, the most competitive contenders in this blue state, were outspent by two to one.
That said, Healy may very well decline to run and support another candidate. He says many great candidates are taking the field. Nonetheless, if anything distinguishes him from the crowd, it is his credibility, he says. “I know what a precinct worker goes through, because I still do that, and I did that as chairman,” he argues. “They’re getting the real deal — not someone who’s going to get distracted by the bright lights. You can have the greatest consultants, but if you don’t inspire people to get to the polls, it never works. And I think I have those skills . . . it’s just a question of if enough people think I have those skills.”