Interview With Linda Lee Tarver - Candidate for MIGOP Ethnic 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. Thursday evening I sat down with Linda Lee Tarver, one of the candidates for MIGOP Ethnic Vice-Chair.
Kevin: Good evening, Linda. My guess is that it has to be tough balancing a county chair position, a campaign for a state vice-chair position, and masters degree studies.
Linda: Yes. It is tough to balance things but I find that my best work comes when I am busy. I am most productive when I am able to prioritize and maximize things in my life. So, in addition to a full-time job, full-time school, Ingham County GOP, teaching at church, a husband, and two adult children, my life is full. I wouldn't change a thing.
Kevin: Your attitude reminds me of my wife (and that's not a bad thing). If you don't mind me asking, where are you studying and what will your degree be in?
Linda: I am studying online through the University of Phoenix. The pace and the flexibility allows me to do my work when I can. I am working on my Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and I intend to go on to get my Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
Kevin: Wow, quite ambitious.
Linda: No -- I should have completed my education when I was younger. I chose a job over finishing my education and now I am encouraging my children to finish young.
Kevin: Here's my thought, do you see those studies helping you in the vice-chair position you're seeking?
Linda: Absolutely. I/O Psychology is about getting the organization (in this case the Michigan GOP) working to its maximum capacity and toward the same goal. It is about finding the strengths in individuals and groups and allowing these individuals to use them to achieve a common goal. An organization would hire an I/O practitioner to help them reorganize or reengineer. In this case, "reinvent".
Kevin: And that brings me to my first scripted question: You're running for MIGOP Ethnic Vice-Chair. What does an Ethnic Vice-Chair do?
Linda: According to the MIGOP, the Ethnic Vice-Chair shall supervise and direct all ethnic activities designed to attract citizens of every, race, color, creed, and nationality to the Republican Party.
Kevin: So, how do you think your background has prepared you for the role of Ethnic Vice-Chair?
Linda: I've been an activist in the Republican Party for several years now and have made it my goal to increase minority participation in, or votes for, the Republican Party. In Ingham County, I have recruited conservative Hispanic, Black, and other nationalities to run as County Commissioner or to join our executive team/volunteer base. The GOP in Ingham is diverse and committed to getting Republicans elected.
In 2008 I was asked to participate in a series of debates in Detroit on behalf of John McCain. Though McCain was not my choice and even after he withdrew from Michigan, I showed up in Detroit to talk about the Republican Party. As chair of Ingham County I have picked up a county commission seat in a very blue county. I am able to work with all groups and all people without compromising my own principles.
Kevin: GOP wins in a Blue county . . . that sounds like what happened statewide this past election.
Linda: Yes. That is exactly what happened this past election. Lansing was the bluest of the blue! Not only is Ingham County the home of the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, it has been traditionally written off as a Democrat stronghold. As Ethnic Vice-Chair, I will be able to bring some lessons learned from the Blue County to other Blue Counties across the state.
Kevin: And, of course, we can't afford to consider any counties to be "write offs" if we want to win in 12.
Linda: That is correct. We can't write off the votes we need in Ingham, Wayne, and Saginaw counties. Every vote counts and if we can make strides into the Dem territory, it will make a significant impact in the final count statewide.
Kevin: And Chairman Weiser was telling me yesterday that if we flip Michigan into the Republican column for the Electoral College, it will make President Obama's re-election bid very difficult.
Let's discuss the convention race itself for a bit. Is there anything in your professional, educational, or political experience that you think uniquely qualifies you in an area where your opponent, Mr. Ahmar Iqbal, may not be as strong?
Linda: Nice man; met him in Dearborn Heights and look forward to working closely with him and others. To your question, I am a project manager by trade and much of what I do is communication and team building. I am also highly organized and motivated and able to nurture these qualities in others. My experience with volunteers (because much of the burden will be on volunteers) has been successful. This success is demonstrated by the increased number of precinct delegates, candidates recruited, and foot soldiers in a county that is difficult to win. I am able to set goals, bring in the right people with the right skills to meet those goals. Ingham County is an example of a very well-run county.
Keep in mind, my success is based on the people I serve with and they are awesome.
Kevin: And this, in your opinion, gives you an advantage over Mr. Iqbal?
Linda: Yes. Neither me or Mr. Iqbal will be able to succeed in achieving the goals set forth unless we are able to bring people (volunteers) to the table. Not only do we need to bring in the people, we need to assess what they can offer and align their skills with our needs. This is what I do - this is where my experience and education comes into play.
Kevin: Which brings me to scripted question # 3. Assuming you're elected to the post you seek, how do you see yourself advancing the MIGOP strategy for the 2012 election cycle?
Linda: My goal is to work with Bobby Schostak and the other vice chairs in coordinating our efforts and strategy. There are some simple things we, as a party, can do to attract citizens of every race, color, creed, and nationality. The first thing is to identify our core conservative principles. Second, write the vision; and third, use our website and social media as a tool for communicating to various ethnic groups. For example, the state of Michigan has several webpages designed to communicate (such as these three here).
Kevin: Okay, non-english-language websites ... how does that help us in your area of responsibility?
Linda: The non-English-language websites are necessary to communicate to the target groups. Communication, communication, communication!! If we are to get the attention of non-traditional voting blocs, we must communicate in a language that does not blur in translation. With the 'melting pot' that we have, expanding our media to voters who will actually read the literature we send or drop will be critical.
I will go a bit further. When we talk about translation of materials, that is not just for non-English speaking people. It is for English speaking people who do not understand the terminology we take for granted. What is so important about fiscal responsibility? Everything . . . but we need to translate that phrase into something meaningful and relevant to the communities we go into.
Kevin: That makes sense. But to the multi-lingual point: There are those who might argue that (1) in order to vote, you have to be a U.S. citizen, thus (2) it's a de facto expectation that you should learn English. Does that reconcile well with your strategy?
Linda: Well, if there are eligible voters who can't read the language then we ought to do our part to go after this untapped voter base. The mission of the Ethnic Vice-Chair is not that of English education but that of bringing in people of every race, creed, color, and ethnicity into the Republican fold or at minimum to vote Republican. We have systems that will tell us what about the voting trends of individuals and whether they may vote. My strategy is clear and catching up with the 21st Century will help the MIGOP.
Kevin: Do you think that, perhaps, getting involved with English as a Second Language classes for immigrants might be useful?
Linda: Sure, but not a platform for me. Si Se Puede -- Yes We Can -- was the mantra for the Hispanic community with Obama. That simple phrase was used at every Hispanic event and plastered in every Hispanic community. That is creative communication and it worked.
Kevin: What's your impression of the rise of the tea party movement and its impact on Republican Party politics?
Linda: The Tea Party movement was the best thing that happened to the Republican Party. It absolutely woke up those who believed that government was controlled by bureaucrats instead of the people. The movement was infectious and changed the landscape of the 2010 election.
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?
Linda: Those who are moderate or centrists or RINOs are in for a challenge. These terms have become commonplace and good conservative people must be groomed, prepared, and fully funded to step in. Replacing a RINO with someone who is substantially less competent is very scary to me.
Kevin: But you agree that replacing RINOs needs to be done.
Linda: Replacing RINOs with conservatives that are equally competent or better is in the best interest of our country. However, a RINO may not always be a RINO, and I am a believer in the power of conversion. If you are around as many Democrats as I am, you will witness the change from 'extreme liberal' to 'semi-conservative.' It is about understanding the message and deciding to adopt the conservative principles. If not, then it is necessary to replace the RINO.
Kevin: Fair enough. With that in mind, what are your thoughts on the Independence Caucus of Michigan, which is a PAC allied with the MTPA?
Linda: I love it! I am in total agreement with the principles, goals, and methods of the ICaucus mission. I was just mad that I hadn't heard much of the group before now.
Kevin: Well, they've only been on the political scene nationally since the spring of 2009 ... they got their start in Jason Chaffetz' congressional race in 2008.
Linda: I read that. I'm intrigued.
Kevin: The I-Caucus of Michigan was responsible for just over 27% of the I-Caucus success nationally this past election. Would you recommend that any candidate wanting to get onto the Republican ballot vet with them?
Linda: Yes and No. Yes, if the vetting process is fair, legitimate, and conducted with the highest integrity. Otherwise, no. It is very difficult to come to the decision to run for public office and anyone who makes that commitment deserves our respect. Fair, transparent, and ethical practices will give any county, state, or local group the confidence that their candidate will be vetted properly.
Kevin: Okay, a hot topic last week (and still being talked about this week) has been Governor Snyder's very first State of the State address, delivered this past Wednesday. How concerned are you about the statement from MDP Chairman, Mark Brewer, that about 80% of Gov. Snyder's address could have been delivered by a Democrat?
Linda: I am not concerned right now with Brewer's comments. It is his job to be divisive and to get Snyder's base to walk away. I am more focused on Snyder's ability to bring in jobs and meet the high expectations we have with reinventing Michigan.
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?
Linda: Well, Governor Snyder spent some time in Governor's School immediately after the November 2 election. In that time he has been inaugurated and given his first state of the state when he had less than a month to examine the state from the view of governor. You can't give substance when you don't have all of the facts and you haven't had time to assemble your team. I am mindful of the expansion of government and will have to explore his 'value for money' concept. This is, as you know, the return on investment concept. The Governor's budget should give us more information in terms of his priorities and growth or reduction in government.
Kevin: Fair enough. Okay, 2012 is the year we get a 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?
Linda: We have such a good farm team of Republicans here in Michigan that it would be difficult to put up only one. I liked Hoekstra when he was running for governor, but there are so many good conservatives out there. It would be great if my Congressman, Mike Rogers, ran for Senate.
Kevin: Okay, there are, at last count, nineteen potential candidates being discussed as challengers to President Obama in 2012. Are you willing to share any thoughts on who you think might be a solid choice to run against President Obama?
Linda: A 'solid' choice to run against Obama. I like Pawlenty, Bachman, and Romney. There are others who I am less familiar and could not give a rationale for my support for them.
Kevin: The State of the Union address, President Obama's second, was delivered last night. Any reaction or thoughts on this?
Linda: It was not exciting, not memorable, and pretty uneventful. A yawn! He said 'investment' about 100 times. You and I know this is the new code word for 'increase taxes and spending'.
Kevin: Very true. Do you have any thoughts on the response from Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), the Chairman of the House Budget Committee?
Linda: Yes. I thought Mr. Ryan's response was the best part of the evening. He indicated that we must restrain federal spending and reduce our debt. He gave a sobering response about 84% in failed stimulus spending, an open-ended healthcare entitlement, and a government that picks winners and losers. He indicated that no one party or person is to blame but we have to do something now. I was very impressed with Mr. Ryan.
Kevin: And there's going to be some debate about that in the coming months. Let's close the deal. As a Convention Delegate, why should I vote for you? What's your elevator pitch, Ms. Tarver?
Linda: I am a conservative Christian Republican who has demonstrated the ability to go after the votes, recruit, train, and financially support candidates who go on to win and serve our core principles -- the principles outlined in the ICaucus. I have also demonstrated an ability to bring diverse groups together on behalf of the Republican Party. In 2008, I demonstrated my commitment to the Party cause even when our Presidential candidate did not. I showed up and spread the message. I can recruit and train others to do the same.
Finally, I have a vision of harnessing technology and social media to communicate in languages that our non-traditional voting blocs can understand. Our 2012 candidates and county/district parties will need tools to communicate to the various races, creeds, and colors, and I will have those tools available to them. The census will be invaluable and my goal is to use this information to target our efforts. Nothing I do will be in a vacuum -- I will need people like you and other strong leaders to help craft the strategies for a win in 2012.
Kevin: Thank you very much for your time, Linda. Good luck at convention.
Linda: Thank you! Blessings to you and yours.
Interview With Linda Lee Tarver - Candidate for MIGOP Ethnic Vice-Chair | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
Interview With Linda Lee Tarver - Candidate for MIGOP Ethnic Vice-Chair | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)