POLITICS
12/20/2012 09:25 am ET

Moderate Republicans Need To Withhold Money To RNC: New Jersey GOP Fundraiser

WASHINGTON -- A national moderate Republican leader is urging fellow party members to stop donations to the Republican National Committee until their policies become less conservative.

Candace Straight, the co-chairwoman of Republican Majority for Choice, told The Huffington Post that the Republican Party's swing to the right, marked by the rise of the Tea Party, has been turning off swaths of voters including women, minorities and young professionals -- a trend that contributed to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's defeat. She said it is time for moderates to take a stand to show party leaders a change is needed.

"Personally I think people should withhold money to the Republican National Committee until they show they are a 'big tent' party," Straight said. "If people continue to give the party money, they are doubling down on a losing proposition."

Straight, a prominent Republican fundraiser in New Jersey, used her holiday cards to push an agenda of change within the Republican Party. While she did not advocate explicitly that recipients withhold donations to the RNC, Straight used a newsletter included with her cards to share her views on the state of the party.

"The national GOP is a mess, out of step with most Americans and Romney went too far to the right, running a very poor campaign," Straight wrote in her holiday newsletter. "Will the GOP learn anything from this debacle? The jury is out."

Straight is close to former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R), who used her 2005 book, "It's My Party Too," to push a socially moderate, fiscally conservative GOP. Whitman, one of the most prominent moderate Republicans in the country in the 1990s, named Straight as the vice chairwoman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Gov. Chris Christie (R) appointed Straight to the Rutgers University board and to economic advisory panels. Straight has unsuccessfully run for Essex County executive.

RMFC is a national group of pro-choice Republicans that advocates the position that decisions regarding abortions are best left to patients and doctors without government interference. The group claims members in every state and has a political action committee that helps to elect pro-choice Republicans nationally.

Among the platform issues Straight wants to see Republicans address are the party's current stance on immigration, its embrace of pro-choice voters and less draconian policies on contraception.

"The party has become a regional party that cannot win national elections," she said. "It has problems attracting women voters, individuals under 40 and minority voters. Until they develop a platform that attracts them, we can't win national elections."

Straight is not the first moderate Republican leader to suggest that a more moderate platform would have elected Romney this year.

Earlier this month, Kansas state Senate President Steve Morris (R-Hugoton) told HuffPost that Republicans "need to be more tolerant of people in their party who don't agree with the hard right." Morris cited many of the same issues that Straight did as points with which the GOP could attract more minority and female voters.

Morris leaves office next month, having been defeated by a conservative Republican in the August primary, the culmination of a bitter civil war between moderate and conservative Republicans in Kansas. He noted that conservative growth in the GOP is also hurting the party at the state level, as in Kansas, where he said the native Koch brothers are trying to turn the state into an "ultraconservative utopia."

Straight said the lack of "trust" among women, young and minority voters can be traced to the rise of the Tea Party in the GOP. She said that regaining that trust, by implementing moderate policies like those she and Morris mentioned, could win back those demographics.

"[Those voters] think the Republican Party is under the control of right-wing Tea Party individuals," she said.

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