A Path to Victory In 2012
Path To Victory In 2012 is a series of action plan drafts developed
by Maria Cino in consultation with Members of the Republican National
Committee to illustrate how she would lead as Chairman of the RNC and
address several of our most significant challenges to be better
positioned to support Republican victories in two years.
Saving the Republican National Convention
Securing Financial Strength
Reinvigorating Voter Programs
Renew Our Technology Advantage
Saving the Republican National Convention
Once every four years, Republicans come
together at our Republican National Convention to choose our
Presidential nominee, recommit to our conservative values, and
construct the rules by which our party will operate for the next four
It’s a grand, inspiring spectacle of democracy in action where, as one
united party, we proudly showcase our spirit and principles to millions
of Americans nationwide.
I was proud to have the honor of serving as President and Chief
Executive Officer of the Committee on Arrangements (COA) for the 2008
Republican National Convention. In preparing for and managing that
special event, I made sure the Committee on Arrangements was
intricately involved in planning decisions, that Republicans received
value for every dollar spent, that we maximized every media
opportunity, and produced a Convention that was enjoyable for all RNC
Members, delegates and guests, and gave our nominee the momentum
necessary, as he emerged from Minneapolis-St. Paul, to run a
The reviews from RNC Members were clear: We succeeded on all fronts.
And, we closed the books on the 2008 Republican National Convention,
after the routine, mandatory Federal Election Commission audit,
successfully under budget and with a surplus.
Recent news reports indicate that preparations for our 2012 Republican
National Convention are far, far off track; in fact, we are in crisis.
Through September, its lead manager had already spent almost $640,000
in Federal Election Commission (FEC) provided dollars, the most
important funding the COA has; $640,000 is eighteen times the amount
the 2008 Convention had paid out at the same point.
In addition having no Convention experience, the current “RNC liaison
to the Convention” added her sister and son to the payroll. Some of the
extravagant expenses include spending tens of thousands of dollars on
the rental of a luxurious waterfront home where the “RNC liaison to the
Convention” is now living.
Because of FEC limits, this money is gone and cannot be replaced.
Decisions made on the 4th floor of the RNC by current and recent
leadership have already seriously limited our next Presidential
nominee’s opportunity to maximize the largest media week our Party has
during the 2012 election cycle to give voters our vision for America’s
What We Must Do Now
Action needs to be taken immediately to save the 2012 Republican
National Convention. As RNC Chairman, I would take
the following actions:
• Replace the current
“RNC liaison to the Convention” immediately with a qualified,
experienced Convention Manager.
• Immediately convene an Emergency COA Budget
Committee of specially appointed RNC Members to issue a “State of the
COA Report” after conducting an extensive audit that will:
- Review the final site city agreement;
- Review all spending to date, and FEC filings;
- Interview all current staff to assess their
background/capabilities, compensation, and whether they should be
- Review and assess all COA contracts, COA policies and procedures,
and official COA documents.
• The Emergency COA
Budget Committee would present a “State of the COA Report” to the full
RNC Membership within 30 days and provide recommendations for fixing
what is broken.
• Meet as soon as possible with the 2012 Tampa Host
Committee and update them on the change in leadership and plans moving
forward. Weekly coordination meetings would begin as soon as the new
COA Convention Manager is in place.
• Passage of a COA amendment stating no relative of
RNC or COA senior staff may be employed in a paid COA staff position.
Long-Term Convention Focus
I truly understand that the partnership between COA Members and COA
staff is crucial. Working hand-in-hand with COA Chair Jo Ann Davidson
during my time as President & CEO of the 2008 Convention, our
senior leadership team ensured COA Members had regular briefings and
input into major planning decisions. To ensure that our 2012 Convention
also succeeds in its mission to showcase our Republican ideas, values
and vision to the American people, we need to expand RNC Member input.
To accomplish this, I would continue to expand COA Member involvement
• A broader series of
meetings and conference calls with COA and RNC Members where COA staff
provides updates and receives input. These would include project
timelines, updates and progress reports to COA and RNC Members from COA
staff, to allow full access for Members to ascertain Convention
• Creation of a COA Budget Committee, after the
appropriate actions by the Emergency COA Budget Committee, with
oversight of expenditures and continual budget updates from COA staff
to track expenditures.
• Reorganize COA subcommittees to more closely fit
the organization of the COA, ensuring adequate subcommittee oversight
of staff activity while eliminating duplication.
• Better coordination between COA Members and staff,
the RNC Political Staff and COA Delegate Services to ensure consistent
With more RNC Member input and oversight, it is very likely that the
2012 Republican National Convention would not have been able to
squander vital resources. The next RNC Chairman must rely on the RNC
Membership to capture and understand exactly what has transpired to
date, recommend actions to overcome past mistakes, and provide their
expertise for a full recovery of our national showcase.
These reforms should be enshrined within the RNC rules.
As RNC Members, you devote great time and effort in service of the
Republican Party, and take your responsibilities very seriously.
You know the RNC is the steward of our party’s reputation and of donor
contributions, large and small. Your foremost interest is
ensuring the RNC successfully carries out its unique and crucial role
supporting state parties and Republican candidates in every election
Over these past two years, many Members have learned through media
reports information that was not only surprising, but also distressing.
If elected as RNC Chairman, I will ensure that Members, including
Members leading specific committees, have full knowledge of and input
into RNC operations, long before they reach the news media. The
Chairman and all RNC staff will be accountable first and foremost to
Members of the RNC. I venture that if a similar commitment to
transparency and accountability had been in place, the RNC would not be
more than $20 million in debt as we enter the critical 2012 election
I can make this commitment to you because my record shows I have always
operated with absolute transparency during my decades of political and
government leadership. Throughout my senior positions at the U.S.
Department of Transportation, the NRCC and the RNC, I have developed
and implemented programs and budgets effectively, with the highest
integrity, and – most importantly - as a collaboration among equals.
As RNC Chairman, I would take immediate action to instill the
collaboration and accountability necessary to reassure RNC Members and
party donors that we are worthy stewards of the party and its
resources. Upon taking office I would:
- Immediately conduct a SPECIAL AUDIT to assess the RNC’s financial
situation. With the final Audit results, I would hold four regional
meetings at airport hotels, inviting all RNC Members in each region to
hear the findings and, together, discuss plans for moving forward.
- Thereafter, I would hold monthly Executive Committee conference
calls to update Members on the state of RNC affairs.
- In conjunction with a reinvigorated RNC Budget Committee, I
propose creating a two-year budget cycle so that RNC fundraising and
budget plans match the federal election cycle. This will improve
our overall planning and allow us to better match fundraising goals
with projected resource requirements. The Budget Committee will
receive timely, accurate and transparent financial information and
have, at minimum, quarterly meetings.
- Invest in hiring a professional CFO to restore our financial
credibility with Members, donors and vendors. The RNC is a large
corporation and a professional CFO will ensure that, as we renegotiate
and payoff the tremendous debt our Party faces, the terms and
conditions are both reasonable and feasible. A CFO will also
bring the expertise needed to update and modernize accounting systems,
the necessary backbone for financial reporting and accountability.
- We must improve contract management. To do that, I will ask
the Budget Committee to set a threshold level for “major
contracts.” Then, they can oversee a competitive bidding process
and approve those contracts of a large magnitude. This should also
include line of credit and borrowing agreements.
- As I have done throughout my career, I will identify and recruit
only the most talented professionals and build a successful, cohesive
team. We will be accountable to RNC Members first and last, and will
deliver the highest results while adhering to the highest ethical
As Chairman, I will work with you to continually search for and find
the most effective, efficient ways to spend our money and leverage our
resources. To win the White House, a Senate Majority and expand
our House Majority we need a lean, organized and tight operation.
President Obama will raise a billion dollars. We need an effort that is
similarly effective and focused, that’s why I will ensure that RNC
Members are fully informed and briefed on the actions of the committee.
Under my chairmanship, the RNC will become a professional organization,
accountable to the Members of the RNC, with constant collaboration to
ensure election victories and success.
Securing Financial Strength
The candidates for RNC Chairman know our financial status quo, and all
promise to raise the funds needed to pay down our crippling debt and
prepare for the 2012 elections. I offer more than promises: I offer
definitive, proven proposals for how I will work with you to do it.
In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Status quo...is Latin for ‘the mess
In 1993, when I became Executive Director of the National Republican
Congressional Committee (NRCC), the NRCC had record debt of nearly $5
million. Republicans were the Minority Party in the U.S. House, and we
had just lost the White House for the first time in 12 years. The NRCC
had stopped prospecting its direct mail donors months earlier and had
very poor terms on a line of credit. The plan outlined below is how I
righted that ship and reflects the lessons I learned from the
Unlike the other candidates running for Chairman, I have faced dire
financial situations before, and many of the systems and programs
implemented at the NRCC in 1993 are still working well to this day. You
might also recall the historic 1994 victory that was a direct result of
our NRCC plans in the 1994 cycle.
The RNC’s ever-growing loss of major donors has been a consistent,
disturbing theme over the last two years. As a result, the RNC has
become increasingly dependent on small dollar, direct mail
contributions, nearly doubling the cost of every dollar raised. In
2008, it cost 40 cents to raise $1.00; in 2010, it cost between 70 and
If the RNC is to pay off its debt and prepare for the 2012 campaign, we
must reverse this trend and lower our fundraising costs. We must win
back our major donors by restoring their confidence and give them
reasons to once again support the RNC.
I know that a majority of the RNC Chairman’s time should be spent
fundraising. This doesn’t mean showing up for RNC events and making
speeches; it means being on the phone daily, and traveling as needed,
to reconnect, rebuild and expand relationships with major donors.
I have raised tens of millions of dollars for the party, candidates and
committees in my career, and have close relationships with major
donors. I have the vision and experience to develop and implement
effective plans that will restore the RNC to its historic position as a
respected, effective organization that helps candidates win elections.
Chief among those plans are my ideas for rebuilding our financial
strength through robust fundraising, efficient finance operations, and
a realistic debt retirement plan.
REBUILD AND REINVIGORATE FUNDRAISING
Two National Finance Co-Chairmen
- Appoint National Finance Co-Chairmen---two high-profile,
aggressive fundraisers who will work hand-in-glove with my fundraising
efforts as Chairman and with the RNC National Finance Committee;
- I will appoint Finance Co-Chairs who not only will have an
understanding of what is needed to regain the trust of our lapsed
donors, they will also bring a fresh approach to attract new donors;
- The Finance Co-Chairs must also be neutral in the upcoming 2012
Presidential election cycle.
- Develop and recruit six Regional Finance Chairmen to cover the
entire country and work closely with state and regional leaders;
- Each Regional Chair will be responsible for recruiting a specific
number of new major donors and raising a specific donor amount. Each
will be expected to assist in building an infrastructure that can reach
into the greater donor community;
- We will set 2011 goals based on traditional Republican giving by
state in a Presidential cycle.
- Restructure and reorganize the Finance Department to ensure that
the right people are in the right jobs, reduce consulting fees and
- Appoint a professional, proven Finance Director to work directly
with the RNC Chairman, Finance Co-Chairmen and Regional Chairmen, and
oversee program directors;
- Appoint one director to oversee all donor programs, with limited
staff assistants to assist with maintenance of donor groups, until
programs grow to justify additional program directors/staff;
- Use fundraising consultants only when absolutely necessary to
assist the Regional Co-Chairs in meeting their goals.
Mail, Phone and e-campaigns
- The major donor programs’ structure needs to be refreshed and
rebuilt so we return at least to past levels, when 20 percent of RNC
funds came from major donors at an average cost of 40 percent. Compare
that to current levels where major donors contribute only 10 percent at
an average fundraising cost of 80 percent.
- I will personally and immediately reach out to every lapsed major
donor to enlist his or her support in helping to rebuild the RNC.
- Concurrently, I will work with the RNC Finance Co-Chairmen and
Regional Chairmen to identify and reach out to a new, expanding major
donor pool who will be solicited to take part in rebuilding the RNC.
Fundraising Agreements and Efforts
- The RNC’s cost of fundraising has skyrocketed due to reliance on
the high cost methods of direct mail and phone campaigns. My first
priority will be to review and re-establish a three-bid process for all
fundraising vendors. We need to make sure our vendors are working with
us to cut costs.
- Clean up our lists to eliminate duplicates and update records. It
is a waste of money to spend postage on potential donors who have
passed away or have moved. This is a simple concept but it will take
hard work to clean a list of this size.
- Prospect and build to increase donor base. We have rarely had a
more opportune time to turn persuadable voters into donors. Assess
cost-benefit of direct mail, recognizing its high cost due to attrition
and the need to continually invest in new donor prospecting.
- Transform the Chairman’s Advisory Board and President’s Club low
dollar donor programs into a mail-only program, raising money around
special circumstances or events (i.e. inauguration, convention, gala
- Better coordination is critical for all of our direct mail, phone
and social media/e- campaigns. I will institute weekly meetings to
discuss approaches for the next three weeks ahead to save costs and
ensure appropriate timing between direct mail, phone call and
e-campaigns. Currently, there are expensive, duplicative efforts.
- We also need to target donors appropriately. For example, major
donors are generally older and respond better to mail, but direct mail
to younger donors, for example those under age 45, may be a wasted
expense because this group responds better, or only, to e-mail.
- The use of technology is the future of fundraising for the RNC. I
will make it a priority to utilize all forms of technology to reach
every potential donor. To that end, I will institute a special program
to solicit ideas and potential programs from the brightest minds in the
country to try cutting edge technologies in fundraising.
IMPLEMENT A DEBT RETIREMENT PLAN
- Ask all 2012 Republican Presidential candidates to designate one
giver/fundraiser to assist the RNC’s finance efforts. The RNC Finance
Co-Chairmen will lead this group, with the goal of retiring RNC debt
and fully funding the Presidential Trust account by the end of the
presidential primaries. We cannot wait for a nominee to help raise
Presidential Trust money; that will be too late.
- Establish joint State Victory Accounts, and empower Congressional
Leadership and Governors to raise money for the RNC and State Victory
We must be realistic and creative. The key to cutting the debt while
also attracting major donors to return to the RNC is to cut costs,
streamline the operation, and show that the RNC is using a
comprehensive approach to raising dollars at all levels. No one wants
to donate to debt. We must prove to people that they are making an
investment in the future of the Republican Party. The initial steps
We may also consider a new structure to maintain and manage our voter
list. List maintenance currently costs between $10 and $20 million
annually. Similar to what the DNC has done with its Catalist program,
the RNC might consider a lease back arrangement with an outside
501(c)3. While we will never relinquish ownership of the list, we may
achieve significant savings and free-up valuable hard dollars for other
- Institute and live by a two-year budget, as I outlined in my
- Renegotiate loan and vendor debt to pay off 75 percent in 2011
- Right size the RNC organization, reduce staff and maximize use of
technology to reduce headcount and expenses
- Limit the number of consultants and make all contracts incentive
- Explore opportunities to reduce costs by contracting for unique
or specific services
These are my recommendations and I welcome your thoughts and proposals;
your commitment and experience means this a team effort. Together, we
will take the essential steps to assure donors that we are serious
about rebuilding strained relationships, and we are wholly focused on
fixing what’s been broken.
Support State Parties and Reinvigorate Voter Programs
First, a few facts:
These facts have at least three things in common:
- Between 2003 and 2004, the RNC registered 3.4 million new voters
and brought them into the political process. President Bush won
re-election by 3.5 million votes in 2004.
- For the 2004 election, the RNC developed and implemented a
72-hour GOTV deployment program that sent over 6,000 volunteers to over
30 states during the critical final hours before Election Day.
- In 2000, the RNC unleashed a grassroots Victory effort that won
key states like Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, and
made the margin of difference in George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore.
Like most of you, I have been concerned as much by what the RNC has not done during these past
two years as by what it has done. There has not been an aggressive,
nationwide voter registration program; and key state Victory Programs
were either insufficiently funded or poorly executed.
- They represent the difference between victory and defeat.
- They required effective nationwide planning, budgeting and
- They were all efforts I led as RNC Deputy Chairman for Political
Operations in 2000, and RNC Deputy Chairman in 2003-2004.
Repeating this lack of strategic focus will cost us dearly in the
future. While the 2012 primary season unfolds, the RNC must be building
the grassroots infrastructure our nominee will need to mobilize his or
her general election campaign against a well- funded, well-organized
incumbent president. This is something only the RNC can do.
In my “Rebuilding our Financial Strength” paper, I outlined how to
ensure the RNC has the money needed to win in 2012. Here, I propose
that we should spend that money on programs that are the core of what
the RNC should do every election: Party building and voter mobilization.
Our conservative philosophy holds that government closest to the people
governs best. This holds true for our party structure as well. I have
worked for and with the RNC and Republican candidates for thirty years
and know we must rely on state leaders and state parties, because they
are closest to the voters and know best how to win their states.
We can unite like-minded voters under the GOP banner, building
alliances with grassroots movements that agree we must protect our
country against tax-and-spend Democrats by electing fiscal
conservatives to state and federal office.
We haven’t a minute to lose and a lot of ground to recover. If elected
Chairman, I will join with state party chairmen to begin this work
Consult and plan with state
- Request state parties and territories to submit, in April
2011,18-month Victory Plans with their expected needs for the 2011/2012
cycle. Then we will work with state parties to develop monthly
milestones. Our credo will be: No one shall fail.
- Establish joint state Victory accounts to raise the money
necessary to establish and fund successful state party Victory programs.
Provide necessary grassroots
- Implement Victory pilot programs in 2011 in Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia for gubernatorial and state
- Enhance and create state of the art Voter Vault with accurate,
updated, valuable data.
- Implement a dedicated nationwide voter registration effort, and
expand the Party by bringing in new voters that share our values and
- Reinvigorate and update the 72-hour GOTV program, with enhanced
absentee programs and newly developed early voter programs to match the
new reality of “Election Days” that last for weeks.
- Conduct national training and deploy a new generation of
grassroots GOTV campaign and fundraising activists.
- Institute more structure in field operations, with earlier ground
efforts and additional volunteer and resource support.
- Develop and implement solid coalition plans that educate and
energize our traditional conservative base for Republican candidates in
2011 and 2012.
As RNC Committee Members and dedicated activists, you know, as I do,
that winning campaigns comes down to grassroots resources and boots on
the ground. The Democrats will be formidable and well organized in
2012, so it’s not the time for on-the- job national voter program
training at the RNC. I have proven experience developing and leading
state and national programs --- and leading them to win.
Renew our Technology Advantage
Not very long ago, our Grand Old Party could have also been called the
Grand New Party --- because in the early years of the 21st Century the
RNC was the undisputed leader in developing and using new technologies
to identify, recruit and mobilize voters.
We have lost our edge. The Democratic Party is outperforming the
Republican Party in online giving, social networking, and blogger
outreach. The RNC must now incorporate the lessons from the Tea Parties
and our Party’s best and brightest, which won in 2010 in part by
embracing the Internet and using innovative new online tools and
To win back the White House and Senate in 2012, we have to surpass the
Democrats’ use of technology. We have to talk to voters the way they
talk to one another: online and on the air. We must not only reclaim
the advantage we once held, we must renew our approach, our tactics and
Rather than offer a narrow, 2011 prescription, as RNC Chairman I will
propose developing a long-term infrastructure that will encompass and
adapt to new technology and tools in 2011, 2012 and beyond.
This is because we have to do more than catch up on social networking;
we must prepare to engage a new generation of voters on mobile devices
and social networks. All of our data and messaging must also apply to
online advertising and new digital transmission opportunities as they
We have to act like any private sector corporation, which invests in
research and development to build and retain a competitive edge. We
have to leverage the RNC’s infrastructure and scope to develop and then
deploy technology tools for use by our gubernatorial, presidential and
congressional nominees, and by state parties in their Victory Plans,
fundraising and GOTV efforts.
The ultimate goal of all RNC technology investments is to convert our
dollars and the efforts of volunteers and staff into real world
results: Increased voter registration, turnout and election victories.
To reach these goals, I will work with RNC Members on a three- fold
proposal to invest, integrate, and innovate.
- First and foremost, we must
renew and expand Voter Vault with proper investment and updated
architecture that reflects the latest technology.
- An effective, overall technology infrastructure for the RNC
requires long term planning, funding and management. The current
process does not reflect the realities of the business world and best
- We should gather teams of contributors including RNC members,
field operatives, state party staff, technology industry leaders, and a
cross section of vendors to assess the current best industry practices
and develop our roadmap for the future.
- We will then create a deployment plan and budget to make that
roadmap a reality.
- To fully leverage our investments, we should then consider
designating regional liaisons–a team of digital experts–to train, build
and augment state party efforts.
- Our technology platform must be horizontally and vertically
- Horizontal integration means eliminating stovepipes and ensuring
that fundraising, political, strategy, and coalition operations across
the RNC are working from the same data. We must emulate this basic best
practice of top performing businesses.
- We must also achieve vertical integration by ensuring the RNC’s
technology platform reaches all states and territories – to put tools
and data in the hands of everyone doing the Party’s work.
- The RNC’s technology expenditures should, to put it simply, get
the best bang for the buck.
- To that end, I will also propose creating a volunteer team of RNC
members, field staff, state party staff and technology industry leaders
to continually assess the end results of our technology efforts, to
coordinate with state parties on technology needs and opportunities,
and constantly seek new, more effective and efficient tools.
- To ensure transparency and impartial advice, members of this team
would be required to sign conflict of interest agreements.
Throughout my thirty years working in campaigns, at party committees or
at the highest level of large, complex organizations, I have learned
first hand that every year brings a new technology revolution. This is
a hallmark of the creativity and entrepreneurship of our great country.
The RNC must invest, participate and lead technology revolutions in
voter and donor contact and outreach, to ensure we can elect the
conservative leaders that will protect our families and reduce the size
and scope of government.