Seeking to maximize the influence of Republican majorities across the country, GOPAC, a national grass-roots organization headed by former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), has launched an effort to improve coordination between GOP state legislators and party leaders in Congress.
Armed with data collected from a recent nationwide survey of state lawmakers, Watts sent a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on Monday proposing three steps to help foster more effective lines of communication between Republicans on the local and national levels.
The proposals are to provide GOP Conference policy and communications materials to state GOP leaders, make a greater effort to have legislators testify before Congress and bring state and national GOP leaders together for an annual summit.
Watts plans to present the full findings of the survey and the GOPAC recommendations to the House GOP Conference in coming weeks.
“In the years since the Reagan Revolution and Contract with America, we have come a long way, but we still need to do more to keep our support growing,” Watts wrote to Hastert. “As a former state Representative yourself, you know that state legislators are on the front lines of communication and constituent services. With greater coordination between state legislators and Republican congressional leadership, Republican majorities at all levels will continue to grow.”
Republicans currently control 21 state legislatures, while Democrats hold majority power in 17 states. In 11 state legislatures, partisan control is split.
While not addressing Watts’ letter directly, a Hastert spokesman agreed that coordination within the party needs to be a top priority.
“The Speaker believes that we should be communicating with Republicans at every level about our agenda to help Americans,” said Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean.
Along with Watts’ letter to Hastert, GOPAC on Monday released survey results which showed that 83 percent of the GOP state legislators polled would like better coordination with Congressional leaders.
The survey of 302 GOP state legislators was taken Feb. 24-March 9. Of the respondents, 28 percent were in their first terms, while 35 percent had served seven or more years in their current position.
Fifteen percent of the legislators surveyed were former Democrats, most of whom switched parties during or prior to the 1980s.
When asked about how the federal government impacts their job, two-thirds of the respondents said they believe that Congress impedes their work by issuing too many mandates. Only 16 percent said that Congress helps provide guidance and direction in their job.
One-third of the legislators surveyed said they do not intend to run for higher office, while 24 percent revealed they do have future ambitions. A plurality, 41 percent, said they were not sure.