The Thin Republican Bench

Buried in this National Journal piece on the last campaign was this dispiriting nugget. The Democrats didn’t only have better technology, they had — and have — a deeper bench of campaign advisors:

The [Republican] party faces a lack of high-quality campaign managers, strategists with the track record of running and winning statewide elections who haven’t left the business to open their own consulting firms.

Democrats, some Republicans worry, have a raft of capable managers able to deploy to key Senate and gubernatorial battlegrounds and provide a guiding hand. And there is a small number of top-notch Republican managers. Party leaders pointed to Mac Abrams, who ran Sen. Dean Heller‘s campaign this year; Justin Brasell, who managed Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s 2008 campaign; and Jim Barnett, who managed Sen. Scott Brown‘s unsuccessful reelection bid this year, as examples of the party’s best and brightest.

But the roster peters out quickly. While Romney’s high command included some of the most respected names in Republican politics, only two of them — Katie Packer Gage and Eric Fehrnstrom — had experience as campaign managers. Gage ran Michigan Gov. Dick Posthumus’s 2002 reelection bid, when he lost to Democrat Jennifer Granholm, while Fehrnstrom ran a gubernatorial campaign in 1998 that didn’t make it out of the Republican primary.

This is unquestionably true, and it’s a real weakness for the Republican side. They tend to stick with the same old names, when what’s really necessary is to shake things up. The trick, really, isn’t to run a nationwide campaign. The trick is to win in blue states. Scott Brown won a close race in Massachusetts. Scott Walker won a stunning victory in Wisconsin. Republicans have 30 governors. Who ran those races? Who turned out that vote?

And how, exactly, does a talented and brilliant Bain consultant and private investor make such “safe” and uninspiring choices to lead his campaign?

Out with the old, in with the new. I’ve been advocating a good healthy bloodletting after November’s humiliation, but what I really should have been saying to the current crop of national campaign advisors is: You’re fired.