Shawn Steel on the Biggest Lessons from 2018 Midterms

Simone Gao: Going into 2020, what is the biggest lesson you learned from 2018?

Shawn Steel: Well, first of all, we have to understand that it used to be a lot of people didn’t vote. We’re seeing that there’s much more interest in voting than ever before, and that’s a good thing. I don’t care what party they’re from if people show up and vote. The bad thing is that, if people vote, but they give their away their ballot to a stranger, that should be discouraged. They should be encouraged to go to the polls themselves to vote. So that’s a big lesson. We want people to vote, but do it yourself. Make sure that your vote is safe, not in some stranger’s pocket. Secondly, Republicans have a lot more work to do with minorities, more than ever. And minorities need to understand that Republicans are their best and safest bet for real prosperity, or otherwise they’re looking at a potential North Korea. They’re looking at a Venezuela, a socialist state where very few people prosper or benefit.

Simone Gao: Other than compromise on voter integrity laws, did Republican leadership miscalculate in other areas?

Shawn Steel: Well, I’ll tell you, miscalculation is always when you lose, and you have to study everything. And the Republicans lost by very small margins. So it wasn’t like a popular uprising where Republicans lost by 20 or 30 percentage points. It was 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent. But what also happened is that the Democrats have mastered what’s called dark money. They have several billionaires funding this, wealthy, liberal, left-wing billionaires like Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg Incorporated, and Tom Steyer. They put in lots of money, hundreds of millions of dollars in these political action committees. And we’re going to find out in January how much money they spent. So far, what’s been reported, the Democrats spent 200 million dollars to take over seven congressional seats. Now, think about that: 200 million dollars is an astonishing number. And that’s so much money that you could actually buy countries in central Europe with that, political elections. It’s real naked power. But for California, we never anticipated that much money. Now, the Republicans weren’t cheap. They had 60 million dollars on their side, but you can see there’s a three-to-one advantage on that. So we didn’t expect the billionaires to come in in such a big, bold way. It’s a very good lesson for us. You know, you talk about the party of big money and big wealth, the key is is that with big money you can go ahead and really change outcomes of elections.

Simone Gao: How do you respond to Democrats’ big money in the future then?

Shawn Steel: Well, we know that that big money is not going to be available for the Democrats in California because those billionaires, two of them, the two ones that I mentioned, Tom Steyer of San Francisco and Bloomberg of New York, they’re both running for president. That’s why they put so much money in. They’re going to put their money in their presidential campaigns. So the Democrats are going to have two billionaires running and maybe 18 other people. So they’re going to be tied up in their own primary fighting each other and attacking each other and trying to see who their nominee is going to be. So maybe this amount of money is just once in a 20-year phenomena. I don’t know. I don’t think we’re going to see in California that kind of 200 million dollars for seven congressional seats. It used to be a big deal if you had a million dollars for a congressional seat. But 200 is just a number we’ve never seen in American politics ever in our history.