Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Jeff Ward didn't contact The Press with his complaint about a campaign letter from Scott and Mary Lou Reed. Ward did contact Press editor Mike Patrick on Oct. 21. A full correction will appear in tomorrow's Press.
COEUR d'ALENE - Jeff Ward, a founding board member of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, provided his initial analysis of the city council elections during a luncheon Thursday at Fedora Pub and Grille.
Essentially, he said, the Reagan Republicans lost last week because the campaign message was not conservative enough, and the media was biased against them.
Ward said the initial reaction after losing an election is to assume that the message needed to be more moderate, but he disagrees with that notion.
"They try and say the reason we lost was because we were too conservative, or too strong, too negative," he said. "I think that is exactly wrong and I will tell you why."
Ward pointed out that every successful Republican presidential campaign since the 1980s was more conservative than the failed Republican attempts at that seat. He said Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney were considered moderates and they lost.
"We didn't sufficiently promote the conservative agenda, where people got off their butts and actually voted," Ward said, adding that was the case with Romney's loss against President Obama in 2012.
"This is my initial feeling, we need to be strong and we need to stand for what we stand for," he said.
Balance North Idaho political action committee heralded the big money projects like the Salvation Army Kroc Center and the Coeur d'Alene City Library, he said, and they told the voters that the Reagan Republican candidates would not have supported those projects.
"We didn't address those issues," Ward said. "Why do we have a multi-, multi-, multi-million dollar library built in the late 2000s when printed books - and this is from a guy who's been in publishing for most of my professional life - is going the way of the dinosaur?
"Why are we spending huge, huge amounts?" he continued. "We are conservatives and we need to address the fact that this stuff doesn't make sense.
"The Kroc Center to a lot of people is a great thing, but to the gym owner who is trying to make a living competing against someone who has public money behind them, or if you own retail space and you are competing against public money that went into Riverstone, this doesn't help the economy. It hurts your economy."
Ward also said those projects don't expand the number of jobs in the community, but actually contract jobs in the private sector and expands jobs in the public sector.
"We need to stop hiding behind the fact that, yeah, we can say that we don't support the library, that it was a bad idea, and it was a waste of public money," he explained. "I think conservatives can say things like that."
However, he said, the media is likely to attack that message.
"Now, we're going be hit by Dave Oliveria (Spokesman Review) and the media, but the fact is the majority of the conservatives in this community didn't see a lot of difference," he said. "We didn't present them with a difference."
Overall, he said, the Reagan Republicans need to find a way to get people who agree with them to get out and vote in the elections.
"If we are going to run as conservatives, let's not be afraid that this is a conservative community, and we are going to express those conservative views," he said. "We need to stand by it and not worry in this Obama world that we are going to offend somebody by being conservative."
Former state legislator Gary Ingram spoke up after Ward's speech to offer his assessment.
"I don't think there was anything wrong with the message, it was the style in which it was delivered," he said. "Think about what that means ... too much anger."
Ward disagreed, saying the most nasty and negative campaigning came from their opponents. He pointed to a letter that was written by Mary Lou and Scott Reed, which he said misquoted him in several places, and he blamed the media for not reporting on that.
Ingram responded, saying "people don't like to be around angry people."
Reagan Republican member Mary Smith agreed with Ingram. She told Ward that she felt the opposition out-strategized them, their side didn't have enough letters to the editor and they need to quit being negative about the Kroc Center and library.
"We better stop saying I don't like the library. The library is a beautiful place," she said, adding a better approach would be to offer other suggestions on where it should go for instance. "And the Kroc Center is a beautiful place, and I think being negative like that really hurts our image."