Mark Willis, the Republican National Committeeman from Maine who is challenging incumbent Reince Priebus for the RNC Chairmanship, told Breitbart News on Sunday that the RNC needs a vendor selection process based on competitive bidding and a leader who understands how to manage technology projects.
The RNC will elect a chairman next Friday, January 25 during its annual winter meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. In order to be elected chairman, a majority vote from the 168 members of the RNC is needed. Since November, reports in the press have indicated that incumbent Chairman Reince Priebus has secured more than enough votes to win re-election, despite the Republican Party's dismal performance in the 2012 national elections.
Elected as Maine's Republican National Committeeman in May of this year, the forty-three year-old Willis lives with his wife and two children on a twenty-acre coastal farm in Dennsyville, Maine. It's a small community of a few hundred souls located twenty minutes from the famous red, white, and blue West Quoddy Head Lighthouse that marks the easternmost point of the continental United States.
A veteran who served as an Army counterintelligence agent in Haiti and Bosnia in the 1990s, Willis has a bachelors degree in international relations, a masters degree in information systems management from the University of Maryland, and a law degree from George Mason University. He worked for ten years as a senior software engineer at the U.S. Army Security and Intelligence Command and is currently employed by a Fortune 100 company as the technology manager of an application development security team.
Willis serves on the Dennysville School Board and is Chairman of the Town of Dennysville Republican Party. He was elected as a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican National Convention at the January 2012 Maine caucuses but was one of the ten Ron Paul delegates who were stripped of their credentials at the Tampa Convention based on the Romney campaign's contesting of the caucus results.
On Sunday afternoon, Breitbart News conducted this interview with Mr. Willis:
Why will you do a better job as Chairman of the RNC than Reince Priebus?
First, Mitt Romney could have won this last election if the Romney campaign and the RNC had used up to date technology and better systems. With my strong information systems background I believe that I would have been able to ensure that any technology system—be it the failed ORCA get-out-the-vote software or any other technology system—would have been beta tested long before election day. I know the Romney campaign had said the system was sound. There were some big promises made about the viability of the system and its ability to deliver on election day. However, as Chairman of the RNC I would have demanded hard evidence the system was up and running, operationally sound, and properly tested long before election day.
Second, the Republican Party right now is seen as the most disliked political party in the country, and that has to change. I believe that my approach is the proper approach to help re-image the party into what it truly stands for. To do that, the party needs to demonstrate its good faith, to show the grassroots rank and file Republicans who have left the party, as well as independents and disenfranchised Democrats, that it's willing to re-brand itself as the party of constitutional liberty.
What is your specific plan to turn things around if you're elected RNC Chairman?
I have eight specific points in my plan.
First, we at the RNC need to be transparent in our competitive bidding process. I would adhere to the 2009 Resolution in Support of Good Governance. I would conduct competitive bidding for all contracts and put out RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for all contracts over $100,000 in value. Then I would exercise oversight on contracts that have been granted, thoroughly reviewing them to ensure the RNC receives the highest quality services and results from all of its contracts.
Second, we must repeal the RNC rules adopted in Tampa. If not repealed, these rules will cut the grassroots out of the Presidential election cycle in 2016 completely.
Third, the RNC needs to re-establish its relationship with the GOP grassroots by encouraging a decentralized approach with more autonomy for state parties and a climate of adopting ideas for the party from the bottom up versus a heavy-handed, top-down approach.
Fourth, we need to win the technology war. We need a chairman who understands technology and knows how to implement basic industry standards to ensure victory using up-to-date technology systems in 2014 and beyond. I have more than a decade of information systems management experience and I understand the process of managing technology projects.
Fifth, we need to welcome everyone back to the Republican Party who may have left us. We need to embrace and respect them, and we need to embrace and respect independents and disillusioned Democrats who are beginning to look at the Republican Party.
Sixth, we need to fight for conservative values.
Seventh, we need to hold our party leaders accountable.
Eighth, we need a new management style in the RNC. My overall management style is one where honesty and integrity are the key values. It's a management style that listens to and encourages members to bring forth bold innovative ideas. I expect the truth from everyone, and I give everyone a fair chance with an equal opportunity to excel.
Why did you jump into the race so late?
I thought that initially someone else would step forward. There was talk of J.C. Watts or Craig Shirley considering a challenge, but that didn't happen. I was approached by some of the grassroots folks here in Maine to consider making a run because no one else had stood up. I knew that if I chose to run, I had an uphill battle and I would have to make my case, and make it strongly.
After careful consideration with my wife, we thought about it and decided that for me now, at the age of forty-three in the position I'm in now, it's incumbent upon me—as it is for all of us who believe in the Constitution—to fight for those things I strongly believe in when I can.
There's been a great deal of tension between Ron Paul supporters and the Republican establishment. The establishment's complaint is you're new, and some of you are too aggressive. How do you overcome that in your campaign for RNC Chair?
Look at me and look at what I'm doing. I'm talking true inclusion and true unity. I'm not looking to ostracize anyone. Let's start anew and let's push forward, let's not re-live the past. I think we can work together. The best thing Romney could have done would have been to reach out to the Ron Paul campaign and embraced them into his campaign and let everyone know we are one big party. I need all of you to defeat Barack Obama should have been his message.
Thank you, Mr. Willis.
At the close of the interview, Willis called on Priebus to debate him prior to next Friday's vote for RNC Chairman.
In order for a candidate to be placed into nomination when the RNC Chairman's election is held, two committeemen each from three states need to publicly declare their support for the candidate. To date, two RNC committee members from Maine and two RNC committee members from Nevada have declared their support for Mr. Willis.