Americans for Tax Reform’s President, Grover Norquist, tells it like this:
The Republican Party is a brand. Like Coca-Cola. Consumers know what Coke tastes like. It tastes the same from every bottle and out of every soda fountain. There’s no guessing what Coke tastes like from one drink to the next.
Since ATR’s inception in 1985 at the behest of Ronald Reagan, it’s been trying to brand the Republican Party as the party of lower taxes — the party opposed to tax increases. That attempt has been largely successful.
ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection” pledge puts candidates and elected officials on record opposing tax increases. And it holds them accountable when they stray.
So, when a Republican attempts to raise taxes, that damages the brand. It’s like a rat head in a Coke bottle. Someone drinking a Coke wouldn’t discover a rat head in the bottle and say to themselves, “Hmmm, perhaps I’ll finish this bottle later.” No. They would seriously consider whether or not they would drink another Coke ever again. They might tweet about it, show their friends, and discourage others from drinking Coke. That’s a branding problem.
Let’s consider a few surprising gubernatorial pick-ups from last Tuesday and see what those Republicans did that helped them cross the finish line.
In Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, the Republican candidates for governor largely ran against their opponents’ records on taxes.
Successful Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in Illinois outlined his tax plan online:
The Quinn-Madigan 67% income tax hike.