The United Conservatives Fund Director of Policy and Communications Keith Plunkett recently sat down to discuss the success of the #VetoSB2161 campaign pushed by the UCF Team and the many volunteers against Common Core.

Plunkett also discussed the new ballot initiative to limit the terms of state legislators and statewide elected officials.

The transcripts of both videos are below.

Part 1 of 2: UCF’s Success With #VetoSB2161 Campaign

Part 2 of 2: UCF Policy Director Discusses Term Limits


Part 1 of 2: UCF’s Success With #VetoSB2161 Campaign

Q: UCF has been in the news a lot lately. Was this a planned push for more attention?

A: UCF was set up to unify and organize conservatives when it mattered most. Much of what you have seen lately in the news about UCF is a result of the organizational work we have been doing over the previous 3 months.

Of course, we have goals for where we want to be as an organization in the next 3 months, 6 months and beyond. But, first and foremost we believe it’s important to be prepared to lead the fight for conservatives when and where it needs to be led. We want to be prepared to put forward the core tenets of decentralization, of local rule and individual liberty, of the proper role of government through a balanced federalism, and of maintaining a high moral tone.

What I mean by a high moral tone is that we all are responsible for understanding and helping others understand that we are not about blind personal politics, but rather a means to positively effect the political conversation and help see good policy enacted. Policy that sets in motion a renewal of people and the communities in which they live, and not just another layer of overbearing government regulations. Replacing one power hungry politician with another.

I think it’s important to understand that UCF has seen success really quickly because we haven’t set in place rules for other conservatives to follow in order to be a part of the movement. Rather, we have developed, and are still developing, a framework where conservatives can creatively work together. We take the mission of uniting conservatives very seriously and we have shown over the past few weeks how well that works when put into action.

So there was no real planned push over the past couple of weeks, but a planned push to be prepared so that when the time came we would hit the ground running. I think it’s pretty obvious that is exactly what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past few weeks.


Q: How was UCF able to garner so much attention to pressure for a veto of Senate Bill 2161?

A: The debate over Common Core and the passage of Senate Bill 2161 illustrates how being prepared for action works very well. When the issue of SB 2161 came up, UCF was already well-organized and in touch with a broad base of conservatives. SB 2161 was a bill that purported to end Common Core, but in fact, was flawed legislation that would have likely set the standards in place and made it nearly impossible to change them in the future, while further centralizing authority and hiding decisions away under a layer of bureaucracy – that’s what the bill actually did. So, when that was passed, UCF was in a very unique position to lead the charge to get the governor to veto that bill.

We brought together the people who had been fighting so hard against Common Core for many many months. I, Senator’s Sojourner and McDaniel held a conference call with them. We discussed next steps. We talked about the flaws of the legislation and how best to communicate that to the public in a way they would easily understand. We remained in touch throughout the entire process leading up to the veto. But, most importantly we listened.

Sen. Sojourner publicly and officially requested the governor veto the bill. She got out there and started interviewing with the media and discussing why a veto was so important. Sen. McDaniel was in contact with the governors office throughout month of April helping them understand the position. The parents, grandparents and teachers were pushing the UCF petition we set up to show Governor Bryant the strength of support he would have to veto that bill and that’s exactly what he did.

So, I think that the issue of Common Core and the ability to get rid of bad legislation like SB 2161 is a lesson in the possibilities that the United Conservatives Fund brings to political action in Mississippi. It’s an example of promoting and sharing and listening to the concerns of conservatives and putting those concerns forward as a means to compel good decisions from government officials.

Part 2 of 2: UCF Policy Director Discusses Term Limits

Q: What about the most recent news of the term limit ballot initiative?

With the filing of the term limit ballot initiative it was much the same thing as in how we prepared for the veto of SB 2161. We started with discussion and dialogue. We began weeks ago discussing with our executive committee members the idea of how to best put people back in charge of the governing process. The term limits initiative was discussed and our committee and our UCF Team began working our many networks to determine support and to answer the questions others had. As a result, when the executive committee set a deadline for any strong objections, we really had none. In fact, we had a list of questions that were easily answered and further solidified the support for term limits. So, we moved ahead with the filing process which is now in its third week. We anticipate it will take another 2-3 weeks before we will have the final language of the initiative and at that point make a determination on how proceed, develop a plan for gathering signatures and prepare for clearly communicating what the initiative would do.

So once again, we were consistent and deliberate in building support and consensus. We engaged a broad base of people in the process, and above all, again, we listened. That’s a very important part of what UCF is doing that is unlike other political action most people are accustomed to. People in Mississippi want a voice, and we exist to give that to them.


Q: There have been a few editorials written about how ballot initiatives in general are tough to get passed, how term limits failed in 1999, as well as a few others that attempt to insult the very idea of term limits being supported by Sen. Chris McDaniel, the Chairman of UCF. What do you think is driving this?

A: Yeah. I think it’s interesting that virtually everyone we’ve seen respond negatively to the idea of term limits, which are a very few, are the very people that either benefit from the current political structure or have an axe to grind with Sen. McDaniel.

First, let’s be clear, I filed the ballot initiative, not Chris. I am the sponsor. And l’m happy to have his support on this. It says something about the character of a person who holds a very safe seat like Sen. McDaniel – a seat that he would have very little problem keeping for the next 20 years and build up his legislative retirement and state retirement perks – it says a lot that he would voluntarily support something that would take that away. So, these naysayers? Gimme a break. That’s just childish political games.

I welcome the support of someone running for a third term or someone who has been in office for 30 years. The idea that someone who has been in office longer than two terms therefore by default can’t support term limits is ridiculous.

Secondly, the very idea that an elected official that supports term limits should limit themselves, but NOT support a movement by the people to limit ALL politicians is the most bone-headed political spin I’ve heard out of all of this. It lacks any logic whatsoever. The reason for term limits isn’t about personalities. It’s about engaging the public to participate in policy discussions and to elect representatives to office who support those policies.

Anyone who votes over and over for a single person just because they’re a nice person, or because they have the coolest logo, that is the problem. By forcing a candidate to sit out one-term after serving two, that forces a real public debate about policy and not the person. If a representative has the support of the public they will have no problem finding someone with the same ideas they have to serve in that seat and to continue those policies.

Term limits forces politics to become a discussion about what is best for the citizens of the state, not a beauty contest or a contest of who can build the biggest war chest and scare everyone else away from running.

These commentaries we’ve been seeing want to focus on personality and efforts from 16 years ago, because they haven’t a leg to stand on in an actual debate of the issue.

The public overwhelmingly supports term-limits to the tune of nearly 80-percent. 80-percent! Think about that for a moment. Very few political issues unite people in such a dramatic way as does term-limits.

I don’t care what happened 16 years ago. The public is ready for term limits today like never before. When we launch in a few weeks we WILL get the signatures and when we do it WILL pass!

That above anything is why you have so many being negative but not actually discussing the merits of the issue. In my mind, we’ve already won the debate because those who have stood in opposition haven’t offered a shred of facts to support their position.