Heather Nauert Op-Ed in The Hill: On Ukraine aid, Republicans should follow the leader

In an op-ed for The Hill, BGR Group Advisory Board Member Heather Nauert urges Republicans to follow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s guidance on continuing to provide assistance to Ukraine.


On Ukraine aid, Republicans should follow the leader

Op-Ed: Republican Women Are Set to Make Their Mark in the 118th Congress

By Jennifer Larkin Lukawski
Principal, BGR Group

While Republicans didn’t experience the anticipated tsunami of victories in the 2022 election cycle, they did what seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago. For the second cycle in a row, they elected a record-breaking 42 Republican women to serve in Congress, including 33 in the House and 9 in the Senate. While this historical increase is exciting, Republicans still have a way to go before the Congress better reflects the party and the country.

It was the 2018 midterm election results that prodded Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to do an autopsy of the party’s failure to elect more women. After all the votes were counted, the number of Republican women elected to the House of Representatives shrank to just 13 members —12 incumbents and a single freshman member. This was the lowest number in their ranks in nearly three decades. Compare that with the 89 Democratic women who were elected that same cycle, 35 of whom were freshmen.

Stefanik recognized that such a trend was unsustainable for the GOP, and that she was going to step up and do something about it. Putting aside the unwritten rules of her party, she focused not just on recruiting female candidates to run, but more importantly on raising money for them early in the process so that they could make that crucial first step of winning their primaries. Working alongside other political action committees such as VIEW PAC and Winning for Women, these efforts paid off beautifully. In 2020, the number of Republican women in Congress more than doubled from 13 to 31.

Fast forward to today, where Republican women continue to make history as they grow their ranks in Congress. Come January 3rd, several new female Republican “firsts” will be sworn in as members of the 118th Congress, for example:

  • Erin Houchin (R-IN), who has served as an Indiana senator in the 47th district since 2014, will be the first woman to represent IN-09, located in the southern part of the state.
  • Monica De La Cruz (R-TX), a single mother of two children and small business owner who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, will be the first Republican to represent her district in deep South Texas.
  • Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), a small business owner and former mayor of the Portland suburb of Happy Valley, is the first Republican woman elected to the U.S. House in Oregon, the first Latina elected to Congress from Oregon, and the first Republican to flip a congressional seat in Oregon since 1994.
  • Katie Britt (R-AL), a former aide to outgoing Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and President and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, will be the first female to be elected U.S. Senator in the state of Alabama, the youngest woman to ever serve in the Senate, and the only woman in the Senate with school-aged children.

Republican women are not just winning races, they are using their growing power in Congress to lock down prized committee and leadership roles, some for the first time in history. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is set to serve as the first female Chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) is in line to serve as the first female Republican Chair of the equally powerful Appropriations Committee.

Now that they have a majority in the House, the Republican party will be able to show voters that the women elected to Congress will not only have a seat at the table but will have their voices heard. This will entail party leaders helping these new faces get up to speed quickly so they can hit the ground running in pursuit of policies that will benefit their constituents. Doing so will help to prove that Republican women who raise their hands and run for office can win their races and make a real difference for themselves, their families, their community, and their country.


OP-ED: Will Asian Americans Swing Republican in Nevada’s Senate Race?

By Joseph Lai
October 18, 2022

As we count down the days to the U.S. midterm elections, races to determine control of Congress are tightening across the country. That’s certainly the case in Nevada, where Republican Adam Laxalt is locked in a close race with incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Nevada’s Senate race is worth watching not only because it’s competitive, but also because it’s a testing ground for the power of Asian American voters. While the Silver State’s large and growing Asian American community has trended Democratic in recent elections, Laxalt is making a strong play for the community’s support, based on concern over critical quality-of-life issues like inflation, gas prices, and rising crime. And that approach may be getting results – recent polls show Laxalt with a slim lead, though within the margin of error, over his Democratic opponent.

The Asian American population has doubled over the last two decades, making it the fastest growing minority demographic group in the United States. About 24 million Americans identify as Asian American. Nevada is one of the states where the Asian American population is growing the fastest, thanks in part to strong demand for labor in the hospitality and health care sectors in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. That also means the Asian American community is emerging as a significant political force – about 10% of the state’s voters.

In recent election cycles, Nevada Democrats held a decisive advantage with this coveted demographic. One 2016 survey found 41% of Nevada’s Asian American voters aligned with the Democratic Party, compared to 26% that leaned GOP. But note that those numbers show almost a third of Nevada Asian American voters on the fence and open to persuasion.


OP-ED: Inside a Terrorist Tunnel, Between Lebanon and Israel

By Heather Nauert
September 23, 2022

ZAR’IT, Israel — Under a hot September sun in northern Israel, we drove to a hilly rural village dotted by tidy homes surrounded by fragrant fruit trees and a secret tunnel connecting two countries long at odds with one another.

I was a few hundred yards from the border of Lebanon, where Hezbollah, an Iranian-aligned terror group, is deeply embedded in both the government and everyday life and remains a persistent threat to Lebanon and its neighbors.

When in 2018 the Israel Defense Forces discovered a network of underground tunnels along its northern border with Lebanon, concerns arose in the Middle East and at Washington. The discovery of multiple tunnel systems that connected two sovereign countries was an alarming escalation.

During this time, I served as the State Department spokeswoman and made it a priority to publicly highlight this worrisome find. But it wasn’t until four years later that I saw it firsthand. And let me just say, it was an eye-opening experience.


OP ED: How the President Should Fight Inflation & Get the Economy Back on Track

By Sean Duffy
June 10, 2022

The price of food, gas, and goods continue to rise along with summer temperatures. With the annual inflation rate above 8 percent, the highest since the early 1980s, the heat is also increasing on President Biden and congressional Democrats to do something to fix the problem. Americans are right to wonder: What can – or will – the president do about it?

The president campaigned on providing economic relief to working families. The opposite has happened. Runaway inflation is making Americans poorer and sapping the average family of its ability to buy even the basics they need to survive.


OPINION: New Iran Nuclear Deal Looks Weaker Than First, and Congress Needs To Strike It


Based on what we know now, Congress should move to disapprove the deal and block the president from waiving any sanctions on Iran.

In the next few days, expect an announcement that the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran has been brought back from the dead. Months of discussions between the Biden team, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, and Ebrahim Raisi’s terrorist-sponsoring Iranian government have produced a revised version of the deal that President Trump disemboweled four years ago.



OPINION: Shock and Awe in the Garden State

What happened in the New Jersey gubernatorial race will have broad ramifications across the country and into 2022.

By Jennifer Lukawski, BGR Principal

November 3, 2021

While most of the attention today is on Glenn Youngkin’s come-from-behind victory over former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial campaign, a nationalized race by any measure, the real story may be in New Jersey. Incumbent Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) aimed to become the first Democrat since 1977 to be re-elected in the Garden State. In what has become a reliably blue state, the race should have been a shoo-in for him. His Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli, was a relative unknown. What’s more, Governor Murphy had a significant war chest, was running in a state that President Biden won by 16 points, and there are one million more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. Governor Murphy has been successful in delivering on many of the progressive promises he made in his 2017 campaign, such as a minimum wage hike, free community college tuition, and new gun control laws. He was also commanding an 11-point lead in the polls as late as last week. Yet here we are, the day after, and the race is still too close to call. Pundits and political observers, not to mention the Murphy campaign, are in disbelief that this race is a nail-biter. So, what happened?

For starters, Democrats did not show up. In 2020, 2.6 million people voted for President Biden in New Jersey. Last night, only 1.2 million people stepped up to vote for Governor Murphy. A drop off of 1.4 million voters is stunning, even for an off-year election. While votes are still being counted in the Democratic strongholds of Essex and Hudson counties, Democrats up and down the ballot fell far short of expectations in the blue-collar areas of South Jersey. In fact, NJ State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, an 11-year incumbent and the second-most powerful elected state official behind Murphy, is currently trailing a Republican truck driver who spent just $153 on his campaign. If defeated, Sweeny would join a list of stunning upsets in legislative races across the state.

Republicans, on the other hand, bitterly frustrated by having some of the highest property taxes in the country and suffering through strict COVID-19 lockdowns, showed up in droves to vote for a candidate that most had likely never heard of or who knew little about. Ciattarelli, a businessman and former member of the NJ General Assembly, was able to outperform Governor Murphy in the key Republican stronghold counties of Monmouth and Ocean, the area of the Jersey Shore where Chris Christie had also outperformed John Corzine 12 years ago. Oddly enough, Monmouth County is where Governor Murphy lives.

While the race is still too close to call and will likely be headed for a recount, Republicans in New Jersey have a lot to be excited about – win or lose. Today feels a lot like post-Election Day 2009, which led to a big night in 2010 when Republicans reclaimed their majority in the U.S. House, picked up 6 seats in the U.S. Senate, and added 6 GOP governors to their ranks. We will learn a lot more about what happened in the New Jersey election in the days and weeks ahead. Coupled with Glenn Youngkin’s big victory in Virginia, it is clear the Democrats are in political trouble and have a lot to prove in one year’s time.


Ukraine: Time for a True Strategic Partnership

By Ambassador Kurt Volker

The U.S. and Ukraine, and the West more broadly, need to get serious about putting the cards on the table that would deter Putin from any further military action.

Coming on the heels of Russia’s massive military build-up in and around Ukraine in April 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv this week is a strong show of support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is also an opportunity to finally realize a genuine strategic partnership between the two countries.

Even in the best of times, Ukraine has often viewed the West as insufficiently supportive of Ukraine’s security and membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions, while the West has viewed Ukraine as insufficiently clear and committed to strengthening the rule of law and rooting out corruption.

The dynamic has not always been healthy. What Ukraine sees as legitimate aspirations (like NATO membership), the West has sometimes seen as unrealistic and pushy. And what the West sees as “tough love” in helping Ukraine on reforms and governance, the Ukrainians sometimes see as unrealistic and at times even unsympathetic interference in Ukrainian politics, which are complicated beyond belief.


Biden should withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. Here’s why


March 18, 2021

Charles A. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as special assistant to the President for national security affairs from 2014 to 2017 and is the author of “Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World.” Douglas Lute, a retired lieutenant general, was the coordinator for Afghanistan at the National Security Council from 2007 to 2013 and the US ambassador to NATO from 2013 to 2017. He is currently Defense Chair and International Chair at the BGR Group.

As the Biden administration weighs whether to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by May 1 — upholding the Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban — its discussions should focus on one main concern: preventing future terrorist attacks on the United States or its allies from Afghan territory. Since 9/11, this objective has guided US engagement across four presidencies.

Those who argue that we need to stay in Afghanistan to thwart attacks against the homeland are wrong. Biden should keep in mind the obvious: 2021 is not 2001. The terrorist threat from Afghanistan has been dramatically reduced in the last 20 years. The departure of US troops is not only possible, but desirable.

The United States and its coalition partners have devastated al Qaeda and crippled its ability to strike across borders. The terrorist group has not been able to carry out a major overseas attack since the bombings in London in 2005. Its leaders have been in hiding for years, although mostly not in Afghanistan, as became clear in the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban does maintain links to al Qaeda, including through family ties. Yet the several hundred remaining al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan pose a minor threat, especially compared with the group’s more dangerous branches in Yemen, Somalia, Syria and the Sahel.


America Needs More Leaders Like Vernon Jordan

By Governor Haley Barbour

March 8, 2021

Last week America lost a “wise man,” to quote The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan.  I expect many more national leaders and chroniclers agree with that view of Vernon Jordan.

I first learned about Vernon Jordan and his distinguished career in 1980 when, as a civil rights leader, he was shot by a white supremacist. Little did I, a conservative Southern Republican in my early thirties, have any idea what a friend, role model and supporter he would be to me over the next forty years.

I admired and had the privilege to be in contact with Vernon from the time I served as Political Director of the Reagan White House. He gave me sage advice on issues and relationships. He was helpful to everybody, not just me.

Vernon didn’t have to tell anybody he was special. He lived it.  He was a liberal Democrat who enjoyed his Republican friends and led people of both parties to work together, to like each other, and to disagree agreeably.

He was a wonderful example of a time when Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives not only worked together; they got things done together. They even liked each other.

And perhaps most important, as my wife Marsha said when she learned of Vernon’s death, “He was such a gentleman – a true gentleman in every way.”