From the Loudoun Easterner: Tuesday, February 7, 2006 5:22 PM CST Martin Casey - Easterner Column Republicans taking stock - finally!The Republican Party has seen itself as the majority party here for at least the past decade. It may still be, but the last four months of election results has served as a wake-up call for party leaders.In November, Democrat Tim Kaine carried Loudoun County and Del. Dick Black was defeated by Democrat David Poisson. Democrat Chuck Caputo also took a former GOP seat in the 67th District, which includes South Riding. Then Democrat Mark Herring won the special election to succeed Republican Bill Mims in the Virginia Senate. Herring didn’t just win - he carried every precinct in the district for a victory of well more than 60 percent.The Republican party’s challenge is far more than Loudoun County. Party leaders are concerned about their comparative lack of success in many parts of Northern Virginia.So the party has formed a “Strike Force” -- a battle cry for a new study committee it is forming to research demographic, physical and political change in Northern Virginia and to formulate issue positions that will help the party to re-mold its image with voters. Congressman Tom Davis is among the leaders of the “Strike Force.” Loudoun is represented by county party Chairman Randy Minchew and Broad Run Supervisor Lori Waters.Minchew lost his own bid to be his party’s candidate for Mims’ seat, and then saw victor Mick Staton lose to Herring despite Minchew’s own strong endorsement of his party’s choice. His term as party chairman expires March 18 and after serving two full terms in the post, he can be expected to step aside. Meanwhile he is enthusiastic about the work of the Strike Force.What Republicans are recognizing are not only change in Loudoun County and Northern Virginia, but change within the party. The county GOP for example, as is common among parties that enjoy strong majorities for long periods of time, has fractured within itself with those who are most conservative turning on moderate members to wrest influence if not control. Minchew, whom many view as more moderate than Black or Staton, has done a masterful job during his two terms in holding together his party’s faithful of all persuasions. The voters however - most of whom think of themselves either as belonging to no political party or being only a nominal Republican or Democrat - appear, by their votes in November and here Jan. 31, to have decided that transportation is more important than political party and that the Democrats have offered much needed help, while the Republicans have been encouraging growth and spending too much time on conservative social issues that ought to be decided individuals and not by government.It is indeed refreshing to see the Grand Old Party looking to its future in a reasoned and serious way. The new “Strike Force” could do much to save the party from a potential downward spiral over the next decade. -I enjoy the optimism of the writer, but Mr.Casey seems to fail to understand how pointless the "strike force" is. Mr.Casey states that "Tom Davis is a leader on the strike force"... My understanding is Tom Davis, Frank Wolf,and Sean Connaughton were not formally asked to be members of the strike force. I also agree with the writer, that Chairman Minchew has done a great job holding the two factions together in Loudoun. Maybe when he's not GOP Chair, we can have the pleasure of seeing him run for office again!