I wrote last year about an episode during the week of the 2012 Republican National Convention when libertarian economics professor Walter Block made an unfortunate decision to unveil his theory regarding ‘evicting’ babies from the womb at a Ron Paul rally, only to be met with a chorus of boos. After Block was yanked from the stage, musician Jordan Page provided one of the more memorable moments of my week in Tampa. He approached the microphone, held out his arms and said very simply, “Before we get started….I’d just like to say that evicting babies from their mothers’ wombs is not something we are advocating here today.” He then asked everyone in the crowd of 11,000 to say hi into his cell phone for the benefit of his wife and four children who couldn’t be there. In one simple gesture, he made it very clear that the Liberty movement was both pro-family and pro-life. He also won me as a fan that day.
Jordan will be performing at a Republican Liberty Caucus gathering in Vancouver on the evening of Sunday, December 15th, the last stop in his tour of the Northwest. I spoke to Katja Delavar, the Clark County RLC chairwoman, and she is making a special effort to find a family-friendly venue so that kids will be able to attend as well. Page is well known for lingering after his set is done to meet and talk to people, and I found him to be a very engaging and sincere fellow in my brief conversation with him at the P.A.U.L. fest last year. He is a great representative of the people-centered, grass-roots orientation of the Liberty movement, with song lyrics that are both thought-provoking and inspiring. I encourage you to come and listen.
For more info on time and location, check out the facebook page:
Today, 107 state committee members, three from each county, met in Spokane to decide among Christian Berrigan, Susan Hutchison, James Walsh, and Luanne Van Werven to replace Kirby Wilbur as Washington State Republican Party chairman. The results were as follows:
Van Werven – 41
Hutchison – 39
Walsh – 16
Hutchison – 59
Van Werven – 46
The scuttlebutt was always that Van Werven had the race sewn up from the start with commitments from a majority of the committee. As the elected Vice-Chair and interim Chairman of the WSRP, she has had more opportunity to campaign among the voters that matter. This, of course, was probably the goal when Wilbur resigned with no warning and then the vote was scheduled for the very next meeting, less than a month later. The party establishment appears to have done its best to hand the position to one of their own. Any candidate entering this race knew at the outset that overcoming those odds was something of a long shot. This makes Hutchison’s victory even more interesting.
Given the fact that another and far more important chair election happens in a mere seventeen months, this campaign in many ways was a trial run for a few people and organizations looking to gain standing among Washington Republicans. Some interesting people to watch going forward are:
1. Susan Hutchison
Her supporters on the blog NW Daily Marker conducted an online poll for her, and she won it handily over second-placed Christian Berrigan and the rest of the field. The former Seattle news anchor and failed King County executive candidate has apparently overcome her former reluctance to be identified with the Republican party and has sold herself, with some effectiveness, as a great fundraiser. That skill will always be in demand among establishment Republicans, regardless of her personal philosophy of government. It will be interesting to see if she makes good on this promise, now that she has pulled off the upset victory.
2. The Washington Republican Liberty Caucus
Although a national organization since 1991, the RLC is new to Washington in 2013, and has had some growing pains in its first year of existence. The State Convention in April was reportedly highlighted by hours of arguing, resulting in a schism over the abortion issue that left many members signing resignation letters. Amid the din of angry blog posts and public facebook arguments, the RLCWA executive board decided to manifest its presence in the GOP by backing a candidate for party chair. The candidate the eight-member board chose, Jim Walsh, was apparently promised at least 25 Liberty votes on the state committee as a foundation for his candidacy. RLCWA chairwoman, Sandra Belzer Brendale, had this to say to her local paper, the Yakima Herald :
Belzer Brendale said the Republican Liberty Caucus has actively engaged members across the state to poll the state Republican Party’s 117 committee members to gauge the group’s influence. She said leaders believe they can sway at least 25 members to vote for their candidate.
“It’s silly to ignore us,” Belzer Brendale said. “Very silly.”
As the PCO Liberty Alliance discovered, the media is always very happy to do interviews and report on fractures and uprisings in the Republican party. This has created an opportunity for the RLC to get some attention as a vocal representative in the larger Liberty movement. Here’s hoping they put that attention to a productive use.
3. Christian Berrigan
Christian is everything his supporters have cracked him up to be. He is a tireless worker, a fountain of ideas and he has gained the trust and respect of most Republican leaders in Clark County. He is also a strong conservative who does not hide his goal of shifting the party back to a more populist conservative agenda, rather than the cronyist, power-hungry elites that run the party but lose elections currently. The message of what has been going on in Clark County, the uniting of conservatives under a conservative message, the work they can accomplish together, and the renewed faith that can be restored in the Republican brand, these must be spread to other counties if any change in state elections is to occur. The one thing Christian has lacked up to now in order to execute many of his ideas is a statewide presence, which he is now quickly gaining. Of all the candidates for chair in this election, he is the one that shows the most promise to be a future influence and leader in the party.
I just received this transmission from the Secretary of the Washington Republican Liberty Caucus:
Dear RLC Member,
The WA state RLC board has decided to endorse Jim Walsh of Grays Harbor for WSRP Chair. The vote was nearly unanimous with 8 cast in favor of Jim with one abstention. We had four candidates address the WA State RLC BOD meeting on Sunday: Susan Hutchison, Luanne Van Werven, Christian Berrigan, and Jim Walsh. To be absolutely honest, Christian was very impressive, and it was a toss up between Christian and Jim for many of our BOD members up until the final vote. All of us were extremely impressed with his energy, drive, as well as his accomplishments in reforming the Clark County GOP. Ultimately, it came down to who best represented the liberty values of the WA State RLC. In addition to his work in Grays Harbor, Jim authored the book “Liberty in Troubled Times” (which is available on Amazon if you care to get a copy) which does a great job of describing how liberty minded activists in both parties are different from their more mainstream counterparts.
As we extend our congratulations to Jim Walsh, we want to thank to each of the candidates who came out and wish each the best of luck in their race for WSRP Chair.
If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
WA State RLC
Some very nice words about all of the accomplishments that Christian Berrigan has logged, but in the end, they chose Jim Walsh. The main argument for choosing Walsh over Berrigan appears to be that Walsh wrote a book. Obviously, they have never seen any of Christian’s emails.
Meanwhile, the Clark County Republican Liberty Caucus voted unanimously on Monday to endorse Christian Berrigan for Washington State Republican Chairman. Members gave Berrigan rave reviews for work he has done over the last 18 months on the Presidential cycle, PCO elections, State Legislature and County Commissioner races, bylaws changes for the Clark County Republican party, City Council races, and his tremendous work as Operations Director with fundraising and data development. In addition, Christian has now been endorsed by State Senator Don Benton, State Representative Liz Pike, former CCRP chair Anna Miller, current CCRP chair Lynda Wilson, and the Washington Citizens for a Responsible Government.
“Christian Berrigan is one of the smartest and most successful grass roots strategists I have ever worked with. If our goal is to change the political dynamic to elect exceptional Republican leaders across Washington State, Mr. Berrigan is the person for the job.”
- Representative Liz Pike, 18th District
“Christian Berrigan is a tireless worker for the conservative cause. He helped my re-election effort immensely. Having been the State party chairman, I can assure you he has the skills, drive and intelligence to do the job extremely well.”
-Senator Don Benton, Deputy Majority Leader
Allow me to point out just a couple of things about the Benton endorsement. As Kirby Wilbur was leaving, this is how he summed up his accomplishments:
“Chairman Wilbur was elected to his first term in January 2011. Under his leadership, Washington elected the only statewide Republican official on the west coast in Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and picked up 1 seat in both the State Senate and the State House in 2012. In late 2012, early 2013, two Democrats joined with our Republican Senators to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, thus giving Republicans a majority in at least one chamber of the Legislature for the first time since 2004. Chairman Wilbur was reelected to a second term in January 2013.“
So Kirby hangs his hat on the fact that under his watch, Republicans picked up one seat in the Senate. And the last Senator to win his race? Don Benton, on Dec 5th by 74 votes. Kirby’s other crowning achievement was getting two Democrats to join with Republicans and form a majority in the Senate. Was Kirby really the one who accomplished this? Or was it actually that same Senator Benton and a few of his colleagues? So if Senator Benton, a former WSRP chair himself, credits Berrigan with helping him get re-elected and is confident enough in Christian’s qualification to publicly endorse him, I’m thinking that might be kind of a big deal.
Now if Christian can only write a book between now and the 24th, maybe he can get those eight board members from the RLCWA behind him too.
Edit: (Apparently, after the email was sent to everyone, Christian did receive one dissenting vote.)
After some deliberation, Christian Berrigan confirmed to me this evening that he will announce his candidacy for Washington State Republican Party chairman tomorrow. As the Operations Director of the Clark County Republican Party, Christian has been working full time on crunching data, targeting voters, and door-knocking for both the Frank Decker (Vancouver) and Lyle Lamb (Battle Ground) City Council primary campaigns. The races culminated in primary victories for each of these grass roots candidates, who have gone from relative unknowns in the political sphere to successfully winning their primaries on the first attempt.
Frank Decker writes:
I have come to know Christian Berrigan over the past several months and I can say without hesitation and with all sincerity that he is a man of high character and unbelievable intelligence. I am running for a political position for the first time in my life (Vancouver City Council). Christian’s insight, advice, and strategic mind have been invaluable to my campaign. He has played a significant role in helping to propel me–someone who was literally a complete unknown 3 months ago–to a Primary victory, defeating a 16-year incumbent.
I believe that Christian has the leadership ability, the strategic thinking capability, and the positive personality to bring the Washington State Republican Party not only together in a unified way that has never been seen, but also into the 21st century without compromising our core conservative values. I fully support him for the position of Washington State Chair and I am confident that he will be exactly what our party desperately needs.
And from Lyle Lamb:
I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of a number of really great people. One of those is Christian Berrigan. It’s been awesome having his assistance throughout this primary. He has such enthusiasm for liberty and for the elective process! His dedication was manifest in late nights he put in generating targeted walk lists, his constant communication with me, his willingness to knock on the doors of strangers in a town he doesn’t even reside in, and his ever present creative process. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with as much drive and determination, coupled with an ability to bring the power of technology to bear in such a comprehensive way. I think that Christian’s ability to communicate, generate ideas, lead people, bridge political divides, and burn the midnight oil would make him an excellent chair of the Washington State Republican Party. As happens in all political arenas, it’s time for change, and I sincerely believe that Christian is the necessary change-agent.
Many who are not from Clark County and have not witnessed the revolution within the party over the past 18 months as we moved from an exclusionary and fractured establishment-centered environment to a vibrant organization capable of generating candidates and the energetic volunteers and funding necessary to support them. I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat, and have done my best to pass it on as it unfolded via this blog. My conclusion after watching Christian in action over that time is that his message, energy and talent is just what is needed in a party that has been on life-support ever since November’s anemic showing in the elections.
Clark County State Committeewoman Laney Maxwell says:
I don’t know if every idea Christian Berrigan has is genius, or just the ones he says out loud, but the quickest way I know to make something successful is to put Christian Berrigan in charge of it. He has clever political strategies for every level–national, state, and county–he even brought media attention to the Clark County PCO races while bringing all the Republican factions together. In the interest of finally turning Washington State red, I fully endorse and look forward to a Christian Berrigan Chairmanship.
18th Legislative District Chairman Kenny Smith writes of Christian:
[He is] a great motivational force overflowing with ideas to advance the party. Christian would get this party moving, that is for sure. Whether people could keep up with him is the question. I would love to give it a try.
Recurring themes in everyone I spoke to about Christian were his tireless work ethic, his ability to clearly articulate the conservative message, and especially, his endless stream of ideas and innovations. He is a 21st Century candidate, and this party needs him now.
In a surprising development, Kirby Wilbur, who only recently was elected for a second term as Washington State Republican Party chairman, has resigned his post in favor of a higher-paying job with Young America in Washington D.C. Few in the Liberty movement will miss Wilbur, who was notorious for doing his utmost to quell any kind of grass roots uprising in the party. From illegally reconvening the Kitsap County convention last year for the purpose of electing an all-Romney slate, to using WSRP funds to help non-Liberty PCO candidates in their campaigns, Wilbur’s attempts to shut out conservatives and keep the moderates in power predictably led to a complete thrashing at the hands of the Democrats in last year’s elections. Wilbur leaves only a few months after shutting down the 2014 State Convention in favor of a ‘training conference’ somewhere in Eastern Washington, the planning of which he now leaves to his successor.
The predictable slate of King County Establishment candidates to replace Wilbur has already surfaced, including King County chair Lori Sotelo, and former news anchorwoman and failed King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison. Neither of these options signals a change in direction for a party that faces further drubbings and a possible shift in the Senate after next year’s elections. It seems obvious that new blood is needed in the worst way.
So here is my thought.
Elect Christian Berrigan.
Oh yes, some will say I am off my rocker, that Berrigan has no state-wide resume, that he hails from a small, southern Washington county, and that he will never be able to raise the money necessary to run the State Party. Let me just call attention to what he has accomplished in the last 15 months:
When I first met Christian at the Clark County GOP convention last March, he knew very few of the delegates there. He had, however, quickly recognized the divide-and-conquer strategy that the Romney campaign was employing to great effect with the ‘Unity Slate’, and although he did not support Ron Paul, he saw that the Paul delegates were being wrongfully maligned and shut out of the process. After our first round of balloting in the 17th LD, all of the Santorum delegates on the slate were elected, and no Paul delegates had reached a majority of votes. As one of the leaders of the Paul campaign in that district, my heart had completely sunk, knowing that, now that they were elected, we had absolutely no leverage with the Santorum group, several of whom had already told me they had no intention of voting with us. Immediately, Christian took it upon himself to stand up on a chair with no microphone and persuade these same Santorum supporters that they had been deceived; that the Paul people were not the back-stabbing double-dealers that the Romney camp had made them out to be, and that the faithfulness we had shown to them on the first ballot ought to be reciprocated. I watched people I knew had previously voted against us nodding their head in agreement and vote for Paul delegates on the second ballot. Christian had an innate skill in identifying the truth and explaining it to others in clear, concise terms. The next day, the leaders of both camps got together to debrief, and all anyone could talk about was Christian and his amazing presence of mind and leadership. Nobody knew him or where he came from, but everybody was talking about him.
It was with great surprise then, that I got an email from him days later. He was full of energy and ideas about how to get the remaining 17 seats in our district filled with those who had received the highest votes on ballot number two, the final ballot we completed. He wrote up a very impressive brief to the CCRP Executive board, and eventually was granted an audience at their next board meeting. Every person on that board had been proudly wearing a ‘Unity’ sticker on convention day, but somehow he convinced them to vote in favor of ‘the 17 of the 17th’ being seated, despite the fact that 14 of the 17 were Ron Paul supporters, and none supported Romney. He even managed to get the highest vote-getter from the Romney camp, Senator Don Benton, to write a strong letter to the board recommending that we get seated. Only Brandon Vick and Greg Kimsey voted against us. The fact that our applications and checks were later ignored by Kirby Wilbur and returned unopened to us did not detract from the fact that Christian had accomplished an amazing feat by bringing all of those people together to do the right thing.
After this, Christian and I spoke regularly and became fast friends. I told him of our idea to run a number of candidates from the 17th LD for PCO to try to make inroads into the Establishment’s monopoly in the party, and he blew my mind by suggesting that we run a County-wide public campaign. He contacted some like-minded people from the convention who, like us, were outraged at the party’s tactics at the convention, as well as the incompetent way it was run. We all met at Burgerville and I suddenly found myself talking with people who had heretofore viewed me with suspicion and mistrust. We found much common ground and began working together to develop our recruiting strategy. Thus was born the PCO Liberty Alliance, a name which Christian himself coined. I told him that using the word ‘Liberty’ might be a problem for those who didn’t support Ron Paul, but he could not have cared less. Instead of the failed strategy that had been used in past elections by Paul people to run for PCO by stealth so as not to attract party funds to the race, he wanted a very public campaign with elements of several groups rather than just Paul people. He wanted overwhelming numbers of candidates so that the party elite could not focus on just a few. He wanted to unite several groups of conservatives under one banner.
The strategy not only worked, it worked overwhelmingly. I have never seen teamwork in my life like what I witnessed over those summer months last year. My house became campaign headquarters for the PCO Liberty Alliance, and numerous people I had never met were soon working, eating, and sharing their stories with us. The former looks of suspicion melted away and were replaced by strong friendship and trust. Christian and his friend Mark Engleman brought people in to our group that I would never have even spoken to, some, even, that were openly hostile to Paul delegates at the convention. We found that we had much in common, and we began to realize that there was a lot we could reform in our party if we worked together. Christian was going everywhere making speeches, detailing strategy, and recruiting. We started with the Paul supporters in our network that Kenny Smith and Trevor Winton spent untold hours recruiting, and worked our way out into Samaria and all the world. Soon, even a few from the old board were with us.
I recount these events because, while Christian did not do it all by himself, he was the one who made sure it all happened. He worked tirelessly, infusing energy in the Paul leadership who were already exhausted from several months of full-time campaigning before the conventions. Without Christian, we never would have dared to think on such a wide scale. There were friends of mine walking out of meetings telling me that they thought he was crazy, promising to make signs, campaign literature, business cards and slim jims, and get media attention for PCO races…the ideas seemed preposterous. Every one of them happened. He asked for $100 from each candidate, many gave him double or triple that amount, even those who had no competitor. We ended up with recruits for about 80% of the precincts in the entire county. Half of those won without an opponent, because the Establishment, despite their best efforts and superior network, simply could not keep up with us and our energy to reform the party. Between our recruiting and Christian and Mark evangelizing the message, the old guard had no answer for us. A few of their more vitriolic leaders even quit the party altogether. The PCOLA candidates won with overwhelming numbers .
One of the more amazing accomplishments of that campaign was the media attention Christian was able to attract. He kept coming up with ideas. Reporters told us that they had never covered PCO races before, but now we regularly found pieces about our efforts in the news. One of Christian’s ideas was to catch one of the people who were stealing our signs in East Vancouver. We bought a camera and planted it near one of the signs for future party chair Lynda Wilson, and the very next morning, we caught John Ellis-Reisdorf red-handed. It was all over the papers and the six-o-clock news on multiple channels. Another time, Christian had signs made up resembling orange construction signs warning people to prepare for tolls to cross the river if they didn’t vote for David Madore. The response was amazing, not only on the streets, but also all over the media. It had the same effect as thousands of dollars of advertising and had social media buzzing for several weeks. The number of shares that the Columbian article got dwarfed anything in their news cycle that week.
Christian’s tenure on the Clark County GOP Executive Board has been marked by an extraordinary increase in volunteerism. He has been instrumental in providing a vision and motivation for many who had given up on the party completely. Recently, the CCRP put on the most lucrative Lincoln Day dinner in the state, netting over $50,000 in profit. We are also experiencing unprecedented levels of CCRP participation in elections for City Councils and School Boards, which the Columbian has also noted :
The Clark County Republican Party has become increasingly involved in local races.
In each of the last two off-year elections, 2009 and 2011, three sitting precinct committee officers ran for nonpartisan positions, two Republicans and a Democrat each time. PCOs, as they are known, are elected every two years and serve as grass-roots organizers for the parties. This year, eight PCOs — all Republicans — are running for city councils, school boards and a fire commission seat.
One of these PCOs, Frank Decker, has stated that he first got the urge to get involved in local politics after reading one of Christian’s PCO Liberty Alliance sign last year. At the time, we were mocked by a few in the old guard because the signs said that ‘the most powerful office in the country is PCO’. Apparently, Frank wasn’t laughing. He is now running a strong and energetic bid for Vancouver City Council.
The culture in the CCRP is now such that people are shedding their apathy and jumping on board a movement that promises to make a serious difference in local politics. This is the culture that Christian has been promoting these many months. He has already floated many ideas for state-wide efforts, and if he were elected as WSRP chair, he would be in a better position to implement them. Imagine, a party chair with a pulse who, instead of trying to dictate and control members and shut out entire swaths of conservatives, actually has plans to increase the profile and participation in the party! Imagine a chairman who would welcome the Liberty movement with open arms instead of spending all his time trying to ward off the future of the party. A grass roots candidate for a change, rather than yet another Establishment toadie.
To a party that lost every important state-wide race in 2012, I ask: what have you got to lose?
Over the weekend, the conclusion of this year’s legislative session in Olympia came without passage of funding for everyone’s favorite bridge project. Now that even the Columbian concedes that the CRC has met its end, at least in the near term, it is time to debrief and see what we can glean from this experience in terms of political wisdom. We have listened to many proponents of the light rail/tolling scenario assuring us that there was absolutely nothing that could be done about the implementation of this unwanted project. Over and over we were told that it was a ‘done deal’, and nothing we could say or do could change that. A sampling:
“In New york, where tolls are ubiquitous, they’re 2-3 bucks. There is no way of knowing for sure. But this I will tell you for an absolute fact. No elected official from a medium sized town or a small, half rural county that’s on an international trade and defense route will have any input into the amount or reality of tolls. Anyone who pretends to have that influence is blowing smoke. This candidate doesn’t even know what the job of county commissioner entails, or how this project works. Are the people of Clark County really that stupid? This candidate seems to think so.” -Pat Jollota on David Madore
This comment was in response to our sign project last October, notifying commuters that if something was not done (such as electing David Madore), tolls to cross the interstate bridge would soon be a reality. Is there even a question at this point that Madore’s election has contributed to the defeat of the CRC project? The moral here is that citizen voices CAN make a difference, and don’t believe anyone who tells you differently. Ms. Jollota’s ‘absolute facts’ ended up not being worth very much.
“When I ran for the office of Mayor, I told you honestly and in good faith that I would fight against tolls on the Columbia River Crossing. But unfortunately, not every battle can be won. I could continue to protest, to throw up my arms and stomp out of the room, as some of my detractors have insisted. But frankly, whether or not I protest, the bridge will go on and tolls will happen.” -Tim Leavitt, July 19th 2010 Vancouver City Council meeting.
Another great lesson to be learned is that when an elected official assures you that there is nothing further he can do to stop a bad project, he is lying and has ulterior motives for standing down. Such is clearly the case with Mayor Leavitt, who had numerous opportunities over the past three years to continue to fight against light rail and tolls. The truth, of course, is that he never had any intention of opposing what was in his personal financial interest to support. Contrast his behavior with David Madore, who, like Leavitt was not a member of the legislature that the mayor swore up and down was the only body with standing to change the ‘inevitable’. Somehow, Madore kept fighting, and now, strangely, there are no pending tolls or light rail.
It is said that ‘victory has many fathers’, and there are a lot of people to credit for this tremendous victory:
1. Don Benton- I have not always agreed with Senator Benton, and it is very likely that I will disagree with him again in the future, but his work to win the Senate seat in the 17th LD and then the subsequent coalition he helped form with two Democrats has been HUGE in keeping the tax-and-spend agenda of the Democrats at bay. Time after time, as terrible legislation sailed through the House, the Senate was the only body standing between the citizen flock and the Democrat shearers looking to relieve them of money and liberty. If Tim Probst had won that Senate race, Governor Inslee would have been able to appropriate the necessary $450 million to continue with the CRC plan. A hearty THANK YOU to Senator Benton for his work on our behalf.
P.S. I still don’t agree with his appointment to the County.
2. David Madore- A lot of people mocked him for spending $300k of his own money on a county commissioner race, but the majority of that money was spent fighting the CRC insanity, including on the ballot last fall. Passage of the ‘Operation and Maintenance’ sales tax increase would have been the only vote by the people that the CRC would ever have needed in order to justify the project. That they were forced to move on without any semblance of popular support seriously eroded at their message. Madore continued that fight as commissioner and as a member of the C-Tran board, while also being target #1 for local unions and others seeking to profit from massive appropriations of taxpayer funds. The time and money that he has spent in raising awareness of this issue has borne fruit in terms of citizen involvement and media coverage, and his name will always be linked with this major political victory in Clark County.
3. Jim Moeller- I have to think that his constant mocking of those arguing for fiscal sanity served to keep those who were against the CRC engaged and energized. His cartoonish behavior galvanized his opponents in a greater way than anything else ever could. We owe you a debt of gratitude, Representative Moeller. Please keep making a daily mockery of the term ‘elected official’. You add more to our ranks every day.
There are, of course, many more to thank – some, even, from the other side of the political spectrum. Even Congresswoman Jaime Herrera joined the fray on the right side, with a little nudging from the citizenry. In the end, this was a victory by citizen activists in Clark County. Look for more such victories as activism continues to increase.
A few details on last Saturday’s quarterly meeting of the PCOs. Notable attendees were Senators Ann Rivers and Don Benton, Reps Paul Harris and Liz Pike, County Auditor Greg Kimsey, and Vancouver City Council members Jeanne Stewart and Bill Turley. Most of them left shortly after addressing the body. The city council members were there to talk about their campaigns, the representatives spoke about the endless extra sessions that Governor Inslee is calling to try to get funding for the CRC, and the Senators came primarily to address the recent negative press regarding their much-publicized feud, and to let the PCOs know that they were putting it behind them.
Props go to the following leaders and officials:
1. CCRP Chair Lynda Wilson, for leading a stellar meeting. This meeting contained updates on the record-breaking Lincoln Day Dinner fundraising efforts, the unveiling of the new party website http://www.clarkrepublicans.org , speeches by candidates and elected officials, the election of a new party treasurer, and the deliberation and passage of several resolutions. Those leading the meeting exuded competence as they addressed each topic, and most attendees went away feeling that the party is in great hands. Lynda has brought tremendous credibility back to the local party, as the presence of so many candidates and elected officials demonstrated.
2. Outgoing CCRP Treasurer Bryan Johnson, who was run ragged during his short tenure in office as he did PDC filings for record donation levels, as well as attending long planning sessions on a board full of what he called ‘four-minute milers’. Bryan was a voice of caution and kept meticulous records, and as he passes the baton to super-volunteer Dan Coursey, hopefully he knows that his excellent and money-saving work is appreciated.
3. LD 18 State Senator Ann Rivers, for addressing the PCOs frankly and directly with an apology for the distraction that the situation with Senator Benton might be causing to their efforts. I have not been a great fan of Senator Rivers, since she tried to sneak her friend Adrian Cortes into her State Rep seat on filing deadline day last year, but this apology showed grace and consideration, particularly given that she does not seem to be the initiator in this mess, at least in the public sphere. Rivers and Benton later hugged and posed for pictures
4. CCRP Operations Director Christian Berrigan, for not only working like a rented mule on every aspect of this new and improved party structure, but also for coming up with a very bold resolution involving the termination of the IRS (more details soon on this). As the leader of operations for the PCO Liberty Alliance, Christian made a lot of statements that some considered outlandish and unattainable about his intentions to effect change in the local party. He is matching words with deeds, with much more in the works. His many detractors over the last year are looking very foolish these days, and are strangely quiet of late.
5. Reps Harris and Pike for showing up and staying through most of the meeting despite the fact that they were due in Olympia at 1 p.m. the next day. Their presence was marked and appreciated.
The other note of interest at this meeting had to do with Greg Kimsey’s appearance, apparently for the sole purpose of passing out literature advocating his new alliance with County Commissioner Steve Stuart in the context of pushing a particular slate of freeholders in the upcoming elections and creating a new office of County Executive, which, coincidentally, he would like to run for. Kimsey did not stay for the meeting, despite the fact that he is a sitting PCO, and he was not around to discuss the issue of his new group, Team ClarkForward , which, in addition to Kimsey and Stuart, also includes recently deposed CCRP executive director Mike Gaston and Dan Ogden, a former Democrat party chair. This group is being called ‘bipartisan’, although, oddly enough, there are no conservatives in the group. No word on whether Marc Boldt and Brent Boger will also be joining this group of ‘Republicans’. It is not news to any readers of this blog that Greg Kimsey, Mike Gaston, and the moderates who used to run the old CCRP do not speak for Republicans in Clark County or represent their interests. This is precisely why they were voted off the board. It is also no surprise that people of this ilk feel comfortable working with liberal Democrats on projects having to do with designing county governance. After all, they agree that big government is a necessity. Here are Kimsey’s thoughts on the matter:
“When a government increases in size and complexity, the power of the elected officials entrusted with that government … also increases,” Kimsey said. “And when this power is entrusted in a single branch of government, and among a small number of elected officials, the potential for abuse increases.”
It is important to note here that Madore and Mielke have primarily been criticized by the Left for their efforts to reduce the size and scope of government, which is a central Republican tenet. They drew criticism for reducing impact fees on new businesses, and for removing the county park user fees. Kimsey, on the other hand, not only believes that government should increase ‘in size and complexity’, but also that this increase should be spread among an ever-widening body of elected and appointed officials, of which he would like to be the new head-guy-in-charge. His plan calls for a strong administrator and five weak commissioners, or, as David Madore recently put it, “A monarch and his advisors”.
It is probably unavoidable that a smooth politician like Kimsey will end up in the role of County Executive if that position is created in the new charter. The hope here is that at least the 15 freeholders who design the charter are chosen from among the grass roots rather than the power elite of Clark County. If ever you wanted to get involved in government to effect change, now is the time. Please consider running for freeholder in your district.
It is sometimes helpful to put government issues in terms of people in order to understand them. For instance, this video really cut through a lot of empty rhetoric coming from Congress and the White House regarding the debt limit. So I was imagining what the Columbia River Crossing/ Light Rail boondoggle might look like on a personal level:
Imagine a situation where a family during difficult economic times had to replace their water heater within a few years, and knew it was going to be costly. Imagine the process of choosing which option in water heaters was a balance between function and cost effectiveness. Now imagine that the contractor they hire to install it decides to up-sell them, saying that they need a really expensive one that heats way more gallons than the family needs, that it ought to feed into a new jacuzzi as well. As he is coming up with the bid for all of this, the family also learns that actually, the contractor and the family’s HOA have already decided that this plan is the ‘locally preferred alternative’, and they have already voted to approve it, using the family’s funds. When the family protests, imagine the bank coming in and telling them not to worry, that they can provide a low-interest loan to pay for the whole thing, and that they can spread the cost over the next 30 or even 50 years. Now imagine that actually, they don’t have a choice about that either, the bank and the contractor and the HOA have signed all the necessary loan paperwork already on the family’s behalf. Now imagine that on top of all this, the family is required to hire a guy to maintain the new jacuzzi and water heater at union/prevailing wages, and he will also be charging them a fee every time they want to take a shower or use the jacuzzi. Also, they find out that in order to accommodate the new water heater, they have to remodel the garage such that the door is too low for their car to enter and park, so they have to park outside.
Imagine the family asking the HOA to be allowed to vote on this ‘locally preferred alternative’ and being mocked and laughed at by a circle of people that includes the contractor, the bankers, and the HOA. Then imagine the family appealing to their Congresswoman, only to find out that the contractor is one of her top campaign donors . So now the bank, the housing authority, the contractor and the congresswoman all shrug their shoulders and tell the family that they have been outvoted and the jacuzzi project is a ‘done deal’. They say further that if the family wanted to have input on the project, they should have gone to the two or three meetings that this circle was having a few years ago.
The family then asks how they are going to pay for things like their kids’ education, and the contractor responds, “Well, my kids are going to be educated instead. My son is training to be a contractor, and my daughter is training to be a Congresswoman.”
Does this situation seem at all strange to anyone?
Yesterday the WSRP State Committee voted 55-38 to cancel the 2014 State GOP convention, and replace it with a ‘candidate and party leadership training event’, apparently to be held somewhere in Eastern Washington. The reasons given ranged from “too expensive” to “too few participants”. The convention will presumably resume in 2016 in order to allow the
delegates party leaders to choose the nominee for President. Oh, and hopefully everyone likes the 2012 platform, because it won’t be changed until 2016.
Admittedly, my first reaction was akin to that of Doug Parris . It feels like yet another attempt to stifle participation by energized and growing minorities like the Liberty movement and preserve leadership for the likes of Kirby Wilbur and his friends. It was not surprising to find that King County GOP chair Lori Sotelo, she of the ‘Ron Paul insurance’ fame, was the one who introduced this measure. It seemed, after all, rather apropos for the woman who closed down a legislative district caucus to quell a Liberty uprising to now close down the off-year convention, possibly for similar reasons.
As I considered this further though, I realized that the state party’s abdication of its leadership has actually opened the door for county parties to assert themselves in new and creative ways. Like a perpetually drunken father, the WSRP has given up its position in the family structure and allowed other entities to take its place. Other entities, like…say…the Clark County Republican party. Fresh off its resounding success at the recent Lincoln Day gala, the CCRP may be just the group that could replace an aborted state convention with an event designed to appeal to a multiple-county audience.
Kind of brings a new perspective on the phrase ‘Be the Party’, doesn’t it?
File this under the most ironic slogan in recent memory.
In winding down from what was a tremendous effort to put out a superlative Lincoln Day Dinner last Saturday, party volunteers were treated the next day to the Columbian’s sniping coverage of the event on Sunday morning. Erin Middlewood, the author of what can only be described as an attempted hit-piece on the Tea Party cloaked as a report on a local fundraiser, gives us the latest reason why you definitely need to go to meetings, rather than let the Columbian go in your stead. An excerpt:
Even though most of the 250 Republicans who attended Saturday’s Lincoln Day dinner drank coffee with their dessert, it was clear the event was all about the Tea Party.
Speakers at the annual fundraising event at Vancouver’s Heathman Lodge called for the party faithful to stand up to government, defend freedom and protect gun rights. Auction items included ammunition and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
While U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler highlighted her efforts working within the halls of government, former gubernatorial candidate Shahram Hadian warned of growing tyranny and militia darling Richard Mack argued for local sovereignty.
The range of passions among the event’s speakers evidences an internal struggle within the local Republican party, now led by Tea Party and gun-rights activists who have nudged aside more moderate Republicans.
To read this article, one would think that the Lincoln Day Dinner had been transformed into a rabid militia rally, complete with members in camo gear wielding AR-15s and cutting their German chocolate cake with bayonets.
According to Middlewood, the fact that a gun or ammunition is sold at a fundraiser is evidence of the Tea Party ‘nudging aside moderate Republicans’. No word on whether the Princess Party that was sold at Saturday’s auction was also a sign that the Republicans were trying to revive the Monarchy. Do you think that Erin just might be introducing something of her own preconception into this story, maybe?
Regarding Richard Mack, the keynote speaker, Middlewood has this to say:
Mack argues that the county sheriff is the highest law-enforcement authority, a position advocated by the Posse Comitatus movement in the 1970s and ’80s, according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights in Seattle. It said the controversial movement has been linked to white supremacist and anti-Semitic views.
Mack was a popular speaker among supporters of the militia movement in the 1990s. The Tea Party has revived his career.
“His ideas haven’t changed,” said Devin Burghart, vice president of the human-rights institute. “His acceptability has.”
The media continues to cast anyone who holds to states’ rights as a racist Neo-Nazi. Advocating that a Sheriff is the highest elected law-enforcement authority has nothing to do with racism; it is an opinion on the nature of effective government in terms of providing citizens with fair representation. Readers might be interested to note that Sheriff Mack dedicates his book to “Civil Rights hero, Rosa Parks”, and in his speech (you know, the one Erin didn’t stay to listen to), he used her as an example of the need for a sheriff to exert a higher authority.
Folks, ask every one of your public officials, when they’re forced, or had the quandary placed in front of them, are you going to side with the stupid law, or are you going to keep your oath? Are you going to side with the people and the Constitution, or are you going to side with stupid laws? Have we ever done that in this country? Have we ever had stupid laws? How about let’s go back to December 1, 1955. Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks. We arrested her…do you remember the ‘big-time charge’ she got? Do you know why she was booked into jail? …What would her booking sheet look like? Failure to give her seat to a white man! I don’t think I could write such a stupid thing, and yet, we had two cops, sworn guards of our Constitution, who put handcuffs on her and hauled her off to jail, because she wouldn’t give her seat to a white man.
This, of course, did not fit the story that the Columbian was trying to tell, that all Republican functions promote racism. Ironically, it was brought to my attention after the event that of the four Republican speakers that night, one was a Persian American (Hadian), one was Hispanic (Herrera), and one was African American, (Kolditz). All spoke on the dangers of government encroaching on the rights of citizens, a message that was enthusiastically received by the crowd.
The Columbian says “We go to meetings so you don’t have to.” Are they trying to encourage citizen apathy? If citizens don’t organize, if they don’t volunteer in their local party and their government, but just stay home and read Erin Middlewood’s grotesque perspective on meetings, would they gain the same knowledge and insight? A friend’s reaction:
In a most incredible moment of subconscious self-disclosure and candor, the Columbian published, in black and white, their belief that they should be the filter and portrayer of all things which should otherwise concern the citizenry. In this one simple remark they have unwittingly admitted what their dwindling readership and expanding ex-readership already knows: That the Columbian longs to be the arbiter of what you see and hear, and if their readers know the truth for themselves, then the Columbian’s disregard of it becomes blatant. So people, do the Columbian a favor and be ignorant.
This arrogance is only exceeded by the added insult of abrogation of their responsibility to the community they are supposed to serve. How? By openly advocating greater apathy among its citizens – and doing so in the very banner of their political content!
So stay home. Disengage. Let them go to the meetings for you. They’ll tell you what happened.
Another friend had this to say:
Trying to link the new leadership of the CCRP, the Tea Party, and conservatives in general to “white supremacist and anti-Semitic views” is obscene. I am a Jew firmly planted in the midst of genuine Christian, conservative, patriotic citizens and have never felt a glimmer of racial bias or anti-Semitism. I’m more secure at a CCRP board meeting or a Tea Party rally than I would be at an editorial board meeting of the Columbian ad shopper or a gaggle of their left wing reporters.
That tired old racist crap is working just about as good as the sales department at the “Fish Wrap.”
See you at the next meeting.