Carolyn is talking.

Sometimes, one wonders if it’s worth the trouble.

It appears that while you are all engaged in gathering volunteers, soliciting donors, and other activity associated with putting on another (hopefully) successful Lincoln Day Dinner, Carolyn Crain, the twice-failed LD 49 State Rep candidate is sending out mass emails asking that PCOs boycott the major fundraiser of the year. In an email sent out to 50 PCOs and members of the party, Carolyn details how her parliamentary delay tactics that had us all waiting an extra two hours to vote at the last meeting were the result of pre-meeting training in Robert’s Rules by the former CCRP parliamentarian. She also describes her efforts to find out information about each PCO in Clark County and put together lists of either ‘Liberty-aligned’ or “Loyal Supporters” in anticipation of next year’s PCO elections. The recipients of these emails, labeled ‘Loyal Supporters’, include several former party officials, some former candidates like Marc Boldt, Bill Cismar, and Julie Olson, and even the sitting tax assessor, Peter Van Nortwick, to whom the CCRP donated $1000 only last year – his first donation from the party ever, proceeds from last year’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Crain writes, “Most of us are boycotting the Lincoln Day Dinner realizing we will only be supporting those wCrainCampaignho wish to do our party in. No bad feelings should you chose to attend however please do not expect me to join you.”

While Van Nortwick has not responded to attempts to contact him regarding his level of involvement with Crain’s efforts, I did hear back from Julie Olson, who assured me that she is in no way involved with Crain or her plans to unseat leaders or boycott events, which she finds ‘counter-productive’. She told me that she is planning on attending the Lincoln Day Dinner.

So just who are Crain and her friends punishing? The CCRP donated a total of $36,420 directly to campaigns last year, about 2.5 times the $14,850 donated in 2012 under the old regime. None of the recipients of those dollars could even be remotely categorized as ‘Libertarian’. The party also spent far more on infrastructure and technology in an effort to reach more voters. None of the money that is raised at these events goes to leadership – on the contrary, most of them spend their own time and money putting on these events. By a strange coincidence, last year was one of the best years in recent memory for Republican elections, with seats gained both in the state legislature and on the county council, and five-percent gains in the LD 49 races. So who exactly is ‘doing the party in’? Where is the evidence of this terrible Libertarian conspiracy that Crain and her cohorts keep referring to? The rhetoric really is tiring, especially when we have to sit through two hours of it while Crain and her friends practice their newly-learned filibustering techniques.

In addition to perfecting her delay tactics with more Robert’s Rules training, Crain is also reportedly trying to raise the quorum for meetings from 25% to 40%, which would effectively prevent most quarterly meetings from getting any business done. Noticing a trend yet? When someone is so deeply committed to immobilizing an organization, is it possible that she is actually the one whose ‘loyal support’ might reasonably be questioned? While most conservatives are beginning to wonder if it really matters whether Republicans take Democrat seats, since many of them have no issue joining with Democrats to raise taxes anyway (I’m looking at you, Senator Rivers), it really is ridiculous to also have to deal with a few loud-mouthed folks accusing leadership of some grand Libertarian conspiracy. If they are not careful, they may get their ineffective yacht club back and we can all sit back and watch them drive it back into the ravine where we found it.

It appears that Clark County PCOs are not the only ones who don’t meet with Susan Hutchison’s approval. In Cowlitz County, where newly-elected chairman Arne Mortensen is trying to upgrade a local Republican party that couldn’t even produce a state representative candidate to challenge the Democrat incumbent in LD 19 last year, efforts to raise funds for the year’s operations are being opposed by the WSRP. It seems that the volunteers in Cowlitz have chosen speakers for their Lincoln Day Dinner that do not meet Hutchison’s requirements for party loyalty. Alan Keyes, the former Republican Presidential candidate and Ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council under President Reagan, and KrisAnne Hall, traveling Constitution teacher and a national Tea Party favorite, are apparently not on Hutchison’s list of acceptable speakers, and she has therefore decided to take the Cowlitz event off of the state party website’s event page. Steve Beren, Hutchison’s Media and Technology Director responded to requests to post the event with the following:

Steve Beren, WSRP Control Freak

The primary mission of the WSRP is to elect Republicans. The April 11 event features Alan Keyes and KrisAnne Hall, both of whom make clear their open opposition to the Republican Party. Therefore, it is not in the interest of the WSRP to provide information on its website which supports the speakers at the April 11 event.

Beren’s quote does make me wonder: If Keyes and Hall are so clearly in opposition to Republicans, why are they constantly working with them, and why on earth would they agree to speak at a Republican fundraiser? You know…where money is being raised to help Republicans who are running for office? Wouldn’t “open opposition to the Republican Party” preclude such activities? Also, if the Cowlitz party believes them to be acceptable speakers, where do Beren and Hutchison get off disagreeing with that assessment? Aren’t these the same people who only recently lectured the Clark County PCOs on purity tests in a press release? A quote from Hutchison’s public attack last month:

The Washington State Republican Party welcomes people of varied views and we proudly stand with the decision of voters when they elect our candidates.  Sometimes our elected officials also take votes that some disagree with.  This does not constitute a reason for censure.”

So ‘varied views’ are welcomed by the WSRP, unless they happen to be Tea Party/Liberty views, then…not so much. It kinda seems like the WSRP is being run by a bunch of conservative-hating Establishment hacks, doesn’t it?

I have not heard who the Clark County Lincoln Day Dinner speakers will be, but hopefully the choices are on the ‘acceptable’ list, or we might face similar state party sanctions.

Meanwhile, if you are free on April 11th, please consider checking out the Cowlitz Lincoln Day Dinner. In addition to the two blackballed speakers already mentioned, Spokane State Rep. Matt Shea will also be speaking. It is always a treat to hear from Rep. Shea, and Cowlitz was fortunate to catch him in between Republican Establishment bi-yearly attempts to primary him out of office.

Who knew that creating a couple of new committees to educate PCOs could cause all of this fuss?

It was the subject of no less than four articles in the Columbian as well as numerous pre-meeting meetings, mass email blasts, and even a couple of press releases from a congresswoman and a state party chairwoman, and last Saturday’s first quarterly meeting in 2015 of the Clark County Republican PCOs did not disappoint. 128 PCOs and a number of guests turned out to watch parliamentary delay tactics, multiple one-vote margins, amendments to amendments, and even petitions to get rid of popular leaders who were elected without opposition less than two months ago. For fans of spirited political functions (or dysfunctions) this meeting had something for everyone.

From the outset of the meeting, it was clear that twice-failed LD 49 State Rep candidate Carolyn Crain was out for blood. In the days leading up to the meeting, she and a friend had authored resolutions calling for the ouster of newly re-elected CCRP chairman Kenny Smith and State Committeeman Christian Berrigan. Upon finding out that such actions could not be raised via resolution, she then authored a petition which requires the signature of 94 PCOs in order to call a special meeting to elect new officers. She and a few friends were circulating this petition at the meeting, but other than a few of the disgruntled old guard, she was mostly being rebuffed as she approached people about it.

Of course, never one to internalize rejection, Crain plowed ahead, starting the meeting off with obviously  pre-planned delay tactics. Before the meeting had begun and the roll was still being called, she flew into a rage over a name that had been included in the roll even though the gentleman was no longer a PCO. She launched into a tirade, challenging everything from the PCO list on the website (which apparently is not yet up to date), to the roll at the previous Organization meeting. From the back of the room, former 18th LD Chairwoman Mary Graham joined in, accusing leadership of including up to 30 PCOs who were not elected, although she was unable to name any specifically who had illegally voted for the unopposed slate of candidates at the previous meeting. This was, of course, particularly ironic, since Mrs. Graham had only recently been involved in signing up unwilling PCOs with the help of a King County lawyer and ex-King County GOP employee named Apollo Fuhriman. The objections from Crain and Graham were eventually dismissed for lack of anything remotely resembling evidence. The man who had been called in the roll was actually sitting in the back of the room with a guest badge and had not been seated with the PCOs. The previous Organization meeting had also followed the list from the County website, certified by County Auditor Greg Kimsey himself.

In addition to challenging the roll call, Crain and Co. also put in a motion forcing a vote on whether the motion from the last meeting would even be heard (which lost 58-67), and later, they also forced a vote on postponing the motion indefinitely (which lost 50-66). While none of these motions were successful, the delay did cause the meeting to go well over the scheduled time, such that nine PCOs in the roll had to leave before the voting on the main issue of the day took place. I was seated next to a PCO who had to leave to go to work and was very disappointed that he didn’t get to vote on the main issue of the morning, the censure/amendment.

Eventually, after every attempt to delay was exhausted, the voting commenced. As has been reported elsewhere, the censure motion was bypassed in favor of a motion to set up two committees to watch and report on legislative voting records of local elected officials. Of note was the fact that despite the sincere efforts of the authors of the original motion to avoid more party dysfunction through the censuring of a sitting Congresswoman, the formation of the committees was vehemently opposed by most of the old guard as well as every elected official that I could see. Apparently, the politicians were not in favor of committees following their votes and making other PCOs aware of them. One such official, Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, even suggested that those who didn’t like particular votes were probably in the wrong party.

The discussion surrounding the votes on establishing these committees including some interesting arguments from some of the older crowd. One gentleman scolded the PCOs for abandoning their proper abode, which was, in his mind, limited solely to helping Republican candidates get elected. Another suggested that the only proper time to bring up bad votes by Republicans was during a primary election. In general, I got the impression that the lessons from the past three years of empowering PCOs to lead the Republican party were completely lost on some of the older crowd, and that we will probably never see eye-to-eye with the folks who believe that PCOs should be seen during campaigns and not heard the rest of the time. It is small wonder that these folks only met once a year before 2013, and that most of them only show up now when an election is happening (or an establishment Republican might get censured).

One of the main moments of clarity in the meeting was provided by State Committeeman Christian Berrigan who gave a rousing speech about his experiences at the state Organization meeting in which he and others had attempted to change the state party bylaws to reflect a more grass-roots-centered approach. The speech had been preceded by one in which our state committeewoman had recounted instances in which Berrigan had been told by State Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison to ‘sit down and shut-up’ during the interim between meetings, as well as Hutchison’s instructions to the county chairmen prior to Jaime Herrera’s speech demanding that all in attendance clap for Herrera, or risk being thrown out of the event. Of course, these tyrannical acts are pretty consistent with the press release she sent out regarding her opinions of the Clark County PCOs. More on Ms. Hutchison’s leadership in an upcoming post.

Berrigan also warned that organizations of liberal Republicans such as the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State have the CCRP in their crosshairs. Much like John McCain who raised $300,000 to replace party leadership in Arizona after they voted to censure him, Berrigan expects that money will soon be spent in Clark County PCO races in an attempt to reclaim the local party for the Chamber of Commerce progressives. Dissenting voices must not be allowed. While former party chairman and current Jaime Herrera employee Ryan Hart spent over $5000 in CCRP funds in 2008 to create the party in his own image, and he, Graham and Fuhriman did their best in 2014 to stack empty precincts with candidates (some willing and some not), introducing state organization money into local PCO races would set a new standard for Establishment stifling of the grass roots.

Meanwhile, we are here for at least two more years, with apologies to Crain’s petition efforts, and we will continue to work to make the voices of common, ordinary conservative Republicans heard. As we watch Republican leadership sell out their base again and again, the only road to reform is to stay involved and continue to apply pressure to local elected officials to keep their campaign promises. Last Saturday’s meeting was a step in that direction, and this writer looks forward to seeing what these new committees can accomplish in terms of informing and educating the larger body of PCOs.

WSRP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison

Having been re-elected as Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman in neighboring Skamania County only last weekend, Susan Hutchison broke in her new administration by immediately sending out a press release blasting the PCOs from Clark County and the 3rd Congressional District for daring to discuss the voting record of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. Following is the full text of the press release (hat tip to Lauren Dake of the Columbian).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, January 20, 2015
CONTACT: Steve Beren – steveberen@wsrp.org(425) 460-0570

BELLEVUE, WA, January 20 – The Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, Susan Hutchison, has released this statement:


“I am deeply dismayed that a small number of discontents in Clark County have issued plans to censure a sitting Republican Congresswoman, misrepresenting themselves as speaking for the Republican Party.  


“Jaime Herrera Beutler is a highly respected 3-term congresswoman from the 3rd district, winning re-election in November 2014 with a decisive 61.5% of the vote.  She was the first Hispanic American elected to represent Washington in the U.S. House; a solid conservative who serves her constituents well on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; and a  member of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, where she is the Co-Chair of the Women and the Economy/Business Task Force.

“In addition, she is deeply admired for being the devoted mother of a special needs child, Abigail, born without kidneys in 2013.  The family’s courageous journey has been an inspiration to me and millions of others who have followed their story.  Abigail is thriving despite the dire medical prognosis.

“The action of those who threaten censure is in violation of the Washington State Republican Party Policy Statements which support our incumbent elected officials.  This vocal and unrepresentative group from the 3rd Congressional District does not speak for the majority of voters, supporters or donors of the party, but in fact represents those who supported Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s 2014 Primary challenger.

“The Washington State Republican Party welcomes people of varied views and we proudly stand with the decision of voters when they elect our candidates.  Sometimes our elected officials also take votes that some disagree with.  This does not constitute a reason for censure.  Furthermore, many of the reasons for censure stated in documents provided to the press are false or misleading.  For example, because Congresswoman Herrera Beutler voted for a Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running does not mean she supports Obamacare.

“The Washington State Republican Party is proud to support Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler and we condemn the actions of a few that claim to speak for Republicans in Clark County.“

My reaction:

First of all, this will not be news to most readers, but there has been no vote to censure, a fact which is still apparently lost on our state party chairwoman. She violently responds in public to a mere suggestion that we discuss a motion brought up by one PCO at our next meeting. She launches into an hysterical outburst without even talking to the Clark County Republican chairman first to get an explanation of the details, which she mangles beyond recognition. Being an outsider in terms of state party politics, it would seem reasonable to me that she contact county leadership first, but when I asked Chairman Kenny Smith, he told me that she only contacted him AFTER the press release was sent. Amazing leadership skills!

I do not believe this particular censure motion will ever pass. For one thing, it lists the wrong objections. While it calls attention to some questionable votes, many of which were waved away by the condescending letter Herrera sent to PCOs last week, most people who follow national politics give Congress a 75% disapproval rating because of the out-of-control spending that Jaime and her cohorts in Congress have been engaged in, topped off by her recent vote on the Cromnibus bill, which funded every pork-seeking crony capitalist under the sun and received widespread criticism by Democrats and Republicans throughout the country. To tell us that she is and has always been a ‘conservative’ is to attempt to redefine the word to mean something other than the accepted definition. ‘Conservative’ means one who is loathe to make massive expenditures. Jaime’s voting record indicates the opposite; the woman never met a debt-ceiling increase she didn’t like.

While Hutchison and Team Herrera have done their level best to marginalize and cast aspersions on the majority of PCOs in Clark County (joining Jim Moeller and the Columbian), a common refrain has been that one ought not to question a Congresswoman who just won with 62% of the vote. While the argument on its face reeks of Establishment hackery of the first degree, it isn’t even based on sound numbers. First of all, the vote tally in Clark County in November’s election had Jaime with 72,877, or 59.26% of those who bothered to vote. With no one but a weak socialist running against her, most Republicans didn’t have a choice, except, perhaps, not to vote at all, which they did in large numbers. Of the nearly 250,000 registered voters in the county, Jaime’s total only reflects 29.2%. Or, to put it another way, 70.8% of voters in Clark County did NOT vote for Jaime Herrera, even though they were sent a ballot and given the easy opportunity to do so. Not exactly results to trumpet from the rooftops. It is interesting to note that many of the same folks who are publicly lambasting the conservative PCOs for not supporting the ‘overwhelmingly popular’ Herrera also tell us again and again about the serious undervote in David Madore’s election in 2012. His vote total was 84,370.

84,370 > 72,877

I wonder how we might incorporate that difference into Greg Jayne’s tennis anology? If the PCOs are foolish for calling Herrera’s votes into question because of her amazing election total, how does that principle apply to the Columbian’s daily attacks on Councilor Madore?

The most interesting criticism of all from Hutchison, however, is the idea she puts forth that the PCOs in Clark County are “misrepresenting themselves as speaking for the Republican Party” and “do not speak for the majority of voters, supporters or donors of the party.” So the county party and the elected representatives of each precinct don’t represent Republicans in Clark County and the 3rd Congressional District, but some failed King County Executive candidate who only recently admitted to being a Republican in public does? How many people in our county, if you stopped them on the street, would know who on earth Susan Hutchison is? I’ll take the under on that bet.

If there is anything certain in all of this, it is that Susan Hutchison and Jaime Herrera are awful representatives of the people that voted for them. Rather than the mature and leaderly approach, which might have involved sitting down and discussing differences like adults in anticipation of the upcoming vote, these two fine examples of Establishment Republicanism have chosen the Mitt Romney “crush the opposition via character assassination” approach. We were looking for better.

CCRP Organization Meeting Recap

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

On Thursday evening, the new body of PCOs convened to elect executive board members. Recalling the meeting in 2012, the lead-up to this year’s elections had far less tension. While Team Herrera and the old guard were present, efforts by Herrera’s office to recruit candidates to run against the more reform-minded existing board had come up empty. Given the results of the recent election, and the countless hours that chairman Kenny Smith and his team had put into helping Jeanne Stewart and Lynda Wilson gain seats from the Democrats, it seems that few were interested in interrupting the tremendous progress being made by the newer volunteers.

The one exception was in the case of the 17th Legislative District chair, formerly occupied by bylaws author and technology guru Eric Heredia, who was vacating the seat due to the impending arrival of a future lover of liberty, a higher calling that had also caused the former committeeman and committee woman, James Randall and Laney Maxwell, to give up their posts this time around. While former CCRP Secretary Vicki Kraft had made known her intentions to run for LD 17 Chair weeks ago, a last-minute nomination came in for Port Commissioner and newly-minted PCO Jerry Oliver. In fact, the nomination had evidently come post-last-minute by former CCRP chairman Stephanie McClintock and former CCRP Treasurer Dan Barnes. The tardiness in sending in their nominations despite multiple communications from the chairman regarding the deadline resulted in Oliver having to request that the body of PCOs suspend the meeting rules in order to be allowed on the ballot. The PCOs were torn between wanting to be supportive of a new PCO and not wanting to set a terrible precedent in allowing last-minute surprise nominations to occur, and by a close vote, they decided to uphold the rules of the meeting, rules which, ironically, had been put forward by McClintock and Barnes at the Organization meeting in 2012. Oliver ran as a write-in candidate, and eventually Vicki prevailed by a convincing vote of 37-6.

The rest of the board positions were unopposed, and the new board was quickly elected as follows:

Chairman – Kenny Smith

Vice-Chairman – Lisa Ross

State Committee Man: Christian Berrigan

State Committee Woman: Katja Delavar

Secretary: Mary Sue Davis

Treasurer: Alan Svehaug

LD 17 Chair: Vicki Kraft

LD 18 Chair: John Anderson

LD 49 Chair: Jim Johnson

LD 20 Chair: Ron Fitch

LD 14 Chair: Piper McEwen

This impressive group of volunteers will lead the party into the new presidential cycle, as well as numerous elections for County and City councilors and then Senate and Representative seats for both state and federal office in 2016.

Herrera Staff Member Shows Contempt for PCOs

Of course, even with a unified slate, it would not be a CCRP Org meeting without some element of controversy, and this one closed with a PCO introducing a motion on whether to consider a censure of Jaime Herrera at the next meeting, to be held sometime in March. The author of the motion produced a good sized laundry list of bad votes from the congresswoman (see link below).

Resolution on Jaime Herrera Beutler_CUL

While very few of the audience had actually read the motion, there were some strong opinions about it expressed during the meeting, particularly from those in Herrera’s camp. As many may know, several of Herrera’s office staffers are now PCOs. One of them, Jonathan Egan, got up to argue against the motion and took the opportunity to introduce himself to the body by way of a lambasting of the entire CCRP, saying, among other things, that they were considered a laughingstock in Southwest Washington. I was curious why a congressional staffer who considered a body of Republicans a ‘laughingstock’ would want to join their number. One might think he had better things to do. At any rate, it was quite an introduction by a first-time PCO to a group of folks that were nearly all his senior in age and experience. My attempt to contact him for clarification about his comments has thus far gone without response.

The motion to consider the resolution at the next meeting passed 59-49. There is little doubt that being called a laughingstock by a member of Herrera’s office had something to do with the result. The next meeting will likely be well attended and a lot of fireworks can be expected. In the meantime, I encourage you, dear reader, to check out the text of the resolution above and see whether or not you agree with the author’s conclusions. My own vote will likely depend on the response from Herrera’s office in the next few months. If they are done laughing at the volunteers, that is.

All in all, it was a good meeting. A great board was retained, and despite the opinions from Team Herrera, the party and its efforts grow stronger with each passing month, as the elections in November indicated. The next stop is the first meeting of the Washington Republican state committee next week, and the election of a new WSRP chairman. Every two years, we get to gauge whether or not the Liberty movement in Washington is a cute side show, or a genuine shift in the direction of the Republican party. Stay tuned.

Last Saturday, the Cowlitz County Republican Party held their biennial organization meeting to elect officers for the executive board. As I reported in August, despite the headlines in the local paper loudly proclaiming a heavy Establishment victory, the elections for Precinct Committee Officers actually yielded a slight edge for the Cowlitz chapter of the PCO Liberty Alliance. The results set up an extremely tight race for leadership seats that had previously belonged by default to a few perpetual party leaders. Predictably, these leaders of the Cowlitz county party appealed to PCOs for votes based on their years of experience and expertise in the ways of politics, as well as their knowledge of all the important political players in the county. The PCO Liberty Alliance candidates, in turn, spoke about a return to the grass roots of the party, to listening and reaching out to the community, and to making leadership accountable again to the common voters.

As mentioned in the August post, among the signs that a change in leadership was needed was the case of one David Steenson, a Republican who, having made the decision to run against Democrat incumbent Dean Takko for LD 19 State Representative, had approached the Cowlitz party leaders for help. Apparently, the conservative Steenson found the reception by the moderate leadership somewhat less than welcoming, despite there being no other Republican in the race, and he ended up running as a Libertarian. As a third-party candidate, he lost to Takko by a wide margin.

The previous leadership had also made it a practice to pick favorites in contested races many months before the primary elections, rather than wait to see which candidates had the most support from the electorate. With these kinds of repeated attempts by the few to make decisions on behalf of the many, it seems small wonder that LD 19, which is about half in Cowlitz and the other half spread over four other counties, is currently entirely represented in the state legislature by Democrats.

In addition to instituting grass roots leadership, the Cowlitz PCOLA had also resolved to reform the party bylaws. As in Clark County two years ago, the changes include a requirement by all prospective voting members of the executive board to first face a vote of the PCOs. This change prevents the party chairman from appointing board members at will who could vote in favor of his or her agenda. The PCOs are also given the power to remove board members.

The PCOLA bylaws draft was circulated and meetings with PCOs, party leaders, and interested Republicans from all sides were called to go over them. As in Clark in 2012, the Cowlitz leaders were quick to respond and let everyone know that these meetings were not ‘official party business’. Unlike in Clark however, the existing leadership decided to mount their own ‘counter-reformation’ of the bylaws, and so last Saturday’s election included a choice between two new sets of party bylaws, both  differing significantly from those that had governed the party previously.

In the end, the PCOLA bylaws were adopted with a few slight alterations, and the PCOLA slate of leaders won control of the executive board after a painfully long and drawn-out meeting which lasted from 10 a.m. to after 5 p.m. Among the newly-elected officers is Chairman Arne Mortensen, who prevailed by a vote of 25 to 23. State Committeeman Rustin Jones, State Committeewoman Valerie Tinney, and Treasurer Michelle Jones prevailed by similarly close margins. Two holdovers from the old board that appeared on both slates and were elected unanimously were Vice-Chairman Bonnie Decius and Secretary Carol Bales. According to Scott Whittington, a leader in the PCOLA organization, “The Liberty Alliance reached out to the old board and asked the Vice Chair and Secretary if we could list them on our slate.  We think they do good work and we are willing to work with them.

The Directors for LDs 19 and 20 are yet to be voted on, but the plan to do so is in the works. Because of the complications arising from LDs 19 and 20 being in multiple counties, previous boards had not held elections for legislative district directors, so the plan to hold elections is also a reform of sorts.

I had a chance to chat with Chairman Mortensen for quite awhile this week, and came away from the conversation impressed both with his vast life experience, and his goals for the party. A retired software engineer, he now lives in Kelso. His early years were in Venezuela, followed by four years in the United States, two in Spain, and all but one year in California until his move to Kelso nine years ago. Spanish, his first language, is not forgotten, but has given way to English, his language of choice as an adult.   He believes that, “The Republican Party is the only hope we have to re-establish the principles of individual liberty. The central planning and top down mandates are killing our country. I do not want to be another Europe. The world needs America.” His goals include encouraging PCOs to take the initiative in the party beyond campaign functions, to give guidance to elected officials and monitor their votes, to increase the number of Republican candidates, and to replace Dean Takko and his LD 19 seatmate, Democrat Brian Blake. He is also interested in increasing the variety of fundraising and community outreach events.

Liberty-loving folks in Clark County can examine that agenda and see if there is anything they can affirm in it. As for this writer, I am excited to see what changes Mortensen and the new leadership in Cowlitz County enact in the next two years. Godspeed!

With the off-year elections completed and the calendar nearly turning to 2015, the jockeying among possible presidential hopefuls is beginning in earnest. Like clockwork, the candidates begin to come out from wherever they have been hiding for three years, trying to position themselves as a frontrunner in the minds of the media and voters. With every cycle, the field of candidates seem less and less compelling to conservatives and lovers of liberty – one of the major reasons so many went bananas for Ron Paul. Regrettably, Dr. Paul will not be serving as the lone bright spot in a field of big-government-loving neoconservatives. That field, however, is already beginning to take shape with some very familiar faces.

In 2011 the media had already anointed Mitt Romney as the Republican frontrunner, so that one was either for him or against him. While the majority of Republicans were against him, the liberal Establishment wing of the party needed only to achieve a split among various groups of conservatives in order to sail their guy through to a plurality. The way the delegate system was set up, a plurality in many states meant that Romney won all of the delegates.

In order for this strategy to work, it was necessary to have a candidate who could successfully split the vote among the conservative majority, but who was then willing to quit and back the Establishment guy by the time the convention rolled around. Rick Santorum played this role perfectly. A moderate neo-conservative himself, Santorum styled himself as the social conservatives’ champion, trumpeting his opposition to abortion and other Christian hot-button issues, and engaging in a non-stop attack of the only electable conservative in the race, Ron Paul. Many ‘values voters’ did not know about Santorum’s past as a ‘pro-choice lawmaker‘ and his work with the K Street project and other efforts that put him at the center of the lobbying world. While his associate Jack Abramoff had gone to prison for fraud, Santorum had avoided legal difficulties and he was able to preempt media scrutiny by coming out swinging against Romney, at one point even going so far as to call the former Governor of Massachusetts “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama” in March of 2012. Of course, this rhetoric was not to last, and six weeks later he endorsed Romney and by July, he was hosting campaign events on Romney’s behalf. Having done a great job of splitting the vote in the primary, he readily assumed his role in support of the Establishment’s choice, and was rewarded by the Romney campaign, who agreed to help him pay his campaign debt and gave him a prime speaking slot at the national convention.

The whole thing worked so well, it appears that Santorum is ready for another round in 2016, having all but announced his candidacy in a recent interview. This time, he swears it will be different:

“America loves an underdog. We’re definitely the underdog in this race,” he said in an interview Tuesday. Santorum added that being underestimated — again — “has given me a lot of latitude.”

His iconic sweater vests will likely make a return appearance. But Santorum 2.0 will be a very different presidential campaign than the one that came from almost nowhere to win the Iowa caucuses in an overtime decision, he vows.

“I get the game,” Santorum said.

It seems clear that Rick Santorum ‘gets the game’, the question is, did conservatives catch on, or will they fall for it again? As people close to Romney begin to hint that he is considering running again, are we seeing the same scenario being constructed once more? Is it possible that the Republican Establishment believes that conservatives are stupid enough to fall for it again?