Archive for May, 2012

Credentials Results

Posted: May 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

We are getting word that the 30 elected delegates in the 18th LD will be seated, but that the 17 of the 17th probably won’t. If we are being honest with ourselves, this is the expected result, if not the just one. The lesson, once again, is that the establishment can delay things long enough to shut people out of delegate spots. This issue needs to be revisited; it is a travesty that they were allowed to produce this result and then walk away as though it were totally normal not to fill out delegations. These people MUST GO.

Choosing a New Party Chair

Posted: May 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Now that Brandon Vick is running for State Representative in the 18th LD, it seems likely that he will soon be stepping down as CCRP Chairman. So how will the new chairman be selected? This is one of the processes that many wish would be more open and public. The bet here is that the PCO’s won’t even be consulted; that a few party bosses will simply choose a new interim chair and then the board will rubber-stamp the choice…Voila! The people have spoken!

Enjoy it while it lasts. That swarm in the distance is getting closer…

I mentioned in a previous post that the mysterious inability to seat alternates led to most of the convention day being wasted away. The first ballot was not completed until between 5 and 6 p.m. To date, there has been no official explanation for this outrageous delay, other than that the people running the convention were overwhelmed by the number of elected delegates who actually decided to show up.  So, even though a set number of delegates is allotted to each precinct and cannot be exceeded, and therefore the total number of potential convention participants is predefined, the party always plans for far less to attend the convention, even in hotly contested presidential races.  Apparently, the record turnout at the caucuses nearly a month earlier did not provide a sufficient clue either.

In the 17th Legislative District, the alternate-seating problem was compounded by the leader of the Gingrich delegation insisting that the 17th District chair, was unfit to lead the meeting, given her status as newly-appointed head of the Santorum campaign. Ironically, if he had only stepped into the next room, he would have seen the head of the Romney campaign in Clark County leading the meeting in the 49th District. The delay caused by this challenge to the 17th chair’s authority, coupled with the alternate problem, led to the 17th LD only getting through two rounds of ballots, and only 15 of the 32 allotted delegate slots were filled. Both the Gingrich leader and the Santorum leader were elected as state delegates on the first ballot.

An attempt had been made at a third round of voting, with leaders frantically passing out ballots after reading off the names of those who were no longer eligible, but it was obvious that only the Paul/Santorum contingent was interested in voting, the Romney delegates screaming for the vote to end in an effort to limit the damage.  At just after 8 p.m., after one extension to the 6 p.m. deadline had already been passed, the vote in the 17th was ended officially by Brent Boger, the head of the rules committee.  A motion was made from the floor to extend the meeting once more, but Mr. Boger insisted that it could not be done because there was no way to reconvene as a countywide body to extend again as other districts had already gone home (this turned out to be false, the other two districts were still voting). Another motion was made to seat the last 17 delegates based on the same plurality that would have carried the day on the fourth ballot. Boger declined to hear this motion as well. The room was soon emptied. After 12 hours of waiting, the sudden end to the convention left many people in a daze and wondering when or if the delegation could be filled.

The Columbian  report the next day included this summary:

Delegates elected at party caucuses in March were unable to finish the assigned task of electing 94 delegates and 94 alternates to the state convention in Tacoma.

Instead, even after the convention was extended by two hours, they ended up with 75 delegates and no alternates.

The blame was placed on Ron Paul supporters.

No Paul supporters were involved in leadership positions at the convention. Almost to a man, the folks running the proceedings were strong Romney enthusiasts. Participants reading the article the next day flooded comments sections all over the internet objecting to the ridiculous charge. Later, a retraction to this accusation was printed by CCRP Chairman Brandon Vick on the G.O.P. website. But what about the 17 missing delegates in the 17th? Several emails to Vick regarding this issue went unanswered.  Finally, a Santorum delegate, Christian Berrigan, who had championed the Open Convention Slate during the convention, decided to file a challenge to the State asking that the 17 highest vote getters be seated as delegates. This solution was then referred to the CCRP Executive Board and endorsed by the 18th highest vote getter, State Senator Don Benton, a strong advocate of the Unity Slate.  It should be noted that Benton supported this solution despite the fact that every one of the 17 ahead of him were from the Open Convention Slate. Benton’s desire that his district not go underrepresented at the state convention is to his credit, and his argument seemed to sway the Board, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion, over the objections of Chairman Vick and County Auditor Greg Kimsey, both Romney supporters.

There are still hurdles for these 17 to be seated, and the final decision will likely not be made until just before the convention starts. There is also a challenge to the entire delegation from the 18th LD that will be heard before the convention as well. If these delegates are successfully unseated, it will create a template for future establishment leaders to follow. If they find themselves losing in the delegation vote, there appears to be no rule stopping them from either miscounting in the credentials report or delaying the voting process long enough that the convention ends with nobody being elected, and the factions who would have won will apparently have no recourse. This is a travesty, and a very dangerous precedent. The moral hazard ingrained in the system must be addressed for future conventions, and the leaders who caused these delays should be replaced.

In case you missed it, there is something of a war being waged in Clark County for seats on the Republican Party Central Committee. Each precinct elects a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) who is supposed to represent his or her precinct at the quarterly meetings of the central committee (this is all theoretical, since the leadership only calls about one meeting per year). Once every two years, the PCOs vote on the Executive Board members, who then oversee areas such as candidate development, allocation of funds, caucus/convention/event planning, rules and credentials, etc.

I have interviewed several current Clark County PCOs, and the drift I get is that they really have very little involvement in the party beyond the bi-yearly voting in the board reorganization meeting. They may help their favorite candidates canvass their precinct, and they also lead the caucus meeting for their precinct every two years. Most have little or no training in the rules of the caucus vote, which was painfully evident this year for most who attended on March 3rd. The PCOs have no discernible role at the county convention, save as an automatic delegate from their precinct. To be sure, there are a few very active PCOs who help at each level and are very involved in the party, but most had less to do with running the convention than I myself did as a volunteer off the street.

Given the debacle that was the 2012 Clark County Republican Convention, the total lack of organization, the ridiculously long and inefficient lines that everyone was forced to wait in, and the mystifying alternate seating process that wasn’t completed until around 5 p.m. (some six hours after the time we broke off into our legislative districts to vote), it seems natural to wonder if the PCOs might be utilized more in the future. It also seems natural to wonder if the current leadership will survive the next reorganization meeting. The high percentage of septuagenarians among those running the convention suggests that perhaps there hasn’t been an influx of new ideas in awhile.

It’s as if the party is crying out for a group of younger, highly energetic, highly organized folks to take charge of these processes and bring them into the 21st century. If only such a group existed in the Republican Party! Oh, how we would embrace their coming like a returning faith; like a Northwest July after a nine-month rainy season!

It just so happens, there is such a group, and even more exciting, they have agreed to become more active in the party. No doubt the establishment will roll out the red carpet for them, making haste to open up board positions and welcome them in with open arms…right?

By now, most folks who are active in Clark County politics know what happened at the convention with the ‘Unity Slate’, a moniker that might have been produced by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, or by an Obama administration press secretary for all the forthrightness it conveyed. This post is for the people left back in the precincts who did not participate in the county convention.

The main object of the slate was to help the Romney campaign shut out a very strong Ron Paul contingent by recruiting Santorum and Gingrich delegates to help Romney delegates get elected. It involved getting together beforehand and deciding on the candidates for state delegate that everyone would vote for so that the vote would be concentrated on a few instead of dispersed over many names. If there were people that Santorum and Gingrich could also support, the total votes on the slate would increase, and Romney, having the most candidates on the slate, would cruise to victory at the next level. It was a good strategy, no doubt thought up by some very shrewd Romney campaign staffers in King County (the strategy had been used in other counties before it got to Clark). The execution was tragically flawed, however. Instead of just explaining the strategy and trying to get people on board by open and honest means, it was sold by a series of emails from the head of the local Santorum campaign that demonized Ron Paul and his supporters as deceptive, untrustworthy, always trying to game the system, employing questionable tactics involving motions and delaying so that everyone else would go home, etc. Joining this effort was 17th LD State Senator Don Benton, who used a couple of carefully edited quotes from Paul himself to convey that he was far too friendly to gay marriage to be an acceptable candidate (Romney’s own history on the issue notwithstanding). Benton himself was one of the names on the Unity slate and urged Santorum delegates via email to vote for it and shut out Paul delegates completely.

The several-day effort culminated in a Wednesday Unity Slate meeting, a great summary of which can be found here . The meeting was organized by Ryan Hart, former CCRP chairman and head of the Romney campaign in Clark County, and Senator Benton and others did their best to turn the crowd into rabid Paul-haters. With elected officials and party heads all joining forces in such a concerted effort, it is a wonder that the Paul camp was able to mount any kind of response at all.

But respond they did. With only 48 hours to get all of those same Santorum and Gingrich people into another meeting, they also managed to contact the Santorum national campaign and convince them to join forces. Given Romney’s front-runner status, the strategy to shut Romney delegates out made a lot more sense for the other campaigns, and eventually, late into the night before the convention, they came to an agreement on a proportional slate.  There was still a lot of doubt among individual Santorum supporters that Paul people would follow through and not act as deceptively as the Romney people promised they would, but these doubts were soon allayed as the first ballots elected nearly the entire Santorum contingent, with very few Paul delegates being elected. This show of faithfulness to the agreement, along with the absence of all the ‘questionable tactics’ that the Romney camp had promised,  convinced the Santorum delegates that they had been lied to regarding Paul supporters and their character. Not only did they continue to vote for the ‘Open Convention’ slate and elect many of the remaining Paul delegates, but they also began to realize that this coalition could be carried on well past the presidential election. In fact, many began to wonder why there hadn’t been a joining of these two forces before, given the similarities in conservative stances on so many issues. The two factions that had come together in the early days of the Tea Party had reunited and found that their combined forces were very strong. The final delegate tallies had Paul and Santorum as the winners by a very wide margin over Romney. The margin would have been even wider, had the 17th LD been allowed to finish voting (More on this in another post). The leaders of both groups began meeting regularly and continuing in building the goodwill that was created at the convention.

I’ve read several accounts around the web dealing with what we are trying to accomplish in Clark County, both at the G.O.P. convention and with the upcoming PCO races. Most have been from people attempting to cast the effort in a negative light, primarily because of our association with Ron Paul/Tea Party/Right-of-Center groups. I firmly embrace this association, those are my people, and our goal is to restore meaning to the word ‘conservative’, so that people supporting a big-spending, big-government politician like Mitt Romney will not be comfortable applying that word to themselves.

I will try in the next few months to present what I think are the important elements of the effort so that at least there is representation from within the movement.  There are also anecdotes which I would love to recount at some point so that those of you who have never been involved in this process can get a sampling of how it works, at least in my own experience. Stay tuned.