Archive for June, 2012

By now, most people who follow politics in Clark County have heard the yarn about how Brandon Vick came to be unopposed in his race for LD 18 State Representative position 1. There are probably a few versions , but most of them involve Brandon finding out from Paul Harris that Ann Rivers was leaving the race to run for Senate. Brandon then rushes down to the elections office a half-hour before the filing deadline at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18th in such haste that he forgets to bring the filing fee.  Amazingly, Dale Smith, who had been stumping for months for the other representative seat against Liz Pike, is on hand and agrees to give Brandon his own filing fee. Some versions have them agreeing that whomever can get to the elections office first gets to run, although apparently Brandon would still need Dale to get there eventually, since he had no filing fee himself. Our lucky Mr. Vick is eventually even further blessed when the only other candidate in the race (there is no Democrat running), Battle Ground City Councilman Adrian Cortes, suddenly bows out, citing family concerns, and a lack of desire to run in a primary race against another Republican.

This story is apocryphal on many levels, and smells to most like a backroom deal in which Joe Zarelli gives his Senate seat to Ann Rivers without opportunity for competition from other Republicans, and a few party bosses decide that Brandon can have the Rep seat.  It is very difficult to believe that all of this was decided in the minutes leading up to the deadline. Even if it is true that Zarelli suddenly had an epiphany on deadline day, was able to contact Rivers to replace him, and then she was able to go through the necessary soul-searching, and then hurriedly contact Harris, who then contacted Brandon Vick and Dale Smith, who then did their soul-searching and raced down to the elections office a half-hour before it closed…even if all of this is accurate, it is a pretty underhanded way to choose candidates via insider information. No competitors outside of the little establishment circle were allowed notice, and now a failed party chair is being given the CCRP’s version of a golden parachute.

As an aside, a friend and I were at the elections office on May 18th the last ten minutes before closing. Brandon strolled in at 5 p.m., presumably checking to make sure nobody had filed at the last second and thrown a monkey-wrench into the plan. He even asked us in the hall if we were running for office (we were actually there to turn in a last-second PCO application). No doubt he was relieved to find that we had not filed for the office that had been willed to him.

Since then, Brandon has made a good show of running a campaign, even daring to speak before the local We the People group that was not exactly his base of support. He got an earful from a few people at that meeting regarding his poor oversight of the convention and the chair position in general, but he patiently bore it, knowing that he was going to be a representative, whether the audience liked it or not. Afterwards, someone mentioned that his likelihood of going to Olympia looked pretty high, and he agreed, saying that only the possibility of a write-in campaign a la Linda Smith could derail his chances. He thought that very unlikely and said that he was “pretty much in” with a smile.

Another man in the audience listened to all of this with regret. Pete Silliman, fresh off his election as a state delegate for Ron Paul, had considered running for that seat, but was not confident enough in his resources and name recognition to pull the trigger, deciding instead to prepare more and run in two years. As soon as the news of the establishment dominoes falling came out, Pete instantly regretted allowing the filing deadline to pass, and now he had to listen to Brandon crow about the certainty of assuming that position. Knowing what a fine representative Pete would make, several of us approached him about doing a write-in campaign. Finally, after praying about it for another week, he decided to do it. The thought of Brandon getting promoted to representative with no competition after doing such a terrible job as party chair was too much to bear for anyone with any sense of fair play and a fair choice for the folks in the 18th LD. We are all very glad that Pete has decided to strike a blow for representative government, and we look forward to supporting him however possible in his admittedly uphill battle. Please consider donating to his campaign; it is doubtful that he will have the same party interests behind him that Brandon has. He will need the support of we the people instead.

From time to time, I will be posting things I have learned as I delve into the elections process in Washington. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I am under the distinct impression that most of the public doesn’t understand how the system works. Today’s topic is Automatic Delegates.

When a PCO (Precinct Committee Officer) attends a caucus and leads his precinct in the vote, he or she becomes an automatic delegate to the county convention, in addition to being able to vote alongside his neighbors for the elected delegates. If the establishment recruits their own PCO’s to run and then they use G.O.P. resources to get them elected, as has been done in the past, then they already have a certain percentage of the vote in the bag before the voting ever begins, and they can steer this vote in whatever direction they choose. In Clark County, for instance, we just went from 195 precincts to 222, thereby establishing 222 automatic delegates if all the PCO seats are filled. The elected delegates last time totaled less than 900, and in a normal election cycle, a large percentage of those will fail to attend the county convention, so the automatic delegates become an even larger percentage of the total votes cast to elect state delegates.

Similarly, when the stage shifts to the state convention, each county is given at least three automatic delegates from among the highest orders of the county party establishment, the chairperson, the state committee man, and state committee woman from each county. These three positions are elected by the PCO’s every few years. The automatic delegates to the state convention total over 120, and these people pretty much vote the same way, last time for McCain, this time for Romney, etc. It is all determined beforehand by the heads of the state party.

Ultimately, these automatic delegates become the foundation for the party’s railroad campaign every four years. The party decides on the candidate, and then sells that candidate to the PCO’s, to the media, and to individual voters. By the time the election rolls around, it would take a major victory among elected delegates to overcome the establishment’s automatic legions. Since the candidate with the most money is usually the one who the party supports, this becomes an extremely difficult task.

Did you realize. for example, that Ron Paul actually had the most elected delegates in Clark County headed into the convention? The numbers shaded to Romney’s slight advantage only after the PCO automatic delegates were taken into account.

So this is how the party decides the nominee on your behalf. Now you know why we are running for PCO positions in our county. The party bosses in Clark County have already picked their slate of PCO candidates, and soon they will be mailing official-looking postcards and flyers asking everyone to support the ‘CCRP-approved’ choices. As I have tried to demonstrate, the whole foundation of party control relies on their winning these PCO races. We can fully expect them to pull out every stop to make this happen.

A PCO Manifesto

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
A few thoughts about the upcoming PCO race:

I believe very firmly that anyone wanting to be a PCO should be thinking first about the people in their precinct and their interests. This is in direct contrast to what I have seen so far among the existing PCO body, with a few exceptions. Most PCO’s appear to view the position as a commodity to be won and lost, the acquisition of which serves to further the interests of the individual PCO and his or her faction in the party and the heads of those factions, the party bosses. This view resembles in many ways what our Congress has become. It is exactly what I am here to combat.

So let me introduce my view in practical terms. I believe that a PCO should either already know the rules that govern the responsibilities of the position, or work like mad soon after they are elected to learn these rules, such that when caucus votes occur, they are competent enough to run a fair caucus and effectively facilitate that vote. This is the FIRST RESPONSIBILITY of a PCO in my opinion. I further believe that a PCO should spend time getting to know people in his or her precinct so that when caucuses do occur, there is a certain level of familiarity in the precinct. This is the whole reason for a caucus model, for neighbors to get together and promote political discourse. The PCO is the person elected to facilitate that discourse, and in some ways, to find the consensus among the attendees. Their voice is what is being determined, not the party’s, or even the individual PCO’s. The PCO is already an automatic delegate to the convention. That designation affords him or her the opportunity, even the responsibility to remain fairly neutral and play the role of knowledgeable facilitator rather than manipulating ideologue. I don’t think this precludes a PCO from campaigning for a specific candidate, but that partisan orientation should be, for the most part, left at the door of the caucus meeting room.

I believe that at the heart of these responsibilities should be the desire to represent the people in that PCO’s precinct. To this end, I believe that PCO’s should be actively soliciting feedback from people in the precinct, particularly those who have already expressed an interest in the process. This means that as we meet people in our precinct, we file their contact information and keep a dialogue with them, recognizing that they might actually want to be PCO someday as well. This is a grass roots position, it ought not be occupied by the same person for decades, unless nobody else expresses the desire to run. A person who, after many terms of being PCO, has still not been able to locate and/or train a replacement for himself has failed in his job on some level. I anticipate being elected PCO in my precinct, given my lack of an opponent. I do not plan on occupying this seat forever, I view it as part of my job to develop a pipeline of possible future PCO’s and others who want to be active in the party. I envision a future where there are several people in each precinct who have served as PCO and can therefore be called upon to help elect good representatives. The concentration of power and influence that I see at every level of this party is what has contributed to disenchanted voters, and by extension, to lost elections. The thesis that I am operating on is that the true conservatives are still a majority in many places, but they have been driven away from the party because of the power-mongering, the cheating, and the very non-conservative stances that the party has chosen to take on a myriad of issues in recent years. My goal is to help restore the voice that has been suppressed for way too long.

Convention Notes

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

The ten Congressional Districts each chose three delegates to the national convention on Friday. Ron Paul swept in CD 7 and the Paul/Santorum coalition prevailed in CD 3. According to reports, Romney swept the remaining districts, and is likely to take all of the 10 at-large delegates on Saturday.

There will likely be more written regarding the CD6 vote and the inclusion of the Kitsap county Romney delegates who were elected by questionable means, but passed the Romney-dominated credentials committee (the same committee that disallowed most of the delegation from the 17th LD from Clark County, and very nearly the entire 18th LD as well). These Kitsap delegates made the difference in the Romney sweep of that district, and their seating left a very bad taste in the mouth of the Paul supporters there.

There are also widespread reports of people’s names not appearing on the printed ballots, despite certified mail attesting to their having sent the info to the WSRP in time. Oddly, these omitted names nearly always end up being Paul supporters. They can be added manually to the list, but it puts them at a disadvantage to those who are already there ‘officially’.

I was watching the proceedings in CD 9 for awhile, and the very assertive woman who led the vote there declared openly that Romney would be the nominee and that anyone voted as a delegate was required to state that they would support him. It has been a revelation in watching this process to realize that these confident assertions about who the nominee will be are based on projections of votes that haven’t happened yet. To dictate the nominee to the very people who are about to vote on who the nominee will be shows a serious lack of fair-minded officiating of the proceedings. The language was a little more tempered in CD 3, where the chair, Vancouver’s own Ryan Hart, knew there was a stronger contingent of non-Romney delegates. They were still required to swear allegiance to the eventual nominee, but that nominee was not named.

Congratulations to CD 3 delegates Lisa Ross, Trevor Winton and Katja Delavar, and alternates Tracy Wilson, Amanda Richards, and Sam Webb.