Archive for July, 2012

A recent email blast was sent by one Marla Riley to every PCO candidate in Clark County, including yours truly. In it, she levels a charge against the members of the PCO Liberty Alliance and others whom the alliance names as ‘preferred’ candidates, that they are engaging in a “veiled attempt by Ron Paul’s supporters to take over the Clark County
GOP”. She cites the work done by the current board to elect Republicans in Clark County, and says that the PCO Liberty Alliance is ‘actively opposing’ these excellent volunteers and several elected officials by running against them in PCO races. She closes by urging everyone to “stop this civil war and work to defeat the liberal Democrats”.

A few observations:

1. Every would-be political activist has the right to run for Precinct Officer in their own neighborhoods. Ultimately the people are the ones who decide elections, and up to now, these positions have had little in the way of choice for voters. Any effort to provide a choice ought to be viewed favorably by anyone who claims to be in touch with the voting public. The difficult part to understand in Ms. Riley’s comments is that if the volunteers she wants to protect have been doing so much work among the folks in their precincts, why do so many feel vulnerable in having to face those same voters in an election? The reality is that their work has been overstated in Ms. Riley’s email, and most people in Clark County have never met their PCO, or even know what a PCO is. One of the major objectives of the PCO Liberty Alliance is to change this.

2. There are currently exactly zero Ron Paul supporters on the CCRP Executive Board, and this was the case even before Brandon Vick stepped down as chairman. The county caucus straw poll which Ms. Riley cites did yield a Romney plurality at 37%. However, 28.5% voted for Paul, and 22.5% voted for Santorum, with 10.1% going to Gingrich. I do not believe, as Ms. Riley does, that the board should conform to representation based upon a strict adherence to the caucus straw poll, but if they did, the Romney supporters would be in the minority in the face of a Paul/Santorum coalition, as opposed to the current situation, with the board being comprised almost entirely of Romney supporters. Actually, I fully expect the central committee and the executive board after December to more closely represent the straw poll than they currently do. This is the great irony in Ms. Riley’s accusations. The ideal she espouses, to keep the current board completely intact, is far less representative of caucus voters than anything that I or any of my friends have in mind.

3. In her email, Ms. Riley completely ignores the unmitigated failure of the current batch of volunteers and elected officials to run a workable caucus or convention. It can’t be stressed enough that this debacle, along with the lies that were spread in selling the Unity Slate, was a key element in the formation of the PCO Liberty Alliance in the first place. The people she mentions that we are ‘actively opposing’ were largely the ones who were in control of the proceedings, and almost all hawking the Unity Slate at the convention, trying to expel Paul supporters from the process as a matter of course. It is not surprising, then, that so many would rise up and seek change in the party leadership. In fact, it is to be expected, and supported by anyone with a sense of fair play and fair representation.

4. Does one need to be a PCO in order to be active in the party? The implication in the email is that if Marla’s friends are not elected, their ability to continue volunteering will be somehow impaired, to the detriment of the party. I have the opposite view. I believe that not only can non-PCOs be VERY involved in the party, but that after a few terms, every PCO should actively seek a replacement as a means to get more people involved and knowledgeable about the way the system works. I have never been a PCO, and the current PCO in my precinct bowed out so that I could gain that experience. I intend to do the same for the next guy in line within four years, and I will continue to volunteer for candidates that I support. There is absolutely no reason why one has to be on the Central Committee in order to help candidates, particularly if we all have relationships with the people who replace us so that we can stay informed.

I do agree with Marla on one point: that this election is about control. One group seeks to maintain it, and one group seeks to open it up. Thankfully, the people get to decide which group succeeds, and I look forward to August 7th.

Reports are coming in from the four corners of the county that PCO Liberty Alliance signs are being vandalized and stolen. In one case, a candidate had the sign stolen right out of his own front yard, In another, someone spray painted a circle and slash through a candidate’s sign (see below)

There is a normal amount of vandalism that occurs in every election cycle, but in several cases, the people doing this have systematically gone through the entire precinct ripping down signs. It seems obvious that this is not the work of random teenagers. Is the establishment machine out in force to make sure that they win PCO races by any means necessary?

I have explained my views of good PCO attributes and goals at length in prior posts. The highest duty of the Precinct Officer position is his or her stewardship over the caucus process – to make it fair, orderly, and according to the rules, so that the integrity of the voting is preserved. The caucuses on March 3rd, however, were littered with instances of PCOs not knowing the rules, butchering the voting process, or just not bothering to show up at all.

One such case was recent Clark County convention rules chair Brent Boger. A former CCRP chairman, Boger has also served as PCO of precinct 914 in Washougal. Except that he didn’t serve in that capacity on March 3rd, because he never showed up, and the voters of his precinct were left to figure out how to carry on a vote without a precinct officer. Travis Evans, with help from his wife Sharla, was forced to step in and take charge of leading delegate elections and filling out the delegate sheet to be filed with the CCRP.  Sharla later decided that she could easily improve on Boger’s performance as PCO, so she filed to run for that position against Mr. Boger. In response, this is what he had to say recently:

I am also on the ballot for Republican Precinct Committee Officer in my precinct in the August primary. I considered withdrawing because of my appointment to Council (and before). I believe, however, that both of our major parties, whether in power or out, should have leadership capable of governing. There is a group dominated by supporters of Ron Paul who I do not think are realistic enough to be capable of governing attempting to takeover the local Republican Party. They have a candidate challenging me in my precinct, so I will remain a candidate for Precinct Committee Officer. If re-elected, I will seek out a realistic replacement as soon as possible.

The logic here is mystifying. Mr. Boger, despite his own complete malfeasance in the most recent caucus, feels that actually, Sharla (who showed up and helped lead the caucus vote) is the one incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office. So he intends to run for the office and then drop it as soon as he wins. His sole reason, therefore, for running for PCO in precinct 914 is to keep Sharla from winning – a woman he has never met and knows nothing about other than that she supported Ron Paul for President. Why on Earth would anyone vote for Boger under these circumstances?  There is no more clear example of how the Establishment thinks about elected positions, as a commodity to be owned, controlled, and passed on to others in the tight blue-blood circle.

Which candidate do you imagine will be more accountable to the voters of precinct 914?

In my last post, I detailed a very current example of the way that the moderate Establishment makes certain that their candidate is the one who is nominated upon the retirement of an incumbent. In the example, LD 18 State Senator Joe Zarelli decides to retire, but instead of doing so in a forthright manner, e.g. with enough time for any Republican citizen to decide if they want to run for that office, he only releases that information on the day of the deadline for filing for office .  Ann Rivers is anointed by the few who are aware of Zarelli’s decision, and she therefore abandons her bid for reelection as LD 18 State Representative and jumps in to the Senate race. The time that it takes to make that decision and the transition associated with it makes it pretty obvious that she knew of his retirement beforehand, even if the rest of us didn’t. Meanwhile, her appointment as interim replacement for Zarelli means that she is now running this fall as the de facto incumbent, a very fortuitous position to be in during an election.

Ann Rivers may or may not be a good Senator; the objection is not to her candidacy per se, it is to the surreptitious means by which a few party bosses maintain their control of the elected offices in Clark County. This is clearly not a fair process, and the voters are not being presented with a fair choice. The establishment uses their positions in power to perpetuate their control, often using Republican Party money and resources to do it. Even the positions that are most associated with the grass roots of the party, the Precinct Committee Officers, are not safe from this incestuous dance that the party bosses carry on every two years. In 2008 and 2010, CCRP chairman Ryan Hart reportedly used party email lists and likely party funds as well to send out postcards and emails to known Republican voters, recommending that they vote for PCO candidates that he personally and unapologetically recruited, so that they could return the favor and vote to keep him and his friends in power.

The fact that these PCOs have, in many cases, done a terrible job representing their precincts (often not even bothering to show up at the caucuses), is not a concern at all to Hart. In fact, I recently went to observe my first PCO meeting and noticed with some amusement that the number of chairs set out for the PCOs was about 100. There were 161 PCOs elected and several more appointed in the 195 precincts in Clark County in 2010. To anticipate seating less than 60% of the body in a meeting to elect a new party chair is a pretty good demonstration of the energy level of Mr. Hart’s recruits, a large number of whom were elected instead of more enthusiastic opponents who didn’t share Mr. Hart’s moderate views. In fact, less than 70 PCOs actually showed up to that meeting, so the lack of seating was completely justified. Hart’s recruits win because he gets them elected, not because they actually are interested in fulfilling the duties of the office. It is small wonder then, that the caucuses and conventions are run so poorly. It is also not a surprise that when Brandon Vick was confronted with the terrible job he did in leading the convention, he cited the larger-than-expected attendance by the delegates. Clearly, Brandon thought that delegates would behave like Hart’s PCOs and only attend in very small numbers. The fact that a contested presidential race produced county delegates who were actually interested in participating was a total shock to him.

Vick Protected by Dead Candidate

What wasn’t a shock to Brandon was when his only competitor in the race for LD 18 State Rep Postion 1 dropped out. Adrian Cortes was asked by party officials to drop out of that race in favor of Brandon, and, desiring a future in Clark County Republican politics, Cortes capitulated. The fact that he did so AFTER the deadline creates a perfect dynamic for Vick. Cortes is still on the ballot, and therefore will receive votes from citizens who aren’t aware that he is not running for the seat. Anyone who understands the manipulation happening in that race and decides to run a write-in campaign must overcome the dead-candidate votes in order to gain ‘Top Two’ status for the general election. So Brandon’s free pass into the state legislature is protected by Cortes and his dead campaign. Brilliant!

The hope here is that Pete Silliman can get the message out and voters in the 18th LD can realize that they have been cheated of a real choice by the shrewd establishment operatives, just as they are being cheated of representation all over the county. It is time for all of this to change, and that, my friends, is why we are here.

Happy Independence Day.