A Tale of Two PCO Meetings

Posted: September 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week, as a follow-up to the recent elections, we had not one, but two PCO gatherings. The first was hosted by the PCO Liberty Alliance, and the second by the Clark County Republican Party. As near as I could tell, the invitation list was roughly the same: all sitting and newly-elected PCOs, as well as the interim CCRP Executive Board™ members, and candidates for public office in Clark County.

The first meeting, on Thursday night, was fairly well attended by all three groups: PCOs, board members, and candidates. A healthy number of PCOs who did not run under the PCOLA banner came to hear the speaker, Christian Berrigan, and PCOLA’s plans going forward. The audience patiently listened as Christian explained the organization’s perspective on the local party, and as he laid out a few possible strategies for helping candidates, and voices from both sides of the political divide were heard.The consensus seemed to be that the meeting was generally positive, and many expressed amazement that so many PCOs were interested in helping, and that so many different factions were meeting and talking in a fairly positive manner.

A few points of contention did keep the meeting from being a unanimous G.O.P. lovefest, however. A request was made for voter data that has thus far been withheld from PCO-elects, apparently on the grounds that they might use the data against moderate Republicans (more on this later). Another voice in the crowd was concerned that the newly-elected PCOs were stepping on the territory of those who were finishing out their term, which ends in December. I was rather mystified by these charges, particularly given the repeated requests by the party for help from those same newly-elected PCOs, one of which appears in the letter from Stephanie McClintock that I posted below – the one that starts, “Hello PCO’s!” Any reasonable person reading that letter would conclude that Stephanie is not interested in waiting until December for the newly-elected folks to start doing the job they were elected for. The fact that the current batch of PCOs has been notoriously absent from joining and helping with campaigns also makes the accusations seem rather disingenuous. The candidates themselves seemed to be champing at the bit to get the help, and at one point one of them even offered his own data to PCOLA if the party continued to stonewall.

The second meeting was a picnic on Sunday afternoon. I confess that I was expecting a stronger message from Chairwoman McClintock to PCOs, and instead I got…a picnic. The attendance was less than at the Thursday meeting, and even a few of the board members who were at the PCOLA affair missed the Sunday gathering. There was some good opportunity for discussion both with other PCOs and with candidates, and generally most people seemed to be having a good time. It was both pleasant and…anticlimactic. Perhaps this is the best way to play what could be a divisive situation, in light of the fact that the candidates need help right now, and the party elections don’t happen until December.

Who is running this party, anyway?

The real issue of contention is not data sharing, or the feelings of outgoing PCOs. It is control. The moderate wing of the party has grown accustomed to calling the shots and having the support of the PCO body as a matter of course. They are also used to setting the agenda, telling PCOs where to go and what to do, and otherwise keeping PCOs completely in the dark about the direction of the party.  They are the arbiters of our participation and they are the ones who communicate with the candidates, and pick new candidates for us to work for every two years. Our job is to fall in line behind those candidates, to help develop the data for the party, and not to ask too many questions. Oh, and to keep voting them onto the board every two years. I have been told by a couple of conservative elected officials recently that the party is a worthless entity, that while they worry about maintaining their control and position, candidates are left to fend for themselves. I also heard from several establishment sympathizers that Christian and PCOLA are trying to supplant the party chair. In their mind, the establishment are the only ones allowed to have ideas, to have communication with the rest of the PCOs, and to speak to candidates directly. Anyone else attempting to have a voice is a usurper and an interloper.

These terms are being redefined with the advent of PCOLA. The candidates and the PCOs will henceforth have more direct contact, and there will be more direct accountability. It is already happening. The board will become what it always should have been: facilitators of the needs of the precinct leaders and the candidates. They will decrease in influence and increase in usefulness. One suggestion in the Thursday meeting was that instead of PCOs begging for data and info from the board, the executive director should provide the data without even being asked, as a service to new PCOs. This idea was so foreign to them, they had no response to it, except to think to themselves, “what leverage will we have against the PCOs in that case?”. A significant culture shift is going to take place, and some will welcome it while others will kick and scream and make accusations. The latter group will not prevail, they will only out themselves as self-seekers and power-hungry elitists. A party that is for small government and individual rights has no place for such people.

  1. dan the man says:

    Your reader here. Nice to see you yesterday. I ate with your wife and two daughters. Very sweet people. It makes me think you must be a nice guy, as they were all three very sweet nice. But, I could be wrong about you…
    Here is the irony in the information Christian was so excited about. The lists, the pink sheets, the voter registration rolls are all part of the information in the current political campaigns. ie, I have a list of voters, with an “stab” at their political leanings, for any precinct in the 17th. I am particularly interested in my own and use the list all the time.
    The funny part about Christian’s presentation is he, you, all the PCO’s and or volunteers could have access to all the information IF they would show up and help one of the local candidates. The fact that Christian (and I suppose some of the others in the room) were so riled about their lack of information, shows that NONE of them have actually HELPED any local campaign. The irony of that portion of the presentation was apparent to anyone who HAD actually shown up to work for a local campaign. So, when Christain refers to the establishment mentality making all the information out of reach, I just had to smile. He told me that he, and none of his cohorts had EVER helped a local candidate, ie, Don Benton, Paul Harris or Julie Olson. So, call Paul Harris and tell him you want to work your precinct, show up at 10:00 on Saturday and he’ll give you the information and turn you lose with all the literature you could ever desire.
    So, show up. Tell me what precinct you want. I’ll meet you at the palatial garage that is Paul’s campaign world headquarters and get you a walk list and all the literature you can carry.
    So, while Christian was piling on the current “establishment” mentality, I had to laugh. Who are the bad guys withholding the information? They don’t exist. It is not Mike Gaston, or Stephanie, or Kaleb Heimlich. You’ll note “those” people, whoever they might be, were never identified, that was my point. “Those” people without the information are those that don’t show up.

    See you soon.

    The other Dan!
    PS, when do we start the Trevor Winton campaigm in the 49th? I think breakfast is in order to get it rolling. Paul Harris will even attend to give moral support.

  2. Dan,

    I am an incredibly nice guy, kind to animals, saying ‘Bless You’ when people sneeze, and opening doors for people carrying packages. So that is at least one thing you are right about.

    As for the data in question, I realize that there are a few ways to acquire it, and one of them is to hook up with a campaign. You are mistaken that we are not helping with campaigns by the way, but that is another matter. It is true that we did not ask the campaigns for data from our own precinct caucus. This is not the proper order of things.The campaigns did not compile the data in question, it was compiled by the party, from the PCOs and pooled-caucus leaders. Actually, many of our people helped compile the data we are after, because they led their precinct caucuses when the sitting PCOs didn’t bother to show up, and they then turned the pink sheets in to the pooled-caucus leaders. The party then distributes this data as they see fit, to campaigns, to selected PCOs, etc. Stephanie already admitted as much when she told Christian that she would give him the data if he swore on his ancestors that he would only use it for the glorification of the Republican Party. Mike Gaston has also said that it is within his power to release that data, but he will not do so unless each sitting PCO asks him individually. So they both concede that they have the data, but simply refuse to release it to us until we jump through their hoops.

    As I said in the post, the acquiring of data is not the root issue. The root issue is that the party has a desperate need to retain control that they sense is slipping away, and as a result, they are fighting us tooth and nail on one hand, while asking for the help of people who won’t be PCOs until December 1st on the other. If they want the help, they should release the data to us. It’s really that simple. If they want to reveal themselves as petty control freaks, then we will have something to discuss in December. Meanwhile, as you say, there are other ways to acquire that data. In truth, I knew most of my own precinct caucus attendees before we ever had a caucus, because I canvassed for them myself. I fully expect to visit every house in my precinct in the next two years, and compile my own data. Of course, that won’t help in this election cycle, but I am not the sitting PCO either, which someone sitting very near you in the PCOLA meeting was quick to point out.

    On a side note, I do not derive my position as PCO-elect from the party chair, or the board, but from the voters in my precinct, of which my sweet, nice wife and I are two. My canvassing will not be as a function of any specific campaign, but I am happy to disburse information for any campaign if the people in my precinct want it. My job, therefore, as a precinct officer is not to join up with a campaign, but to get to know all the candidates in order to be able to intelligently represent their positions to my constituents. This is why we are providing opportunities for candidates to make themselves known to us. If they do an incomplete job of representing themselves to us, then we will not be able to give a complete report to the people in our precincts. The party’s role in all of this should be to help us get whatever we need to do our jobs well. In December, I will be supporting board candidates who I think will best help me do my job. Anyone who wants to earn my vote for a board position in December might do well to keep that in mind.


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