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Clark County’s own version of Rita Skeeter is at it again. In a recent yarn which can only be described as politically-motivated rumor-mongering, Columbian reporter Katie Gillespie states that, despite David Madore’s regular and effusive public praise of acting county manager Mark McCauley, the county councilors are actually secretly displeased with him to such a degree that his ‘days are numbered’ in the position.

Daily Prophet Reporter Rita Skeeter

Gillespie

Columbian Reporter Katie Gillespie

 

Gillespie further attempts to manufacture hysteria on the left by implying that longtime State Senator and current county environmental services director Don Benton is waiting in the wings for the job.

Why not? The Benton boogyman has been a great device in the past, and despite rave reviews on his job performance from County Staff, including McCauley himself, Benton remains an attractive target for the ultra-partisan crowd that makes up Gillespie’s readership base. A sampling of Gillespie’s very transparent demagoguery:

Sources also said Environmental Services Director Don Benton is being pegged for the top job. When asked directly whether the rumors were true, Benton, also a Republican state senator for Vancouver, scoffed at the idea.

“It’s news to me,” Benton said. “I’m very happy with the job that I have.”

Benton’s own arrival at the county was mired in controversy the community will be hard-pressed to forget. Benton was appointed to his position by then-Commissioners Madore and Mielke, prompting outcry that his appointment was political cronyism.

Yes, the community will be hard-pressed to forget what the Columbian insists on printing ad nauseum. Never mind that Benton was actually appointed to the position by former County manager Bill Barron without observing the normal hiring process that both Madore and Mielke were expecting, complete with other candidates. Facts are not important in the Skeeter-esque school of journalism. What does matter? Speculation on Facebook, and various “sources who wish to remain anonymous”. While Gillespie admits that she couldn’t confirm any of it, she apparently deemed it print-worthy nonetheless.

I admit that beyond the similarities in appearance and writing style, there are some clear differences between Gillespie and Rita Skeeter. For one, Skeeter has the magical ability to transform into an insect in order to get a juicy story, whereas Gillespie, because of her limitations as a Muggle, is forced to rely on the creatures who already buzz around county government.

“Yes, it is true,” former Commissioner Betty Sue Morris posted on Facebook about the allegations. “I’ve spoken with several staff.”

Also, while Skeeter’s closest associate is a photographer named Bozo, Gillespie must be content to work with editor Lou Brancaccio.

Okay, maybe they aren’t really that dissimilar after all.

Browsing through social media, I happened upon a post by Washougal Mayor Sean Guard and thought it deserved some attention.Apparently, Mr. Guard was so proud of his post, he follows it up with this gem:

Folks, please SHARE this far and wide. Apparently it is touching some nerves in the Madore/Pike camp. So far none of them have been able to argue against it, so it appears they are being their own version of Fem Bots from Austin Powers and their heads are popping. So, please Share the post and let’s watch what happens. If nothing else, we all will cost Madore more $$ since he is paying his bloggers for every post they are putting out there, even if off-topic.

I admit that it was something of a surprise to find out that most elected officials, despite their incessant campaign boastings, are not actually the most accomplished or intelligent among us. In fact, in the several years of close observation I have recently experienced, it seems that politics draws more than the normal share of ignorant loudmouths who just like to hear themselves talk. If this Sean Guard fellow wasn’t an elected official, I would have assumed that this was the rant of an old man on a bar stool somewhere at the local watering hole. Perhaps the reason nobody has argued against it is because they thought it was alcohol-induced. In any case, if he is looking for a response, I am happy to provide him with one.

My take on this county council write-in effort is many-fold. First, I don’t think she has any chance to win. I am told by people close to the “campaign” that she does not think she has a chance at winning either. To be clear, I have not heard this from her directly, but I would agree with it.

It’s fine to believe a write-in campaign won’t win, although it is interesting how much time he has devoted to writing about a campaign with no chance of success, isn’t it? As I watch the many elements that make up this effort, it seems doubtful to me that Guard has actually spoken with anyone who could credibly be described as “close to the campaign”. Based on recent statements Liz has made, it seems equally unlikely that Guard has spoken to her about her chances of winning. Only yesterday, Liz had this to say on her Facebook page:

I’m honored to be drafted as a write in. I wrote my own name in on my ballot yesterday and already mailed it in. I hope I win the County Chair race. I hope everyone who wants principled leadership, fiscal responsibility, county-wide collaboration, and a new era of civility in public meetings will vote for the [Write in Liz Pike].”

Does this sound like someone who doesn’t believe she has a chance? Checking the PDC website, it seems like there are quite a few donors, and one very large one, who also believe the campaign has some legs. Even the infamous Editor of the Columbian, Lou Brancaccio, has this to say on Liz’s chances:“…make no mistake, she could win. She’s very popular to many in the county. And if Dalesandro and Boldt split the moderate vote Pike could squeak out a victory.”

Second, the whole appearance of another councilor buying a seat for someone so closely aligned with him to remain “in power” is both disgusting and the main reason she won’t be successful. I just don’t think voters just are that dumb.

I continue to be confused about the interpretation of spending in a campaign. If one does not reach a certain threshold of funding, he or she is not considered a serious candidate, but too much funding means one is attempting to ‘buy the seat’. Monica Stonier and her supporters (primarily unions) spent far more only last year in a losing effort for an arguably less significant seat, that of 17th LD Representative. Why was Stonier unsuccessful in ‘buying the seat’ if such things can be bought? A certain amount of money is needed to get a campaign message out. Beyond this, the voters will decide, as they always do. Sean Guard believes that the majority of voters can be bought for a few hundred thousand dollars. I disagree.

Third, this whole “game” they are playing is to get her county-wide name recognition to run her for Councilor Mielke’s seat at the next election. Evidently Madore has decided that Mielke really isn’t a strong player for his team.

Guard appears to have completely missed the whole charter election we had last year. Why would Liz give up her seat in the legislature to supplant fellow conservative Mielke as a part-time county councilor? And why would she need ‘county-wide name recognition’ to do this? She already has name recognition in Mielke’s district, since she is a sitting state representative there. The only county-wide race on the County board is Council Chairman. Does Guard expect Madore to defer to Liz next time and support her candidacy for County Chair? How does that idea fit into the whole ‘Madore is trying to rule the Galaxy’ narrative?

Fourth, over the last year or more, Liz has repeatedly locked horns with the republican leadership in Olympia, and has also managed to get on the bad side of the Senate Republican leadership. The result? I highly doubt Liz will have much success influencing much of anything in Olympia for a long, long time, if ever again.

Aside from the fact that Guard just revealed that he is an Ann Rivers stooge, I am curious what kind of influence he expected Liz as a member of the House to have over the Senate. In any case, invoking ‘Republican Leadership’ as though being at odds with them is a damning thing is to seriously misunderstand the current political climate. Hearing that Liz might be challenging the same Senate leadership that just jacked up everyone’s gas taxes to pay for roads in King County is likely to make her MORE popular in her district, not less.

Fifth, 2016 is an election year for all of the House of Representatives and 1/2 of the State Senate. Typically, very little advances in Olympia during an election year. That is also why every other year is a short session (in theory) in Olympia.

That said, Washougal still needs two representatives who are watching out for us. It is very apparent from her recent comments about now really wanting the county council seat that Liz is not very interested in being one of those engaged representatives. Even though she says she won’t take time to campaign, I would suggest that she is spending lots of time doing just that. Call it blogging, call it letters to the editor, call it being out at public events more than normal……..she is campaigning (although she and her handlers will just say that her ramped up schedule and engagement is normal for a representative)(and it should be, but it appears much more than she has done since first being elected).

I just don’t like our county government being a pawn of a small group of people. Especially when they so blatantly flaunt their cash and attempt to distort the truth and tear-down the reputations of people who have actually cared for this community for a long time. That is just plain wrong.

So now, going to public events is a bad thing for a representative to do? Mmmkay…right. Most of this is just uninformed and biased opinion, but it should be noted that Liz is known far and wide as the hardest-working state rep in our county. Guard may have noticed that nobody is drafting HIM as a write-in candidate for anything, or Ann Rivers either, despite the fact that she hinted earlier this year that she might be interesting in the County Chair gig. Maybe they are jealous that Liz enjoys so much grass roots support.

Some folks also say that elected officials should always be very cautious in postings like this. Well, I am probably just too old (even at 53) and too tired to play these games with the future of our county and our State. It reflects on all of us. I have also been around politics long enough to know that this is NOT the way you represent the people successfully. I would prefer to see us move forward and not be pawns in someone’s mind games with people who don’t think like them.

I am very sorry for what our greater community of Clark County is going through, and I likely won’t keep quiet about it.

For a man who betrays so little understanding of the charter, or the makeup of the county council, of the houses in the legislature, or the current political climate, it is amusing to read him extolling his experience in politics. All I see is a very foolish man who should probably take the advice of the people around him urging him to post less stupidity.

While it has been somewhat gratifying to watch Clark County’s new ‘paper of record’ supplant the old one in terms of readership and standing in the community, it appears that the Establishment win-at-all-costs mentality is still well-represented in print. To wit, the Reflector’s Ken Vance has elected to weigh in on the Liz Pike write-in campaign, and he does not look favorably upon the humble efforts of the Republican PCOs. While everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, it seemed like a few misconceptions needed to be cleared up. Vance writes:

I want to ask the members of the Clark County Republican Party something. How important is winning to you when it comes to the race for the county chair position? Because, you may disagree with this, but I think the outcome of the chair race in the Nov. 3 General Election will be decided by the county Republicans, even though there isn’t a member of that party on the ballot…The thinking which I subscribe to, is that Dalesandro would primarily receive votes from only Democrats. Whereas, Boldt, a former Republican, would receive most of the Republican votes and also steal away a significant amount of Democrats from the far less experienced Dalesandro. I believe it would be a double-digit (percentage) win for Boldt.

Well, Ken, since you asked, there is a reason we have elections instead of just collectively deciding to elect our government based on ‘The Thinking’. ‘The Thinking’ is what got us into this mess in the first place. The people that you got your ‘Thinking’ from also thought that it was a great idea for Jeanne Stewart to enter the race at the last minute and split the Republican vote three ways instead of two, thereby guaranteeing that the two least popular candidates are now the only ones on the general election ballot. ‘The Thinking’ also appears to ignore the fact that Boldt has a well-established record of raising taxes and promoting insane public works projects like the CRC that would take hundreds of millions of dollars from everyday commuters and give it to the infrastructure-related companies that have been Boldt’s top campaign donors. I know it runs afoul of ‘The Thinking’, but there are quite a lot of people who approach politics with specific goals: small, less-intrusive government, low taxes, deferring to voters on major transportation projects, etc. and Marc Boldt doesn’t advance any of those goals. What do they win in that case, Ken?
So with apologies to ‘The Thinking’, Boldt really isn’t an option for a lot of people. It was their demand for an alternative that gave rise to the write-in campaign.

Vance continues:

Two weeks ago, the Republican Precinct Committee officers voted to endorse the Write-In Liz Pike For County Chair campaign rather than endorse one of the two candidates on the ballot. Things were contentious at the meeting. A significant number of Republicans wanted to endorse Boldt and were unhappy when the write-in effort was approved.

I have no problem with the Republicans being split between Boldt and the Pike write-in campaign. Every voice should be heard and every vote should be counted and there are a lot of principles at play. But, after that has taken place, don’t you then want to unite around one goal, knowing that if you don’t, everyone in the party is going to be unhappy on the evening of Nov. 3?

Now, I may have missed him, but I don’t think Ken was actually at the meeting, so let me clear something up. The vote on whether or not to endorse Boldt failed 25-49. The vote to endorse the write-in campaign passed 47-12. I understand that the phrase ‘significant number’ is kind of subjective, but most casual observers would find those votes pretty decisive. In terms of a choice between Boldt and Pike, the will of the PCO body was pretty darn clear.

Ken speaks about ‘uniting around one goal’, but fails to define the goal in question. This is really the sticky point for most activists in the party. How can electing a man whose philosophy of government completely contradicts my own be considered ‘winning’? The problem that Boldt supporters are having is that the superficial ‘winning’ argument provides zero incentive for thinking, goal-oriented activists. It boggles my mind that Vance can spend paragraph after paragraph writing about how we should support Boldt without ever once addressing specific goals that electing Boldt would accomplish.

Vance concludes:

Consider that if I, and other prognosticators are right, and Dalesandro does get 40 percent, either Boldt or the Pike write-in campaign would need at least two thirds of the remaining votes to win. If the Democrats really stick together and Dalesandro gets 45 percent of the vote, then either Boldt or the Pike write-in campaign would need 82 percent of the remaining votes.

So, back to my question to Clark County Republicans. Do you want to stand stubbornly on what you think was the best direction for the party to go in this race? Or, do you want to compromise and join together and win? You already blew the Primary by splitting the vote between three candidates. Are you going to throw away the General as well?

Do you know what this argument sounds like to people running a campaign? “If The Thinking and I are right that your efforts won’t make any headway and you are not successful at all in appealing to voters, then you should just give up and ‘compromise’ by voting for our favorite candidate instead of yours”. I’m just curious, Ken, where were you when Jeanne Stewart jumped into the race at the last minute? We could have used you then, Bud. Given that your arguments are almost verbatim what I have seen from former Stewart supporters who are now demanding that we all vote for Boldt, I would say that the people in your ear are probably much more likely to have contributed to ‘blowing the Primary’ than the CCRP, who had nothing to do with it.

Allow me to present an alternative, with apologies, once again, to The Thinking. In 2012, a Democrat, Roman Battan, and two Republicans, Marc Boldt (who apparently didn’t object to running a partisan campaign back then) and David Madore, all drew around 30% of the vote in the primary, such that first and third were separated by less than 1000 votes. Once again, in the 2015 primary, the vote between the top three candidates was nearly even, with an even slimmer margin between the top vote-getter and the third-place finisher. So what does this tell us? That Boldt is supported in large part by Democrats, and that Dalesandro’s total is likely to be quite a bit less than the 40% that ‘The Thinking’ assumes he will get. What do you base your “surefire 40 percent for the Democrat” on? Historical races with one Republican and one Democrat? In case you haven’t noticed, that isn’t what is going on here.

In any case, I believe Liz Pike is far and away the best candidate of the three, and I like voting for the best candidate. Maybe Ken should ‘compromise’ and vote for her too.

Just in time for the endorsement meeting of the Clark County Republican Central Committee, the Columbian has devoted print space to spinning a yarn full of half-truths and innuendos, the goal of which is apparently to cut any legs out from under the write-in campaign for Liz Pike that is being brought before the PCOs tonight. It appears that Lou Brancaccio, who always reads like the Devil whispering in the corner, can’t get enough of the Republican party and the PCOs. One can imagine him giggling with glee after every post, as if to say, “I can’t believe an actual newspaper pays me to write this stuff!” Admit it, for a liberal hack, there are worse gigs than Lou’s. To write total partisan-based speculation and to be able to circulate it to a county-wide (albeit dwindling) audience in a one-way conversation – it is every politically-oriented narcissist’s dream, and Lou gets to do it every day. I have spoken to a Columbian reporter who even admits that they get a ‘bump’ in readership whenever they mention the PCOs and the Republican party. Mission accomplished!

An excerpt:

There is something out there in the political world called the precinct committee officer. Virtually no one knows who they are or what they do. You’ll occasionally see them on your ballot. Sometimes just a handful of votes can elect a PCO. To most of us — honestly — who cares? But in the inner workings of political parties, they can be a force.

And while most people weren’t paying attention, the Republican PCO positions were being filled with people who think like Madore. One such PCO is Christian Berrigan.

Berrigan is best known for trying to rig PCO elections. He came up with this idea that the PCO candidates who thought like him should call PCO candidates who didn’t think like him and essentially say this …

“Hey, maybe if you really aren’t all that interested in running for PCO, you should kinda, sorta just step aside.”

Huh?

So this character was part of the cabal — along with Madore — to get Pike to run as a write-in. He will introduce this idea tonight at a PCO meeting.

On one level, this says something about the dearth of qualified candidates in the Republican stable. Why in the world would the party run someone who isn’t interested?

The answer may be found in big money.

It is interesting to see Lou pretend he has never heard of PCOs, or that they are normally not newsworthy. This blog is filled with links to articles he and his cohorts have written about us, and there are rumors that he is even sending a reporter to our meeting tonight. Oh, and apparently, suggesting that competing candidates should talk to each other before battling it out in public is a Brancaccio no-no. I guess that makes sense, particularly in light of the recent County Councilor Chairman race. Lou definitely likes the result when candidates don’t communicate.

Now, you need to understand that Lou doesn’t travel in the circles that you and I travel in. He doesn’t talk every day to people who were desperate to write in someone, ANYONE, rather than a couple of big-spending, CRC-supporting tools of the downtown establishment. It would never occur to him that this could simply be a popular uprising of folks who watched three Republicans all inexplicably run against each other and cancel each other out, while possibly the two least popular stand-alone candidates took advantage of the state’s notorious ‘Top Two’ rule. Watching this unfold reminded me of this speed skating race from the 2002 Winter Olympics:

So now, while some of the more politically opportunistic Republicans have switched their allegiance to Marc Boldt, the rest of us are looking at one of the more important races in the entire county and finding nobody to vote for. Much like the Boldt/Madore race in 2012 was for Democrats, Republicans this time were preparing for a very significant undervote. Unlike those Democrats, however, we resolved to do something about it.

The campaign to write-in Liz Pike is not the result of rich donors yielding decisions from on high. It started just after the primary election among several of us after listening to friends, people at the fair, people on social media, all thinking the same thing: What just happened? How can this be our choice? Can we still write in Madore? After all, the guy only lost by a few hundred votes in a primary that three quarters of the voters didn’t even pay attention to.

Over time, as we realized the rules and that those votes would never be counted, we began looking for the right candidate who might actually stand a chance in a write-in situation. The requirements:

  1. Above all, someone we could trust for competent, conservative leadership to keep the County from becoming a more rural version of the pot-hole-ridden, CRC/Light Rail loving Vancouver City Council. We like no park fees and less taxes, thank you very much. We also like our transportation money actually being spent on roads rather than $200 million ‘plans’ for bridges that never get built while our cars go ‘bump, bump’ over holes in the streets on our way to work. People in the City know what I am talking about.
  2. Someone who could attract at least a small level of funding. With the Democrats pouring hundreds of thousands of union dollars into county politics every election cycle, word of mouth isn’t going to get it done. We needed a candidate that donors could get behind.
  3. We needed a recognizable name that was easy to write in. We cycled through several friends, family members, (a few even suggest a well-known mouse). Finally, someone suggested Liz Pike. Liz freaking Pike! Perfect! Loved by Republicans everywhere, not a shrinking violet who drives miles out of her way to avoid the media, not even afraid to call her own legislative caucus to task when necessary. L-I-Z P-I-K-E. Seven power-packed letters. Our Liz. As soon as it was mentioned, all other options sort of melted away.

The Columbian predictably tries to tie this all with David Madore, and he has certainly been a voice in the process, as have a number of other people with smaller profiles that don’t fit into the Columbian narrative well. I happen to think Madore has done a fantastic job, but I had barely heard of him when we ran our PCO Liberty Alliance campaign, and he was never the impetus of our involvement in the party as Brancaccio attempts to suggest. Actually, that impetus is pretty well detailed on this very blog, for inquiring minds. The larger issue is that Lou and others sense that the crushing defeat his party suffered in last year’s elections (minus the Charter that many thought had to do with school choice) might be reversed if enough conservatives can be scared into standing down. Please note this one quote however:

“…make no mistake, (Liz) could win. She’s very popular to many in the county. And if Dalesandro and Boldt split the moderate vote Pike could squeak out a victory.”

Do you think Lou would spend so much time on this if it had no chance of winning? If there is a Republican candidate in all of the county who could pull a write-in campaign off, it is Liz Pike. See you tonight.

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!