Saturday, February 20, 2010

More on Delaware County GOP Shenanigans

The Delaware Gazette has a story that fills in some of the details.There are a few things in it that we need to examine, let's start with this: The guy who called Morgan isn't Tea Party, he's 9/12...
Earlier this week, Powell resident Mike Gemperline called county GOP chair Teri Morgan to inquire about the Feb. 25 meeting, which he plans to protest.

Gemperline, 55, is a member of the Delaware County 9/12 group, which he describes as a loosely-affiliated group without membership rolls that meets semi-monthly at a local Panera Bread store.

The group’s name is a reference to the “nine principles” and “12 values” espoused by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, and part of his effort to launch a grassroots political movement.

The 9/12 movement is somewhat affiliated with the Tea Party movement, which itself is non-centralized and non-specific.
Teri Morgan and the establishment Republican Party is so disconnected from the grassroots, they don't even know which groups are which!

what is the real problem here?
Gemperline said in a phone interview he is concerned that “progressives” have infiltrated the Republican Party. He said he is also concerned with what that will mean for the direction of the United States.

Gemperline said he told Morgan he doesn’t think the local Republican Party should endorse before the primary election.

“Our observation is there’s a ‘good ol’ boys’ club, and that’s got to stop. The American people need to choose, not the club,” he said.
I do not believe, not even for a moment, that "progressives" have infiltrated the Delaware County Republican Party. I do believe that it is possible that more "moderate" elements of the party could be asserting their influence on that county party, but let's not pretend that is the same thing.

This is the first indication that I have heard of a "good ol' boys club" in Delaware County. I know Dave Yost to be an honest man of integrity and I find it very hard to believe that a guy who has taken on political corruption on both sides of the aisle would sit back and watch his own county party turn in to Cuyahoga or Butler.

What I think he means is that the party works hard to protect its members, and that is true no matter what county you are talking about. On the TIB All Stars Show, we have frequently talked about what the role of the party is in choosing our candidates. I believe that the county parties exist to do two things: 1) help select the most worthy candidates for office; and 2) help those candidates win. The notion that the party chooses the candidates for the electorate is a false one (and this is a lesson that I have had to learn myself over the years as my friends in Columbus will attest). The party can only make a recommendation. The party can't tell a millionaire like Mike DeWine not to run for office. Likewise, the party can't tell candidates like Seth Morgan not to run either. Ultimately, the people get to make the choice...

A few years ago in Butler County, the party refused to endorse an incumbent Republican running for County Auditor. The party believed that this candidate was involved in some really bad things and they choose to endorse a different candidate. Guess what happened in the primary? The electorate decided that the Republican standard bearer should be a woman who ultimately plead guilty to fraud. The lesson: sometimes the party knows what it is doing.

Back in 2006, Jeanette Bradley, a pro-death "moderate" Republican got the support of the State Central Committee to run for Treasurer of State. She even got Jon Husted to be her state chairman. Bradley had quite a sum in her war chest too. But the electorate decided that the Republican standard bearer ought to represent our values even when the chances of victory over the general election looked grim. Sandy O'Brien won the primary. The lesson: Sometimes the party has to be reminded that our values and principles do matter even if we lose the general election.

Back to Delaware...

What is going on in Delaware? My instincts tell me that we have a chair who is not in touch with the grassroots. That's not uncommon with the Republican or Democratic Parties. If I had a nickel for every time some political operative or egghead told me that parties aren't about ideology, they are about winning elections; I would be a very rich man and I wouldn't need to blog on the side for extra cash... The truth is Teri Morgan is probably very good at her job: winning elections. Unfortunately, people who do care about moving the ball down the ideological field aren't impressed with the roster of players if the team isn't scoring touchdowns. And let me explain that further for my "party" friends. Elections aren't the real scoring. Elections are the plays that get called. The real scoreboard is the one that tallies up what we've accomplished after we've run a successful play.

My good friend and fellow Butler County Republican Party Central Committee Member, Bill Lack asked a very good question of me on Facebook. He asked why the Tea Party (or anyone else for that matter) should have the right to speak at a Central Committee Meeting. And the answer is: they don't. My guess is that most of the Tea Party folks don't even know who their precinct captains are let alone have talked to them. On the other hand, I don't think it is right for the party to preemptively call the cops on a protest that hasn't even happened yet. I like to think that the Republican Party is strong enough and has a big enough tent for a little disagreement now and then. This is an issue even in Delaware County:
Central committee member Janelle Grubbs, who represents a Powell voting precinct, is a vocal opponent of the party’s practice of issuing endorsements. She said the party should allow for a specific portion of the meeting for time-limited public comments.

“What are they afraid of? Open and honest dialogue and differing opinions in a civil manner? I think we would be all for that,” she said.
Which brings me to my next point. The Tea Party movement needs to realize that not everybody on Central Committees across this great land is their enemy. Some of us have been working very hard for years to effect real change that matters to this party. At great sacrifice, many members have been struggling to promote principle over politics and I don't think it is too much to ask that those efforts be recognized.

Last issue deals with the Feb 2. State central Committee endorsement meeting which the Tea Party protested:
He said he is upset about how Morgan characterized their conversation and the Feb. 2 protest.

The protest was passionate, but lawful, Gemperline said. A report in a Columbus newspaper described protesters as chanting and waving signs.

“There was no unruliness,” Gemperline said. “There were signs. Anyone who did not want to see those signs may have found it offensive.”

“But so what? That’s America,” he said.
This is Kent Moore's legacy. And the Ohio Republican Party has made no effort to clear this up publicly. Privately, I have been assured that the ORP did not call the cops. I have been told that the ORP did not feel threatened; that the crowd was well behaved and treated folks with respect. All of that may be true, but unless the ORP sets Chairman Moore straight in a venue that tells the whole story, the perception will remain that the ORP supports Moore's version of the story of an event he didn't attend.

Bottom Line: the legacy Republican Party is hearing some very angry voices at a time when they think all of the animosity is being deployed at the Democrats and they don't understand it. That they don't get it is a sure sign that we all still have a LOT of work to do and I think we will get better results if we work together. But as the great Ronald Reagan once said, "If you can't get them to see the light, make them feel the heat." The Republican Party is feeling some heat.