Saturday, August 1, 2009

Changing Skewed Priorities In The Republican Party

I never thought I would run for office, and never planned to. That all changed when, three days after the last election, someone suggested that I should look into the events surrounding the HD-17 election.

What I found convinced me that a small, but influential group of far right single issue social conservatives had been hostile to the Republican candidate in the general election in ways that I found repugnant.

HD-17 includes Fort Carson. Our Republican candidate was a fiscal conservative veteran and pro second amendment. She would have been a good addition to the legislature if one is serious about electing candidates who want to keep taxes and spending low and government small.

The local party had $20,000 available for the race, but it also had an executive director who has since said that the HD-17 candidate isn't right for that district. Since leaving the post, he has started a fund whose stated goal is to keep people like the HD-17 candidate off the ballot, mentioning her by name. While he was a Party executive director he had raised the $20,000, supposedly to support Republican candidates. He just didn't want to spend any of it on that particular candidate. She lost by 500 votes of 15,000 cast.

My state representative did not have a serious race. His close ally and my opponent had no race. Still, they couldn't find time to help that candidate or ask me and other precinct committee leaders to help her. Since, as it turns out, they wanted her to lose, they didn't tell us that she was in danger of losing.

Only two elected officials in the county helped her. The rest, including caucus leader Amy Stephens whose job it was to elect Republican legislators, sat on their hands.

Why the hostility to our candidate from so many party notables? She wasn't anti-abortion.

I later discovered that my state senator opponent and his ally, Kent Lambert, had together formed an organization in the legislature. At formation, the Gazette reported: "They say that they would rather have a small group of pure Republicans in the legislature than (have) a majority..." that includes people they don't like.

In that article, my opponent actually celebrated that Republican State Representative Ramy Johnson had lost in the general election. The Denver Post tied it all together with an article that described a Bob Schaffer direct mail attack on Ramy Johnson during the general election. She lost by less than 100 votes.

In a rational world with a ratioal party that wants a majority, that event should have disqualified Bob Schaffer from the 2008 US Senate nomination. It didn't, and he got fewer votes than John McCain. If the race had been closer, Udall could and would have used this example of fratricide against him.

This same small group of single issue far right social conservatives didn't want to see Coors or Beauprez elected. I volunteered to make phone calls for Beauprez and was told over and over by former Republican volunteers who I was calling to ask to help Beauprez: "I am a values voter. I didn't vote for Coors and I won't work or vote for Beauprez."

We could overlook what this minority is doing it if social conservatives had the numbers to elect a "pure" majority. They don't. The results of the Amendment 48 personhood amendment, which they supported and others did not, mustered 25% of the vote statewide and 38% in El Paso County. It is hard to see how 25% of the voters can elect a social conservative majority in the legislature.

The only way Republicans can elect a majority again is by stopping the fratricide. We have to be willing to allow districts around Denver to elect Republicans who match their districts, even if they aren't conservatives.

You might think that a Party leadership that wants a majority would ask my opponent to step aside, given his publicly stated desire to have the party remain in the minority. That hasn't happened. Instead, I am the one who was asked not to run!

I've been walking precincts for three months. Most voters I talk to want a majority. I estimate that the number who are willing to wait for a pure party to be elected is about 10% of Republicans in the county. That 10% makes a point of going to caucuses. The other 90% let the 10% run the Party.

We thus end up with an El Paso County Party whose precinct leadership would rather the party lose if they can't have their pure party. That precinct leadership attitude creates an environment of fear where no candidate or office holder can object without losing the support of those activists, and none do.

I expect that my campaign will expose the skewed priorities of the local party and change them. I want local politicians to care more about the 90% of the electorate that wants a Republican majority than the 10% who are trying to hold the rest of us hostage.

Tom McDowell