June 5, 2008 [LINK / comment]
Kurt Michael prepares to resign
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like it's the end of an era in the Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County (SWAC) area.* In a major step toward carrying out the promise he made six weeks ago, Dr. Kurt Michael declared that he will resign his position as Chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee this coming Saturday. His letter appeared in the sixtyfour81.com blog, emphasizing party unity:
While my decision to relinquish the Chairmanship does not come easy, my primary motivation is for the greater good of the Republican Party. By stepping aside, an opportunity for a consensus candidate will be created. With my resignation, I am offering an invitation to Senator Emmett Hanger and his followers to come back into the Republican fold and focus on the true challenge of the fall elections.
"back into the Republican fold"? When did Senator Hanger or his followers ever leave the Republican fold? Oh, that's right, he's been considered a "RINO" by those "grassroots" folks all along. I think a good way to restore party unity would be to stop using that annoying epithet: "Republican In Name Only." For my part, I pledge to refrain from using such derogatory epithets in the future, as long as there is a gesture of reciprocity. Let's see if we can all be nice for a change.
As for his plea to Dr. Larry Roller to accept the decision of the State Central Committee regarding the Augusta County chairmanship, I agree. I thought it was disgraceful for Kurt to take the dispute to the legal system, outside of party channels (see May 2, second item), and I think the same standard applies now. The issue has been decided, and there is no higher appeal to be made. As noted at the end of my YouTube video, I have grave reservations about the fairness of the appeal process, but a political party is a voluntary association of individuals, and the only recourse when things are done in an unfair or objectionable way is simply to leave.
That raises another nagging question, however: Who exactly is a member of the Augusta County Republican Committee right now? According to the recent letter by Steve Kijak, the only people invited to the recent meeting of that party unit were Kurt's own supporters. Another big step toward restoring party unity would be to immediately and unconditionally accept as a member any person who was a member in good standing as of April 10, when the mass meeting was held. (Actually, there is a similar situation with the Staunton Republican Committee: In spite of repeated inquiries, I don't even know who is on the membership roster, and which members are considered "at-large," and I've been a member for almost six years!)
The co-leader of the M & M "grassroots" faction, SWAC Girl, laments the passing from the stage of her partner, Kurt. For the first time in recorded history (as far as I know), she agrees with Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press, who writes:
I guess I ought to just go ahead and say this, as controversial as it may be. This news is great news for Democrats and progressives, both locally here in the Valley and across the Commonwealth.
No one can deny that Kurt has been an effective, energetic, "grassroots" party leader. The question is whether his efforts were wisely and prudently directed. Many if not most people who know him first-hand would say he's something of a "loose cannon." If only that vast energy and talent had been applied in a positive way, rather than in attacking other Republicans, our party would be in a much stronger position today than it actually is.
* Of course, one ought to take into account the possibility that Dr. Michael may decide to remain active in the party behind the scenes...
Part 2 [LINK / comment]
GOP convention miscellany
Shaun Kenney gives his take on the Republican get-together in Richmond. I have to agree with him that the Richmond Convention Center was less than satisfactory. The main auditorium has bad acoustics and bad sight lines for the audience. He pays kind tribute to outgoing chair John Hager and to [RPV] Executive Director Charlie Judd, who will be leaving as well. (Likewise, [Treasurer] Fred Malek, I assume?) Ah, the passing of the generational guard... As for Shaun's comment on the dominance of the "values voters" in the New Right, that there is a "new wind blowing," I would agree, albeit ironically: It's something of a "Divine Wind," you might say. (See next paragraph.)
Waldo Jaquith relished the bitter contest between the GOP right wing and the even-righter wing, noting that new RPV chief Jeff Frederick has "all but promised to accelerate his party's plunge off the cliff." That parallels what I wrote in my summary of politics for the year 2007: "Yes, folks, the Party of Lincoln is in the midst of a kamikaze dive, and Honest Abe must be rolling over in his grave." (Am I being clear enough?)
As one might expect, the campaign by Jeff Frederick to unseat John Hager as RPV Chairman was not without controversy and charges of unfairness. As Riley at Virginia Virtucon (link via Shaun Kenney) reported, Jeff Frederick's supporters complained bitterly that they were not allowed to show a campaign video to the convention audience unless it was submitted several days in advance, giving Hager's team time to rebut it. There are also questions about Hager's use of party resources to promote his reelection. From what I can tell, Frederick has pledged to resign his seat in the House of Delegates, rather than stepping aside from his post as party leader during the General Assembly session. We'll find out in due course what his intentions are.
Finally, from the official convention program, I learned that none other than Alex Davis was a member of the Credentials Committee, which is in charge of validating the identities of delegates. I kid you not. Virginia House Delegate Chris Saxman and Trixie Averill, a prominent Sixth District activist, were on the Resolutions Committee.
Rules: what for?
I thought this passage from the campaign flyer of Virginia's Republican National Committee member Morton Blackwell, who is a widely-recognized authority on party rules and procedures, was very appropriate to our situation:
Top priority regarding party rules: Always to make it possible for power to flow from the bottom up, rather than the top down.
This is the exact opposite of the way party rules have been applied around here over the past year, from what I've observed. That's politics for you.
The Washington Post noted a big irony that also occurred to me recently: Last year, Jim Gilmore persuaded party leaders to nominate the senatorial candidate in a convention, rather than in a primary election. At the time, his chief likely rival was Rep. Tom Davis, of Fairfax County, who is relatively moderate on some issues. In other words, Gilmore's preference to have the choice made by party activists, more conservative and therefore presumably more friendly to him than the general public, just about cost him the nomination. I wonder how Davis would have fared against Gilmore in an open primary?
Part 3 [LINK / comment]
More video stuff
There's a piece about Keith Drake's "Hanger's Closet" video at hburgnews.com, and "Bubby" presents a lengthy, insightful, entertaining summary of what the hell has happened to the SWAC-area Republican Party (and the party state-wide) over the past few years. He made a couple passing references to me, and I commented to take exception to his characterization of me as a "dandy."
On Yankee Phil's blog, "Anonymous" (!) accused me of presenting false information in my newest YouTube video, just because it left out some parts of the mass meeting (in the interests of brevity), so I obligingly provided a transcript of the missing portion: (Sentences in parentheses are already on the YouTube video.)
Jean Shrewsbury: (I would like to nominate Jim Bailey for permanent chairman of this mass meeting.) Jim has been chairman of Augusta County Board of Supervisors and is very familiar with Robert's Rules of Order, and should be able to handle our meeting with efficiency and decorum.
Kurt Michael: Ms. Shrewsbury, with all due respect, the motion is out of order. Are you saying that he should be permanent chair?
JS: Yes sir.
KM: We first need to vote on temporary chair, so if he would like to run for temporary chair, that's appropriate, but that motion is out of order. Would you please repeat the motion.
JS: I'll withdraw the motion.
?: I move to ... (interrupted)
KM: OK, there's a motion on the floor, there's been a motion to call to question for temporary chair of the mass meeting. The only nomination I hear at this time is Kurt Michael. Is that my understanding?
?: I nominate Jim Bailey for temporary chair.
KM: There's no second.
KM: Let's move forward. There's two people for temporary chair, that would be Kurt Michael and Jim Bailey. (All in favor of Kurt Michael being temporary chair of this mass meeting, say aye...)
What does that prove? That Ms. Shrewsbury made a mistake in her nomination of Jim Bailey? Well, yes. That Dr. Michael, in his haste to get himself voted in, ignored someone who tried to speak up? Apparently. Either way, it's not such a big deal.
NOTE: Because this is a long post covering multiple topics, I have added separate links for the second and third parts.