Who are these Tulsa County Republican "moderates"?

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CORRECTION: I originally began this entry referring to a Steve Lackmeyer tweet about a Tulsa news story making his head hurt. Because the link he tweeted led to a "Latest News" page on the Tulsa Whirled's mobile website -- at least it did on the browser on my smart phone -- and the Tulsa County GOP convention was the top story at that time, I thought Steve was referring to that story. In fact, he was referring to a Whirled editorial about Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett's veto of a Council resolution rescinding the election for a charter amendment. My apologies for the misunderstanding, and here's the rest of the blog entry.

"This" was a web story by Whirled reporter Randy Krehbiel about Saturday's GOP convention. I'd love to give you my own report, but work prevented me from attending. Steven Roemerman was there, and I'm looking forward to a report on his blog at some point, but for now, all he had to say was that the 10-hour-long event gave him a headache.

John Tidwell, communications director for John Sullivan, tweeted the election results in real-time. To summarize (links lead to a tweet about the candidate or race):

Chairman: J. B. Alexander (stepping up from vice-chairman), by acclamation

Vice Chairman: Molly McKay (2010 nominee for HD 78, patent attorney), by acclamation
1st Congressional

District Committeeman: Don Wyatt over incumbent committeeman and former county chairman Jerry Buchanan, 180-145
1st Congressional

District Committeewoman: Donna Mills over Virginia Chrisco, 233-93

State Committeeman: Don Little over former State Committeeman Chris Medlock and Jeff Applekamp. First round was Medlock 113, Little 108, Applekamp 79; final result was Little 126, Medlock 121.

State Committeewoman: Sally Bell (stepping down as chairman) over Darla Williams, 221-79.

Many of the victorious candidates had the endorsement of Sally Bell. Bell's new job responsibilities wouldn't allow her to devote the time necessary to serving as chairman; state committeewoman involves quarterly meetings of the Republican State Committee in Oklahoma City and occasional meetings of the county party Central Committee and Executive Committee. (For what it's worth, I served as State Committeeman from 2003-2007.)

Krehbiel characterized the convention as a "move further to the right" and a defeat for the "moderate old guard." I don't think that's the case. The "moderate old guard" is pro-life (the pro-abortion Republicans left the local party 20 years ago), pro-2nd amendment rights, and (mostly) pro-limited government, and pro-lower taxes.

The real dispute is the role of the party organization with respect to elected Republican officials. The prevailing faction at the county convention believes that the party should hold Republican elected officials accountable for governing in accordance with the core conservative principles that they espoused when running for office.

The other side -- the "moderate old guard" -- takes the "stand by your man" approach. They don't disagree with the party's conservative core values, but in their view the party organization's job is to advocate for (or at least not to oppose) whatever policies a Republican elected official decides to pursue and should never publicly oppose something a Republican elected official or major Republican donor supports. For example, if the Republican members of the County Commission want to raise local taxes for a downtown arena or river development, the Republican Party shouldn't denounce them for promoting a tax increase, in their view, particularly if major donors support the tax increase too.

The dispute boils down to this: Principle vs. partisanship. Should the party organization back anyone with an R after his name, or should "protect the brand" by insisting that the R actually mean something?

Krehbiel's report mentions a resolution, to be presented at the state convention as an amendment to the state party rules, that would provide a means to censure Republican elected officials who deviate from the party's core principles. Here's the actual wording of the proposed state party rules amendment presented by newly elected Tulsa County GOP chairman J. B. Alexander:

Rule 10

(n) Party Support of Candidates and Elected Officials

In accordance with the framers original intent of the United States Constitution and in accordance with the Constitution of the state of Oklahoma, the core values of the Oklahoma Republican Party shall consist of:

* Life - Life is the result of an act between one man and one woman and begins at conception and concludes at natural death.

* Second Amendment - The right to keep and bear arms is an inalienable right of the individual citizen and government has no authority to regulate such right.

* Limited/Smaller Government - Government is instituted to oversee the general welfare of the citizens. Local, state and federal governments have reached well beyond that which is needed to carry out the basic functions of a constitutional government.

* Lower Taxes - Taxes and mandatory fees have grown to consume approximately fifty percent of an Oklahoma citizen's income. Drastic tax and fee reductions are needed at all levels of government.

Any member of the Oklahoma Republican Party State Committee shall have the right to present evidence of any elected Republican official who consistently works against and/or votes against these core values or publicly supports a candidate of another party.

After such evidence is presented, and a motion and second are made, the state committee shall take a vote of "NO CONFIDENCE" of said elected Republican official. A two-thirds majority vote of members present shall be required for a passing vote.

I might quibble with the selection of issues, the wording, or the proposed penalties (really should be more specific and concrete, I think), but I commend Alexander for focusing on a few key issues, rather than demanding allegiance by officials to every point of the party platform, as past resolutions have done.

Count me on the side of accountability. I've always believed it was an appropriate role for the party organization to play, but especially now that Republicans have supermajorities in the Oklahoma House and Senate and every statewide office, we've got to make sure our elected officials aren't led astray by lobbyists looking for special favors. Some organization needs to apply the pressure to ensure that GOP campaign rhetoric turns into reality.

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1 Comments

Tammy said:

Not to quibble, but the last sentence was ammended to say "A two-thirds majority vote of members present and voting shall be required for a passing vote. This was an attempt at stopping members from abstaining.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 27, 2011 3:48 AM.

NCAA tournament opening rounds: Worth the investment? was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa County Republicans oppose at-large council, 4-to-Fix renewal, river tax, chamber funding is the next entry in this blog.

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