Jon Elrod: Appointed Precinct Committeemen Should Be Allowed to Vote for Marion County Republican Chair

Gary Welsh and Paul Ogden have both made points recently that the County GOP bylaws should be changed so that unelected Precinct Committeepersons should not be eligible to vote for Marion County Party Chair.  I disagree.
I myself am an unelected PC. But I staff my precinct on election day, put up signs, and advocate for the party year round.  There are hundreds of PCs who live in safe Republican districts, but work hard on election day as appointed PCs in GOP-unfriendly precincts. 
Being a PC is a thankless job.  The only tangible reward is a vote at slating and conventions; a voice in the direction of the party and its candidates.
The rationale for denying appointed PCs the right to vote is the assumption that appointed PCs will vote with the Chair who appointed them, and as told to by their Ward or Township Chairs.  The idea is that if the PC votes wrong the PC will be removed.  This rationale is flawed. 
For starters, the only persons who genuinely care about what the County Chair or party bosses think are those who want to run for office someday.  That makes up a very narrow percentage of PCs, and as many of them are elected as are appointed.  Gone are the days when most PCs had some government patronage job and were scared to lose it by voting the wrong way.  
Second, the party never fires any PC for how they voted at a convention because it’s a secret ballot.  Moreover, the Party is so short staffed on effective PCs (those who show up and fill their boards) that no one would be fired even if the PC’s vote was known.  The only time any PC gets removed is for publicly maligning the party (as in a blog), or publicly supporting a non-Republican (like a Libertarian against a Republican).
Now it is true that your average PC will rely on the advice of a Ward Chair or Township Chair as to how to vote, absent a compelling choice.  But recent history makes clear that the establishment-backed candidates do not always win.
The 2008 slating sent three long-serving Republican judges off the bench, all of which were backed by the establishment.  From personal experience, the convention for the 7th Congressional District special election did not go as expected by the establishment.  And statewide, John Costas would be Attorney General if appointed delegates voted as they were told.
But moreover, the “Party Establishment” should be neither ambivalent nor neutral as to slating and conventions.  The leaders should use their influence to promote the most capable, accomplished, and electable candidates.  An effective party organization will not stand idly by and allow the party to nominate a poor candidate who might embarrass the party.  If the establishment is too heavy-handed, it will backfire.  Despite getting it wrong sometimes, it would be foolish to adopt a hands-off approach.   
Overall, the system works.  Ogden and Welsh are not alone in their view, and among them are wise politicos who I respect greatly.  But I think it is a cop-out.  If you don’t like the chairman or an establishment candidate, get off your computer, recruit a compelling candidate, and make it happen.


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8 Responses to Jon Elrod: Appointed Precinct Committeemen Should Be Allowed to Vote for Marion County Republican Chair

  1. The column, while well-written, completely overlooks the fact that many, if not most, appointed PCs voting at slating and the county conventoin are merely “mummy-dummies”, non-working PCs appointed solely for the purpose of going to slaitng or the county convention and voting a certain way.

    If you want to limit appointed PCs participating to ACTUAL WORKING PCS then I might be inclined to agree with you. How about a rule that appointed PCs have to work an election cycle before voting.

    The fact is leadership will never go along with anything that takes away from their ability to appoint mummy-dummy PCs to stack slating and the county convention.

    Pray tell, Jon when have I or Gary ever “publicly maligning the party (as in a blog).” Please point to one example. I have complained about people not living up to Republican principles. (Exhibit A is big spending, big taxing Mayor Ballard.) That’s DEFENDING the party, not maligning it.

  2. I would add that I’ve been around long enough to have worked in the Sweezy era. He took the position that leaders at the top of the party should stay out of slatings. We as ward leaders were allowed to work for particular candidates…without threats or finings.. That’s not the case any more. The party chair expects that his dicates will be carried out or else people will be removed.

    As far as recruiting someone to run for county chair, don’t make the disingenous Abdul suggestion that people who want reform in the party should submit themselves to a rigged system. While sometimes you can overcome the rigging – Sen. Schneider was able to do so, that was only because Ryan Vaughn was a very weak candidate who couldn’t get any more than the mummy-dummies who were appointed to vote for him.

    • Preethimali says:

      I was impressed with the way Bush was halindng the transition too, until I realized he isn’t informing Obama and crew of any signing statements or their content, nor is he informing them of any executive orders, which includes orders to torture, for instance. It’ll likely take months for the new crew to stumble on all of them so they can go through the onerous (in some cases) process involved in reversing them.

  3. Gary Welsh says:

    Appointed PCs fall into one of four categories: 1) government employees; 2) people seeking a government job; 3) people who own companies or are employees of companies with government contracts; or 4) people who lobby for companies seeking benefits and contracts from government. I fall into none of these categories. It has become abundantly clear to me that the Marion Co. Republican Party is only interested in participation by people from the four categories over whom they can control so let ’em have it and take the party straight into the ground where it belongs. I won’t be sending any contributions or helping with their cause.

  4. Matt Stone says:

    As an observer to the insider politics that happens in these county parties, I’m surprised that the GOP seems to have more open disputes (intentionally or not, it seems to happen) then the Dems. Sure, the Dems might have some primary fights during slating and all that jazz, but publicly, they’re all pretty happy with eachother.

  5. The Dems seem to have a lot more Party control than the Republicans do. You don’t seem to hear anyone decrying their antics though. Ogden typically praises Treacy for knowing how to run a political operation.

    Republican PCs are pretty free to support who they want to even if some of these guys don’t want to admit it. It sounds to us like they don’t like the way the PCs vote . We agree there are a few mummy dummies but if you look at that list, we think you’d find a lot of people who work fill precinct boards at a minimum.

    • Bleeding Blue says:

      You have to be kidding me

      “Republican PCs are pretty free to support who they want to even if some of these guys don’t want to admit it. It sounds to us like they don’t like the way the PCs vote .”

      Tom John stacked the deck in the last primary because of his hatred of the McAtee family. That was the only reason why he chose the PCs that he did. To say that the Republican PCs could vote on their own is the most rediculas thing that I have ever heard. If they did not vote the way that you,Tom and Brooks wanted them to vote they would loose their positions. 68% of the PCs that were appointed by you had never been involved in politics untill they got the call from John.

      That cannot be disputed at all. You guys know better than try and paint this anything other than it is. A scam.

  6. Gary Welsh says:

    A political science teacher many years ago taught me about the historical differences between the two major parties. Republicans were largely protestant, had a general distrust of government and believe in self-dependence. Democrats were largely Catholic, support a bigger government and are better followers in general than Republicans. You really saw that manifest itself during Kennedy’s run for president. Protestants run their churches from the bottom up, while Catholics run their churches from the top down. People feared a Catholic president would be beholden to the Vatican because of that long-held view Catholics took their marching orders from the Vatican. Long-time Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley used to enforce Catholic doctrine on Chicago Democrats on such matters as abortion and the equal rights amendment and economic issues affecting organized labor. The old patronage system he mastered was built on a top down approach. Illinois was about the only northern industrial states that failed to pass ERA largely because of his ability to force so many Chicago Democratic lawmakers to vote against it. Democrats, even those who are Catholic, no longer toe the line on social issues like they once did. The way labor unions are organized and governed, however, and their strong sway over the Democratic Party strongly influences how their party is run to this day. The Republican Party has increasingly tried to impose a similar style of management on its own members, but it simply does not work well because people who tend to vote Republican repel at the thought of being told how to vote. Most Republicans look down on people who rely upon government for their survival, whether they are welfare recipients, government employees or the ever-growing number of government contractors. Traditional Republicans are very independent in their thinking and have no problem crossing party lines to vote for another candidate. So many people no longer consider themselves a member of either party because they don’t think the party represents their interests. Dwight Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex. Today, that influence over our lives is not limited to the military because of the ever expanding role of all government in our lives–it is now the government industrial complex. More and more people think both Republicans and Democrats are captive to government in one form or another. I can’t disagree with that view.

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