All over the United States, citizens are pushing back against establishment politicians and their special interest handlers. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, is giving establishment Democrat Hillary Clinton a run for her money while, on the right, the leading Republican candidates are all firmly non-establishment. The rejection of establishment politicians and handlers is becoming evident at all levels of government across America. Clark County conservatives led this trend in 2012 by uniting to replace establishment Republicans who controlled the local party.
The ‘new’ conservative transformation in Clark County has been an undeniable success. The proof includes record-breaking fundraising, huge progress in the implementation of technology for citizen outreach, and an enviable record of electing Republicans to more local positions than has occurred in many decades. Members of the ClarkCounty.info team directly observed and participated in the events of the last three years. We can state with confidence that the new conservatives performed well and in good faith. The timeline below highlights the major events of this conservative reset of the Clark County Republican Party.
The successful conservative reform unfortunately brought the resentment of those who have lost their power and influence; as well as the constant sniping of our county’s liberal, tired old daily paper. These entities have produced only unfounded criticism and insults for more than three years. Further, some of these unhappy establishment Republicans routinely abused parliamentarian procedures and used other tactics to delay and disrupt official party meetings as much as they could. The Clark County Republican Party leaders worked to bring the party together with limited success. Unfortunately, the adverse propaganda has borne negative results. A significant number of typically Republican voters believed the distorted narrative, which greatly reduced active volunteers and other support. This was ironic, considering the truth about recent successes of the local Republican Party.
In 2015, the establishment Republicans had some success, and this emboldened their efforts to attempt a return the local Republican Party to its old establishment ways, happy to follow lock step with the state party and wholly corrupt national Republican Party. They succeeded in electing Republicans who posed as conservatives, but were typical self-interested politicians seeking power and influence for themselves and special interest friends. Their political fortunes were best served by rejecting the new conservatives and aligning with the left of center Clark County political establishment and a few disgruntled moderate Republicans. They are now attempting to resurrect the establishment Republican culture that existed before. These politicians are Clark County Councilors Jeanne Stewart and Julie Olson, and State Rep. Lynda Wilson. Wilson’s participation is more behind the scene, but her voting record is otherwise good. On the other hand, Councilor Stewart and Olson are willfully part of an effort to restore the big-government attitude within the County government (see Rocky Start with New Clark County Council). Other existing politicians who are substantially behind this attempted establishment Republican recovery are State Rep. Paul Harris, State Senator Ann Rivers, and Washougal Councilman Brent Boger. ClarkCounty.info will introduce other participating politicians and special interest handlers in later articles.
To make the divide worse, a local organization was formed early in 2015 with the main purpose of causing conflict with the bona fide Clark County Republican Party. This entity, named ‘Republicans of Clark County,’ has a long record of direct assaults on the local party, including overtly trying to fool the public into thinking they were the real Republican Party when they were promoting a liberal and incompetent independent for the Clark County Council Chairman position. They also actively encouraged local Republicans to boycott the main party fundraiser dinner, leaked Party information to the local old media, and repeatedly confronted party leadership—including presenting resolutions and initiating petition drives to remove board members under false pretenses. This hostile organization had a fundraiser on Feb. 6th, and nearly all the establishment politicians listed in the prior paragraph were in attendance. When Republican politicians attend an event of an organization largely dedicated to hurting the official Republican Party, most people would agree there is a serious problem.
We must stress that a battle within the Republican Party is raging all over America. Average citizens are dismayed. They have reached their limits with the corruption and incompetence of establishment politicians and their supporters.
The story is the same in Clark County, as we see no sign of a good faith effort on the part of establishment Republicans to respect the duly elected Clark County Republican leadership and the direction of a majority of the elected PCOs.
History shows that corrupt, self-serving political establishments don’t go away quietly. Therefore the battle between the Republican establishment and tens of millions of citizens is ongoing throughout the USA as well as right here at home in Southwest Washington.
We’ll keep developing this story as these establishment Republicans and their special-interest handlers continue their underhanded approach to regain their prior power and influence. These self-interested politicians and handlers will be the subject of future articles at ClarkCounty.info.
If you’re interested in the details, please review the timeline included below. The writers at ClarkCounty.info had either direct knowledge or interviewed those with direct knowledge to produce this timeline.
Comments from Clark County Republican Party Chairman Kenny Smith
Timeline of the Conservative Reset of the Clark County Republican Party
Republican Clark County Convention: The Republican Party divide began in earnest at this convention. A few days before the convention Mitt Romney supporters attempted to collaborate with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum supporters to have sufficient numbers to elect a proportional slate of Romney/Gingrich/Santorum delegates to the state convention with the key objective of blocking any Ron Paul delegates. The national Rick Santorum campaign did not endorse this alliance, and the national campaign asked the local Rick Santorum volunteers to ally with Ron Paul supporters with the goal of a brokered convention – a request which resulted in the resignation of Santorum’s Clark County campaign chair. The Ron Paul supporters coordinated with a subset of the Santorum and Gingrich supporters to create a slate of delegates. By virtue of this coalition’s superior numbers, they won the day. Many establishment participants were very upset, which is ironic as they were attempting the same maneuver on the Ron Paul delegates. The establishment, sensing they were losing control, stalled the conservative upsurge by using parliamentary tactics and calculated incompetence to run out the clock, causing the credentials of many State delegates to be questioned. Legislative District 17 was not allowed to continue their voting which resulted in 17 state delegate positions going unfilled. This, combined with the strident reaction of many establishment participants, was the catalyst for many conservatives to stand and start the process to fix problems as they saw them.
Conservatives win a majority of the Precinct Committee Officer positions: Clark County had about 220 precincts in 2012, which are geographic areas with up to about 1000-1200 voters each. Each precinct can have a Republican and Democrat precinct committee officer or PCO. The PCOs elect the party leadership. So the activist conservatives got to work recruiting candidate PCOs for the August 2012 PCOs election. The conservative candidates became coordinated to leverage planning and work that could be done more efficiently as a team. The establishment Republicans realized what was happening, and attempted to recruit their own PCOs to run against the conservative movement, but lacked the tactical understanding of the huge number of newly activated citizens to be effective. The conservative movement won over 90 positions and reached a conservative majority. The term of these new PCOs would begin Dec. 1, 2012. Although existing party leadership recognized changes were likely coming, they refused to respectfully work with the newly elected PCOs during the 2012 election cycle. They culminated their poor form by conducting an ‘end of election’ party that would cost over $7000 of donor money, which left the operational bank account nearly dry for the new leaders.
Election of new Clark County Republican Leadership: The election for new party leadership occurred in early December 2012. Because of the successful PCO elections, the new conservatives successfully recruited and elected candidates for all board positions save one, which was narrowly lost. The others were decisively won with 60-68% of the vote in a room of 163 PCOs. Reformed party bylaws were adopted to make the CCRP a grassroots-led bottom-up organization. The common narrative among the Republican establishment and local old media at this time was that disruptive Ron Paul Libertarians had taken over the party, but in fact, none of the newly elected members in the key positions of chairman, Vice chairman, secretary, and Treasurer were from the prior Ron Paul supporters.
Record-breaking fundraising: The local party put on its yearly Lincoln Day Dinner event, which resulted in record-breaking fund raising – more than doubling the prior all-time record. The events in 2014 and 2015 were similarly successful, exceeding prior records although they didn’t outdo the fund-raising performance of the 2013 event.
General election: The local Republican Party greatly improved the use of technology in citizen outreach. This, combined with the record breaking fundraising and active volunteers, resulted in many Republican victories. The result was more Republicans elected in Clark County in decades. Notwithstanding this success, stories of dysfunction and incompetence were regularly spread by the local old media and disaffected establishment Republicans.
Special election for new Chairman and vice chairman: Lynda Wilson was the chairman elected in December 2012, however she decided in late 2013, to run for a state legislative position and resigned her position as the party chairman. The vice-chair also resigned, as he was to be very involved with candidate Wilson’s campaign. The party elected a new Chairman and Vice-chair from the ranks of the conservative activists in a special election.
General election: The local party continued to improve the use of technology for citizen outreach and in the coordination and execution of volunteer duties. Again, more Republicans were elected, creating more reasons to acknowledge and celebrate the success. The party also vigorously opposed the new County Charter, but did not prevail on that matter. Left-of-center politicians and special interest handlers mainly influenced the final Charter language—that was designed help them regain political control in Clark County.
Election of new Clark County Republican Leadership: The chairman was reelected and most of the other officers elected were from the group that had started the conservative reset back in 2012.
January to March 2015
Discussion of possible censure of Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler (JHB): Because of the new bylaws, any PCO may now introduce resolutions. At the organizing meeting in January 2015, one PCO made a motion to put the subject of censure of JHB on the agenda of the March PCO meeting based on her continued promotion of the policies and actions of the corrupt and self-interested Republican establishment at the national level. The central committee (which are the PCOs and local party officers). At the March 2015 meeting, the central committee discussed the censure and related topics, and a majority of the PCOs voted to not pursue the matter further. This was an orderly, reasonable process with a very pragmatic and measured outcome, since no politician should be exempt from critical review. However, by reading the local old media and the comments from the local Republican moderates, one would have thought a murder had occurred.
March to June 2015
Establish new committees to review selected legislation and monitor performance of politicians: The JHB censure event catalyzed further discussions on a more orderly way for the PCOs to monitor legislation and public servant performance. A few PCOs invested considerable time to develop objective and fair processes for the PCOs to be more involved with reviewing and influencing legislation and the performance of public servants. The objectives were imminently reasonable. However, the culture and emotions of the establishment Republicans were heavily against such processes. It appeared the top-down style of the Republican establishment was disinterested in PCOs having such power and to be critiquing the public servants in any way.
Rejection of County Councilor Candidate Marc Boldt: Politician Marc Boldt has a long history in local politics. He served as a rather conservative state legislator in the mid-1990s and spent 8 years (2004 to 2012) as a Clark County commissioner. As a commissioner, Marc Boldt became increasingly liberal to the point the prior leadership of the local Republican Party felt the need to censure him in November 2011. Boldt lost his Commissioner seat in 2012. When he ran for the top Clark County Councilor position in 2015, he filed as an Independent. The rogue “Republicans of Clark County” (described earlier in this article) heavily supported Boldt. This, plus Boldt’s overall unsuitability, caused the Clark County Republican PCOs to overwhelming reject any formal support for Mr. Boldt.