April 19, 2008 [LINK / comment]
Kurt Michael says he'll "resign" (?)
Even though he was refused access to the Augusta County Government Center because his status as party leader is in grave doubt, Kurt Michael went ahead with his meeting to certify the selection of delegates on the front steps of the building on Friday evening. He then made the surprise announcement that he would step down as chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee after the state party convention ends on May 31. He said he was doing so in the interests of party unity, which is certainly a nice (if belated) gesture.
However, that begs the question of whether he will in fact be declared chairman by higher party officials. He certainly knows that the matter is under review by the Sixth District Republican Chairman and by the Republican Party of Virginia, and no party official has thus far said anything about recognizing him as chairman. So, it seems that he is jumping the gun just a little bit. When asked about the confusion over who is party leader by the News Leader reporter, he said, "There is no confusion about who is the chair of Augusta County." Apparently, he thinks his opinion on this question counts more than the opinion of the party leaders in Richmond. He also said in reply to another question that it is "not my responsibility" to reach out to Dr. Larry Roller, the candidate who won the most votes (141-103). So while Kurt took a big step in the right direction, he still fell a bit short in the grace department.
The comment by Larry Roller cited in that article that Kurt tried to "sabotage" the mass meeting made me think about something I observed that evening. While the votes were being cast, I heard Lynn Mitchell telling others to make sure that the attendees on their side did not leave after casting their votes, in case there was a tie and a second ballot was necessary. A tied result seemed very unlikely to me. But if indeed they were planning all along to take control of the proceedings after the vote totals were announced, it would make perfect sense that they would keep all their folks in the room.
As far as who is chairman now the ACRC right now, Kurt cited the RPV roster, referring to the Web site. (Hey, let's look it up on Wikipedia! ) I found it interesting that Kurt brought up the name of Charlie Judd but did not mention the Republican Sixth District, which is the logical next step in handling disputes. Previously, he and his allies had relied upon the GOP Sixth District to back up their positions whenever local controversies arose. In the interview, he said he planned to issue a call for an ACRC meeting to elect a new chairman (or chairwoman!), even though his claim to be party leader is strongly disputed. That is not very likely to win the confidence of folks on the other side, casting doubt on his gesture of reconciliation. Any such call ought to be jointly agreed to by both sides. Kurt's claim that "this whole process" (meaning the intra-party conflict) started during the 2007 primary campaign when he supported Scott Sayre over Emmett Hanger is totally false, and he knows it. In fact, the first open hostilities began at the Sixth District GOP meeting in Lexington in March 2006. (I should know, Kurt and I were two of the protagonists.)
What Kurt Michael may be planning next is anyone's guess. He doesn't seem chastened at all by the fiasco, so I expect him to remain deeply involved in one way or another. The more I think about it, the more this situation reminds me of Sen. Larry Craig, who promised his colleagues that he would resign, but has never gotten around to it.
Newt on the wayward GOP
Newt Gingrich was interviewed by GQ Magazine (hat tip to Zen at Daily Whack Job), and had some typically pithy remarks about what is wrong with the Republican Party today:
Okay, back to the past. What happened to your party over the last eight years?
They went off the rails. That's it. They took a majority that took 16 years to build and they destroyed it.
There was a fundamental misunderstanding about how to govern. The concept of red versus blue is a tactic, not a strategy. In the long run, in order to mobilize your base, you tend to become more intense and your positions become more vitriolic, and you drive away the independents. Then you are no longer a majority.
What does the party have to do to come back?
We have to remember that we are the party of reform. The Democrats should defend the bureaucracy because it's theirs. Republicans want the bureaucracy changed, not defended. Nothing we have seen on the border, nothing we have seen after Katrina, leads people to believe that this government can do anything effectively. People profoundly distrust this government. Republicans should remember that.
Exactamundo. Thank you, Mr. Gingrich. (Actually, he's a doctor, but you never hear him referred to that way.)