Sedgwick County Republicans elect leadership

Last night the Sedgwick County Republican Party met in an organizational meeting to elect its leadership for the next two years. The primary news made was in the contest for chairman and vice-chairman. The secretary and treasurer positions were not contested.

Some observers, including myself, saw the contest as being between “establishment” Republicans and a group associated with the tea party. Others cast the election as more between experienced and veteran party members versus relative newcomers, while still others saw the differences as based more on personalities than anything substantive. Whatever the terminology, the newcomers did not do well in the election.

The people attending the organizational meeting and voting on leadership are those elected or appointed as precinct committeemen or committeewomen. That election was held in August in conjunction with the statewide primary election.

In the past, there have been contentious election contests at the organizational meeting, with the dividing line being between conservatives and moderates, with the abortion issue prominent. The last organizational meeting in November 2008 was calm, with one slate of candidates offered for the leadership and delegate positions, with party leaders urging that no nominations be brought up from the floor.

This year’s meeting had two slates of candidates. One — clearly the establishment or veteran slate — was headed by Bob Dool, a Wichita businessman who has been serving as treasurer of the fourth congressional district party committee. Julie Sipe was the slate’s nominee for vice-chair. Dool was endorsed by Mike Pompeo, the recently-elected U.S. congressman from the Kansas fourth district, which includes all of Sedgwick County.

The other slate was headed by Jim Anderson, who recently ran for U.S. Congress, with Judy Park of Republican Women United as vice-chair.

There’s a backstory here that deserves mention. The 2008 organizational meeting, where there was one slate of candidates and any talk of offering nominations from the floor was strongly discouraged by party insiders, made a bad impression on many activists. Some were particularly disturbed that the slate of delegates to the fourth district committee — the next level up in the party hierarchy — included many people who were not elected precinct committeemen or committeewomen. To newcomers, the 2008 meeting smacked of “good ol’ boy” cronyism, with no consideration given to the newcomers who had ran for election to — and had to campaign in order to win — precinct committee positions.

Since then, the tea party movement started in the winter months of early 2009. This movement, operating largely outside the established Republican party, grew to become a significant force nationally. Locally, a tea party activist group led by Craig Gabel and Lynda Tyler played a significant role in the November elections by working for Republican candidates, although the group did support one Democrat, Gwen Welshimer. The group played a crucial role in electing Benny Boman and Les Osterman to the Kansas House of Representatives by defeating incumbent Democrats. The group helped in the reelection of Phil Hermanson to the House, and helped elect Joseph Scapa and Jim Howell to open House seats. John Stevens and James Clendenin came surprisingly close to gaining election over their Democratic Party incumbents.

At the county level, the group was active in helping Richard Ranzau in his election to the county commission. Gabel estimates his group distributed 4,000 blended packets of literature, placed 600 signs, and made 40,000 robo-calls plus several thousand live calls.

Having played a role in local politics — successful by their own account, but perhaps not appreciated by everyone — the group wanted inclusion in the local Republican Party process. Neither Gabel or Tyler sought leadership positions. (Tyler is running for Wichita city council in the spring.) Instead, both wanted an open and honest process that was inclusive and gave everyone an opportunity to seek office, either as leadership or a delegate to the higher committee.

Both leaders seem genuinely concerned that the Republican Party be open and seek to grow. I asked Gabel what he would like to see in a chairman. He said: “A chair that would reach out to all portions of the Republican Party, that would keep the momentum flowing that was started in the election — someone interested in filling the precincts, raising funds, and educating people.” Reaching out to young people and minorities is also important, Gabel said.

As Dool made his candidacy for chair known, Gabel, Tyler, and others invited him to a meeting. Initially Dool did not want to meet and declined the invitation. A meeting with Dool took place earlier this week, said Gabel. He described the meeting as unproductive.

Back to last night’s organizational meeting: While social issues weren’t the primary issue on voters’ minds in the recent national election, abortion politics played a role last night. In his nominating speech for Dool, Mark Kahrs said that Dool “strongly supports the sanctity of life, which is the concern of this local party, and must remain the cornerstone of our party’s platform.” That drew applause from the audience.

Before that, in her speech Park, the nominee for vice-chair, said that someone in the audience was spreading rumors that she is not conservative and not pro-life. Park said these allegations were not true.

In nominating Jim Anderson, John Stevens praised Anderson for his experience in campaigning and technology. Explicitly referring to the tea party, Stevens said that we need as chair “a person who is inclusive of all Republicans, as well as tea party active people. These folks helped make it work this time. Don’t deny them.”

Speaking for himself, Dool said he wanted to increase the Republican Party base by increasing communication, hosting events for elected officials to meet with the public, increasing opportunities for all to participate in the political process, creating a business-friendly environment with lower taxes and less regulation, and raising enough money locally for a full-time employee. He said he supports the tea party movement, saying such populist movements have helped us stay true to the Founding Fathers’ principles.

In his speech, Anderson referred to his run for U.S. Congress. He also addressed an issue that many said would prevent them from voting for Anderson — his failure to endorse Mike Pompeo after Anderson lost to him and others in the Republican primary election in August. Anderson said he pledged his support to Pompeo — privately, though. Anderson said we need to grow the party by reaching out to all people, including independents.

The results of the election for vice-chair were Park 43 votes (21 percent), and Sipe 164 votes (79 percent).

For chair, the result was Anderson 59 votes (28 percent), and Dool 149 votes (72 percent).

In the selection of delegates to the fourth congressional district committee, voters had to select 98 delegates and 100 alternate delegates. A group called “Republicans for Conservative Leadership” provided a slate. The group headed by Gabel and Tyler had a slate, but the slate did not have enough names. The RCL slates won. (Disclaimer: my mother was on the RCL slate as an alternate delegate.)

Analysis

After the meeting, reaction was mixed as to whether the group of tea party or new activists felt welcomed into the process. Some felt the process was improved over 2008, as there were two candidates for each of the top leadership positions. Others felt that the outcome was nonetheless predetermined. But like in most elections, the winning candidates had the message most voters agreed with, and simply did a better job of campaigning for their positions.

Going forward, the local party has the same challenge as does the national party: how to integrate or channel the energy of the tea party. If the vote for the challengers — about one-fourth of the party members present — is a measure of the numbers in the tea party, it’s a significant force that Republicans should welcome. But an initial challenge for Dool and party leaders is that many tea party activists will resent anything they perceive as channeling of their energy or integration of their politics.

Also, some had asked that the slates of delegates should have been made available before the meeting. Voters had to vote for 98 delegates and 100 alternates. But party officials refused to release the names before the meeting, which seems to be the type of needless secret-keeping that breeds distrust and conspiracy theories.


24 thoughts on “Sedgwick County Republicans elect leadership”

  1. Just goes to show that Libertarians disguised as “Tea Party Republicans” don’t have as much clout as they think. Nor should they.

  2. I was at the meeting last night. I would like to point out that many people who are involved in the tea party movement were elected to the delegate and alternate positions on the “conservative leadership” slate. Which I find encouraging.

    Those individual TP people expressed their desire to become more involved on their own, not through the people who organized the “tea party” slate. It is encouraging to see citizen activists jumping into local politics like this.

    I also find it so encouraging that Bob Dool reached out to the tea party movement and acknowledged their contribution to the clean sweep in Kansas. It is important that he and the GOP realize the influence the TP has.

  3. Hi

    PERSONALLY, I don’t go to party meetings. I have other things to do. Is the only way to find out about these meetings to attend the monthly meetings at the Pachyderm club? I ASSUME that I could have voted, being a registered Republican and all.

    Mike?

  4. Mike, No only elected Precinct Committemen and women are allowed to vote at the party reorganizational meeting. They were notified of this meeting on November 4th.

    Thank you Bob for an accurate depiction of what happened. I was encouraged to see many of our friends on the slate. They were there because of their hard work during the election on the Pompeo campaign. They earned those places and I am very proud of them. None who concentrated on the legislative races were on the slate.

    What is sad is that with 200 Delegates and Alternates it would have been very easy to have arranged for a blended slate so that all of the elected precinct people on both lists were on the slate and the rest filled in from the party volunteers.

    We asked several times and aparently Dool was unwilling to entertain that option. So his “support” of the TEA party movement is probably not genuine, but time will tell.

  5. One of the county GOP’s out going officers had backed a write in challenger in 2006 to the GOP’s nominee for county commissioner in district four. That was when appointed county commissioner Lucy Burtnett ran in the primary and lost to Kelly Parks in 2006. Burnett than ran a write in campaign in November. Parks won anyway.

    This deviation from the GOP did not seem to be an obstacle for Bob Aldrich to be elected as the county party’s treasurer within the last year.

  6. We never wanted it to come to a TEA Party vs Repubs. Bob Dool scheduled a meeting with us on 2 separate occasions then just “blew us off” a third attempt met with his assertion “I don’t have to meet with any of the factions with in the Republican Party” Sorry it is very hard to support anybody that has that callous and uninclusive an attitude.
    The sad part of this whole deal was that our fellow”grass roots” activist leaders abandoned us so they could preserve their safe little nitches within the local Republican Party.
    This was kind of like a declaration of independence where
    where most of the leaders decided to bend the knee to King
    George to save their cozy plantations, and it failed.
    We would have gladly supported a candidtae that could have at least shown us the decency to meet with us, instead of jerking us around until it was to late to mount a successful campaign against him.

  7. First, good article. I disagree with a few slants, but overall very well put, as usual, Bob.

    What, pray tell, would releasing the 198 names of the Delegates and alternates have done? The point at the meeting was that it would have allowed precinct people to find more out about them. However, the majority of people won’t take the time to find out about the half-dozen or so people they have to elect on a regular election, let alone 198 of them! It would have possibly subjected those of us on the slate to an endless number of phone calls & perhaps harassment from those who would see us as “establishment” people. I do not see any productive reason for releasing those names.

    As for the point about non-precinct people being on that slate – I know many darned good volunteers in the Republican party that either aren’t precinct people because they lost, or they are involved otherwise – where is the rule that says only Precinct people are the only ones allowed to work for the party? One person that comes to mind is Vicki Tiahrt. Is there anyone out there that would say she doesn’t deserve to be on the slate just because she’s not a “Precinct person”?

    I would have been much more accepting of the Tea Party candidates if they would have come in expressing the desire to join “factions” together. But, in their literature that was mailed out & put on my door beforehand, they attacked and accused. In Judy Parks speech, she spoke to us like we were her 3rd grade students, in a condescending and patronizing manner. Before the meeting, Bob Dool was up front greeting people & doing exactly what anyone running for office should have been. Jim Anderson was hidden in a corner on his cell phone the whole time. I do not have a very good impression of him overall. If he did “privately” support Pompeo in the general, he should be ashamed of himself for not doing it publicly and now trying to tell us he did, only when he thinks it would help him.

    I am all about shaking up the establishment, but there are better ways to go about it than try to be as divisive as the group last night was. 1 Corinthians 3:3-9 We are all fellow workers in this party the same as should be fellow workers for God. It is not all on the established party leaders to reach out – the responsibility goes both ways. The Tea Partiers made a big deal about the establishment not reaching out to them. Why didn’t the TP’er reach out to me as a newly elected Precinct person, who has not been involved with the Republican Party here very much previously? Because they have their “favorites” as well. Look in the mirror folks, you have been doing exactly what you accuse the “establishment” of doing. Change that, and your voices may be heard a little clearer.

  8. Response to LifeNLiberty, and to Bob Weeks:

    The Tea Party people focused on electing good candidates for public office. There simply weren’t the hours in the day for each candidate for party office to work specifically for the vote of each and every precinct person when the Tea Party did not have a slate and could not find out who was actually running on the RLC slate.

    The emails from the Tea Party said they were sure there were good people on the RLC slate, they just didn’t like the idea of people being asked to vote for a whole group in one fell swoop. It is better to vote for the individual.

    Over & over the Tea Party emails stated regarding the names on their list, “This is not a slate!” It was simply a list of people who had submitted their names as wanting to be a delegate or being willing to run for party office. The people who submitted their names to run for party office via the Tea Party emails did it because they simply thought there should be a choice in officers running – instead of pre-ordained candidates.

    Since it was not a slate, & consisted of only 2 people willing to run for party office at the last minute, there could not be a concerted campaign toward each precinct person to get their votes. Neither would the Tea Party have wanted to run as a particular “faction.” And they did not do so, making it even more disappointing that their names were listed in the right hand column of the ballots making it appear as if they did not have enough people to run as a “slate.”

    Sorry Bob Weeks, but you also misunderstood that when you saw it written on the ballot last night. You wrote in your article above ” The group headed by Gabel and Tyler had a slate, but the slate did not have enough names.”
    “Having a slate” is exactly what the Tea Party wanted to avoid. They did not want “factions” in the Republican Party nor dueling slates.

    I am a Republican. I want the right to exercise my due diligence. I want to be a thinking voter — not a slave. The Road to Serfdom is paved with slates.

  9. To LifeNLiberty,

    I hope I’m reading that you had wanted to be supportive of Tea Party ideals. The Tea Party is trying to encourage people to be informed voters and trying to change the habits of people voting for candidates they are unfamiliar with.

    Tea Party emails encouraged people to go to the vote last night knowing they did not need to vote for a total of 97 people, or 37 people, or 98 people or any maximum or minimum.

    The Tea Party people simply were encouraging precinct people to be informed voters and vote for only those whom they were familiar with.

    You state, “the majority of people won’t take the time to find out about the half-dozen or so people they have to elect on a regular election, let alone 198 of them!” as if that is a good reason for the Republican Party leadership to withhold the names of delegate candidates from the precinct people who were duly elected to represent the Republican grassroots with their votes.

    The Republican Party leadership made sure that only insiders would know the names of those running for a delegate position, so duly elected precinct people could not prepare or know in advance which of those people to support or not support.

    If you don’t know who’s running until moments before the vote you cannot as a precinct person do your due diligence.

    Each of us, as duly elected precinct people, I would hope, would want to know who we are being asked to vote for prior to the vote with enough notice to learn about that candidate. We are elected by the people of our precincts to do our due diligence.

    If a person wants to run for office, and wants to be a delegate, but does not want to get phone calls from the voters (as you stated) then that person should not be running.

    I find it very odd that you wish to be elected to a position but don’t think you should have to be “subjected” to phone calls. You betray your elitist attitude right there.

    It is absolutely unbelievable that you think you are so high and mighty that you should not receive “phone calls” from those evidently “lowly commoners” the precinct people.

    It is exactly that type of elitist attitude that the Tea Party is opposed to.

  10. It’s quite fascinating to see a bunch of Republicans having discussion on a Libertarian website. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have this kind of forum, but we need to create this same opportunity for Republican dialogue on a Republican website.

  11. Reality Check & Republican Mom –

    It was a slate. You can call it something different, but in effect, yes, it was a slate. You wanted those people elected as a whole, you just didn’t have enough for a FULL slate, so it was a partial slate.

    Don’t presume you know my reasons for not wanting calls.

    I would welcome legitimate calls from people wanting to truly find out about me and my positions, the “voters”. (I stated I don’t want “harassment from those who would see us as “establishment” people” just because my name is on the SCRP slate.) I am simply a precinct person – and would love to get to know some others like myself.

    I AM concerned about certain groups being given my information because I strongly disagree with their tactics and do not want to be bullied and intimidated by them.

    In addition I only have a cell phone, not unlimited minutes, either – cost is a factor for me there, I can’t afford that kind of cell bill. It would be different if I had a campaign office.

    Don’t call me high and mighty and elitist when you know nothing about me. There are many things I could accuse you of because of the tone of your response, but it would probably not represent you truly. Quite honestly, I am still learning this Precinct position thing, as I am sure many others are.

    I decided to run as a precinct person because I want to effect change, but as I also stated in my message above, the way it was gone about last night is not the way to do it. The Tea Party did all of the things they accuse the SCRP of doing, plus some other things I observed. You claim the SCRP is not reaching out, but they reached out to me, and the Tea Party did not, at least not until the very last minute with material that was intended to divide, not unify, despite what it said.

  12. Dyed in Red -
    You are correct. I really like Bob’s writing – and I avoid most news outlets, so I am here out of default. So, if he started a blog for Repubs, I would probably be right there.

  13. Craig –
    Perhaps if Bob had thought you wanted a legitimate meeting it would have different, but in your comment you stated “until it was too late to mount a successful campaign against him.” Really? So, your whole purpose in trying to meet with him was not to find out if he would well represent the entire Republican base, but to find out his weaknesses that you could exploit to push Anderson into the forefront.

    Yeah….I think I would have cancelled my meetings with you, too.

  14. Dear Bob Weeks,

    I think you missed something here:

    You stated “A group called ‘Republicans for Conservative Leadership’ provided a slate.” That’s not any stand alone group is it? Isn’t it simply the people that the current leadership sanctioned as meeting their litmus test?

    As I understand it you had to be on good terms with Kelly Arnold, the party chairman for the last 2 yrs & his buddy Bob Aldrich, the party Treasurer up to last night, or there was no way in hell you were going to be allowed to run to be a delegate.

    The RCL slate was indeed a slate of hand-picked people pre-approved by the Party leadership. It is indeed cronyism.

    This was a slate intended to prevent precinct people from freely choosing delegates. Instead precinct people are expected to bow to King George (as a previous commenter mentioned) and vote ONLY for people whom King George approves of beforehand.

    That’s what the RCL slate was — people who didn’t say anything that displeased someone in authority.

    And you can bet the leaders chose them because they want people they can control.

  15. To Ictator; To bad your facts aren’t totally correct, I know for a fact that Bob Aldrich attempted to talk Former Commissioner Burtnett for doing a write-in campaign, I also know that he did assist Commissioner Parks durning the general election, just as a good republican should do, “support the winners of the primary”. Unlike many of the libertarians who call themselves republicans or TPers, Bob Aldrich is a republican who has worked hard over the years for the party. He has never helped a democrate, again unlike many of the TPers, at least he is true to his word. I’ve known Bob Aldrich for several years, and he has always been there for both wings of the party, why because he is a real republican, not one who just tries to run on the coat tails of the party.

  16. To LifeNLiberty,

    You can’t expect the elected precinct people, who ran to be precinct people – Representatives of the Republicans in their precinct – to not do their due diligence.

    Their due diligence is to check into the candidates who are running to be delegates.

    If you run to be a delegate and yet want to restrict communication with you, for whatever your reasons may be, how is that the fault of the precinct people?

    If you choose only to have a cell phone with a limited plan AND also run for elected office, isn’t that a problem YOU create? These are YOUR choices and you must bear responsibility for them.

    If you don’t want to be contacted then you shouldn’t run for elected office.

    People who run for elected office should welcome being contacted by their constituents.

    The fact you automatically assign to my written words here your belief that I’m writing with a “bad tone,” seems to reveal once again that you seem to have a prejudice against those precinct people who simply want to be able to ask the questions they have, and get answers and the information they need to make an informed decision.

    My comments were written, not in an angry or accusing tone as you seem to read them as, but in a desire to help you understand why you need to speak to precinct people, and why they should have the opportunity to freely talk with you.

  17. I was embarrassed to be a Republican last night. The moderate Republicans ran the local party in the 1980′s and into the 1990″s when they were replaced by the new Republicans Pro-lifers after Operation Rescue in 1991. Now, those same “pro-life, conservative Republicans are using similar, repressive and divisive techniques against the new Republicans (libertarians, independent, constitutionalists). How pro-life is that? What is conservative leadership” Some of the members on the list have supported Democrats against Republicans, but, of course, they are pro-life. I took a poll of several precinct elected officials and most did not even know the four officers. “We were told to vote for them”. Remember, what goes around comes around.

  18. I’m embarrassed more and more to be a Republican when others start thinking that “new Republicans” are Libertarians. Fiscal conservative, yes, Libertarian, h*ll no.

  19. Kelly Arnold and Bob Drool both refuse to show the “ballot” to mainstream media. The Eagle is not mainstream and the delegates on the left side of the ballot are with the liberal media.
    No one has told those whop did not attend, the titles were (Good ole boys from waba) on the left-titled “Conservatives” and the non-waba feet kissers on the right “indivduals”. Schapp’s conservative? Ha!!! Those that were on the left side and sold out will want to be re-elected. Watch out for the pendelum.

  20. As a member of the Tea Party, I was just wondering who picked Jim Anderson to be the “tea party” candidate? Seems to me that decision was also made “behind closed doors.”

    I know I was never asked to submit a vote for this. The so-called leaders mentioned in this article should only speak for themselves and not the whole tea party.

    I have been to some of the TP events, and it’s the same people who show up all the time. The number of participants are also dwindling.

    The beauty of the true TP narrative is that there is NOT a leader. Nor should there be. We don’t want one.

  21. I have a question. When I was helping out the SCGOP mtg. Thursday, one of the other volunteers told me that the number of delegates/alternates is determined by the Nov. general elections. The RNC uses a complex formula based on Republican “wins” to determine the number of each. That would explain why the number varies every 2 years.

    With this information in mind, does the time crunch between the general election and the reorg. meeting have anything to do with the fast-paced and seemingly opaque nomination process?

    Maybe AFP could give us a seminar on this system and how it all works? hint, hint…

  22. Sue C.

    The number of Delegates are determine by voter turnout in the primary. Sedgwick County went from approx. 19,000 voters in 2008 to over 50,ooo in 2010, with the voter number gaining, so did the delegates. It does vary from election to election.

  23. Hi, I’d like to have an explanation on delegate elections too.

    To, TPGirl, I would expect what you’re saying about the tea party. It’s REALLY a grass roots disorganization. It’s not my job (like a union rep or neighborhood activist) to go to Political party meetings. I am out DOING things, so I don’t have time to go to political meetings. Unfortunately for the establishment politicians, I DO make time to vote against them. We need to keep the pressure up, and have another rally of some kind in May, June, or Early September, sometime when the weather is decent, but not in the Kansas Busy period (September thru November).

    Mike?

  24. The Republican party doesn’t get involved on most races because there are no jobs to be had. In the local government races or State Legislature anyone can do it. You don’t need the blessing from the GOP and they probably are not going to do much for you. On the statewide races and the Federal races the local party gets involved because some volunteers are looking for jobs if the race is successful. Run baby Run!

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