The idea of “if you’re a Republican leader or elected official who doesn’t follow us, you’re a #RINO” seems to be the sentiment of a lot of the TEA Party/Liberty/”Anti-Establishment”/whatever faction. The thought of identifying the few remaining conservative Democrats, showing them the error of their ways, and encouraging them to switch parties is a cardinal sin among these people. Of course, I’m sure if we welcomed a Libertarian into the Republican Party, I’m sure there’s no problem. The arguments I’ve seen, as of late, is that it’s the responsibility the Republican leadership (which, I would say, is the Executive Committee of the Georgia Republican Party, the Executive Committee of a District Republican Party, and/or the Executive Committee of a county’s Republican Party) to determine who is a “true Republican” and who is a “Republican in Name Only”. Of course, I’m sure this is the same group of people who complain of back-room deals and strong arm tactics to destroy decent. Yeah…..right…..
I’ve maintained that as long as I am a chairman, I will welcome people who say they generally agree with Republican principles. If they’re former Democrats, Libertarians, or just didn’t care, we should be welcoming if they’re wanting to help us work to elect Republicans. If they’re seeking office, it’s not up to me or my executive committee to determine if they are a “true Republican”…it’s up to the voters who pull a Republican ballot. You would think that the people who exclaim that they aren’t being heard or that leadership is trying to limit participation would be more than happy to have Republican voters choosing our candidates. In fact, here are two examples:
Former Congressman Ron Paul, who was elected as a Republican from 1976 ‘til 1985 switched to the Libertarian Party and ran for its nomination in 1988. He again switched back to the Republican Party in 1996 running against the incumbent Congressman who also switched from the Democratic to Republican Party in the previous year. Paul won and served until 2013 where he made two unsuccessful bids for the Republican presidential nomination. There’s also Georgia’s own Former Congressman Bob Barr who switched from the Republican to Libertarian Party in 2006, became the Libertarian nominee in 2008, and switched back in 2012 after stating he would not challenge Congressman Tom Graves in the Republican Primary plus he endorsed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Republican Presidential Preference Primary. He did go on and make a run for the 11th Congressional seat vacated by Congressman Phil Gingrey who himself was running for the open US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Saxby Chambliss. Barr lost that election, but he does,to the best of my knowledge, still remain active in Republican politics.
Two instances of people switching from the Libertarian Party back to the Republican Party and the voters deciding who would best represent them. One instance, voters in former Congressman Paul’s district believe he would represent them better than the recent convert from the Democratic Party. In the other, voters believed that now-Congressman Barry Loudermilk would represent them better in Congress than former Congressman Barr.
Another argument that I’ve seen is that if there is an unopposed Republican running in a primary, it’s up to the Republican leadership to determine if that candidate is really a Republican. No where in the rules have I found “vetting of candidates” to be part of the leadership role. If someone sees that explicitly, please let me know.
I will say this: If you don’t believe you’re being well represented and need another choice against an incumbent, then perhaps YOU are the one who needs to offer yourself up to the electorate as an alternative. That means backing away from the comfort and security of your keyboard, getting off your duff, qualifying yourself for the ballot, and actually campaigning to win. It’s not an easy task, but it’s also not my responsibility, as a Republican chairman, alone to determine if my congressman or any other Republican incumbent running for office is doing a good job. It’s my vote along with the votes of other Republicans.
If you’re running for office in a contested Republican primary, YOU have to convince me and other Republican voters that you have what it takes to do a good job. I, nor others in GOP leadership, can’t do that for you.