Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lack of Competition at Marion County GOP Slating Reveals How Rigged Process has Become; Leadership Has Undermined Legitimacy of Endorsements While Stripping Grass Roots Party Workers of Influence

Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker
Yesterday, Marion County Republicans held a county-wide convention at Ben Davis High School to endorse candidates for the upcoming election.  Those events used to attract a room full of party workers and scores of candidates working the crowd.  Many if not most races were contested with each candidate working weeks to personally meet with party workers to assure them he or she is the best candidate.

Since I became a precinct committeeman in 1986, the number of "mummy dummies," non-working party members who are appointed by the county chairman for the sole purpose of attending a slating and voting "the right way," i.e. the way leadership wants them to vote, has increased markedly.  Now the pool of mummy dummies is so large that party leaders, such as Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker and Hamilton County resident David Brooks have almost complete control over the process.  Party workers, those hard working men and women who are elected to represent their community as PCs, are completely outvoted by appointees of party bosses who have ensured their favorites will win.

Don't think the candidates haven't taken notice.  Candidates who used to spend months convincing PCs and Ward Chairmen to support them at slating, now drop out before slating if they don't have the support of the county chairman. The candidates know that they can't beat the system GOP leadership has rigged to render meaningless the actual party workers' vote in the slating process.

At the convention yesterday, 17 races were up for endorsement.  These include House Districts 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 97, 100, Senate Districts 30, 32, 35, and 36, county coroner, county treasurer, county surveyor and superior court judge.  Sixteen of the 17 were uncontested, with the only contest being for superior court judge. 

In the superior court race, 10 candidates were to be slated to fill the 10 places on the primary ballot.  The leadership had already picked the 10 they wanted and that list did not include Judge Carol Orbison.  The candidates were only allowed to give one minute speeches (how can you convince a crowd in one minute?).  Leadership also made doubly sure that Orbison wouldn't win by employing a rule that slating attendees had to vote for 10 candidates or their ballots wouldn't count.  That meant party workers who wanted to back Orbison but not the leadership-backed judicial candidates had no choice.  They could vote for Orbison, but the price was voting for 9 candidates the leadership wanted.

I don't blame Judge Orbison one bit if she decides to run in the primary in May.  After all, party leaders have stripped slating of all legitimacy.  The picks on Saturday do not reflect the wishes of party workers...they represent the wishes of party bosses who have so rigged slating that candidates aren't even participating in the process anymore.

The question is whether State GOP chairman Eric Holcomb will step in and address the problems with Marion County GOP slating.  The system, now completely dominated by leadership, leads to a weak party county organization which ultimately affects statewide GOP candidates.  That's not something that Holcomb should overlook.  The lack of a strong Marion County GOP organization is a weak link in the state GOP chain.


Society of Socrates said...

This process of slating strong candidates has change since I was a memeber of the Marion County Republican Party in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it is the party leadership to operate the process as they see fit.

Pete Boggs said...

A structural dictatorship posed as leadership discourages participation. It's nonetheless theirs to operate as they see fit, though it's perhaps more a baiting than slating process.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually, Society, if you were unhappy with the leadership, PCs used to be able to vote them out. Now that's virtually an impossiblity because of how they've rigged the county convention with appointees of the very county chairman asking for re-election.

I don't agree that the party leadership have some sort of right to "operate the process" as they see fit when it takes rights away from party workers.