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Mean Girls running GOP

Don RogersVail CO, Colorado

The core leaders of the local Republican Party could not have made the case against them any stronger.A party member under suspicion anyway, basically for daring to support the Eagle County home rule charter, was dismissed for speaking frankly about a process designed to invite Repub-licans with wider views under that “Big Tent” the GOP likes to profess having. That tent has shrunken quite a bit in recent years.Others spoke as frankly, but she was not part of the inner-inner circle, which has caused the problem inspiring this process in the first place.I’ve watched the Mean Girl sensibility run the Eagle County chapter for years now, so this was completely predictable. You see, the Eagle County GOP is not a chapter, but a clique. That’s a big reason Commissioner Sara Fisher, once a Republican, is now a Democrat. Tom Edwards petitioned his way to the last county commissioner election as a Republican in lieu of running through the party leadership.The party leadership’s favorite was, let’s put this gently, not a viable candidate for the position. The Re-publican voters figured that much out pretty easily in the primary, and chose Ed-wards. He ev-entually lost to Fisher, the former Republican.The clique celebrated a victory in the recent home rule election, although in truth they had an easy win that they nearly botched.The charter came 355 votes from passing, with 40 percent voter participation countywide in a mail-in election.The charter likely would have gone down by a lot wider margin if these opponents had stuck with the straight-forward arguments against it. Instead they cooked up some whoppers with little connection to reality in an effort to win an election at any cost.The thing is, this was a false victory for them. They spent Republican money, sure, but there was little overtly partisan in the issue. If anything, you’d figure Republicans would naturally tend to favor local control. If you want to crow about how smart the voters are, well, you’d better acknowledge that in Democrat vs. Republican contests, the Democrats have been pounding the Republican candidates lately.Had home rule been a D vs. R, the D side would have won going away, given Eagle County’s decided blue tilt in recent years. Most of this is a ref-lection of the national GOP shooting itself in the foot routinely now. But the local clique has been remarkably similar to the Rove wing in outlook and questionable campaign tactics. Even conservative Rep-ublicans are catching on to these folks. Centrists have been peeling away for some time, bringing on the current “realignment” process that’s pretty much a joke already.The clique has led traditionally Republican Eagle County to turn ever darker hues of blue. And their nonsense in the home rule election has added to the drive to “realign,” as they call this effort at a real discussion.I wish the cooler heads luck. It’s high time a wider range of Republicans took their local party back from the clique, the Mean Girls who pull out all the stops to keep their position by running all “liberals” out. “Liberals,” of course, mean all who fail to march in lockstep with the clique. You can have conservative views and be labeled this way, as can be plainly seen in the Web comments that members of the clique post as if possessed by Tourette’s.These handful of folks rarely identify themselves, although a couple are quick to express outrage at such anonymous criticism aimed at them. They might be unaware of the hypocrisy, so caught up as they are in their zeal.Of course, this is all inside baseball stuff, and so interested people of conscience may not succeed against a backdrop of ignorance and disinterest in wresting the local party from the clique.But I see that as the Mean Girls get overtly meaner, more centrist members are noticing. So as the party’s “realignment” stumbles toward its predictable end, it will be interesting to see what happens after that.I doubt that the more reasonable Republicans will oust the clique, unless I’m underestimating how fed up members have become with the Mean Girls. I’d like to see the party, nationally as well as locally, actually erect that Big Tent they like to talk about.It looks more like two tents will have to do. Let the Mean Girls have their own pup tent. That’s all they need, or seem to want. And there’s no need for the rest to have to bother with them. The GOP would be better off without them.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com.


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