We’ve had some great discussions in this series and I spent a lot of time discussing the Volunteer Neighborhood Precinct Captains. I’ve served on two other county committees (Camden County, NJ and Maricopa County, AZ) before serving on the San Diego Committee. In those committees, the Precinct Captain was elected and was the basic building block of party governance and operations.
Take a look at what’s happening in Arizona. John McCain is trying to purge the “tea party” precinct committee captains:
The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.
Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices.
Under the byzantine rules of Arizona Republican Party politics, these elected officials, known as precinct committeemen, vote for local party chairmen. The chairmen, in turn, determine how state and local GOP funds are spent, which candidates are promoted in an election year, and which political issues are highlighted — all matters of central concern for McCain heading into 2016, when the threat of a primary looms.
Why does this matter? Senator McCain is out-of-touch with the party volunteers. The party volunteers know that a Republican will win the Senate race in 2016 and want a more conservative politician to represent the State rather than the honorable but centrist McCain. It’s a real battle for power and the establishment folks don’t want to give that power up.
You’ve heard me criticize the makeup of our local Central Committee. Over 60 percent of our voting members rely on the industry of politics and elected public service for their primary source of income. While most of them are principled people, it’s hard to vote against your pocketbook. Our committee lacks a majority of volunteers with no financial gain in the outcome of our endorsement votes.
Our endorsement process is broken — it alienates a lot of people. After reading through this entire series, I’ve concluded that two things could change us for the better: getting people elected to the Central Committee with no financial stake in the party endorsements (which can’t be attempted until 2017) or changing the way we endorse candidates (which can be changed in the next month). The latter is the only option we have this election cycle.
My final installment will be a proposal to do just that. Expect to see it this weekend.
PS: Please read the linked article before you comment. It’s a fascinating study in how county/state politics works. I know a number of the players in Arizona (on both sides of the divide) so I understand why each is doing what they are doing. What happens in Arizona will have lasting effects on the way we do business here in San Diego.
Read the whole series:
Part 1– What happened to the “San Diego Model”?
Part 2– The Neighborhood Volunteer Precinct Captain
Part 3– Where Did Our Voters Go?
Part 4– Who makes up the Republican Party Coalition?
Part 5– Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?