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If dotty at times, LA GOP still better off than Democrats

Dysfunctional behavior, while more costly to Louisiana’s Democrats, is not its sole province. At the same time their rivals gave us a demonstration of this, Louisiana’s Republicans proved they could do the same.

Recently, the rapidly-declining Democrats met to choose new quadrennial leaders. As the compelling nature of conservatism has gained greater awareness among Louisiana’s population, which has led to the party’s increasingly-impoverished electoral status, rather than to try to select someone willing to co-opt some conservative ideas, instead they chose as a leader an even shriller, more doctrinaire liberal, guaranteeing the party difficulty in halting a slide towards policy-making irrelevancy.

Minority parties have a much reduced margin for error when they try to exercise power. Majority parties have much greater latitude in this regard, able to afford more mistakes or embarrassment coming from those associated with it. The machinations regarding, results of, and reactions to this past weekend’s Republican caucuses will provide a tiny test of this proposition.

State Republican voting registrants prior to Dec. 15 last year were eligible to vote at 30 locations across the state to pick delegates to the statewide convention that will meet Jun. 2. In six districts, nine slates (10 in one) of 25 names could be voted upon by whoever showed up eligible to do so, although slates could not be identified with a candidate or as uncommitted, or names could be chosen singly. Those wishing to advance from the district caucuses as delegates registered to do so on Apr. 18 by slate. Those elected at the convention, among others things, then will choose whether to bind these caucus results to selection of delegates to the national convention.

It seems that they will and bind perhaps all 18 that would represent caucus results, because majorities of the delegates selected appear to support Rep. Ron Paul’s libertarian candidacy that might give Paul all of these delegates. The state’s Mar. 24 primary, where Paul got six percent of the vote, decided 20 delegates, binding half to former candidate Rick Santorum who had roughly half of the vote and a quarter to presumptive GOP nominee former Gov. Mitt Romney who had roughly a quarter of the vote, with the other five uncommitted officially. The other eight will come from three party officers and five selected by the party’s executive committee.

There had been some controversy in setting the date of the caucuses, with rumors circulating that state Republican Party leaders timed it to deny Paul a chance to build some momentum in his campaign. Being a libertarian, while Paul has conservative issue preferences regarding economic issues, on several social and foreign policy issues his preferences are much closer to liberal Democrat Pres. Barack Obama’s than to conservatives’, and therefore many party elites feel them wrong to support electorally and that these will repel more voters than his genuine conservative issue preferences would attract. By setting the caucuses later, when there would be a greater likelihood of resolution of the nomination contest or inevitability attached to it, Paul supporters in particular called this an attempt to marginalize him.

Whether a caucus held a couple of months or more ago would have produced the same results, when there would have been much more incentive for Paul’s opponents’ camps to organize and campaign relative to the caucuses, is unknown, but this past Saturday’s results certainly demonstrated the vitality of the Paul organizing effort, so if marginalizing Paul motivated party leaders, they might have been right to be concerned and schedule when they did. That’s the way politics go, but what happened in the run-up and in the aftermath to the caucuses themselves made the slight presumable deviousness of party leaders seems positively statesmanlike.

Prior to the caucuses, Chad Rogers, the operator of the invaluable news aggregator The Dead Pelican, published an interpretation of the slates available. This may have been construed as a public service, being as several were identical with almost all names in common, with most of the names in those instances being the same as those on what was considered to be the Paul slate, #7. So, the guide that was handed out at the various caucus meeting places might have clarified matters.

Except that, according to at least one other campaign, the guide was disingenuous. The labels themselves seemed oddly associated with the actual designed purposes of the slates, and of the ones that were identical with the official Paul #7, they had very differently varying labels. A representative identified with the former Speaker Newt Gingrich campaign wrote that its slate, #2, deliberately was misidentified and labeled. Rogers, for his part, claimed his interpretation of the slates was “accurate.”

One might be tempted to call Rogers and any Paul supporters who aided and abetted in the guide’s production conniving, and the Gingrich campaign reaction as petty – so you got outmaneuvered, that’s the way politics go – but if you want to experience childishness in all of this, reactions of others will demonstrate that. Jason Doré, the state party’s executive director, said he’d bring the guide to the attention of the party’s executive committee. Why? To what purpose? One campaign simply outhustled the others, even if the stakes were close to zero as far as any electoral impact. If the others had been as motivated over such small potatoes, they could have adopted a similar strategy and negated this effort. Why should the party leadership get involved in such an intramural and picayunish matter?

But this request seems mighty adult compared to that of the chairwoman of the Greater New Orleans Republicans, Sarah Roy, who called for the party’s leaderships’ resignation because of the system they designed. There was nothing inherently wrong with the rules and procedures; everybody knew them, they aren’t unfair, and it’s the responsibilities of the campaigns through their activities, not the makers of rules with these qualities, to shape the outcomes, whatever they may be. If only one takes advantage of them and the others default on that account, it’s not the rules’ or designers’ faults. That the way politics go.

True, the scheming and bitterness makes those active in GOP affairs look like they are squabbling over trivia that has little to do with the real world (notably, the Romney campaign, gearing up for a bruising general election contest, apparently has brushed this off entirely, even as others associated with the caucus have taken to venting spleens about Rogers). And apparent bad faith in the exercise of free speech criticized by those who had the means but chose not to counter it aren’t that attractive qualities in a political party. But if this is the biggest demerit associated with the Louisiana Republican Party at present, Louisiana Democrats should only wish this was the extent of their difficulties.


Anonymous said...

And it might be further noted that Sarah Roy was in fact a candidate at the caucus and did not protest prior to the election, only AFTER SHE LOST.

Anonymous said...

We're going to replace Jason Doré. He is incompetent.

Stephen Gele said...

Please spare us the revisionist history. State Party leaders did not move the caucus from February (the month in which the caucus was held in 2008) to April (after the primary and into likely irrelevance) because of some brilliant "strategery" to minimize the impact of the inevitable Ron Paul victory. They moved the caucus because they wanted to focus on saving their own hides in the races for State Central Committee, in which two of their hides got skinned anyway. Further, they compounded this selfish blunder by at the last minute refusing to join in one unity ticket with the Romney campaign. Such a ticket could have garnered significant endorsements and edged the Paul supporters out in a couple of Congressional districts. Sarah Roy is correct. These decisions can be blamed on no one else.

Ryan said...

Actually, Stephen, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the blame can go to the Romney campaign. If Romney really wanted to win, he'd have put some effort into the campaign. I'm on the SCC and no one even asked me for my vote (not counting Facebook posts or email blasts).

Anonymous said...

My, my, how boring.