Maybe when past and present leaders of the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRC: Montgomery County, PA) look back over the past few years, they can pinpoint the moment when – and reasons why – things went bad. Maybe they can dissect the personalities, grudges, and internal issues that caused the slide down the slippery slope. Maybe they will have an understanding of what went wrong and why. And maybe they have an idea of how to get it all back on track.
I’m not all that confident. The County Party looks like the hapless Family Robinson from “Lost in Space” (the original TV series 1965-1968, not the movie). Not sure exactly who is playing of Doctor Smith, but there are several candidates. Like castaways in an immense expanse of universe, there’s a feeling of hopelessness.
Admitting you have a problem – a REAL problem – is always the first step in Recovery. And Recovery is certainly what we need!
I do not consider myself a Committee insider. I do not pretend to know the reasons or – more importantly – The Answers. Maybe I should know. Maybe if more of us in grassroots positions were more deeply involved, we might know.
Maybe that would have made a difference. Maybe …
But I doubt it.
As a Committee Representative since 2006, I have attended some MCRC functions, though admittedly not enough of them. Fact is, as your typical run-of-the-mill foot soldier, you are like a pawn on the chessboard … eyes forward and taking the heat. You do the grunt work because it’s important to you and to your Community.
The politics of the politics? We let the politicians weed that garden. We allow them to make the sensitive political decisions in the belief they have The Big Picture.
Maybe there’s a good reason for that … party unity, less distraction from the goals of developing the best candidates and winning elections, the appearance of stability and reliability to present to fund-raisers and contributors …
But how’s that been working out for you on Election Day?
The problem with that mindset is that we – the Party’s ground game – lose sight of where the boat is being driven or worse the direction the boat is drifting. Somehow that has to stop.
My personal MCRC experience can be summed up in the following vignettes:
- Pride and excitement in the election of Bruce Castor and Jim Matthews to the County Board of Commissioners in 2007 even though Democrats grabbed five row-office positions.
- Hair-pulling aggravation as the Castor-Matthews relationship imploded into a farcical mess that – hindsight will show – sent the Party spinning out of control.
Pride and excitement at the election of State Representative Mike Vereb as MCRC chairman after the unconscionable behavior of a person who shall remain nameless. I even wrote a glowing review of Mike’s fantastic acceptance speech a scant two years ago.
- Confusion and frustration in witnessing – from afar – the infighting between The Committee and Joe Gale, the un-endorsed winner of a spot on the 2015 GOP ticket and the ONLY Republican – aside from Risa Vetri Fermin – to win their general election vote.
- Disbelief that Republicans did not win a single row office in November 2015.
My own personal, foot-soldier/committee representative/Republican voter view is that the GOP in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania can’t seem get out of its own way. What was a troubling anomaly in the Castor-Matthews imbroglio became a trend in the MCRC-Gale falling out.
I do not pretend to know all the reasons, the personal issues, ill-will, prideful stances, or nasty accusations that led to a voter-endorsed candidate being ostracized from our own Election Day GOP Party recommendations. I just have the impressions that the episode was a case of cutting one’s nose off to spite their face; indicative that the MCRC had gotten even worse – not better – since Castor and Matthews had their schoolyard tiff; and instead of working towards Party unity, was trapped in a distrustful downward spiral.
Not that we could possibly get much lower than the dazed, bloodied, and laying flat-out on the floor position we find ourselves in today.
So this Tuesday, we will vote for the next chapter in MCRC history. This time around we have a wealth of candidates looking to become County Party Leader. Some I know, some I don’t.
I’ll be looking for someone who gets what’s important. Not The How we got to the lowly place we find ourselves, what’s most important is how do we get back where we were … back where we deserve to be!
With that in mind, I will be sending a link to this blog post to all of the candidates with the opportunity to respond here with their views on getting the CLIMATE of the MontCo GOP right for a Future unclouded by internecine feuds. I do not want to hear about training committee representatives, improved communications, or changing the Party structure. In my humble opinion, our problems are BIGGER than that!
Keep an eye here, if you wish. Maybe we’ll get some answers …
I intend to go to Tuesday’s election meeting out of an obligation to contribute what little I can to making sure the Party is in the best position to recover from this not-so-special episode of “Lost in Space”.
Montgomery County and the Republican ideals we value deserve a much better effort!
I agree – we’ve fallen quite far from the powerhouse we used to be. I am very disappointed in several folks I used to think quite highly of, mostly because they let their own personal emotions, competitiveness, vindictiveness (and in some cases, greed) get in the way of what was best for the voters we are elected to represent. I was disappointed that we as a party did not put our full weight behind both candidates who cleared the primary for commissioner, and instead of combatting Democrats, we fought our own candidate, Joe Gale. Our party leaders in some cases were calling those of us supporting Gale ‘traitors’ and in some cases we were bullied about stuff as small as whose yard sign one was displaying. It’s enough to make us grassroots foot soldiers throw in the towel and bail.
I too have read the various letters asking for my support for a new leader and am disappointed in most of those as well. They often contain contradictory information and try to be all things to all people (one says in the same breath that he supports those with the pro-life view but also supports a woman’s right to choose). A couple of them are from people who, behind the scenes, have been part of the dysfunction and thus I am not interested in them either. I too do not feel we need a ‘new party structure’. We need to get back to basics and put our advantages behind the candidates our voters tell us we want and all row together in the same direction. I want a leader who listens from the ground up, not dictates from the top of the mountain down.
I know who I’m voting for for our next leader. To me, based on his speech at our endorsement meeting, and the fact that he was the lone leadership candidate who stood with us in fighting the Democrats on anything (the sale of the 200 acres of open space at Parkhouse), makes it easy for me.
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Janice … I KNEW you would have a great opinion on this! You hit several issues I have been scratching my head about recently. The Joe Gale thing first and foremost. That entire episode is just mind-boggling.
I haven’t been impressed either. I think Brian Miles is the closest to “impressing” me, but that’s hardly a big endorsement, since he’s simply the one who put the best Powerpoint presentation together.
If I catch you tonight, are you going to tell me who you are voting for???
Woe is the MontCo GOP!
Of course. And it’s not Brian Miles. Hope to see you later!
The following reply was received from candidate for MCRC Chairman, Tom DiBello:
I have read your blog and agree with you wholeheartedly. I struggle with responding because the more information I put out my opponents in true fashion re-craft their message to encapsulate my goals. I know I should feel honored because the best I have seen from them thus far has been the same old same old. I’m the changed needed for the party because I understand the voter’s frustration with the party including the recycling of the same people with a history of losing. Change is needed and hopefully for the benefit of the party that happens tomorrow night and people select me
Thanks for the reply, Tom.
It’s a shame you don’t feel comfortable sharing your solutions to what currently ails the MCRC. To me, it’s a very important concern. I’m tired of the losing and horrified at the divisiveness. It will definitely influence my vote tomorrow night.
Good luck …
Great post. Keep in my mind, Joe did not win the election, he won by default. Joe is a great guy but the GOP LOST the commissioner race in a devastating fashion. Devastating fashion. This is important to note. That is not meant to be critical of Joe, but if the minority party were not ensure a seat on the BOC, Joe would not be there. This county has swung to moderate/left. The population densities of Cheltenham, Abington and Lower Merion make it nearly impossible for the rest of the county to make up that vote deficit. Perhaps, we cannot take it back. If we are to try, we must put up candidates that mirror the county population. Moreover, you must find candidates that have constituencies in place that can grow. Risa had a strong constituency is Abington and Cheltenham and ran ahead of the ticket in those areas.
Agree with most you said. Would argue that Joe did win, since he beat out Tolbert in a four-horse race.
Well said hope you get some feedback from those in power must turn this around before its too late
On a side note Huge fan of Lost in Space growing always partial to Penny and the robot