Republican Party facing interesting times
Monday, January 21, 2013 9:00 PM
Rumors are that Scott Molin may or may not opt for another term as the chairman of the Republican Party in Montgomery County.
It's going to be an interesting time for the Grand Old Party either way. Some political observers would say that the once powerful party has fallen on hard times and is in dire need of repair. Others would claim that Montgomery County is still a Republican stronghold. Few would argue that out in the county, the GOP is still king. But most would agree also that the city of Crawfordsville is much closer to a 50-50 split.
There are a couple of things beyond dispute though.
Mark Casteel (who is doing an excellent job in his first term as the Sheriff) ran as an independent in the last election. Casteel is clearly a Republican but chose not to align himself with party leadership in the last election. Again, with Casteel doing such a good job, getting him back in the fold would be beneficial to the party.
Another factor is that the Tea Party has grown considerably here. It's doubtful that growth is hurting the Democrats very much, but it's taking a toll on the Republicans.
In addition, David Hadley's return as the Dem's county chair has helped to repair some ugly splits and the local Democrats are not only showing a bigger presence, they are in fact more organized now.
This leaves the question of what's going to happen next with the GOP? Just one man's opinion, but consider three things.
First, it's astounding to think that the Republicans have grown weaker the last few years. Look at the talent they have. From the biggest office holder of Sen. Phil Boots to Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton to County Commissioners Jim Fulwider and Phil Bane (who shares some political background with Casteel) to County Councilmen Aaron Morgan, Brian Keim, Tom Utley and others to a very strong contingent of GOP women in the courthouse to Heather Perkins Dennison on the city council to precinct chairs . . . the list is almost endless. The talent the local GOP has is phenomenal. So the question facing the party isn't talent, it's getting that talent to row in the same direction.
Second, is fund-raising - or rather lack thereof. For any political party to do much they have to have money. Fund-raisers can actually fill two voids. They fill up the coffers, giving the party much-needed resources to support candidates. Fund-raisers can also come in the form of social outings that get more people involved and help grow the party base while recruiting others to get involved.
Third is an extension of the second. The local GOP needs a bigger presence in Montgomery County, a larger footprint if you will. They could take a lesson from the Tea Party who has found a way to get together and have discussions in a formal setting. Why haven't the Republicans? Depends on who you ask, but describing the local GOP as a well-oiled machine would be a gigantic stretch. During the last election, it was hard to find GOP signs for statewide candidates. The Democrats had a local storefront, but none was to be found for the Republicans. If the GOP is to grow, that needs to change.
Right now though, it won't. The party is too fractionalized. It would serve all Republicans well if some olive branches could be extended and everyone could sit down at the same table, uniting as a group and not splintering into cliques.
I attended the Lincoln Day Dinner over in Hamilton County last year and marveled at the strength a united group possesses. How does one county have such strength, such power, such presence? It starts with a plan and common themes and goals. Not really complicated, is it?
A theme I've harped on over and over in this space is the fact that a healthy Republic needs civil discourse. We need conversations to take place. We need Democrats, Tea Partiers and Republicans to sit down and not scream, not point fingers, but present viewpoints, some similar and some opposing, with the goal of truly listening and coming up with what's best for everyone. That's what makes the political process stronger. Politics doesn't have to be a dirty word. Politics helped grow this country and can do so again. The local GOP needs to get some things fixed and be a strong part of the process again.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.