Four years ago, the Herald-Times published a nakedly partisan editorial calling for the Monroe County Republican Party to be abolished. They tried to walk it back after taking some criticism, but the record was clear. (See here and here and here and here for more.) Now, the H-T editorial board is gloating about a how the Republican Party has allegedly regressed from 2011, citing a controversy over slating candidates and a ballot with uncontested races.
First, let’s examine the facts. Four years ago, the only district the Republican Party challenged was District 1. The Republicans could have had a candidate in District 1 this year, but that potential candidate realized that a three-way contest would only guarantee a Democratic victory and is supporting the Libertarian candidate. That individual is now running at-large as a write-in candidate. (That would be me.)
The Republican Party is has a candidate for District 3, which we did not have in 2011. There were two people who sought to run at-large as Republicans (the same number that we had in 2011) though party chairman Steve Hogan only certified one of those two. Most importantly, the Republican Party has a candidate for Mayor, which we did not have in 2011. The Republican Party is, at worst, in the same position we were in 2011. Actually, we are better off.
To put it another way: The worst-case scenario for Democrats in 2011 was a 6-3 Democratic majority on the city council to go with a Democratic mayor and city clerk.. The worst case scenario for Democrats in 2015 is a 5-3-1 majority, with a Republican mayor and a Democratic city clerk. Is that scenario likely? No. But in terms of candidate recruitment, this is not a step backward at all.
There was one statement in the editorial that should be corrected. The editorial board wrote that in addition to not certifying the candidacy of a Republican who sought to run at-large, “(Steve Hogan) also did not certify Denise DeMars, who sought to run for city clerk.”
This is a factually correct statement, but is not true. the fact of the matter is that DeMars changed her mind and decided she did not want to run for clerk. Hogan did not certify her candidacy at her own request. The Herald-Times editorial leaves the impression that the party chairman refused to certify a city clerk candidate duly elected by Republican Party precinct committeemen. That is false.
Yes, Republicans have fought amongst ourselves this year, as we always have and always will. Such is the nature of a big-tent party – and this challenge is an action of one person, not an indication of a deep division in the party. It is also very interesting how quickly the Herald-Times forgets about the vitriol Democrats spewed at each other during the primary. Much of this was about Darryl Neher’s primary voting record, but we should not forget the absolute unhinged hatred for Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo over the deer cull issue.
No, the Republican Party is not at the level we were in 1999, where (despite going from three seats on the council to two seats) it was a close election where about one hundred votes in two council districts could have brought a 5-4 Republican majority. There is no question that the Republicans are much stronger in the county than in the city, and it is not surprising that potential Republican candidates (especially top-tier Republican candidates) would be shy about running in the city after forty years of Democratic control.
But a city election is not exactly unwinnable, when the third place finisher in the 2011 at-large race got 3,076 and the number one vote getter citywide (The uncontested Democratic candidate for city clerk) got 3,989 total votes in the general election. It would only take four thousand votes to win an at-large seat on the city council, hardly an insurmountable obstacle given that there were 26,519 total votes cast in the secretary of state race in 2014 and that there were 57,223 total votes cast in the Presidential election three years ago. As you can tell, turnout for city elections is pathetically low – hardly a ringing endorsement for our current Democratic city leaders.