Saturday the new Precinct Committeemen in Los Angeles County were sworn in and the biennial ‘organizational’ meeting of the Los Angeles county central committee began. This is the chronicle of a brand new member of the LA GOP central committee.
Why such a long post on the goings-on in one little corner of the country – even if it’s the largest GOP county in the nation? I want to illustrate to potential precinct committeemen just how much influence and power they have – even if an understanding of stories like this of kicking out a state chair isn’t enough.
Our own district committee (AD 49) was graced with a collection of committeemen (and women) who are true activists and stepped up to the plate for major responsibility. Some were actually put forward by the Tea Party (TEAPAC in Pasadena). In LA, the swearing in, administered yesterday by judge Rogan who is the former Congressman for my own CD29, is followed by a series of caucuses to elect officials to fill certain important functions.
An interim chair was appointed and essential committees (such as rules, nominating and credentials) were appointed.
In LA County, precinct committee men are chosen 7 per assembly district (such as in my own AD 49) on the party’s biennial primary ballot. The seven on the committee serve the assembly district – here about 300,000 voters in about 300 precincts. There are 26 assembly districts in the county. Thus, there are a few functions that must be provisioned for the state senate and federal congressional districts. So those caucuses met first.
First a caucus for the local state senate district and one of our committee (Greg Pape of AD 49) was chosen to chair Senate District 22 and assume its seat on the county executive committee. Since the GOP did not place a candidate in that senate race in the last election, this chair’s primary task will be to find a candidate for the next state senate race in that district and ensure the treasury has the funds to pay the filing fee for the chosen candidate. Because this job was not handled in the past, a Democrat got an easy walk right in to the state senate. Avoidable to say the least. For those of you inclined to think ‘Hey, the party isn’t supposed to be involved in the primary!’ think again: CA just passed an open primary law. The GOP contender put forward in the next primary must be strong enough to reach one of the top 2 positions among primary candidates of all parties to go on to the general election. If victory is desirable, it means a party choice prior to the primary.
The second caucus was to select a chair/executive committee member for the local US Congressional District. Again, a 49er from AD 49 was selected: Eric Chan. Eric’s first task will be to fill an alternate ex-officio seat for the congressional candidate who was not present, then encourage that candidate to run again in 2012.
Finally, the big event: the hotly contested race for the LA county chair. Paper ballots. There has been a major battle (involving lawsuits, etc.) going over the leadership of the LA county GOP. It’s my own fond hope that the conflict was laid to rest yesterday with the re-election of Jane Barnett as GOP county chair for 2011/2012. The rules were then set aside to allow the body to rise for the remaining elections without paper ballots. The remaining officers of the executive board were then elected.
Powerful and talented parties opposed Jane’s re-election and the nominating committee’s pick for the remaining officers, but they did not emerge until the final few weeks before the organizing meeting. To them say say: “I voted for some of you. I want to see the GOP advance in LA as it must. You have 2 years. That’s plenty of time to make a mark everyone on the central committee can appreciate. Show us your stuff. Advance the party in the neighborhoods where we are weak. Raise funds. Help your other district chairs. Help staff those empty districts. Your visible efforts will ensure you are rewarded.”
One final effort had to take place before I can make my final conclusion. After adjournment, a table was found where the new county chair could meet with her primary opponents. The small meeting took place, observed by a couple dozen people. Some common ground was found although harmony may still have been a distant goal. Most of the people at the table saw and acted on the need to try to unite and move the party forward in spite of deep differences.
In my district, we will be telling voters about the NEW GOP in LA County. We’ve elected our leaders and made some major changes. We are putting the conflict behind us. The new slate of leaders obviates the lawsuit. Let’s get to work.
The metrics before our own committee now are clear: register a million more republicans in Los Angeles County; raise at least a million dollars; and most importantly: identify and support candidates for all those offices in the county where we did not furnish candidates to oppose the democrats who got an easy walk into public office.
We have our work cut out for us. Let’s engage and get it done.
Cross-posted to promote precinct leadership