When you phoned me last Monday to demand I step down as Carter County Chairman as a result of my candidacy for the Congressional seat held by Tom Cole, you were adamant that there was a rule prohibiting GOP officials from taking a position in a primary, and that by filing as a candidate I was thereby taking a position in a primary. I assured you there was no such rule, and it was up to the Carter County Committee to determine whether I should step down.
Even though I will not be campaigning from the position of the Chair, I will absolutely comply with whatever the County Committee desires because it, and not the State Chairman, is the supreme Republican authority in this and every other county in Oklahoma.
The Republican Party was set up much like our government, with the power at the lowest possible level: the individual. The individual directs the precincts, then the precincts direct the counties, the counties direct the states, and then the states direct the national GOP. Power in this party and in this country flows from the bottom up, and it is a grievous error to suggest or advocate the reverse. Somewhere along the way the Republican leadership, much like the government itself, lost sight of this fact, and many feel it’s time to snteer the party back to its rules and its roots by putting the power back where it belongs: with the individuals.
You told me that you would find the rule and phone me back. As I have not heard from you in several days, I can only assume you know now what I knew then: there is no such rule. Further, even a cursory glance at the Oklahoma State GOP facebook page reveals that the state party itself is not complying with this nonexistent rule even while it attempts to foist it on others. As of the date of this letter, the State GOP page still displays a large campaign poster championing John Doak for Insurance Commissioner despite the fact another Republican, Bill Viner, is challenging him for that office. Although, as weve covered, there is no rule against such side-taking, its certainly an example of the state party not practicing what its chairman is preaching to the rest of us.
I’ve since heard from many other candidates who felt they were somewhere between strongly encouraged and outright bullied by you not to run. Speaking for myself, I certainly felt I was being bullied in an attempt to keep me from challenging an incumbent. I only wish I had thought to record the conversation so that individual Republicans could decide for themselves whether it was an appropriate tone for the State Chairman to take toward a Republican candidate for office and a dutiful County Chairman.
The Republican Party is a private organization full of many great members to elect. Every single registered Republican is a potential candidate. I’ve done everything I could possibly do to encourage candidates to file, even ones I didn’t agree with ideologically, because I believe there are many different kinds of Republicans and that we are all valuable to the party. Fair and spirited competition is essential in giving voice to the voters, ensuring the cream rises to the top, and putting the best the Republican Party has to offer on display.
From previous conversations, I understand you believe your job as State Chairman is to make sure Republicans are elected at all costs, that if there is a strong Republican candidate we should not risk losing the seat by nominating a weaker one. This is a popular position that you are not alone in holding. You told me I “could not see past the nose on my face” but maybe it is this “party-first” mentality that is short-sighted. I believe that stifling competition within the party, and by extension the country, has done and will continue to do far more damage than my desire to allow voters more choices ever could.
Your way, and that of others who think like you, is to say that the voters can’t be trusted to decide what is best for them when given too many choices, in much the same way the government no longer allows Americans to make our own decisions about our healthcare, about what we grow in our gardens or put in our bodies, about our retirement savings, about who we can marry, about how many bullets we can put in our magazines or how big our Big Gulps are. Whether coming from the Oklahoma Republican Party or the U.S. government in D.C., top-down paternalism is a total abdication of our limited government, free market principles as Republicans and Americans.
Many kinds of Republicans feel called to serve and file to run, many will not ever be elected. But that decision belongs with the individual Republicans, not with the State Chairman or any other party official. In some countries the politburo chooses which candidates the people get to hear from, but this isnt one of them and, God willing, it never will be. Nasty phone calls from the Republican establishment serve only to prove the entire point of my campaign: that this party has become stagnant, lost its way, and is in desperate need of some new blood. Ive said all along that I am certainly not the best candidate for the job, and I dont think any differently now. But this experience has proven the value of free and open competition, and so I will continue my campaign despite your indignation, and do my best to ensure that every Republican candidate has a platform from which to speak and that every Republican voter has a chance to be heard.
Carter County Republican Party Chairman
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