PCO Lessons From the Summer of 1992

In the summer of 1992, eight or nine Sheriff’s Deputies were sent to the Evergreen State Fair to clear out the Snohomish County Republicans’ booth. I got there just as it was happening. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I would like to give you a little bit of background.

When the Central Committee elects a Chairman and certain members of the Executive Board who are not appointed, they commission these officers to represent their policies, platforms and other directives voted upon at committee meetings and conventions. You might check the by-laws to see if this power of the Central Committee still exists. Nonetheless, it is common for elected officials, even lowly party officials, to believe once they have been elected it was through their own efforts and for their own glory. The thought of leading seems too petty; the ideal of ruling and rubbing elbows with the powerful is more to their taste.

Never can anyone accuse me of being humble. However, when I was elected Chairman of the Snohomish County GOP over twenty years ago, it seemed to me my first obligation was to uphold the policies, platforms and other directives voted upon at committee meetings and conventions. Because this was their intention, it became my obligation – after all, they elected me to represent them.

This did not sit well with the liberal RINO wing of the party. They were used to RINO leaders taking control over committees and conventions, or manipulating conservative chairs to do the same in the name of “leadership.” Now don’t get me wrong, I did what I could to lead but I was always mindful of my obligation to the grassroots who elected me. Needless to say, the RINO leaders and I continually clashed. Two RINO leaders also sat on the board of the Evergreen State Fair.

The Central Committee for years had voted at least yearly that the Snohomish County GOP was not to support or endorse any candidate for any office who would not state in writing they supported the Platform. This included granting space at the fair booth only to candidates who complied. This was a general support, not a line-by-line agreement. So you would think this would not really be a problem. In the past, most times the Executive Committee would put their stamp on this policy as well, knowing full well it was not going to be enforced. Never had a Central Committee Chairman upheld this policy.

This year, an election year, the same directive came from the Central Committee and the Executive Committee upheld the directive by vote. This was the same Executive Committee that voted to publicly rebuke Senator Cliff Bailey for reversing his position on euthanasia – a position he promised in writing never to change and a rebuke that caused him to retire rather than run again. The kid gloves were off and we expected a battle. Fair Committee members were under strict orders no candidate could be represented in the booth without authorization from the Chair. Of course, the usual suspects, Slate Gorton, Ken Eikenberry and their gang refused to acknowledge the platform. In fact, Slate let us know he was above us and we were here to serve him. Sorry, the logic didn’t work. I assured him we were looking for a piece of paper and I was sure he could fax this immediately. It never came.

Of course, the RINOs – especially the two who sat on the Evergreen State Fair board – were honking like a gaggle of geese. Meanwhile, the people working the booth, thrilled to have the support of the Executive Board and Chair, were rigid in their enforcement of this policy. Oh, did I mention, we allowed no RINOs on the Fair Committee?

Unbeknownst to me, the fair board RINOs called the Sheriff to have his deputies clear out the fair booth and turn it over to the “real Republicans.” I had just finished dinner and I got this overwhelming urge to check on the fair booth. So, I grabbed the contract and drove to the fair. As I entered the exhibition tent, I saw the deputies just beginning to clear out our workers and three news crews filming the event. The news crews were there to document our disgrace and to convince future idealists of the futility of standing up for principle.

As the booth workers were leaving, I directed them back to the booth and told them not to surrender the booth to anyone. “What is going on here,” I asked with much indignation to the Deputy who most looked like he was the one in charge.

“We are here to clear out this fair booth because these people refuse to allow some of the Republican candidates to display their materials in the Republican booth.” He replied.

“Who authorized this?” I asked.

“We were told to do this immediately.” He responded.

“How do you have the authority to dictate what goes on in our fair booth and has it occurred to you someone might have a contract?” I continued.

“No. We were told to do this.” He said, sheepishly.

At that point, I pulled out the contract and pointed to my name on the signature line. He decided he needed to call his superiors. We moved the delegation of deputies and news crews to another building but then we left the news crews outside. My crew was allowed to remain while we sorted this out. After an hour and a half of examining contracts, explaining why our policy was so exclusive – and I am sure in the background the democrat Sheriff and County DA were trying to figure some way to break the contract as they were good friends of the RINOs – it was determined the Snohomish County GOP had the sole authority to determine who would be represented in the booth.

As a sidenote: about half the deputies remarked how they thought we had a good policy and were wondering why the Democrats didn’t have the same policy.

Oh, the media groupies were beside themselves, choking and puking over this. It was a delight to see. The fair went on without disruption to our booth. I received the usual death threats and porno messages on my phone from the usual RINOs daughters but this was the extent of the damage.

The excluded candidates decided they would display their materials at the Democratic Party booth. The Democrats were more than willing to accommodate and even allowed them to man the booth from time-to-time. The media, of course, loved this and made great capital with it.

Another sidenote: Barbara Madsen was running for the Supreme Court. She had an agent contact us to convince us she was conservative and pro-life. I didn’t think she was but we allowed her materials in the booth. When all the media hoopla happened, her posters and papers were splashed across all the television screens in the Puget Sound region. She freaked – she sent us a cease and desist letter – and it was fun watching her backpedalling to the public how she was not conservative or pro-life. We really flushed her out – and you think judicial candidates’ view are supposed to be neutral. She won the election anyway and has been sitting on the bench for twenty years now.

The point of the story – besides the joy of reminiscing – is to demonstrate what can happen when the chairman believes his first obligation is to the Central Committee. Most Chairmen run for power. Those who intend to uphold the power of the committee don’t come around very often. This is why it is important for the Committee to raise up their own leaders instead of waiting for a “conservative they can trust” to come along. To do this, you have to do more than attend Committee meetings and complain about how the chairman railroaded you on your drive home.

About the author: cominus

Cominus is the pen-name for Dean Isaacson. He was chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee (Washington) 1990 to 1992. He conducted legal research for the late Supreme Court Justice William C. Goodloe for several years and led Judicial Forum for many years. Now, he is a crazy kinda guy who spends most his time doing cold calls. He plays his harmonica in the truck because people don't want to listen to him practice - but his dog, Miles (black dachshund), loves to sing along. He is passionate about being passionate because everyone is really into passionate these days but tires easily and hides behind emails. His core belief is you will choose to serve God or you will serve the state - tyrants, as William Penn called it.

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  1. Ken Estes
    Posted 20 Oct 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    You were the reason I chose to run in 1998, We are a rule of law and your leadership has taught me that, It helped I was a Christian and you were a Christian Leader. First God’s law,then man’s law, never the reverse. I am still in poltics and continue to fight the dark side. It does not give up and only when HE takes me home will I surrender the mortal fight. Keep up your good works they only inspire! And keep up your personal story, as I know it is only God’s will you are here with us today.

    • Posted 20 Oct 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Ken, for your encouraging words and your good fight. I have always appreciated your leadership and willingness to be in the battle. Keep the faith.

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