Another Caucus, Another Delegate

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Today was the Snohomish County Republican Convention and Legislative Caucuses here in Washington.

The Legislative Caucuses were the second phase of the Precinct Caucuses a month earlier: the delegates from the precincts in each district met to select the delegates to the State Convention. Our district has 22 delegates to the convention, and the number of people who both wanted to be a state delegate, and were either in attendance or had someone there vouch for them, was 21. And I was one of them. So, I'll be headed to Bellevue at the end of May (CmdrTaco, I'll need at least one day off, on Friday the 28th).

This is the second state convention I've been selected as a delegate to. I was a delegate to the Massachusetts convention in 2002 -- the one that selected Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for governor -- though I did not attend, as my child had just been born. The different paths are interesting. In 2002, I was elected to the Republican Town Committee in 2000 (on the primary ballot; my name was alongside Bush's, along with 30-something others), from which the delegates are chosen. In 2004, I went through the precinct and legislative caucuses.

But in both cases, all I really had to do was show up, as there were more available slots than people to fill them.

Most of the day involved the Convention, where the delegates vote on the officials, platform, and resolutions of the county party. This ended up about as well and as poorly as I could have hoped: the leadership seemed to have little concept of how to run a meeting under Robert's Rules of Order (something that people in Massachusetts seem to be far more familiar with), but at least it was relatively short (a couple of hours, as opposed to previous Town Meetings in the aforementioned Massachusetts, that lasted several evenings). Indeed, there was imposed a time limit of 15 minutes of discussion per section; it predictably went over by quite a bit, but it prevented the discussion from going much, munch longer.

The voting for officials lasted mere seconds. The long part was going over the party platform, which is a nice but essentially useless document describing what the members of the party think on various issues. It is nothing more than a marketing piece, telling everyone what the party stands for. It's not like any elected official is ever held to the platform, after all.

And yet we spent all this time discussing banalities. If these were laws, I'd understand. But they are not laws, they are not binding. This is an actual excerpt (paraphrased from my memory, which surely makes the conversation seem a lot more reasonable than it actually was, which is ironic):

"Under Education, item 4, I move that, on line 56, we insert the word 'accurate' between the words 'on' and 'American,' so that it reads 'We support a re-emphasis on accurate American History and Civics."


"Any cons?"

"I rise in opposition to this amendment. The problem is not so much that people are teaching inaccurate history, but that they are giving their opinions."

"I'd like to make a friendly amendment, changing the word 'accurate' to 'factual.' This emphasizes that teachers should give accurate facts, but also that they should stress facts and not opinion."

"Is that acceptable to the submitter of the amendment, and the second? [...] It is. Any cons?"

Ten minutes of this, just about this one word: what it should be, whether it was appropriate. I was looking around for sharp objects to drill a hole in my skull. This is indeed how I spent a part of my Saturday, and yes, I am bitter about it. As I said, the only saving grace was the time limitation. Not only the saving grace, but also the hope which kept the faith of the grace alive (as the convention was held in a church, I feel this language is especially appropriate).

My shining moment was when the chair called for discussion of a previous motion that had already been ruled out of order. A delegate had risen to amend the platform plank supporting the death penalty, and was ruled out of order because we had to go through the platform before entertaining motions to amend. So when the chair called for discussion, I yelled out a point of order, that the motion had been ruled out of order, and must therefore be re-moved if it is to be discussed, let alone voted on.

I felt so cool. But as this happened at the beginning of the process, it didn't diminish the bitterness to follow.

The convention had its crazies: the people who are just missing a little something. One was the woman who kept making the amendments as above (she had a half dozen of those). Those are the crazies who have been around awhile. Then there's the crazies who are just getting invovled, and are really excited, and think they can change things just by being energetic. Then there's the dude with the sword (I'll come back to him later). Then there's the 50-year-old man with a day's growth of beard and disheveled hair who was wearing a nice, neat, classic, red wool dress.

Moving along ...

We also listened to various candidates for office. There were three challengers to Rick Larsen in the U.S. House, three to Patty Murray in the U.S. Senate, two for the state Attorney General position, one (non-partisan) for the state Supreme Court (it's so weird to have judges elected, especially at the Supreme Court level), and one for governor.

I've not made up my mind whom to vote for, of course. I liked George Nethercutt for Senate. He's the chap who knocked out Speaker of the House Tom Foley in the 1994 Republican Revolution, so you know he's got the chops to beat a popular liberal Democrat. He's the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, but I also liked his primary opponent Reed Davis, because he stressed the problems of high spending and deficits, especially at a time of tax cuts.

There was a third for the Senate seat, Gordon Allen. His claim to fame is that in his three previous campaigns, for the U.S. House, he spent a grand total of $830. For all three races combined. My time spent here, writing about him, is more valuable than that, so I'll move on.

For the House, I was not too impressed by the political aspirations of Glenn Coggeshell, the aforementioned sword dude (though he was entertaining), and Suzanne Sinclair seemed quite smart and competent enough. There was a third man I liked best, but I didn't get any of his literature (if he had any) and don't recall his name. Maybe I'll end up voting for the sword dude. I'd have to be crazy NOT to!

For Attorney General, I've heard the most about Rob McKenna, but he didn't show up. Mike Vaska did show up, and he was especially good. I liked everything he had to say, and he had a great way about him. Plus, one the guys working for him is former commander or something of the USS John C Stennis, and is endorsed by the state's governor from 1964-1976, Daniel J. Evans.

Then there's Dino Rossi for governor; the current governor, Gary Locke, is leaving office after two terms. I've heard a lot of great things about him, and he was an impressive speaker, though he was brief. I am eager to hear more from him, and I am sure I will over the next few months. That's one race I won't need to worry about slipping through the cracks.

See you after Bellevue ...

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