The Maine Republican Party has had an awful track record of effective communication with its grassroots in the last two years. Since the rise of the libertarian base through the 2012 Ron Paul Presidential Campaign, tensions have been steadily rising. This is not a trend unique to Maine however, but rather abroad. The Republican National Committee responded by joining forces with the Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign to silence the rebellious Ron Paul delegates.
After the exit of Charlie Webster as Maine Republican Party Chairman, former State Representative Rich Cebra was endorsed by Governor Paul LePage to be the new leader, and he won State Committee support. That fell flat as his wild personality and loose cannon tendencies proved divisive. Despite some solid moves as a legislator, Cebra proved to be a weak and ineffective Chair. He eventually resigned after events such as Penobscotgate became too much.
The next Chair race provided a critical moment for the grassroots to either support an establishment moderate in former National Committeeman Rick Bennett or veteran and former National Delegate Sam Canders. With the exception of former Paul campaign Maine State Director Eric Brakey and State Representative Aaron Libby throwing their support behind Bennett, the liberty grassroots supported Canders.
Canders lost, but Bennett had seemed to be a uniting force with few issues in the months which followed. Respected by Democrat opposition for his civil approach, he hasn’t created a lot of uproar the way his predecessors did.
Then came the return of the RNC Rules Changes, new governing procedure for future presidential primaries which were created to prevent another grassroots uprising like the one in 2012.
“What was once the responsibility of elected National Delegates every four years has now been handed off to a 17-member subcommittee offering fewer hands and less input,” said Bryan Daugherty, a former Republican activist who resigned from the State Committee earlier this year. “Their unanimous mandate does not represent the vast feelings of Republican partygoers. It rather fits the mold that leadership needs to remain in power.”
Daugherty has worked hard since the National Convention — where he as a National Delegate was directly affected — to reverse the new course set by the Republican National Committee. As a leader in the movement opposing the rules, he pushed various efforts over several meetings to return voting power to the National Delegates. Daugherty also worked with former National Committeeman Mark Willis in his bid to replace Reince Priebus as Republican National Chairman, running on a pro-grassroots platform.
One of the projects that Daugherty worked on was a State Committee resolution, “Resolution To Restore The Power Of The GOP Grassroots.” Passed overwhelmingly, it stated that the rules passed by the RNC were done so without respect to proper parliamentary procedure and thus were invalid. One of the many co-sponsors was Eric Brakey.
Now a year later, the new Chairman was faced with a vote at the Republican National Committee on the rules changes. The previous Chair, Rich Cebra, co-sponsored the State Committee resolution.
National Committeewoman Ashley Ryan voted with the grassroots and against the rules changes. National Committeeman Alex Willette voted against the grassroots and for the rules changes.
Brakey accepted the proxy for Chairman Bennett, joining National Committeeman Willette in opposing the grassroots with a vote in favor of the changes. In doing so, Brakey released a statement claiming he had a speech against the rules changes, though he had not given it. He also claimed that he was bound to vote a certain way, despite the fact that he claimed that vote went against his conscience.
The only problem with this claim is that in the past, former National Committeewoman Jan Staples had served as a proxy for former Chairman Cebra and was able to vote her conscience.
Bennett’s support of the establishment changes come as a surprise, because in Representative Libby’s endorsement letter during the Chair race, he claimed that Bennett had been a strong ally of the National Delegation.
Given what has now happened, something doesn’t add up. Why support the duly-elected National Delegation only to turn around and support new rules aimed at stopping a National Delegation of non-coronation cheerleaders from ever being elected again?
To be clear, this is not a return to the Ron Paul vs. the Establishment battle which. That is now over a year behind us. No, this is the future.
It is a safe bet that Senator Rand Paul will be running for President in 2016 and though his support is not as strong, it still threatens to be problematic to the Republican establishment.
“Overall, this has been the priority of the RNC activity since the 2012 Republican National Convention,” Daugherty explained. “Control. Control the committee members; control the rules; control the debates; and now full control of the nomination process.”
For the liberty movement within the Republican Party, it is unfortunate that a number of leaders have decided to abandon the statist regime that is the minority party.
Former National Committeeman Mark Willis led an impressive campaign publicly during the height of the Delegation battle, informing the media and grassroots that he and other National Delegates would stand firm on the issue. There’s no doubt that he would have defended the grassroots and voted against the rules changes, had he still been National Committeeman.
The Republican Party is causing an increasing defection rate with the increasing oppression towards those who wish to have a voice in the process. These rules changes threaten the future of the party and represent a shift away from republican principles.
As much as the Republican Party loves to to attack Democrats for their agenda pushing big government control, nobody runs a Democratic-style political party quite like the Republicans.
“’Decentralized governance’ is no longer a core belief of the Republican Party, at least according to National leadership,” Daugherty said, in response to the vote and the new rules changes. “Regardless of how one interprets the new rules adopted in Friday’s general session, it represents the elimination of representative republicanism altogether.”