As mentioned in part one, the slating process turned out to be problematic. It’s not unusual for slates–lists of recommended delegates–to be revised multiple times before the first vote. However, this slating apparently was out of the ordinary. Knowing something of how parties and conventions operate, I had deliberately made sure to grab seats for myself and several others from my district in the area where those with suits and fancy name tags typically sit, and was rewarded with some interesting information.
Quite a few of the old time middle level GOP operatives were rather “annoyed”. It was one thing for the AZGOP to cancel any notion of tabling delegates for slating “from the floor” (a time honored custom allowing “the little guys” a chance to play). It was another thing to prohibit delegates from “stumping” for votes at all–another staple of the delegate process, so the voters have a clue who they are voting for.
A Secret Star Chamber….
A “star chamber”, for those not familiar with the term, is an inner group of key players who meet to work out who gets certain perks or positions in the party, or who gets slated as the reps (open or secret) for the party. In THIS case, according a no less than 12 different mid level operatives, the “star chamber” was comprised of an anonymous group of power players that were chosen by some arcane process, by persons unknown. I could find none who would admit to being included. Quite literally NO ONE I SPOKE TO KNEW HOW THOSE SLATES HAD BEEN FINALLY CHOSEN.
It should also be noted that a lot of names you would have expected to see on those slates,the mid level and upper level GOPers–were NOT on them. According to those I spoke to, the infighting in the local party right now is far more widespread, and serious, than the “outward” squabbling we have been seeing on the news. if you’re unsure why so many people want to go to Cleveland, read some of my earlier posts on why people fight for national delegate slots–it has nothing to do with voting or civic duty.
I did note that several of those slated for 3,3 on the final tally were also slated for Cruz,and one of the people on that slate hadn’t even been asked to be slated for either Trump or Cruz. As a matter of fact, he didn’t know he was slated until he saw his name. He was in a state of total jaw drop.
The mid level operatives I spoke with made it very clear that there is a serious level of infighting this election cycle within our state party. I also heard directly from more than one of them that they have been left out of the loop this cycle, and they are not happy campers.
Some Interesting Revelations:
The “Star Chamber” slating irritated quite a few people who had been excluded from any knowledge of who was being slated, and by whom. This represents a fairly radical departure from the norm, and when coupled with the absence of any opportunity to stump, or even meet the slated delegates and the ground teams insistence we vote our slate so we wouldn’t get “confused” is quite interesting, to say the least.
When you add in the large number of people reporting being uninformed (that would have been expected to be “in” on the game), one has to wonder exactly WHO chose the final slates in the first vote, and how/why….
Additionally, I had the chance to meet with the county chairs from over half of our counties in AZ–and the precinct situation here is far more dire than even I had suspected. At any given time, the party expects about 30% of those valuable precinct seats to be empty–they COUNT on it, as the precinct position is the power position. So while in one sense it’s desirable to have those seats manned with active volunteers to get out the vote and get the voters engaged, on the OTHER hand, you want to be sure those seats hold people who are in favor of preserving the GOPer power base, and the status quo. BECAUSE IT IS THE PRECINCT SEAT HOLDERS THAT VOTE IN THE PARTY SYSTEM. They are the people who, after the next general election, will be re-drawing our districts and voting on the state party rules and bylaws for the next cycle. And voting in the party leadership.
But from what I gathered in talking to the county chairs, and the precinct chairs,vacancies are at an all time high–with more than 1/2 the seats empty.
In other words, people of AZ–if we want to get this party working for us again, there is no better time to get to your local GOPer meeting, say the right words, and GET A PRECINCT SEAT.
Networking In GOPerLand….
I had my other half in the “guest section”, connecting with other guests and also engaging the various volunteers for candidates of all types and passing out my cards to my blog. His designated position was between a “balanced voice of reason” and a “concern troll”. I gave him very careful instruction on what buzzwords to use, and what NOT to get into discussions about, and went about my business–which was seeking out dissatisfied voters, angry voters, and inside party members whop want to get the system operating properly again.
As such, MY designated position was one of “the party is in trouble. If we want to bring back conservative, constitutional principles and insure we don’t have out of control candidates again, we need to get voters back into the party system, and engaged”. I was very careful to use language that is commonly used by inside operatives (not MY fault if they decided I was “for” their candidate of choice, of course). My purpose was quite simple–get a strong feel for what is going on in as many counties as possible, in what ways the heads of those counties felt they were weak, and to get a deeper picture of the precinct level feeling in the party.
As such, I was very happy to note that not only are there more than enough empty precinct seats to allow a reform movement to succeed, a higher percentage of precinct chairs and county level chairs were dissatisfied with the situation than I had estimated would be the case. Not surprisingly, the more rural/remote counties had the highest vacancies and the highest dissatisfaction level–rural areas typically do. Party members in counties other than my own are more than willing to network with me, and are also more than willing to be active members and contributors in the website I’m building.
In the next post, I’ll cover the infamous “second ballot/at large delegate” vote electronically.