Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

Tom John and the Marion County GOP, on top of other troubles, have now sacked two ward chairmen in Washington Township, Liz Karlson and Eric Smith.

Both were supporters of Scott Schneider in the caucus earlier this week. The timing of their firings is highly coincidental, given their support for Schneider and the pressure that was very clearly exerted in favor of his opponent by Marion County GOP leadership.

This is an ugly thing, and reminiscent of the sacking by Tom John of Dave Miller, who was then Perry Township Chairman, for his support of Greg Zoeller and vocal opposition to the Marion County GOP's efforts to strong-arm delegates in the 2008 attorney general's convention fight.

The firing of Dave Miller was attributed to "competency." The firings of Smith and Carlson have been attributed to everything from them fraternizing with Libertarians to them not recognizing certain party leaders at GOP club meetings. One was accused of hosting GOP club meetings whose speakers were bloggers that were "anti-organization." They were also accused of not doing their jobs. Their job, apparently, is defined as "supporting GOP candidates and the organization in which you serve."

There you have it. If you don't salute and follow orders, they don't want you.

Curiously, the incidents cited as justification for the firings (in reference to them not doing their jobs) frequently happened many months ago. Some of them happened before the last election. Almost all of them happened before Teresa Lubbers resigned her senate seat.

I suppose we are to believe that the timing is nevertheless a coincidence, and that the support by these two ward chairmen for Scott Schneider was simply and utterly unrelated to them being relieved of their party posts. They could have been removed from their positions months ago for most of their supposed shortcomings, if those were indeed the reasons for them being sacked.

Instead, they continued in their positions for many months afterward. After the last election, which went disastrously for the Marion County GOP. After the county party reorganization. After the resignation of Senator Lubbers. But yet their sacking for offenses before these other things happens now, after the Marion County GOP's man lost in a caucus vote.

It strains credulity to believe that these firings are unrelated to what happened at that caucus this week.

A lot good happened at that caucus. The votes were cast and counted fairly. The process (with the exception of the regionalized voting machines, which I question) was fair. Capable and qualified men entered as contenders. A lengthy campaign took place, allowing ample time for consideration and thoughtful decision making by precinct committeemen. A good man will become the senator from District 30. The itself was well-run and administered (compare that to some of the caucuses held by Democrats in Marion County, for example).

But the behavior of some in Marion County before that event--and now afterward--casts a long shadow over all of those positives.