Two Scott County Activists Running for State Central Committee

Saturday’s District Republican Convention in Mt Pleasant includes the election of four members from the district who will sit on the State Central Committee (SCC).  There are seven announced candidates from which to choose four.  Two of them are from Scott County, Thomas Rutherford and John Ortega.

The web publication The Iowa Republican (TIR) conducted a survey of  the announced candidates from all of Iowa’s four congressional districts holding their conventions.  We recommend visiting their site for information regarding all the various candidates

It is not an extensive survey, instead focused on one hot button issue, Q3,  that of the propriety of SCC members being allowed to work for and/or endorse candidates during GOP primary or caucus campaigns?  As a prelude to that it also asked the question  Q2 Who did you caucus for in 2012?  It also enquired into the candidate’s political experience, Q1 .  Their responses are set forth below

John Ortega – Scott County
1.  Vice-chair of Scott County GOP. Done about everything for numerous candidates. On the central committee. Been there for 10 years. Whatever needed to be done, we do. Go door to door, a lot of telephone calls, mailings. A lot of work organizing for convention and caucus. Visited 17 of the 24 counties since June 2. Been on SCC since 2000.
2.  “Nobody. I’ve been neutral. I’ve been to all of their events and talked to all of them.”
3.  “No. If they want to do it, that’s perfectly fine, but they should not be on the State Central Committee or a National Committeeman or Committeewoman.”

Thomas Rutherford – Scott County
(Rutherford did not return a phone call placed to his home, but this information was retrieved online)
1.  Member of “Home Schoolers for Ron Paul” coalition.
2.  Ron Paul

I believe the survey questions are valid, neutral enough and timely. I would have added one . . .  “does the platform mean anything and should nominees and incumbents who honor it be differentially supported by the state central committee”  or some other formulation that seeks to honor those who support the platform.  We will develop that theme in coming months but for this post I will reflect only on the questions asked by TIR.

As regards Thomas Rutherford, I have served with him on a couple of platform committees. He was very informed on platform issues. As platform committee chairman I had a lot of back and forth with him. I found him knowledgeable, reasonable and respectful of the process. I did not find him to be a doctrinaire Libertarian, he is certainly a constitutionalist.  He is articulate. If he could not be reached for the survey I suspect it was an anomaly.

Regarding John Ortega’s  particular response regarding serving on the state central committee while publicly supporting a primary candidate, the first part is a bit silly.  “If they want to do it, that’s perfectly fine,”  . . . so John you deign to allow someone to support a particular candidate and be a Republican activist at the same time. Thank you.

John is a bit inconsistent on the broader issue however. John is a Vice-Chair of Scott County Republicans and has been for several years. As such he sits on the Scott County Executive Committee with noted Mitt Romney maxed-out-donor and local Finance Chair Brain Kennedy He shared the same locally influential table in 2008 with another Vice-Chair and paid Romney organizer (then) Greg Adamson. This year Brian Kennedy sat on the Scott County district and state delegate nominating committee for crying out loud and John issued no public and I doubt private criticism directed at that even more egregious situation.  When does it stop John . . . how about in your own back yard?!

Ortega has indicated no support to those who have decried the situation locally, instead teaming up with the perps of an outrageous shortchanging of Ron Paul supporters, in fact with proportionality as an indicator, and appearance.  He has a share in the ineptness and poor leadership regarding the 2012 Scott County Republican caucus to convention process. Outside of Barack Obama,  Paul supporters have brought more new Republican registrations into the Party than any other effort.  Those same registrations establishment quasi-conservatives and ineffective conservatives nevertheless love to take credit for.

Appearances do mean something.  I support efforts to eliminate real conflicts of interest.  I support David Chung’s proposal (see TIR article) with some reservations or additions. I also agree with those who point out that “announced neutrality” is no guarantee of truth or freedom from subterfuge. Between the two one can make the case for the devil you know. There is also the problem of political stupidity, poor judgement and anemic bed wetters ending up comprising the state central committee.  The latter could end up being the worst situation as a result of such a rule without other necessary provisions. John just needs to be consistent and display the same righteousness about the issue on the county executive committee.

Besides appearances we need to build in checks and balances, especially transparency,  that mitigates against subterfuge.  Not having the judgment to treat every presidential candidate group the same by allowing them on nominating committees and foot dragging on their legitimate requests is just as bad or worse than the appearance of individual members bias because of announced support for a candidate,  although appearances do  damage confidence and unity in groups. This Party went through such nonsense before, directed at social conservatives and especially those identified as Robertson supporters. Such tactics were observed then by many and I see similar tactics directed at a different group now.

Where is the John Ortega introduced resolution at the county level to disallow a Scott County Republican Executive Committee member “to work for and/or endorse candidates during GOP primary or caucus campaigns?” John Ortega by “appearances” has not been consistent and has failed by any information he has presented as to how he has attempted to clean up his own back yard.

John also appears to be promoting a slate as a post card has been sent out using his return address (not to me even though I prepared his campaign material as a supporter two years ago).  That also seems to be a bit of an inconsistency for him.

We also need a State Central Committee that will enforce that it must actually mean something to be a Republican. Because Podunk nominates a Democrat in disguise, that does not mean that hard earned support from Mainstream Republicanville should get spent to further that situation without condition and reservation.  There are existing State Platform provisions designed to put some teeth in the platform.  We will wait to hear how John Ortega as a many year veteran of the State Central Committee has proposed implementing policies to that effect in the two years since that provision was overwhelmingly approved by state delegates.

In the war against the Obamanation, as a conservative I would rather share a foxhole with a Paulista than a back shooting liberal Republican. But too many conservatives are treating Ron Paul supporters unfairly. Ron Paul supporters are Republicans and allies in the fight.  Over the last few months I have learned that Paul’s support (like most candidates) is a mixed bag.  Much of it is driven by disgust with establishment Republicans and do nothing conservatives.  That is understandable given the demonstration we have seen of late from key individuals in Scott County.

I have much reserve admiration for John and his past work in support of conservatism. He stood up to oppose former State Senator Maggie Tinsman when Scott County Chairwoman Judy Davidson stood to nominate and support her to fill a vacant State Central Committee position in April of 2009.  I know because I was there to oppose her as well. John Ortega is not afraid to speak out, we just need someone to do it a lot more consistently.  Thomas Rutherford will be my pick from Scott County.

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2 Responses to Two Scott County Activists Running for State Central Committee

  1. Jane Murphy says:

    Are you feeling proud of yourself Rodger? I hope you enjoy all your “new” friends, because all of your “old” friends are finished.

  2. Designated2 says:

    Sorry you feel that way Jane. But when otherwise good people do things using their power, not to persuade, but to shun allies in the fight against Obama, seem to have lost all power or ability to differentiate, lose a sense of proportion and fair play for whatever reason, put at risk the benefits of Iowa’s first in the nation caucus status (why even have the rest of the process after the straw poll, indeed just go to a primary for the presidential vote as well and see how much attention Iowa gets), and do so with such clumsiness or inattention, I will call them to task. If they cannot stomach that then they are in the wrong game, and so be it. Roger Mall

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