When the Ron Paul folks in Boone County took control of the county GOP committee last year the energy and direction of that organization became predictable. The mainstream republicans no longer had much of a chance, and that included Mitch McConnell. This week the county committee toyed with the idea of endorsing Matt Bevin.
But they decided not to endorse either candidate in the race. Good for them.
The role of a county committee is spelled out in the rules and by-laws of the Republican Party of Kentucky. County committees are not autonomous bodies organized for the purpose of advancing any particular philosophy or working to unseat, defeat or damage incumbent republicans.
County committees are just that. They are committees of the larger party. Their role is to recruit new repubican voters and to handle the legal matters within their jurisdiction. County committees are not parties in and of themselves. For example, the name "Republican Party" belongs to the RPK and the RNC. Spin off groups which have tried to form independent minded "Republican Party" groups have been denied the use of those words.
County committees should not support one GOP candidate over another. Individual party officials within a county committee should not endorse one GOP candidate over another. Individuals who wish to do so should step aside from their official roles and not lend the title of their office to the candidacy of one GOP candidate over another.
There are certain limitations both legal and proper which must prevail over the zeal of one individual or group of individuals when it comes to intra-party political battles. And for good reason.
The eventual winner needs to be able to count on the full support of the party as an official organization. Otherwise the democrats and other parties gain an advantage by weakening the unified front of a strong GOP.
Even democrats, who for years have had spirited primaries, have come together to stand united against the republicans. Only a united republican organization could have created the successful environment in which the new Boone committee enjoys a position of influence. That lesson isn't lost on those of us who worked to build that organization from the days when there was none. It is not an exaggeration to say that not too long ago the republicans in Boone County could have held their meetings in a phone booth, even though most of the young people who are now coming up through the ranks of the GOP have never even seen a phone booth.
It was a mature decision on the part of Rick Brueggeman and his committee to stand strong against the pressure to work against McConnell. Apparently it took Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager and friend to many of the Boone County Ron Paul folks to come in and calm things down but in the end the new and energetic committee made the right decision.
I'm sure Mitch is going to have trouble generating enthusiasm for his candidacy in Boone this coming cycle but at least the county committee won't be working in an official capacity to undermine him as apparently Bevins had hoped.