2006 Recount Contest and Republican politics
Special prosecutor Barry Brown (a Democrat) has determined that "there was no sign of any wrongdoing or illegal activity that would justify prosecution" in the 2006 election, according to the Herald-Times. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that there was no sign of illegal activity in the election. As I reported on December 5, Monroe County Republican Party chairman Franklin Andrew has spoken of very questionable absentee ballot applications. Two weeks after my post, former Monroe County Democrat Party chairman Dan Combs released a letter complaining about it. Three months later, local Democrats are still whining and crying about that post.
Jack Schmit, the Republican appointee to the county election board, spoke at the Lunch Bunch this past Friday about some of these applications. He indicated that the GOP might go public with some of these concerns, something they could not do while the investigation was ongoing. I personally hope they do, because in my opinion it would be a huge political mistake not to do so. If the GOP allows the Herald-Times and the Democrat Party to define this issue as Republican paranoia, it could damage Republicans in future elections.
Andrew survived a challenge at the party caucus on Saturday from Gene Moncel and will remain chairman for the next two years. While all of the information and personal contact I have had with Moncel indicates that he is a good man, I do not think he would bring the energy that Andrew brought to the local party. I was also very concerned when Greg Travis (husband of County Council member Sophia Travis) said that Moncel would "make a fine, sensible, chair". When radical Leftists and partisan Democrats are endorsing a candidate for GOP chairman, it should give all Republicans pause.
It is rather convenient that Brown's final report was released the day before the Republican Party voted on who will be the party chairman for the next two years. Moderates in the party (some of whom are upset about the recount contest) had fielded a candidate to challenge Andrew. I find it amazing that anyone (other than Democrats) would want Andrew to be removed, considering the energy he brought to the Republican Party in 2006. Andrew is arguably the hardest-working chairman this party has had in many years.
Look at Andrew's accomplishments: he brought in a large number of volunteers to do what no one likes to do: phone banking. He took the party from being in debt to finishing the year in the black. He secured a headquarters for the party. He worked hard to organize an effective door-to-door campaign. He was invaluable in getting the Ivy Tech College Republicans off the ground despite heavy resistance from the administration. He gave the candidates every resource he could so they could win; the only thing he could not do was force the candidates to use that resource. As a candidate for a minor office in 2006, I knew that Andrew would do what he could to help me if I asked for it.
The 2006 election results were not good for Republicans, but to blame that on Franklin Andrew is preposterous given the work he put into the party. Ultimately, the candidates themselves and their campaign committees are responsible for their victory or defeat. It is true that the last mid-term election went much better for the local GOP, but 2002 was a Republican year nationally. The 2006 election saw an extremely motivated and energized Democrat base to go along with a national tide against Republicans. The major area where Republicans fell short was registering new voters, and Andrew knows that has to change.
None of this, however, changes the election results. Democrats simply got more votes than Republicans did. If the Republican Party is going to reverse this trend, we cannot blow up the party leadership after all that has been accomplished to lay the groundwork for future elections. Franklin Andrew was clearly the best man for the job and the GOP is fortunate that he won re-election on Saturday.