Reports that the Republican Party of Kentucky is considering a proposal that would put off the election of party leadership one year until 2013 has caused an uproar among members of the Tea Party, many of whom perceive it as a way to prevent Tea Party candidates from getting elected to the party leadership.
Currently, the RPK reorganization happens every four years, in line with the presidential election cycle. New party officers are elected at a statewide convention, which follows local conventions to elect local officers. Those elected serve for four years.
Dave Adams, who heads a political action committee that supports Tea Party candidates, found the idea of postponing the next election troubling.
“Until I’m proven otherwise, … it’s my contention that some people in the Republican hierarchy are quite concerned about Tea Party members inserting themselves into party leadership,” he said.
Adams said the justification he had heard for the rule change was “that there’d be too steep of a learning curve for the election in that year,” an idea he called “ridiculous.”
“I think you could legitimately draw a parallel to Barack Obama – if he put the word out that things are just too crazy in the world right now, and that if a new president got elected in 2012 there’d be too steep of a learning curve, and so we’re just going to postpone that,” Adams said. (Tea Partiers storm NRSC offices)
Adams also said the timing of the proposal was just too suspicious, given that it came at the very moment when in Kentucky, the “Tea Party is getting better organized and continuing to grow our numbers and becoming more of a vocal force in state politics.”
Karen Seby, a Tea Party activist and radio talk show host had a similar take.
“It’s almost like they’re trying to keep the Tea Party out of the loop,” she said.
Seby said she didn’t expect the proposal to go anywhere, “if they stop and listen to what’s going on.”
Holly Harris, in-house counsel to the RPK, dismissed the notion that there were anything other than practical motivations. (FreedomWorks forming rival debt commission to Obama’s group)
The idea of moving reorganization “is brought up almost every year,” she said, “at least 10 years that I can think back.”
Harris noted that it was not an imminent rule change, or even a “proposed rule change,” but rather just an idea brought up in discussion.
“The only purpose … was just to discuss moving our leadership elections off the presidential year because obviously that year has been very, very busy,” she said.
A source involved with Kentucky politics explained that there was good reason for keeping the leadership elections exactly when they were because presidential years inspired the largest turnout of voters, with enthusiastic new people who come to the meetings. Holding the elections in a presidential year is simply the best way to motivate people to show up.