Longtime loyal Republican Boger leaves the party

Hardline orthodoxy on the right, treatment of Boldt affected decision

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Fed up with what he says is growing extremism toward the far right, former Clark County Republican chairman Brent Boger says he's done with the party.

Boger -- a longtime vocal Republican and three-year-plus head of the local board -- stepped down from his Republican precinct committee officer duties in late July, and pulled his reelection bid.

Many of the hardline Tea Party members in the local party fail to accommodate a spectrum of views about how to be conservative, Boger said.

"I basically say to them -- if they give me a chance -- 'What makes you the repository of Republican orthodoxy?'" Boger said.

"I agree with the Republican Party on economic issues," he added in an email. "But my views are tempered by reality and a willingness to take the world as it is and not as I think it should be. I think that is missing from many on the far right in the GOP."

The Vancouver assistant city attorney, who ran a losing race as a Republican for Clark County prosecutor in 2010, was appointed to the nonpartisan Washougal City Council last month.

Boger said his new political affiliation-free job also played into his desires to step away from the party system. After watching what happened to Republican Clark County Commission Chairman Marc Boldt, his resolve to leave was hardened.

"The way the whole Boldt thing was handled was poor," Boger said. "I don't think they really understood that Boldt has obligations outside of his Republican Party lines. His obligations are to the citizens of the county, and that's far more important."

He also said he's long taken flak for being a RINO ("Republican In Name Only"), because "you won't hear me talking about abolishing Social Security, getting out of the U.N., or advocating for rigid immigration laws."

It's time for moderate Republicans to claim the term RINO as their own, and to be proud, he said. The Tea Party element of the party needs to accommodate more moderate Republicans -- "That's how you win elections."

For that reason, Boger said, he may remain involved with campaigning for what he calls "mainstream" candidates like Rob McKenna and Liz Pike as they run for governor and state representative, respectively.

Boger had been involved with the local Republican party for 13 years, since moving to the area, and with the GOP in California before then.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://twitter.com/col_cityhall; andrea.damewood@columbian.com.