In Our View: GOP Wounds Self-Inflicted

Criticizing your own is no way to act as the campaign season approaches

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Memo to Clark County Republican leaders: When you light that exploding cigar, don’t put it in your own mouth!Granted, these folks are free to run their shop any way they choose, but punishing one of their own office holders is self-defeating. It exacerbates division within their own ranks and, worse, the fratricide sets up the Republicans for ridicule and derision from rival Democrats.

Apparently, those realities escaped the Clark County Republicans’ executive board in November. As Stephanie Rice reported in Friday’s Columbian, Republican County Commissioner Marc Boldt was punished by his own party for, ostensibly, marching out-of-step with the other elephants. Penalties included Boldt’s removal from the local GOP’s website and not being allowed to use party resources, such as financial support and mailing lists. Boldt says he plans to meet with the board in the next week or so to, we suppose, reread the playbook together.

Of course, local Democrats could hardly contain their glee over dissension in the enemy camp, boasting about their “big-tent” inclusiveness and huffing that they would never deign to expose any donkey’s warts. Why, that’s beneath the dignity of local politics! County Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, noted that “it is amusing to see Republicans eat their own, but it is bad for the community.”

Boldt had four strikes against him, according to the GOP board. As we see it, at least one was a bad call by the umpires. Boldt actually opposed a proposed admissions tax that would’ve helped pay for a new baseball stadium. But because he was even mildly interested in considering other views about the admissions tax … STEE-RIKE!

Another bad call was that Boldt was not sufficiently enthusiastic about the home-rule charter process. The truth is that only a few people were interested in this unnecessary reform. There was virtually no public outcry for the change, and Boldt knew it.

Worst of all, Boldt had endorsed a Democrat: Stuart. Egads! But rather than sharing the GOP hierarchy’s revulsion about this treason, Boldt more calmly observed that if he and Stuart didn’t compromise, “we’d never get anything done.” True that.

The local GOP leaders might have enjoyed some pleasurable revenge against Boldt after he defiantly strayed toward independent thought, but here’s a long-term scenario to ponder: What if Boldt -- a solidly Republican former state legislator -- is re-elected in November to his third term as county commissioner? When local GOP leaders approach him with a request to hear their views on some vital issue, what reception might he grant them? Knowing Boldt, he’ll probably listen to them. Nonpartisan listening is a sign of statesmanship. But he’ll also remember the time his own offensive line refused to block.

In reality, is there always some subtle pressure by all parties to do what the parties think is right? Yes. But do they do it to the extent our local Republican party did? No. What the Republicans did was polarizing, unacceptable and inappropriate.