When Clark County Councilor John Blom decided to leave the Republican Party late last year, it was because he had grown tired of its demand for “ideological purity,” he said.
Blom had first become involved with the GOP while working on John McCain’s presidential election. He called it an early lesson in watching bipartisanship used to achieve a productive end. Blom doesn’t see that so much anymore, he said.
“The role of parties is to look at broad ideas and say, ‘Hey, if this person agrees with me 70 percent of the time, that means they’re with me twice as often as not,’ ” Blom said. “You can’t have every issue be a true litmus test.”
Factions of the GOP, which once considered itself a “big tent” party, are tugging in different directions. Tuesday’s primary election will reveal which kind of Republicans Clark County’s voters prefer. And if the political leanings of Southwest Washington continue to trend toward the center, the party’s future in the region may ultimately depend on whether that big tent stretches or tears.
Blom is on the primary election ballot as an independent candidate. He’s facing a challenger to the left, as well as one to the right — Karen Bowerman, who’s been formally endorsed by the Clark County Republican Party. Her husband, Earl Bowerman, also serves as chair of the county GOP.