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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Press Talk: Local Republican heads south


Editor’s Note: This column was written before Hurricane Ian struck southwest Florida, where Lou Brancaccio lives and he evacuated to Miami. A column describing his experience navigating Hurricane Ian appeared in Friday’s Columbian.

David Gellatly has become the second past Clark County Republican chair to recently leave the county.

In 2022 Brent Boger skedaddled to Ecuador — in part — to get away from that oppressive dastardly Democratic governor in Olympia.

And just a few weeks ago David Gellatly moved to Florida. Why did he depart Clark County? Well, it was the crazies, of course.

“When I say the crazies I’m not just talking about liberals. I’m talking about the crazies on both sides. We literally have a nonstop civil war going on, on Facebook, all the time between the nastiest people I have ever seen on the right and the worst ideas I’ve ever seen on the left. Those are the people controlling the narrative. So until the moderates take back over and we get some adults in the room again, I don’t think Clark County is going to head in a good direction.”

To be fair, Gellatly had other reasons to relocate. After his divorce, his ex-wife was moving to southwest Florida with their 5-year-old son. So Gellatly ended up in Venice to be close by.

Yes, the city’s original developer wanted this town to be like Venice, Italy. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen. But Venice is a beautiful area. And if you know anything about Florida growth it is not only becoming more conservative but it is becoming the land of massive self-contained communities. Gellatly has landed in one of them.

• • •

Because Gellatly was the former county chair of the Republican Party, as well as generally involved in the Vancouver community, he’s well known. So I found it interesting to hear about his reasons for leaving as well as what his views on what the heck is going on today in politics. But before I return to this central point, a little on how this guy puts bread on the table.

Gellatly makes his living in logistics. Most of us had never heard of that occupation until the pandemic hit. So every time there wasn’t any mozzarella at the store we heard “supply chain issues.” Well logistic people have made a livelihood of making the supply chain work. They get a raw product — let’s say that’s milk — to a cheese producer. Then they figure out how to get that cheese (usually by truck) to a store. That’s logistics.

• • •

But back to politics and Gellatly’s move to Florida. When I met Gellatly at his Venice home a few days ago, he had just gotten his son off to school. Later he would pick him up. And his son’s well-being was a player in Gellatly’s move.

“The fact that crime was through the roof and being the president of our HOA there, I was dealing with all the break-ins, theft, trespassing, homeless camps all right next to my community. So (my ex-wife and I) were both on the same page. Neither one of us wanted Elliot to grow up in the city of Vancouver if it was going to continue in that direction.”

• • •

So this moderate Republican packed his bags. I call him a moderate and I’m pretty sure Gellatly likes to think of himself as a moderate. But I had to throw a few “tester” questions at him to check:

Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis?

“(Trump) was his own worst enemy. With DeSantis you get the policy but you get somebody you wouldn’t be embarrassed about.”

OK, that might not have been the best test. For my money Trump is still driving the clown car but DeSantis is riding shotgun. DeSantis clearly is more polished than Trump but his deplorable decision to use Florida taxpayers’ money to ship immigrants who crossed into Texas to Martha’s Vineyard is just one of his political stunts. Look, I think Democrats have to be much, much tougher on those who illegally come here (that doesn’t sound like a liberal, does it?) but I’m exhausted with characters like this. But I digress.

What about Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey vs. Brett Simpson?

“First off Kimsey is going to win in a landslide. I hosted a fundraiser for him. I might not agree with everything Greg does but I agree with him more than 80 percent of the time. He’s a well-liked person in Clark County and he doesn’t have to kowtow to either one of the sides. He’s a very moderate person. And Clark County is a very moderate county. So he fits the county.”

I think I’m liking this Gellatly guy more and more.

• • •

Finally, I asked what advice he would give residents of his former home of 20-plus years.

“People that have a lot of common sense, just good people, need to start showing up in the primary season. Support people that put the community first. There’s so much vitriol out there on both sides. On the Republican side we’re scaring away people. We had hundreds of people show up as volunteers that would go to a meeting that would never come back.

“They’d walk in and they were like ‘I thought I was a conservative but this isn’t me’ and they would never come back.

“But Clark County as a whole has so many good people that can work together and work across the aisle. Politically speaking it’s very fractured and divisive but I don’t feel the actual community is that way at all. It’s the opposite. It’s a great community when it comes to working with all kinds of people.”

My response to all of this? Amen.