PHOTO INDEX: A DESPERATE, DEFEATED, DEJECTED GOP.
REBUILDING THE GOP
I was going to save this until the new year but the defection of long time Republican Bill Jones from the Luzerne County GOP prompted me to do this now as a type of early Christmas present to the local party. The GOP in both Luzerne and Lackawanna County is a joke. There has to be a revolution in both GOP parties because they really don't do much to inspire two party representation. In Lackawanna County, the party is used like a back up date to the senior prom. If you can't get the cheerleader to go to the dance with you, zero in on the drum majorette with the chubby thighs to make the scene. Jimmy Connors, a former Democrat was elected three times as Scranton Mayor and Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak rode the party to office in the 2003 Commissioner's race. Gary DeBilio took the grand old gal out for a romp in the back seat when he wanted to run against Mayor Chris Doherty. The party chairman, Paul Catalano only seems interested in meeting the national GOP bigshots when they come to town. However, all that said, in Lackawanna County, at least the party is good for something and is being used. In Luzerne County, it's a different story.
In the 70s, my dad would have to travel to Scranton for a doctor's appontment. Not a driver, I'd be the go to guy to get my dad there. At the time, Scranton was a wreck and my dad used to say "the only thing that's going to fix this is if they blow it up and start over". That's how I feel about the Luzerne County GOP. Here's my plan to fix it.
First and foremost, many people think a political party has to be run like a democracy. Openess, transparency, debates, representative government. If that were the case, the hippies at the 1968 Democratic convention would be running the Democratic party. They are not. The first thing the local GOP should do is forget about democracy and fairness. You have no party, you can have all the freedom of choice and opinion you want but as a party, let's face it, you can't handle it and you don't deserve it. The Luzerne County GOP is like a wild 12 year old foster child who has stayed up until 3am, ate nothing but Doritos and wants to do its own thing. That has to stop. The party, at least for the start, has to become a dictatorship. I know, I know, that's everything America doesn't stand for but as I stated, the local GOP can't handle freedom, responsibility or debate. Here's what the party needs to do:
1. Call for the immedtiate resignation of the entire county leadership. Or fire them.
2. If they organize their cronies and get re-elected, fire them again. Better yet, ignore them.
3. Have the Pennsylvania statewide GOP appoint a CEO. No election, nothing. Appoint that person.
4. The party CEO will then appoint an Executive Committee of 10. There will be two representatives from each district.
5. Criteria for serving will be:
a. Must attend all scheduled meetings.
b. If not in attedance, they must send an emmisary.
c. If they miss a meeting without an emmisary, there must be a documentable reason. No reason, immedtate termination.
d. Executive committee agrees to a $250.00 annual dues assessment.
e. Executive committee agrees to a $250.00 in kind contribution.
f. Executive committee, under the direction of the CEO sets fundraising goals.
g. If Executive Committee misses its financial goals, each individual member will be assessed an additional $750.00 to make up the shortfall. By setting a goal and a penalty, the Executive Committee will be responsible for what any group of leaders are charged to do for a volunteer organization, whether it be band parents or cub scouts and that is RAISE MONEY!
h. Each district will be required to run two fundraisers a year. One major, one minor. Kind of ironic that the only district fundraiser or get together this year was in the 6th.
All money raised by the district committees will be given to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will then rebate 35% back to the districts and use the rest at their discretion to focus in on winnable local races. The local Executive Committee will have two major fundraisers a year.
The local GOP has been woeful in raising money. Bill Jones commented on it today, and the 2006 race of Joe Leonardi for Congress was a disgrace in terms of raising money for a 5 star candidate. A veteran, a conservative, a pro lifer, college educated, a professional, all of that right on your doorstep and he gets zilch from the entire wing of the GOP. There are people of means in the local GOP. I might say there are a few millionaires. Where did that money go in 2006? Well, here's how you can fix that.
AN AUDIT COMMITTEE
The Luzerne County GOP needs to form an audit committee consisting of the CEO, 1 District Chair and 1 Executive committee member. Their job will be to audit the contributions any registered member of the GOP makes to the Democratic party. It might be $10.00 to a ziti dinner from a secretary or a $3,000 gift to Ed Rendell from a local insurance executive. The committee's charge on this will be two fold,
1. To ask why the contribution was made.
2. To ask that the contributor give double that amount to the local GOP. If they say no, what's the loss? They aren't helping you now, they're hurting you. Get rid of them. Let them play footsie with the Dems because I don't see a burgeoning coffer filled in from those rich kid GOPers, do you? You're losing with them contributing to the Dems now, so what's the point in kissing their asses when the only loyalty they have is to their businesses. And isn't it funny how they don't get involved in running for office? They could self fund their own campaign but oh well it might be beneath them. (The only guy who did it was Marc Holtzman in 1986). The audit committee will put the big shots who have done nothing the past thirty years on notice that they better join the train. And if they decide not to, like I said, you're getting creamed without them so what's the point?!?!!
Recruit candidates for the strongest races possible. And eliminate primaries. Sanction any party member who goes against an endorsed candidate. Shun them, legally get them off the ballot. YOU CAN'T AFFORD PRIMARY FIGHTS. YOU ARE LOSERS IN EVERY GENERAL ELECTION! It is unconscionable that Christine Katsock had a primary opponent in the Mayor's race for the GOP in 2003, that there were 5 Commissioner candidates in the spring primary and that when the two who won prevailed, they didn't run together. THIS IS NUTS! People in the GOP say Steve Urban is the problem. The old time GOP had a solution for that. Fire him. In 1967, the County GOP was sick and tired of Majority Commissioner Bill Goss playing footsie with Minority commissioner Ed Wideman, a Democrat. The party stepped in, put Ethel Price in as the Commissioner candidate and relegated Goss to the Trasurer's post in the general election. If Urban is the problem, defeat him, fire him, use your party power over him to make a change. But that can't be done now because there is no party leadership that can hold him accountable, or even make a determination that he is indeed the concern. So until you find out for sure, SHUT UP and leave him alone.
The Luzerne County GOP needs to take its candidates, the good ones and tell them which offices to run for, not have them pick. Would Dave Shipula and Christine Katsock be better general election candidates running against Bob Reilly and Mike Morrealle? Without a doubt but they wasted themselves in a primary fight for Commissioner. Forty years ago, when Doc Dorris reformed the Democratic party, he ran a slate that contained his best candidates that could carry a region. Do you think Joe Tirpak was qualified to be Sheriff? Of course not but he was a strong candidate who filled a slot and barely lost. The GOP needs to take their meager roster of good candidates and place them in races where they can win. The GOP has only strong registration numbers in the Back Mountain. The currency of their candidates is their personsality. Barletta won in Hazleton because he was a player, Trinisewski won in Luzerne County because he built his own organization, Carolee Medico, Barry Stankus, Gifford Capellini, Corey Stevens and Mary Dylseski won because of the force of their being, their essence, their ability to coalesce support behind them. You don't take five of your best candidates and have them run for each other for Commissioner when the rest of your slate is unimpressive! Unlike the Democratic party that had pockets of strong support, the GOP has nothing like that. Their candidates have to be more personality oriented. Good candidates can be found but all of this will take an iron hand and not a tea party where egos get in the way of actually winning elections.
The county GOP needs to face some hard facts and hard decisions. Its best candidates and elected officials in the past 45 years have jumped the fence. Wideman, Hudock, Trinisewski and now Bill Jones. Sure it's only 4 but these people won elections multiple times. The Luzerne County GOP must ask is maybe if they had a little more money, would Stankus and Dysleski have lost? There was no money for a GOP response to the Democrats attack ads on the only two incumbents the party had. That's sad. And Urban and Jones not working together? The party should've fired them, appointed two other candidates (Katsock and Shipula) and tied the other two up in court! The vote totals, unlike the 2 for 1 dominance in Lackawanna County was not the large. With a semi vibrant local GOP, there might be two Republican commissioners today. The time for debating, navel gazing, asking the meaning of life and "being nice" has gotten the local Luzerne County GOP nowhere. Blow it up and start all over again. Desperate times call for desperate measures.