The local Republican Party is self-destructing. At a time when there should be unity — with Clinton corruption running amok — the GOP is, instead, coming apart. Perhaps not everywhere. But certainly in Collier County.
Here’s the latest outrage. The Collier County Republican Executive Committee, after years of supporting all GOP candidates, is now anointing some and throwing others under the bus. And it’s backfiring. The candidates snubbed by the GOP pooh-bahs are furious and so are their supporters.
Nothing like misplaced endorsements to rip apart a party.
In most communities, the purpose of the local Republican Party is to support Republicans — all of them. To help elect them — all of them. But Mike Lyster’s gang sees things differently.
Here’s what’s happening.
To the delight of the Naples Daily News, the CCREC picked Dwight Brock in the contentious Clerk of Courts race. That automatically turned many of Hiller’s supporters in District 2 against the GOP establishment. Unnecessary collateral damage.
Then it endorsed Matt Hudson (Senate District 28), Byron Donalds (House District 80) and Bob Rommel (House District 106). Backers of their opponents were incensed.
In a final stumble, the CCREC picked winners and losers in the county commissioner race. The anointed candidate in District 3, Ron Kezeske, is fine, but so are Russell Tuff and Burt Saunders, who were summarily flushed away. The same applies to District 5, where a perfectly acceptable Randy Cash was chosen over equally good candidates Bill McDaniel and Doug Rankin.
Endorse one, lose two. It makes no sense.
These foolish moves are the latest in a series of missteps that began when the CCREC threatened to censure fellow Republican Kathleen Curatolo because she didn’t kowtow to the far right on the Collier County School Board. She wasn’t Republican enough. Wiser heads prevailed, and the censure vote came up short.
Then the wise men decided to endorse Louise Penta and Lee Dixon, two new candidates for the school board. How did that turn out? The local Democrats coalesced behind their opponents, Stephanie Lucarelli and Erick Carter (also Republicans), formed a PAC to bolster their funding and flooded the Daily News with supportive letters. The CCREC did nothing. Penta and Dixon were hung out to dry.
Why is the CCREC getting involved in the first place? Why not support all Republican candidates, as it has in the past, and let the voters decide?
Mike Lyster, head of this feckless group, was quoted as saying some members felt the quality of GOP candidates in 2014 was not up to snuff. “So we wanted to see how we can do better. It can be contentious, but I’m pleased with it. I think we have some outstanding candidates.”
No. What we have are endorsements by self-appointed experts who don’t have a clue what the rank-and-file voter wants. We have a split and very angry Republican electorate. We have past supporters who now won’t give a dime to the local GOP. I’m one of them.
Instead of uniting the local Republican Party, the Lysterites have torn it apart. My Democratic friends are ecstatic.
Let’s see what the CCREC has accomplished.
- It has infuriated the backers of Georgia Hiller, Kathleen Passidomo, Russell Tuff, Burt Saunders, Bill McDaniel, Doug Rankin, Joe Davidow and Lavigne Kirkpatrick.
- It has pitted Republican against Republican in a year when unity is essential.
- It has unified the Democrats in Collier County as never before.
- It has sealed the fate of Louise Penta and Lee Dixon.
My wife says don’t pay any attention to these guys. The CCREC has no standing. The voters are smart enough to judge the candidates on their own merits.
Maybe. It’s certain the Democrats won’t benefit. Collier is a very red county. Republicans — good, bad or indifferent — will be elected. Misbehavior of the GOP establishment won’t matter here.
But I doubt it would be tolerated anywhere else. Alienating half of the Republican base in a crucial election year is a very bad practice.