I meant to write about this before, but it got buried. GOP split surfaces at party luncheon:
Longtime abortion foe and former county GOP chairman Mark Gietzen criticized what he sees as a lack of Republican resolve against abortion and targeted Shallenburger as “welcoming pro-aborts” into the party.
“I think your history is pretty bizarre,” Shallenburger snapped back, saying he thinks the party is more pro-life than when he became chairman.
“We haven’t moved it to the right fast enough?” Shallenburger asked Gietzen.
“Or far enough,” Gietzen replied.
Tim Shallenburger is the conservative who lost to Governor Sebelius. When he became party chair, he described it as taking the party back for the creationists. Down memory lane we go:
Shallenburger promised to “turn the other cheek” to GOP moderates and other critics who in the past treated his kind [conservatives] as outcasts worthy of contempt.
“When we voiced our beliefs that there is a God and said it was wrong to only teach evolution, we were ridiculed and called morons,” he said.
There are rumors he’ll now be stepping down as party chair.
It’s easy to read these events as reflecting the deep divide within the Kansas party. As the conservatives are more and more powerful, they are getting angry that they don’t run everything, and have to make common cause with moderates.
Personally, I welcome those moderates into a big tent. I may disagree with moderate Republicans on particular solutions, but we agree on what the issues are, and that means we can work toward a real solution. Conservatives talk about different things, and I’m intrigued to see those cracks growing.
That said, I doubt that this is really about abortion. My guess is that the internal rebellion (assuming it exists) has more to do with the fact that Shallenburger did a horrible job in recruiting candidates for 2006. He lost Paul Morrison, who will almost certainly beat Phill Kline. He couldn’t get Jerry Moran to abandon the safety of his seat in Congress to take on the popular and successful Governor, leaving only a group of second-tier candidates.
The party failed in it’s war on the schools and the courts because of moderate defections. Conservatives occupy the seats of power, but the moderates are stealing their issues. The conservative base is frustrated, and moderates are bolting the party.
This, of course, is just a more stark sign of what’s happening in Washington. The internal tensions of the Republican party are leaving a lot of people looking for new options, and I think there’s a good chance to realign issues in ways that will help the country.