( – promoted by SFBrianCL)
(cross-posted at The California Courage Campaign)
On Friday, dday argued that the extremely productive (but ultimately 1-sided) legislative session that just ended portends The End of the Califonia Republican Party. But who knew it had gotten this bad. The LA Times reports that the Orange County Republican Party has taken to shaking down its incumbent candidates.
For the first time, the county's GOP is requiring incumbent candidates to join a special party association and pay a $200 membership fee if they want to receive the party's "early endorsement."
The designation would give the candidates an early edge against Republican challengers in local races, offering them official GOP bragging rights during the campaign and for fundraising. In local elections, where voters are often unfamiliar with the candidates and media coverage is scarce, a party endorsement is a powerful signal to voters.
The cool kids' club is called the Local Elected Officials Association and it's rubbing some local officals the wrong way.
"I understand the intention behind it in trying to get folks more involved," said Tim Whitacre, an elected member of the county party's central committee.
"However, it's not very well thought out because it comes across as more of a shakedown."
"My problem is, it looks like extortion," said Alexandria Coronado, president of the county Board of Education .
"You have to pay, and you're not even guaranteed the endorsement. I find it reprehensible."
Shelia J. Henness, an incumbent trustee in the Capistrano Unified School District , learned of the organization after she asked for the county party's endorsement this summer…
The arrangement appeared to be that "if you didn't join the committee, you wouldn't be able to get an endorsement," she said. "I was very surprised. I did join. I felt like I was pushed to join."
Despite the criticisms, party officials defend the practice.
[They] say the plan is intended to familiarize city council members, school board trustees and other candidates with the Republican Party's political ideals early in their careers and foster a GOP farm system of sorts to groom people for higher office…
"Number one, you don't have to pay any money to be considered for endorsement. Number two, the money that is collected for the association is unrelated to the campaigns in the fall. So if somebody is paying money just for the purpose of getting an early endorsement, they're missing out on 100% of the benefits the club brings."
Benefits you say? Do tell.
- Local Elected Officials Gatherings. Complimentary invitation to official County Party events, including a Local Elected Officials Breakfast, a ticket to the VIP reception at the Party’s annual “Flag Day Salute Dinner” and a briefing from Republican Leaders.
- Automatic membership in the Party's prestigious `400 Club.
- A Political Campaign Training Seminar designed to give you the tools you need to run more effective campaigns.
- Eligibility for Endorsement by the Endorsements Committee
Worst. Club. Ever.