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Choice of Martinez sparks GOP rebellion

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washtimes.com/national/20070116-122754-5361r.htm Choice of Martinez sparks GOP rebellion By Ralph Z. Hallow THE WASHINGTON TIMES January 16, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2007

      Choice of Martinez sparks GOP rebellion

      By Ralph Z. Hallow
      January 16, 2007

      Rebellion is brewing among conservatives on the
      Republican National Committee over President's Bush's
      attempt to "impose" Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida as
      "general chairman" of the party, who favors "amnesty"
      for illegal aliens.
      "I will be voting against Senator Martinez if he
      is nominated for any chairmanship of the RNC," Tina
      Benkiser, Texas Republican Party chairman, told The
      Washington Times yesterday.
      Bill Crocker, the elected national committeeman
      from Texas, says that when the RNC convenes here
      tomorrow, "Absolutely, I will vote against Martinez."
      The conservatives -- one of whom accused the Bush
      White House of "outsourcing" party leadership -- say
      the general-chairman post does not exist under RNC
      rules, which can be changed only at the party's
      presidential nominating convention.
      Unhappy committee members say that, in the past,
      Republican presidents and RNC leaders have
      successfully run roughshod over the rules, because the
      RNC officer presiding over votes at committee meetings
      have simply overruled points of order and other
      objections from the floor, with no accredited
      professional parliamentarians to exercise a check.
      This time, the organizers of the rebellion say,
      their strategy will rely in part on having a
      parliamentarian present. And violations of Robert's
      Rules of Order and of the RNC's written rules --
      adopted at the 2004 Republican National Convention in
      New York -- could result in legal challenges.
      "I have also requested that the RNC employ the
      services of an independent certified parliamentarian
      to assure that breaches of the rules are avoided,"
      North Dakota RNC member Curly Haugland said in a
      letter sent to all RNC members yesterday. "And I trust
      that my request will be honored due to the potential
      need for numerous interpretations of the rules."
      Mr. Bush has said he hopes the RNC will elect Mr.
      Martinez as "honorary chairman" but that title has
      changed, in Republican Party press releases and
      conversations with RNC officials, to "general
      Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, a Kentucky RNC member and
      RNC treasurer, is expected to be elected as the
      national chairman, with the responsibility of
      day-to-day management of the committee.
      "Every president has the prerogative of naming who
      runs the national committee," Mr. Duncan told The
      Washington Times. "The choice is determined by the
      needs of the party at the time the selection is made."
      Arguing precedent, proponents of the arrangement
      point out that the RNC members went along with
      President Reagan's desire in 1983 to have his friend,
      Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt, voted in as general chairman,
      even though the rules provided for no such office. The
      RNC members at the same time elected Frank J.
      Fahrenkopf Jr. -- an RNC member and chairman of the
      Nevada Republican Party at the time -- as chairman.
      But opponents say that 1983 precedent does not
      justify another violation of the party's rules.

      "I have a hard time understanding the logic," said RNC
      member Randy Pullen, who is running for Arizona
      Republican Party chairman in an election at the end of
      this month. "Just because the RNC did something wrong
      once before, somehow that justifies doing it again?"
      Mr. Pullen pointed out that Mr. Martinez, who
      served as Mr. Bush's secretary of Housing and Urban
      Development before winning a Senate seat, is not an
      RNC member. RNC rebels say the rules are clear that
      the person who heads the committee must be a member of
      the committee.
      "Outsourcing our leadership at this critical time
      is not an option," Mr. Haugland said.
      Organizers of the rebellion against the White
      House domination of the RNC -- as well as other
      members who haven't decided yet to join the planned
      public showdown at the RNC's annual three-day winter
      meeting -- say even before Mr. Martinez became an
      issue, they expected difficulty in fundraising by the
      national committee for the 2008 election cycle.
      "Martinez aside, the simple fact that the GOP no
      longer is in the majority in Congress is going to make
      it more difficult to raise money," said Louisiana RNC
      member Ross Little.
      National committeemen willing to buck the White
      House on the RNC chairmanship also cite as fundraising
      obstacles the president's unpopularity, the conduct of
      the Iraq war, as well as disillusionment caused by the
      scandals, big spending and ineptitude of Republican
      leadership in Washington.
      The rebels say that electing Mr. Martinez as head
      of the RNC would make raising money even more
      difficult because of resentment by the party's
      rank-and-file small donors over Mr. Martinez's
      co-sponsorship of legislation to allow millions of
      illegal aliens to become citizens.
      "Martinez's support of [Arizona Sen. John]
      McCain's immigration bill on amnesty for illegal
      aliens is causing a lot of concern among our base,"
      said Mr. Pullen. "I happen to know that people -- our
      $25 and $35 donors -- are writing on the back of our
      RNC solicitations for donations: 'When you close the
      border to illegal aliens, we'll open our checkbooks.'
      The Central Committee of the Republican Party in
      the president's own state of Texas has passed a
      resolution strongly urging the Texas Republican Party
      chairman, Mrs. Benkiser, and the two other Texas RNC
      members to vote against Mr. Martinez.
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