The major fight that has broken out in the Republican party nationally and in the Montana legislature is now playing out in the Lewis and Clark county republican party. The local GOP group has devolved into a modern day version of the Salem witch trials as Republicans hurl accusations at each other to purge their own ranks of alleged moderates.
The hysteria became public during the Lewis and Clark republican party’s attempt to nominate some potential replacements for Republican county commissioner Derek Brown. Brown is the former Republican county commissioner who quit in a huff after he realized his ideas were unpopular.
When a county commissioner resigns the law says the local republican party gets to nominate three people to replace her or him. But the selection process turned nasty when some hard-right GOPers and TEA Partiers thought the recommendations didn’t measure up to wingnut standards.
First, Republican leaders kicked out the public so they could conduct a purge of the supposedly “moderate” replacement commissioner candidates in secret. The county committee had told the candidates seeking to replace Brown that they would have public interviews to select his replacement on the County Commission, but halfway through they abruptly switched gears instead holding closed door executive sessions in which the public was excluded and members were prohibited from discussing.
To help ensure a hard right conservative was chosen, Republicans voted out three party members they deemed “too moderate.” They even voted out their own parliamentarian to make it easier to break the rules. The county republicans have also purged their own leadership, ousting their former chair. According to GOP insiders, some Republicans have advocated for litmus tests for party members based on the beliefs of the John Birch Society.
Former GOP legislative candidate Mark Perea has been a major player in the purity movement. Perea has launched a campaign to put himself in power as a replacement for the ousted chair. In a fiery email to local GOP-ers, Perea says he’s the only leader that can pass the purity muster.
Perea says the Republican running against him for county GOP chair simply will not do. The grievous sin Perea’s opponent committed? The man’s wife once attended a $25 fundraiser held by a fellow GOP-er for her own employer, the popular democratic Secretary of State Linda McCulloch.
Perea continues his impassioned screed by explaining that he and his wife are “fighting like dogs” to make sure this terrible man whose wife once attended a Dem event is defeated.
Perea wants only “real Republicans” to be part of the committee to “create an awesome powerhouse” who will “find a way to replace Tester, Baucus, and Bullock and the other silly clowns.”
Perea is quick to criticize his opponents, but has a warning for any who would criticize him. Perea encourages Republicans to feel free to share good things about him, but says they should think twice before they point out a fellow Republican’s flaws. If flaws become public, the GOP will lose–just look what happened to Rick Hill:
“You can cut me down, nit-pick the tiniest little flaw in me, vote your feelings rather than your conscience, etc., but too many good Republicans did the same thing to Rick Hill, and look where we are now. If you have something good to say about me, please share it with others.
Perea says he’s the right person to lead a purge of the GOP “maybe even a nationwide movement that will kick the liberals’ behinds relentlessly and consistently.”
Those who would oppose Perea are probably committing the sin of pride:
“I ask the most prideful among you to swallow some of that pride for a minute so that we conservatives can start winning instead of destroying ourselves. The decision is yours. I am praying for the Lord to give you wisdom and humility so you can have the victory that is yours for the taking. I promise I will continue to be your dedicated and fearless leader when you make the right decision……God bless you and yours, and God bless the United States of America. Mark Perea”