Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's What They Whisper That Can Really Hurt

My personal political motto is: It’s not what they shout, it’s what they whisper. Things said in private conversation are taken as gospel, with no chance for rebuttal. With that in mind, and considering my exploration of a run for Congress, I’d like to set the record straight on a few matters that probably are of interest only to Republican insiders.

Why didn’t Maxwell endorse Jim Vokal against Anne Boyle for city council in 2005?

Because in the spring of 2005 I was emceeing the annual fundraising banquet for Saint Cecilia’s Cathedral Grade School, and the Boyles, graduates of the school and personal friends, were honorary chairs of the event. Also, Saint Cecilia’s, at 39th and Webster, is not on the east-of-72nd chopping block for Catholic schools, but we can’t afford to be complacent. It had to go well and I didn’t want politics to hinder the prospect of success for that event. It would have been an insult to the Boyles and harmed fundraising and other aspects of the event for the emcee to endorse Anne’s opponent.

I said I would do a flyer with Jim. I drove out to his office with a flyer saying: “Jim Vokal and Chip Maxwell agree on ________.” I told him to fill in the blank with lower property taxes, city-county merger, whatever he wanted, and send it to Cathedral precincts and wherever else he wanted. Jim declined.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2009. When Jim was eliminated from the mayor’s race and Brian Buescher was eliminated from the District 3 city council race, I asked Jim for his endorsement. He declined, citing his connection to Chris Jerram at Holy Cross parish as similar to mine with the Boyles at Cathedral in 2005. I asked Jim if he would offer me the same thing I offered him in 2005 – a flyer with both our names identifying an issue on which we agreed. He said he would think about it. I never heard back.

I’m not mad. I’ve seen Jim since then and things are fine. But I know others keep score on these things and like to see problems where none exist.

Why didn’t Maxwell endorse Stu Dornan for Douglas County Attorney in 2006?

When I introduced Dave Nabity at his June 2005 press conference announcing his campaign for governor, that created a problem between Governor Heineman and the nonprofit organization for which I worked at that time. My board required that I stay politically neutral from then on because I was the face and voice of the organization and we didn’t want to alienate office holders and their supporters.

I offered the Dornan campaign something similar to what I offered Jim Vokal, a statement saying that from my vantage point as a county commissioner I thought Stu Dornan was doing a fine job as county attorney. It was declined.

Why did Maxwell enter the 2009 District 3 city council race after Brian Buescher had entered the race? 

Because I was urged to do so by several high-ranking Republicans and because I thought I was the Republican with the best chance to win.

A prominent Republican asked me later why I entered the race after telling Brian I wasn’t running. That isn’t what happened. When Brian said he was ready to enter the race in December 2008, I said I didn’t know what I was going to do (I had just been knocked off the county board a month prior), but I certainly wasn’t going to tell him not to do it. If he had the fire in the belly to run, I had no problem with that.

I remain grateful to Brian for turning right around and endorsing me in the 2009 general election. I look forward to Brian winning election to the city council in 2013.

I’ve never seen Maxwell at party meetings.

I’m a middle class guy with a wife and four kids. I have used whatever time and energy I have for politics to engage the other side in the public arena – in the media if not in a campaign or legislative chamber – trying to rally like-minded folks, and win hearts and minds that are uncommitted. My previous political offices have been part-time. Obviously serving in Congress would be a full-time job. I would gladly use my position and bully pulpit to help the local Republican Party.

Won’t this (possible run for Congress) hurt the local Republican Party? 

For goodness’ sake, a recalcitrant faction set up its own organization, the Victory Office, to compete with the Douglas County Republican Party. There's already a civil war in the local and state Grand Old Party. That’s why our district is a swing district. Too many Republicans treat the party as their personal club.

I don’t care about your “pedigree” in local politics. If I hold a leadership position in the local Republican Party, I will welcome anyone who will fight for limited government under the Constitution in whatever way that applies to various offices and issues.

Some of the same people who complain about voters rewarding the status quo at all levels of government are indignant that anyone would challenge the Lee Terry status quo. Don't Republicans still believe competition is healthy?

Republican turnouts generally have been anemic over the last decade or so in part because the candidate at the top of the ticket has not energized the base. What energizes the base, and attracts Reagan Democrats and other non-Republicans, is robust conservatism. The 2nd District seat ought to be held by someone willing to help lead the effort to undo the welfare/entitlement state and take the “swing” out of this district.

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