GOP leaders stress unity, turnout at state convention
P. VOGEL; The News Tribune
Bellevue, WA - Democrats have traditionally been better at the "ground
game," but Republicans will have to beat them door-to-door and
person-to-person to win elections in Washington state this fall, a
top national Republican official told the GOP state convention Saturday
"The grass roots, the ground game, makes the difference,"
said Maria Cino, deputy director of the Republican National Committee.
Washington state will be key to re-electing President Bush and to
maintaining majorities in both chamber of the U.S. Congress, Cino
said, explaining that's why her group planned to funnel plenty of
national money here.
But Cino told the 1,100 convention delegates that it was up to them
to knock on doors and make phone calls to convince their neighbors
to vote Republican.
Nearly every speaker at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center throughout the
three-day convention stressed unity of purpose and message.
But a dissatisfaction with party leadership bubbled to the surface
at several points, with some delegates complaining that the push for
unity bordered on manipulation.
Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri (R-Steilacoom), a convention delegate,
said that state Party Chairman Chris Vance "has been a little
heavy-handed in some things. After four years (as chairman), it's
time for someone else to do it."
The party's refusal to allow long-shot U.S. Senate candidate Reed
Davis to speak to the convention was criticized by many from Pierce
But delegates on Friday affirmed the party's position, voting to reject
a floor challenge from Davis' supporters to let him speak.
Delegates bucked party leadership by changing a rule that would have
allowed the election of slates of delegates recommended by the Bush-Cheney
'04 campaign to this summer's national convention in New York City.
Still, most of the delegates elected were on the list of those recommended
by the campaign.
"It's a discipline thing," said anti-tax activist Tim Eyman,
who was elected as an alternate to the national convention, even though
he wasn't on the list.
"Now, they're wondering 'Oh God, are we going to see Tim with
a lampshade on his head (at the convention)?'" Eyman said.
Delegates fell in line with leadership on Saturday when they voted
to adopt a party platform recommended by leaders, without a traditional
debate over amendments.
The platform, which is a non-binding and largely symbolic, states
that the party opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, and favors
tort reform, school vouchers and making President Bush's tax cuts
Party leaders sterilized the platform by discouraging the inclusion
of controversial ideas, said Bruce Hawkins, a delegate from Gig Harbor.
But U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Bellevue), a former state party chairwoman,
said that members of the party's platform committee, who come from
all over the state, incorporated the values of the party's rank and
file when they drafted the platform.
"There are a lot of folks who come here for the platform,"
said Dunn, who is chairwoman of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign in Washington
state. She is not running for re-election and was likely participating
in her last convention in a high-level official capacity.
She was the object of praise from several speakers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kenneth P. Vogel, 360-754-6093