Monday, April 9, 2012

GOP antics took ugly turn

Just when I thought it was safe to deduce partisan politics couldn’t get any more bizarre in Ohio, another story emerges which boggles the mind.

Bill Yarbrough was an erstwhile candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2010: he sought the 3rd District State Senate seat then. For this year’s election cycle, he made the decision to re-identify himself as a Republican and challenge incumbent congressman Pat Tiberi for that party’s nomination for Ohio’s District 12 seat. At his Website he even discusses frankly the fact he “ran as a third party candidate to learn the ropes” about pursuing public office.

Since getting to know him during our respective campaign trails two years ago, I came to admire Yarbrough. Naturally, I was disappointed to learn he had chosen to make the switch in party identities. But, I will do my best to respect his choice – the freedom for him or anyone else to do so is one of the many little things which make America great.

That choice, however, led to circumstances I doubt Yarbrough (or anyone else, for that matter) could have anticipated.

When I spoke with him during the recent Libertarian Party of Ohio state convention, he told me when he began his run for Congress he contacted each of the Republican Party chairs in each county the 12th District touches. His main goal in doing so was to seek potential endorsements from the county parties.

What he got, instead, from Delaware County’s Executive Committee chair Bob Mann was a complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleging Yarbrough had committed federal election fraud.

And the heinous crime about which Mann felt so strongly that he sought federal felony charges to be brought against him?

Yarbrough identified himself as “Republican” on his candidate petitions.

That’s right: for engaging in the sinister act of realigning himself with the Grand Ol’ Party, it was not enough in Chairman Mann’s eyes to petition the OEC to have Yarbrough removed from the Republican Primary ballot – Mann was fully ready to have him prosecuted and incarcerated.

So, instead of being able to run an effective primary campaign, Yarbrough had to begin pouring money into his legal defense, spend time publicly clearing his name in the weeks leading-up to the March 6 primary, and watch the inevitable stress on his wife and children mount.

Needless to say, Tiberi coasted to his party’s nomination by a wide margin.

This is where my blood begins to boil over this situation. I don’t give a damn what your party affiliation may be, no one can deny that Mann was perfectly willing to risk destroying the life of an innocent man, a good man, a family man with young children. And, he was willing to do so for the narrow, repugnant purpose of preserving the status quo.

To all of you who identify as Republicans, there is no middle ground on this item. Anything less than an unequivocal repudiation of Mann’s actions constitutes complicity and approval. Sympathy for Yarbrough is cheap. You need to show a backbone and fully denounce what Mann did.

Furthermore, it is easy to see Chairman Mann clearly wanted to set a precedent that was intended to have a chilling effect on anyone further down the road who might dare challenge any Republican incumbent within the party – especially if they’re running as a liberty candidate or constitutional conservative.

So, Tea Partiers, take heed of Bill Yarbrough’s ordeal. To those of you who insist the path to restoring America must be accomplished by reforming The Republican party from within, does your beloved political party really want that reform?

In his run for State Senate two years ago, Yarbrough successfully earned the endorsement of local Tea Party groups and identifies heavily with the Tea Party movement.

Now, we know what the Republican Party was willing to do to him.

What will they be willing to do to you?

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