Monday, August 27, 2018

The Game Has Changed...Slightly

It has been literally decades since Elbert County Republican primaries didn't mark the end of an election season. Stick a fork in it - the Republicans won..again!  Oh sure, there was always that period of time when the Democrat running for office would raise holy hell about the Republican party bosses  officially going on record saying that they saw absolutely no reason to debate a Democratic candidate.  This typically was for a very short period of time.  Generally speaking, the numbers were such that our local G.O.P.  had no interest in giving a platform to any idea that was not approved by the Republican Central Committee.  

It is a sickening feeling that rests in the stomach of any hard working Democrat in a solidly red Elbert County to know the race is over the day after the Republicans have pared down their hopefuls during the summer months.  Game, set and match,  Elephants.  The only way an Elbert County Republican could ever understand this overwhelming mental mindset of failure is to move to Boulder and run for anything.  Oh, and be more qualified than your Democratic opponent.  Ever feel that?  Probably not.

It has and will continue to be a predominantly conservative majority here in Elbert for decades to come.  The only thing that will change that fact is if, in our efforts to grow the county out of its agricultural roots, we turn it into a bedroom community of high density, low cost housing to house workers for the Denver metro area.  And THAT is when the water will completely disappear and the local political landscape will begin to turn from red to blue.  It is just a matter of time.

That said, an interesting thing happened on the way to the 2018 election in November.  The State of Colorado gave Independent voters a voice that they have not had before.  They got to vote in the primary election of one of the two dominant parties.  And to say that the Independent voters took the opportunity to express their opinion does not do them justice.  They did what no one, especially the local Republicans, thought was possible.  They took the Sheriff's race away from the Elbert County Republicans Central Committee and allowed the underdog, Tim Norton, a comfortable win.  Tim is a Republican, but many in the party found the result to be horrifying!  The vaunted Elbert County Republican Machine failed to produce the predicted winner.  Not only that, but Rick Pettitt, their choice for the EC Commissioner’s primary race,  won by only a two vote margin. 

This put the EC Republican Central Committee in a real funk.  The party began to sense the new reality of Colorado allowing Independents to vote in the primary as Democrats or as Republicans.  That is not the way the Republicans out here have had it for as long as anyone can remember.  How do you control a huge block of people who are not rabid supporters?  Who the hell are these people?  And even if you have a Republican on the ticket, can you be sure, since they were not picked by the Central Committee, that they will do as they are told?  And if they do as they are told, how will this be viewed by the Independents?  Cue the spooky organ music... they don't know!!!

That brings us to today and the selection of a new sheriff for our county.  The eight-year reign of a sheriff whose focus appeared to most as a revenue-generating squadron of leased interceptors with a penchant for stockpiling used military vehicles and weaponry comes to an end in November.  Those who were on board with that model tried everything to get rid of term limits over the years but to no avail.  In a last ditch attempt to get someone who was a disciple of the former sheriff and take Shayne Heap on as Under Sheriff,  the Central Committee offered up Troy McCoy.  That did not fly either, as the only thing Troy talked about was keeping the Feds from coming for your guns.  The Independents weighed in and the Heap Dynasty came to a resounding halt.  The old guard Republicans now find themselves trying to get their heads around giving support to someone who they had been working against in the primaries.   They decided they had no choice, held their noses and headed forward.

But now the problems of never expecting to lose reared its big ugly head for the Elbert County Republicans.  You see, Tim Norton ran against Troy with the slogan, "More Service, Less Politics." The G.O.P. in this county only does one thing...  old cronyism politics.  So they found themselves in the unenviable position of having to tell Tim that he has to tow their bright red political line. 
And that, my friends, means that the Democrat in the race, Don Charobee, has an opening.  Mr. Charobee has more experience and leadership skills in his bag than any candidate that has ever run for the office of Elbert County Sheriff. 

Tim says he is pretty much apolitical and does not want to do politics.  The Republican Party has almost no experience on how to win a close race because the primary was always the grand finale.  So what do they do?  They tell Tim no debates because after all, that is what has worked for over twenty years.   Except nobody knows that much about Tim Norton, only that he was the one who opposed Troy McCoy and the continuation of the Heap Dynasty.  

Don Charobee has an impeccable, lengthy service record to his country and has a tremendous amount of appeal to both Democrats and Independents.  Oh, and remember the old guard conservatives who felt cheated because Tim Norton broke the mold?  Now they are not sure that Don isn't a viable choice because of his service to his nation.

Fast forward to the present.  There are actual Republicans who are crying foul because the Democratic candidate is showing up, answering questions and impressing people with his resume.  How dare he look electable?  One noted Republican woman complained recently that Don was being a distraction because he was passing out literature, shaking hands and wearing Democrat blue instead of just dressing in street clothes at the Elizabeth Farmer's Market!  Really? That’s your complaint? Don isn’t playing fair for those reasons?  If that’s all you’ve got...bring it on.  Having run for commissioner as a Democrat, I can tell you, there are few Republicans without a red, white and blue outfit and they are no shrinking violets. 

So in all likelihood, the numbers are still working in favor of the Republican, but the game has changed...slightly.  Independents want competency over party purity and they demonstrated that in the primary.  Don is extremely well-qualified and he is answering questions at every venue he attends.  The Dems are not directing his campaign's every move.  In fact, they are encouraging his intuition and leadership skills.  It is a winning combination.

I still like both candidates although I was extremely disappointed that Tim refused to debate because it broke his main campaign promise: less politics.  To win his primary was a big deal and it was due in large part to his standing up to the Central Committee. But now, that is no longer the case.  Whether Tim or Don wins, we are in for lots of positive changes. It will be interesting to see if the Republicans learn how to deal with the Independents.  If they don't, you may have some elected Democrats in office in the not too distant future here in Elbert County.

I think I hear a Bob Dylan song, do you?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Does Experience Matter?

It has been a long while since I sat down and worked on my blog.  We have had many disruptions in the Thomasson household.  I have had serious surgery on my back to fix three vertebra, my wife underwent a seven hour spinal fusion surgical procedure during which she almost bled to death.  We have had health issues with our beloved now-geriatric dogs and one of them had to be put down this last weekend.  Everybody runs into difficult patches like this from time to time.  We face our problems.  We do what is necessary and then we move on to a stage of healing and change.  I am not soliciting sympathy here, it is what it is.

But today, when I was thinking about some of our problems, at a certain point I remembered that there are countless people in this country who have ongoing health issues that they deal with that are chronic and were derived as a result of being in the Armed Forces of the United States.  I felt that their problems and the difficulties that they have in getting treatment through the V.A. (Veterans Administration) gave me a better perspective on my own situation.  

Now stay with me here because I am going to come back to this important point in a few moments. It will take a few twist and turns along the way. Those of you who read my work know that I am a Democrat, that I work with Elbert County to help execute elections and that I have even run for commissioner with the firm knowledge that I was not going to have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.  I do not take on President Trump in this blog even though it is no secret that I am not a fan.  He is still my President.  With that said, I want to point out one blatant flaw in our current Republican majority in the Federal government without any real name calling.  I will stay squarely with verifiable facts and throw a few of those facts out there for  thoughtful discussion.  

The Trump administration has failed to properly run the V.A. and has let the 9,000,000 Veterans and their family members down.  It is a real problem and more important than any arguments that center around disrespecting America.  Standing for the Pledge of Allegiance versus "taking a knee" is a false canard dreamed up by politicians when it is placed next to the abysmal way we are treating the men and women who risked everything for our freedom and came home physically and emotionally wounded or broken.

Today I read an article in Esquire Magazine and I fact checked it against several sources,   It turns out that there are three people in charge of running the V.A. right now.  None are veterans.  None have any experience in running anything that resembles the largest medical complex on the planet.  Nope, the thing that got these three people the job of running the V.A. is that they are all old friends of Donald Trump.  They are card carrying members of his resort, Mar-a-Lago.  One is a lawyer.  One is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care. The third is the reclusive CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Ike Perlmutter.  Let that sink in for just a moment: The comic book guy is in charge of the health and well-being of the people to whom we owe so much in this country.

This is not a good thing.  This is not a political thing.  Plain and simple... this is a disrespectful gross error that should be rectified.  Our president promised us the "Best People" and these three are not qualified nor do they understand the needs of of our Veterans.  Period.  No matter what your political stripes are, no matter whether you are a fan of this president or not, our Veterans deserve the most qualified person available, and that would require a careful search beyond the confines of the locker room at the president's golf club.

Which brings me back to my day and thinking about my own situation.  Oddly enough, I have been thinking about a discussion regarding who is best qualified to become our next sheriff.  Tim Norton and Don Cherobee are both really nice guys.  In my humble opinion, it is the first election cycle in a long while where I am sure we will end up with a good person at the helm of the Elbert County Sheriff's  Department.  I have been drawn into some discussions in regards to which candidate will do the better job.  I can say with no  hesitation that the most qualified person for the job is Don.  Hands down, there has never been a more qualified person running for EC Sheriff than Mr. Charobee.  He has been in law enforcement all over this country and in Europe.  He has decades of leadership under his belt.  He has recommendations from all levels of law enforcement.

Does that mean that others should see things my way and vote for Don over Tim?  No, it does not.  But the arguments against Don that I have been seeing are quite frankly void of reason and more importantly, honesty.  I have heard it said that he has too much investigatory skills and not enough time spent in a patrol car.  I had one person try to argue that if you need a doctor, you don't go to the dentist.  (I still am not sure what that was about.)  But when it boils right down to it, most of the arguments are intellectually dishonest.  Those disgruntled citizens know Don has more experience, better training and much better recommendations than does Tim.  If they would just be honest, they would come out and say that they can't lower themselves to vote for a Democrat. What it says is that a less qualified Republican is a better choice for them than a more qualified lefty.  

Which finally brings us back full circle.  If Elbert County is the place you make your home,  I suspect you love the rural lifestyle and your family is here.  If you or a loved one ever finds themselves in need of a police officer, you won't call the dispatcher and expect them to send out a Republican officer to chase off a burglar. No, you will want the best trained, best equipped person that the department has to offer.  Why we have politicized the sheriff's department in Colorado is beyond me.  It is about following the laws.   Our sheriffs cannot pass gun legislation, and it does not matter one whit whether they like Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi.  It is all about service to a community and following the laws of the land.  If you are looking for political purity of ideas over solving crimes or keeping us safe, then in my opinion you have lost the meaning behind law enforcement.  You will notice I did not say law interpretation...that's political and that should not be a consideration.

If you believe the V.A. should be headed by people of integrity, have an impeccable resume that includes military service and an expressed devotion to the 9,000,000 people utilizing the services of the Veterans Administration, you wouldn't just pick one of the guys you play pinochle with at the club.  They may be wonderful people, but that does not mean they should be in charge.  We owe more to our Veterans.  Likewise, if you have two nice guys running for sheriff, a position that by rule should be above all politics, then you should hire an experienced leader.  We owe more to our Elbert citizenry.

But...and I mean this in all sincerity, it is your vote to spend.  Vote the way you must. Just be honest with yourself about whether your vote was about the most qualified or the most politically pure.  There is a huge and troubling difference.