Archive for Sunday, January 27, 2008

GOP conservatives tighten grip

January 27, 2008

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— Conservatives continued Saturday to tighten their strong grip on the Kansas Republican Party by preventing a moderate from representing the state on the party's National Committee.

The other Kansan on the national committee, another prominent moderate, is stepping down as well.

The GOP State Committee adopted a resolution last year accusing him of trying to hinder fundraising, suggesting he would have been removed anyway.

The State Committee decides who serves on the RNC, electing the state's representatives for four-year terms. The new national committee members will take over their positions after the Republican National Convention in early September in Minneapolis, Minn.

Conservatives demonstrated their dominance by selecting challenger Helen Van Etten, a Topeka audiologist, over incumbent RNC member Alicia Salisbury, a former state senator, also from Topeka. The vote for Van Etten was 130-38.

Van Etten is president of the Kansas Republican Assembly. The group, formed by anti-tax, anti-abortion and evangelical Christian activists when moderates controlled the state GOP, has described itself as "the heart of the party" and "the Republican wing of the Republican Party."

"The Kansas Republican Assembly makes up a majority of the state committee," Salisbury, who was seeking a second term, said after the vote. "It was the assembly's candidate and the opportunity to complete the leadership."

The other Kansan on the RNC has been Steve Cloud, a Lenexa businessman and former state House member. The state committee picked him in 2002 to replace an RNC member who'd died and then elected him to a full term along with Salisbury in 2004.

But conservatives frequently accused Cloud, a moderate, of working against conservative candidates, something he has denied.

His replacement will be Mike Pompeo, a Wichita businessman.

The state committee picked Pompeo on a unanimous voice vote, but Cloud didn't seek another term and no other candidates emerged.

"It's pretty clear that the character of the Republican Party has moved away from Mr. Cloud's philosophy," said Sen. Phil Journey, of Haysville. "Mr. Cloud has been controversial in his service to the Republican Party, to put it mildly."

But Cloud said the conflict didn't cause him to step down.

"Six years is enough," Cloud said. "I have always said exactly what I think. I go out of my way to back candidates I think are good candidates, and occasionally, that makes some people unhappy. That's just the way it is."

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