Fed up with the Obama administration, and what she saw as liberal media bias, Jana Rea jumped into Douglas County Republican Party politics during the recently completed election cycle.
She and a like-minded group of people, calling themselves “The Crew,” went door-to-door working for Republican candidates.
Rea said the group didn’t think the leadership of the GOP in Douglas County was doing enough.
“A number of us were concerned that even though Douglas County has a third registered Republican, we haven’t felt like the conservative voice has been detectable,” Rea said. “We got tired of it.”
Now “The Crew” has taken over running the ship.
During a party organizational meeting right after the Nov. 6 general election, Rea defeated incumbent county GOP chairman Richard Todd, and Win Campbell was elected vice chair over an incumbent.
The new leadership team has a more conservative bend.
Clay Barker, Kansas Republican Party executive director, was asked to attend the meeting. He said a splinter group formed, recruited precinct leaders and went to the meeting to vote their leaders in.
“Groups have been doing that for 120 years,” he said.
Unlike nearly all of Kansas, Republicans in Douglas County find themselves in the minority.
Democrats and unaffiliated voters each have about 35 percent of the registered voters, while Republican have a little less than 30 percent.
Todd said that makes recruiting candidates and successfully electing them in Douglas County different.
“I’m a big-tent guy,” Todd said. “Republicans are Republicans are Republicans to me.”
The most prominent Republican elected official from Lawrence is Sandy Praeger, a two-term Kansas insurance commissioner who also served in the Legislature.
“Sandy Praeger and I would be at odds,” Rea said.
Rea praised Gov. Sam Brownback for blocking Praeger’s efforts to have Kansas work with the federal government to establish a health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.
“I think she (Praeger) is on the wrong side of the issue,” Rea said.
Rea added, “I have a strong respect for the Republican Party platform. It is congruent with my faith.”
Todd said he had no hard feelings and was going to continue to work for the party.
“I want to help the Republican Party,” he said.
As far as national politics, Rea said she was surprised that Obama won re-election.
“A lot of us feel shock and grief, and we are determined that it is not going to stop us.”