As the E.D. of the LPIN, I want to make it clear that Liz Karlson has not, and is not, a member of the Libertarian Party, it's Indiana affiliate, or of Marion County. She never offered to join, and we did not ask, because she is committed to growing the Republican Party, and the Republican Liberty Caucus. Liz has worked diligently in organizing the Republican Liberty Caucus, and has been picking at our membership to recruit for the Republican Party. We allowed this for two reasons: A. No one wanted to go back. And C. We are good friends with Liz. We are comfortable enough with ourselves to hang out with members of another party. To anyone who asks why Libertarian Party members don't work from within the two old parties for reform, here are your answers.I have said for years that Libertarians pose a significant threat to the future viability of the Republican Party in Marion County. I've offered a number of examples in the past where close races were lost by Republicans in which a Libertarian candidate drew more support than the losing margin of the Republican candidate in the race. Marion County has been trending Democratic for years, and there is simply no margin for error. Spangle's comments are dead-on with respect to Karlson's efforts to attract Libertarian-leaning persons into the party. Brooks' move against Karlson is a setback in attracting those people that the Republican Party desperately needs to bring into the party.
It is my suspicion that the party's decision to dump Karlson and another ward chair, Eric Smith, has more to do with their support of Scott Schneider over Ryan Vaughn, the party's candidate, in this week's Senate District 30 race to replace Sen. Teresa Lubbers. Fellow bloggers Scott Fluhr and Paul Ogden have more on that here and here. I would add that Brooks' e-mail specifically denied this as a reason for his decision, and he copied now-Sen. Scott Schneider on the e-mail he sent to Karlson. People like Karlson had become very disillusioned with Lubbers, who had become aloof and non-responsive to many of her constituents. Not surprisingly, Karlson and other like-minded Republicans found Libertarian candidate Steve Keltner an attractive alternative in the last election. Keltner has since joined the Republican Party thanks, in part, to Karlson's efforts.
[Update: The Star's Josh Duke has posted an online story here. He quotes Brooks as saying the decision to fire Karlson and Smith was made prior to Tuesday's caucus: "Liz has openly supported Libertarian candidates, and Eric's firing was just a management decision," Brooks told Duke. "I had made the decision to fire them before the caucus, and I actually wanted to do it so there wouldn't be any fuss about the caucus voting." Duke's quoted response from Karlson: "It didn't surprise me because it is well known in the Republican Party that these strong-arm tactics have been used before when you go against the party leadership," Karlson said. "I'm disappointed in the county leadership, but there are a lot of good grassroots Republican people out there so I will continue to remain active as a Republican precinct committeeman and in the Washington Township GOP Club."]
What I find perplexing is the differing treatment of persons within the party on the so-called issue of loyalty. The Marion Co. GOP leadership itself refused to aid the election of three of the at-large candidates for City-County Council in the 2007 municipal election despite the fact that two of them were slated by the party. Party leaders reasoned that by supporting only Kent Smith, an African-American, it could lure a sufficient number of African-American voters to scratch their straight- ticket ballots in the at-large council races and, by doing so, cancel out their votes for the four at-large Democratic candidates. While party leaders may think that racist strategy secured the wins of two other at-large council candidates, Ed Coleman and Barbara Malone, also an at-large African-American candidate, the truth is that it only succeeded in costing the Republicans a seat on the council, a seat that could have been held by the fourth at-large candidate, Michael Hegg. Since the election, Ed Coleman left the party and became a Libertarian. There has also been concerns expressed that Democrat-turned Republican Malone could return to the Democratic Party fold, leaving the council evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and giving a tie-breaking vote to Coleman.
There are countless examples of high-ranking members of the party who openly dissed Greg Ballard's candidacy and even supported the re-election of Bart Peterson. The county chairman, Tom John, was among those dismissing Ballard's chances right up to end of the race. One City-County Councilor, Scott Keller, endorsed Peterson's re-election, attended his fundraisers and voted for his tax increases in an election year. Immediately after the election, the Republicans appointed Keller to the coveted Metropolitan Development Commission. Keller had also served as a precinct committeeperson for many years. He neglected to file for a spot last year, but the party appointed him to a vacant position anyway despite his support of Peterson in the prior election. Keller was on hand at Tuesday night's caucus to boost Ryan Vaughn's candidacy. If the party's decision to fire Karlson and Smith had anything to do with party loyalty, their definition of loyalty is a rather strained one I must add. Have some of us been highly critical of Mayor Greg Ballard? Absolutely, but our views are based on his failure to carry through on key pledges he made as a candidate. Those failures have weakened his support significantly among the core constituency that put him in office.
The message in these firings could not be more clear. The party is not interested in people who participate in the political process to further a public policy agenda that they believe is most compatible with the guiding principles of the Republican Party. They only want people who are job-seekers or government contract-seekers who they can control. Participation in politics should be reserved for their professional political class only and everyone else should just go away. It's that attitude within both political parties that has contributed to the eroding trust people have in their government and their elected officials. God forbid anyone within the party be capable of thinking for him or herself.