GOP may drop automatic disqualification rule

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - GOP leaders are considering dropping a new
rule that would automatically disqualify Republicans who endorse
Democrats from serving in official capacities within the party.
GOP Chairman Steve Robertson said Wednesday that an amendment
will be offered during a meeting of the Republican State Central
Committee on Saturday to delete the provision that some tea party
activists had objected to.
That provision was part of a new set of rules, adopted a week
ago and awaiting ratification by the central committee, that had
stirred debate within the GOP, especially among the tea party wing
that includes people who have offered support to one of Kentucky's
best-known Libertarians, northern Kentucky businessman Ken
Moellman, who is running for state treasurer.
Robertson credited discussions between tea party leaders and the
Republican establishment with rectifying what could potentially
have been a divisive issue within the GOP.
"We've seen the opening of a dialogue that is significant,"
Roberts said Wednesday. "I think we have taken a great step to
create a dialogue that we can build on to move forward."
Robertson said the expectation of party loyalty among those
serving in leadership roles remains, despite the proposed amendment
that would delete the automatic disqualification of Republican
leaders who have endorsed or contributed financially to a
Democratic or third party candidate within the past year.
A longstanding provision already allows the Republican Executive
Committee, by majority vote, to unseat GOP leaders for supporting a
candidate in an opposing party. That provision would remain.
Robertson said the rule changes, adopted unanimously in an
earlier private meeting, provide a ground work for expanding the
Republican base. He said the rules could potentially get thousands
more people involved in local GOP committees and improve
communications through automated telephone calls, mass mailings and
emails to announce scheduled meetings where officers would be
selected.
But the more eye-catching provision was the one automatically
barring Republican activists who support Democrats from serving in
leadership positions. That change came during an election in which
some notable Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins,
have endorsed Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for re-election over
GOP nominee David Williams.
As a former congressman, Hopkins is automatically a member of
the Republican State Central Committee. But without the amendment,
Hopkins would be disqualified from serving in that position unless
his fellow members grant him an exception.
Hopkins said he doesn't mind. He said he hasn't attended a
meeting of the Republican State Central Committee in years anyway.
Robertson said the rule changes are the result of years of
discussions, some of which had alarmed tea party activists who
feared the Republican establishment may have been trying to
solidify their hold on the party. It turned out to be tea party
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's state director who made the motion for
approval of the rule changes last week.
Jim Milliman, who has been Paul's top aide in Kentucky since he
took office, had made the motion last Thursday in a conference call
involving 30 members of the Republican Executive Committee.
Cathy Flaig, president of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, said
she objects to the rule change and welcomes the proposed amendment.
She had signed a campaign petition earlier this year on behalf of
Moellman, which would have disqualified her from serving in
leadership in the GOP.
"The established Republican party has not extended their hands
to the tea party members, and should," she said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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