Elephants Eat Their Own

Campaigning on a platform of “Republican renewal,” El Paso County GOP newcomer Greg Garcia has been elected to lead the strongest, and arguably most conservative-leaning, GOP affiliate in Colorado.

After his ascendancy to party chairman last weekend, Garcia immediately pledged to mend fences and to, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, return to “our traditional principles, to family values, individual rights, pro-life and the Second Amendment.”

Putting aside for the time being the question of whether “traditional” GOP principles includes that particular laundry list, if Garcia is truly interested in pulling folks back under that big tent, he may consider another radical approach: stop kicking loyalists out in the first place.

Case in point: John Hazlehurst, a Colorado Springs native, former city councilman and current staff writer and columnist at the Colorado Springs Business Journal, is the latest to report being ousted after years of volunteer service as a Republican precinct committeeperson.

In a recent column, Hazlehurst describes being rudely dumped: 

Picked up the mail the other afternoon and there was one of those irritating little notices sandwiched between the bills and the junk mail. I had a certified letter, return receipt requested, from the El Paso County Republican Party. Say what?

It was a formal notification of my expulsion from the GOP. Just as Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, I was cast out into the political wilderness, a dread and drear landscape, inhabited only by lib’ruls, gays, abortionists, treehuggers, atheists, gun-haters, feminists, pornographers, union members and Hollywood sleazemeisters. Imagine my dismay – what had I done to merit such a fate?

I read the letter – written, I think, in letters of fire – spelling out the reasons. Thus spake Terry Kunkel, the avenging angel, on earth known as the [then] chairman of the El Paso County Republicans:

“It has been brought to the attention of the El Paso County Republican Party that during the past General Election you publicly supported the Democrat candidate in House District 18 as well as other Democrat candidates.”

Pursuant to the El Paso County Republican Bylaws (Section 8.03F4) “public support for any candidate opposing the Republican nominee in a General Election is grounds for removal from the position of Precinct Committeeperson.”

“A five member panel has been organized to discuss the evidence provided and your removal. After careful consideration of the allegations and evidence, the panel has concluded there is sufficient evidence and cause for your removal …”

That’s right. El Paso County Republican Party bylaws allow for the removal of anyone who doesn’t support the official Republican nominee in an election. And in this case, Hazlehurst admitted he had supported not just one, but three Democrats, including Bill Ritter for governor, John Morse for the state senate and Michael Merrifield for the state house. All three handily won, and much as Hazlehurst would love to take credit, even he would –

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