I have read more articles on how badly the leadership of the Michigan Republican Party handled Last Saturday’s affair than I care to. Not because they are factually incorrect, but because its something that needs to be corrected, and an accounting done.
History is indeed our best educator. In this age of technological marvel, video documentation and information sharing is as easy as ever to accomplish. We can record current events with ease, and use the outcomes of those events in a way that provides us best results in the future.
At Bottom Up Politics, you can find some great pictures like the one to the left, along with a perspective from one part of the floor. The historic perspective of the Bill Cooper event from the Bottom up blog:
“Bill Cooper announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor at the Tea Party Caucus the night before as I posted in Part I. Convention day, Don Jaekel was trying to get Bill on the agenda. I knew this because Fred was in contact with him right along. Before the Rules Meeting came to order I talked to the vice parliamentarian about Bill getting on the agenda and he said that he would let me know by the end of the Rules meeting. I followed through and met the Chief Parliamentarian for the party who gave me the specifics of who what and when. I relayed this to Don through Fred but by then Don was in a secure room waiting for someone from the party. The bottom line was they knew we were serious and would not let this be brushed aside so there was a frantic rush to get Fred, Don and Bill up front in the staging area to get our final instructions. It was at this point where the pressure was put on us to not do this.”
Whats really cool, is that even while injecting a little commentary and opinion, the article remains a worthy NEWS piece, where the actual events were documented. It provides background for much of the “refined news” sources that exist out there.
In fact, much that has been written has a writer’s flavor, but allows the reader to walk away with a truer understanding of the mechanics of certain events. In the following example by Jen Isbell, a little background on her perspective is given with a little background about her becoming involved.
Back to the lieutenant governor nominations….As expected, Cooper was nominated from the floor and the guy on stage wanted a show of hands to vote between the two. SERIOUSLY, people? Are you actually able to count 2065 hands and somehow figure out which of those people are delegates, alternates or guests? Give me a break. We shouted “no” very loudly. We shouted “roll call” and “secret ballot” and “card check.” The Michigan GOP tried again and asked if we could stand up instead of doing a show of hands. And how is that more accurate exactly???? We shouted “no” again. Discussions were going on, back and forth, down on the floor. The guy on stage threw up his hands because he knew he wasn’t going to make us happy. However, before we knew it, Cooper was taking himself out of consideration for the nomination. We were bummed. We’re pretty sure we had the numbers for Cooper to win but even if we didn’t, we still wanted a fair election by secret ballot – something that was guaranteed to us in the rules.
Alas, the truth shall eventually set us free.
Other writings complete with their own personal perspectives come from Republican Michigander at Right Michigan:
“The first interesting battle was over Lt Governor. The West Michigan Tea Party faction opposed Brian Calley as Snyder’s pick, or wanted to send a message of some sort and wanted Bill Cooper, who ran for Congress in the 2nd District, to be the Lt Governor. The big battle was over the voting process on this. The party wanted a show of hands. The tea party wanted roll call. It was getting very contentious until Cooper withdrew from the race and gave his speech. It was a good speech, and if there is a lesson to learn from that, it is to learn the processes of conventions, its rules, how the committee members are selected and elected, and how they are changed. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Personally for this race, I’d like to have seen this go to a secret ballot vote with the others which were on there, even using “candidate A and Candidate B” ballots. It could have been done that way. The raise of hands votes can be shady at times. Oral roll call would have taken 10 hours and I would have staunchly opposed that. I know traditionally that the Governor candidate historically picks the LT candidate which is almost always confirmed easily, but there needs to be preparation when the gubernatorial candidate gets 35% in the primary. I didn’t have a problem with Calley, especially when some of the other names I’ve been hearing were much, much, worse. However, there is a virulent backlash against anything these days that comes off as old boys club, whether it is or not.”
Both Bill Cooper and I were swarmed immediately (he was up on the back part of the stage; I was on the floor at the corner), and placed under tremendous pressure. I can’t speak for what Bill was going through, but I was finding out who my friends were in a hurry. I had people who were in strong support of this nomination urging me to stand my ground (not that I was actually considering doing anything else); and I had a few very close friends reminding me of what I was putting at risk in terms of my political future. I had told Hank Fuhs, the convention secretary, that I was willing to allow my motion to be tabled so that we could sort out a fair, proper, and secure method of casting a vote one way or the other.
The funny thing about the fog of conflict (including a good floor fight) is that it gets confusing in a hurry. I was trying to find a microphone (security had snagged the one I was using, and I didn’t have my megaphone with me) so that I could request that the vote motion be tabled. I don’t know what was going through Bill Cooper’s head, but my guess is that he misinterpreted one of the initial show of hands as being for him (neither were, both were for Calley), and concluded that he might not have enough support to win this. In his mind a pyrrhic victory would be worse than a withdrawal, and as much as I would have preferred that the vote actually be taken, I don’t question his decision to avoid making a bigger mess out of things.
Don Jakel who was there (in the snake pit) as well, wrote a report on the affair. Also factually correct, and historically accurate.
Immediately following the announcement of the commencement of the vote, shouts from the crowd disapproving of this voting method began to swell. They thought it was akin to a voice vote when, in fact, it was not. A Tea Party Delegate from Kent County, Kevin Rex Heine, went to the floor microphone to raise a point of order and made a motion to call for a roll call vote. The crowd noise level continued to rise and the Chair could not quiet the objections. I told the Parliamentarian I would probably be able to quiet the crowd by stating that I had agreed to this voting method and to please quiet down so we could determine how to proceed with the vote. He accepted my offer and it did lower the decibel level considerably.
While the Chair was trying to determine how to respond to Heine’s motion, I was told Rick Snyder was in favor of arriving at a fair and accurate voting method. Cooper was never told of Rick Snyder’s concession. Cooper was concerned that as a result of the problems with delegates obtaining their credentials and the time it would have taken to accurately take and substantiate each vote, the convention had the potential to get completely out of control. Furthermore, the Republican leadership was in full panic mode and pleading with him to withdraw.
These reports were each done independently of each other, and there are a few more out there.
While I am sure the Republican leadership would wish this controversy away, it should be clear the perspective offered by such documentation ought to guide a more transparent process in the future. The MIGOP leadership OWNS this fiasco.
The first words out of Chairman Ron Weiser’s mouth at the start of the convention were: “We Screwed Up”
Yes you did. Now fix it.