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Friday, February 24, 2012

How John Campbell Lost Touch And Lost The Local OC GOP Endorsement

It's been a while since I posted anything over here on Powder Blue Report. To be honest, I like posting little status updates and linking stories on Facebook a lot better than writing long winded blogs. Blogs are so mid 2000s, LOL. I also send out occasional tweets on twitter. There was however a major local political story that involved me this past week so I thought I'd shed some more light on exactly what happened at Monday night's Central Committee meeting.

The job of a Congressman is to represent his constituents in Wash DC on federal matters. That includes everything from voting to uphold the principles of the Constitution and staying in personal contact with the people you represent. When you start to neglect those duties and get wrapped up into the DC culture, you are well on the road to losing the support of an important political organization that put you into office in the first place.

So this past Monday night, the Chairman of the OC GOP Scott Baugh, put on the agenda a slate of endorsements for all of our state and federal incumbent Republican electeds. He has to give the Members of the Central Committee a seven day notice per our Bylaws. As soon as I got the email, I immediately started thinking about the job performance(or lack thereof) of our Congressmen and some of our Assemblymen & women. I kept thinking about the TARP vote at the end of Bush's term in 2008 and how pissed I was that Campbell voted for this. These guys take a lot of votes. I know I'm not going to agree with them on everything, but the TARP vote was just so egregious that I knew if the party was ever going to try to endorse him, I was going to actively oppose his endorsement even if I was there standing alone. It turned out that a lot of Members of the Committee felt the same way I did.

So two days after the notice that we would have some endorsements to consider at the next meeting, I went into action. I penned a quick email to my fellow colleagues on the Committee and did a last minute gut check to see if I really wanted to go down this road. Once you hit send on an email like this, there is no turning back. This is what I ended up sending out.....

Dear Colleagues,

On Monday night at our next meeting, we will
be considering an endorsement of Congressman John Campbell. I hope
you will all stand with me and vote NO on this endorsement and here's
why. Congressman Campbell has never been held up to account by our
Party for his toxic YES vote to pass TARP(Troubled Asset Relief
Program), the largest bailout in the history of the United States.
This vote to giveaway almost a trillion dollars of our money to the
big Wall Street Banks and other special interests is against
everything our Party stands for and most importantly, it is against
the Constitution which we all swore an oath to uphold when we were
elected/and or appointed. The Congress is vested with certain powers
under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution and voting yes for huge
bailouts is not on the list. This was no ordinary vote. It gave away
again almost one trillion dollars! Now every time I read about the
Congressman talking about how we need to reduce spending, all I can
think of is....he voted to give away almost a trillion dollars with no
strings attached. How has that worked out for us so far? Enough is
enough.

The last approval rating that I saw gave Congress a 15% or so approval
rating*. We have to start policing our own elected representatives
better. If we don't speak up, who will? The voting behavior will
just continue.

Allan Bartlett
70th AD Member

* http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/congress-hits-a-new-low-in-approval-obama-opens-election-year-under-50/


No sooner than I had sent this out, I started receiving emails back right away from Members that they would be standing with me. I ended up receiving 15 replies back of support and no emails in opposition. This is pretty good I said to myself, but I knew that to be successful in blocking this endorsement that I would probably need to get to over 20 votes and to guarantee success I would need 24 votes or so. The next day I made a few calls to some Members I had classified as possible supporters knowing the background and inclinations of these Members. I probably made around five calls and didn't get any commitments from these. I said to myself that even if I got 15 votes to oppose Campbell's endorsement, this in and of itself would be a powerful message. So I didn't do any more vote counting or arm twisting, but I knew probably had a few more votes than 15. I was thinking probably I'd have 17 or 18. It turned out that we got 22.

So I get to Hyatt at around 5:45PM for the 7PM meeting. Frank Alonzo and I had arranged a Meetup before the Central Comm meeting of Ron Paul supporters that wanted to run for Central Committee. I get into the hotel lobby and see my good friend and Fountain Valley Council member Mark McCurdy and start chatting with him. All of the sudden out of the corner of my eye I see Congressman Campbell's district director Lou Penrose coming towards me. I'm saying to myself that this should be interesting. Mr Penrose said that his boss was going to be at the meeting tonight and he would like a chance to meet with me beforehand. Mind you, I've been the Chairman of our Irvine Republican Club for over three years and we've invited and requested the Congressman to come speak and meet with our group for that whole time and not once during those three years did he respond to our repeated requests. Sure I saw Lou Penrose around at events filling in for his boss, but that just doesn't cut the mustard. People wanna see and talk to their actual Congressman.

So I said to Lou that I would be happy to meet with the Congressman while I was thinking to myself..."what utter chutzpah". I had been trying to speak with him for three years and an hour before he might lose his endorsement, now he wants to speak with me? Wow. Okay. I told Lou to come grab me around 6:30 from the Ron Paul meeting and he agreed. So at about 6:30PM he motions to me that it is time. As I'm walking to meet him I'm thinking to myself that "whatever the Congressman says Allan, just be respectful and hold your ground". I remember passing Jon Fleischman on the way there and snarkily saying that "I get to finally go speak to my Congressman".

We get around the corner and there he is....in the flesh, my own Congressman and his lovely wife. We awkwardly shook hands and filed into a room off the hallway for some privacy. It was me, the Congressman, his wife, Lou Penrose, and one of the interns from his office I believe. We chatted about Presidential candidates and made some small talk for a few minutes and then we got into the meat and potatoes stuff. I told him that the reason I was opposing his endorsement was because of his vote to pass TARP and that he is never around to meet with Republican groups and activists who put him in office to begin with. He then says and I quote, "Allan do you have a bank account?" Me: "of course I have a bank account" Campbell: "well if we didn't pass TARP, you wouldn't have had a bank account the next day" Me:(chuckling) I'm sad to see you buy into the lies of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. These geniuses got us into the mess in the first place". Oh well if that's your answer, that's your answer. Me: "why aren't you around the district like Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher and why won't you return any calls or come meet with our group?" Campbell: "Well Allan I do things a little differently. I'm not like Dana or Ed. I write articles/blogs and I go on television. I think that this way I can reach more people that I need to reach". So I'm saying to myself, "he doesn't get it". Me: "well John let's talk about Irvine. I've lived here my whole life and during a good portion of that time recently, we've been trying to beat Larry Agran here. Lynn Schott was running for the City Council in 2010 and needed to get the party's endorsement so she wouldn't miss out on all the early absentee ballot votes. Your vote was the margin of difference in denying Lynn the endorsement. When I asked Lou that Irvine needed its Republican Congressman here to help us with a motion to reconsider the vote, he told me basically to go pound sand and that he would not be doing that. That was offensive. You gave Larry Agran another term because of that action. Why should I support you now? I can't remember the answer he gave here, but I guess it wasn't worth remembering.

At this point he probably realized the futility of his appeals and we amicably parted ways for the meeting.

The meeting itself was suspenseful because I didn't know which side would prevail. The Congressman did not do himself any favors up there. In fact a few of his supporters told me that he probably lost votes by showing up! I couldn't agree more. His opponent John Webb gave a great speech. Members got to ask questions of the candidates instead of making speeches. I pulled out my Ron Paul signed pocket Constitution and politely asked the Congressman where he got his authority to vote for trillion dollar bailout. He gave some of the same answers to the group that he gave to me in private. When he was asked by an angry Craig Alexander why he hasn't returned his calls in over a year, he blamed a staff snafu or something as I recall. Bad answer. Bill Dunlap, who was sitting in for his Member John Warner, basically tore into the Congressman for not returning his calls as well and also was upset about the Congressman's Don't Ask Don't Tell vote. I was not expecting Bill to be on my side. When I knew we had his vote, it was only then that I knew actually had a chance to make history that night. In the end, the vote was 41 to 22, one vote shy of the 2/3 needed for endorsement. I hugged Lynn Schott sitting next to me and Lee Lowrey and I gave each other a fist bump as Campbell has avoided going to any Atlas PAC events just like our Irvine Group. I was so happy for Lynn. She had lost her endorsement by one vote because of John Campbell and now we had just returned the favor. That was karma at work or poetic justice, whatever you want to call it.

I will never forget this night. It was a great night.

2 Comments:

  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger John C. Drew, Ph.D. said…

    It's fascinating to read your behind the scenes report. I had low expectations regarding sending Rep. Campbell a message regarding TARP or DADT going into that meeting of the central committee. I remember that I first thought Rep. Campbell was in trouble when I was surprised by the volume of the boos greeting one of his off-the-mark statements. Given the natural desire to support incumbents, my gut feeling is that you need to tick off a ton of people to lose an endorsement from the OCGOP.

     
  • At 12:31 AM, Blogger Allan Bartlett said…

    Unfortunately for Campbell, all the stars aligned just right that night to block his endorsement. And yeah he has ticked off a lot of people with his arrogance and bad votes.

     

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