GOP keeps convention controversy-free

Kitsap Republicans trotted out a “vanilla” platform at their county convention Saturday, a clone of the 2002 effort. But they didn’t quite succeed in keeping it 100 percent clear of controversy.

They were for all things bright and beautiful, but “support of the traditional family as the fundamental unit of society” didn’t quite cut it for the 188 delegates at Four Corners Neighborhood church.

James Mackey wanted to define marriage “as between one man and one woman.” “Traditional family” does that, said Joan Gorner. The audience muttered. Not if you check what’s going on in other states, said another delegate. The definition passed unanimously.

An effort was made by Melissa Munzie to add support of “the war in Iraq to a successful end,” but didn’t get enough votes to suspend the rules for lack of signatures to introduce it.

That was all there was as far as debate, but when resolutions followed, up popped Ms. Munzie with her war support plank rewritten as a resolution to “support our troops in Iraq to a successful end of the conflict.” That passed with only one “nay” vote out of the crowd.

Not addressed by plank or resolution was anything controversial. Not the pit-to-pier gravel mining operation in Hood Canal. Not any of the initiatives or referendums that may be on the fall ballot. Not the claim by Kitsap Indian tribes to control water resources here via treaty rights or the standoff over the future of Old Man State Park. Not the proposed stormwater tax increase.

Even the Republican opposition to abortion, often the subject of fierce debate at past conventions, remained diluted to support for “the protection of innocent life at all stages.”

Joan Gorner reported on the results of the 375 questionnaires collected at the March caucuses. Asked what issues were most important to Republicans in 2004, respondents said cutting taxes, property rights, and a tie between tort reform and making Washington business friendly.

Educational reforms? Vouchers 2 to 1. Minimum graduation requirements set locally, 3 to 1. Medical savings accounts, 10 to 1. Cut taxes a top priority balanced with cuts in state spending. Too many regulations and taxes, 14 to 1.

National issues of importance? Winning the war with terrorists, tax relief, economic stimulation and homeland security. State issues? Building a business-friendly state, too much regulation, property rights, improved transportation and cutting taxes.

Kitsap County issues? Property rights protection, cutting taxes, affordable housing linked with economic recovery. Bainbridge Island concerns? Traffic on SR 305, too much union control of the ferry system, drug and alcohol use in schools, too much state control of local schools.

Mostly, they listened to candidates and party officials. County chair Shirley Brown and state chair Chris Vance were gung-ho about the party’s chances for victory in November. Mrs. Brown made $90 for the party by charging $5 apiece for guests, 18 of whom showed up.

Last on the program was Dino Rossi, the former Senate Ways and Means chair and writer of the no-new-taxes 2003 budget, who was greeted with a standing ovation and told this story...

Three hunters hired a float plane to take them into elk country and come back for them in a week. The pilot said OK, but only one elk. They agreed, but when the pilot returned, they waited by the lake side with three elk.

No way, said the pilot. The hunters conferred among themselves and said, well, last year he said the same thing when we had two elk, but he changed his mind when we offered him a bunch of money.

So they offered the pilot a bundle and he gave in, loaded the hunters and three elk aboard and took off.

He cleared the water and was nearing the end of the lake when he crashed into some trees. “Where are we?” asked one dazed hunter. “About 50 feet short of where we crashed last year,” said another.

“So you see,” said Rossi, “more money isn’t always the answer.”

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.

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