Republican youngsters long on ideals

It probably was the tiniest state convention I ever attended, with 14 delegates (11 from Kitsap County, three from King) but Washington Young Republican Federation members threw themselves into the task of platform writing at their Bremerton confab at Howard Johnson’s with an enthusiasm more like what the Democrats have shown this year than their elders.

Where the local GOP adopted a one page platform that avoided anything even remotely controversial other than spelling out that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, the youths waded through five pages filled with land mines, e.g., replacing the current income tax system with a flat tax, support for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and immediate sealing of our national borders against illegal immigration, all of which they approved.

They supported the war on terrorism, their elders’ definition of marriage, English as the official language, repeal of the Brady bill, a right to work law, citizen approval of tax increases, property taxes based on actual rather than highest and best use. They opposed legalization of illicit drugs, affirmative action, abortion except in extreme cases where the death of both mother and child is imminent, and public funding of same.

Mostly, they got what the McMahan kids wanted. Well, they’re not kids but they are the three grown children of Rep. Lois McMahan, R-Olalla, and her preacher husband, Jerry. Juliana is state committeewoman for the Kitsap County R’s and chair of the Kitsap YRs. Jeremy was named parliamentarian for the convention and LaDeva wrote most of the amendments. They are a formidable lot in action.

YRs are the main Republican youth group, post high school and aged 18 to 40, the minimum age limit set because membership mandates being a registered voter. Eric Hartman of Redmond is the president and he has clubs in eight counties, Kitsap, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Whatcom, Spokane, Cowlitz and Clark, with a total membership of 85.

Well, no, that’s not much to brag about, but there’s a teen age club for high schoolers, says Hartley, and a College Republicans division with over 1,000 members statewide.

Candidates who dropped by the YR convention managed to conceal any disappointment at having made the trip for only 14 votes.

Reed Davis, who’s going for the U.S. Senate nomination against the state party and President Bush’s handpicked challenger to the incumbent, Rep. George Nethercutt of Spo-kane, told them the Elway poll shows him only 5 points behind Nethercutt in Western Washington and two points ahead in southern Washington. Nethercutt sent a letter. Spokane is a long way from Bremerton.

Danille Turissini of Port Ludlow spoke for the Bush campaign as a volunteer worker, but said Bush had four paid staffers working in Washington state, which shows he’s putting on a real effort here or he wouldn’t be spending that kind of money. .

She had bumper stickers to pass out although she said displaying one in her home county of Jefferson could get your car egged or vandalized.

Is that true? “Oh, I exaggerated,” she said, “but I’m having a hard time getting business people there to take bumper stickers because they’re afraid it will hurt their business.”

Dino Rossi, the party’s hope for governor, repeated his pledge that he won’t raise taxes if elected, and will do everything he can to protect the most vulnerable people. “You can be fiscally conservative and still have a social conscience,” said the former Sammamish state senator who as Ways and Means chair produced the no-new-taxes budget in 2003. He’s spoken at 28 Lincoln Day dinners, he said, including Mabton where he was told that he was the only person within a 10-mile radius wearing a suit who was still above ground.

So what did the YRs do for kicks here? They went to a gun range and shot guns, what else?

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

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