Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Ken Smith to challenge Metsker

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ken Smith to challenge Metsker

There may not be a new sheriff in Johnson County, but there just may be one in the Johnson County GOP.

Former Johnson County Sheriff candidate Ken Smith announced today that he will challenge Ronnie Metsker, JC Republican Party Chair, for leadership of the county party.

Here's what Smith wrote on his Facebook page: 

In recent weeks, I have been working with leaders from Gardner, Olathe, Overland Park, Lenexa, and Mission who have asked me to step forward and run for Chair of the Johnson County Republican Party. I look forward to working with all local party organizations. The Olathe Republican Party is a great example of strong conservative leadership and I'm excited about the possibilities of the new groups coming out of Gardner and Overland Park. 
These city organizations do not compete with, but rather strengthen, the County and State party organizations.
The potential has never been greater for recruiting new leaders for precinct committeemen and committeewomen and for local government offices. I also look forward to working alongside and promoting the work of the new legislature as they advance the ideas of our pro-growth governor. I am a conservative who supports limited government, the rule of law, small business and family values. This is a team effort and I hope to earn your support. 

For what it's worth, I think Smith has an uphill battle on his hands, but I applaud his courage in stepping forward.

For the most part, Metsker has done a very good job of advancing the county party. Under his tutelage, the county party opened an office and made giant strides in Brownback's "Clean Sweep" efforts that saw every statewide office turned to GOP hands. 

I'm not sure Metsker deserves tons of credit -- the political winds were definitely at his back -- but his time and efforts can't be discounted. With those winds came a sort of transition. To my knowledge, the county party has long been dominated by so-called "moderate" Republicans. Think Dick Bond and Greg Musil and Bill Graves. (Ewww.) We've been transitioning to a more conservative party over the course of the last several years, and I also applaud Metsker's efforts to aid in that transition.

To his credit, I can't say whether Metsker is a conservative or a "moderate." And a few years ago, that's exactly the sort of personality to party needed in order to remain cohesive. 

I've mentioned before his one major flub as party chair. We'll call it The Jody Kramer Experiment. Kramer, you'll recall, served on the BOCC Charter Commission. I won't go completely into it here, but long story short: The party crafted a resolution asking all Republican members of the commission to support partisan elections for Johnson County Board of Commissioners. Kramer was placed on the board by Metsker as the appointee from the Johnson County Republican Party. Kramer led the charge, working with Democrats, to ensure that voters never got the chance to consider returning county races to partisan elections. (As a side note, one political insider once told me that allowing partisan elections to return would give certain people like Bernie Bianchino and Mike Pirner, two conservative activists who also served on the Charter Commission, a feather in their caps. And that, not partisan elections, was the real deal killer.)

Let's just say partisan elections got tossed in order to protect the perceived power of the so-called moderates. It's abominable. 

Metsker's other appointee to the charter commission, Clay Barker, the KS GOP director, was spot on. I don't want to go all Valley Girl here, but Clay is like, totally awesome. He's approachable and knowledgeable where previous directors have been pretentious.

In his Facebook announcement, Ken makes particular mention of local political parties. There's some sort of snafu regarding the creation of the Gardner and Overland Park Republican Parties. The two groups have not been recognized by the county party and there's some sort of beef there. I don't exactly get it. I'm not sure official recognition entails -- a cookie? a certificate? Both groups were basically created out of sour grapes -- they split from other groups when certain people were not given leadership roles. I typically have little respect for that sort of thing. It's like taking your ball and going home, but I don't know all the details there, so...

I have a question for Ken Smith: Will he be bringing forward alternative candidates for the other party leadership roles?

This should be a spirited, insider-y campaign, and I'm looking forward to watching the fireworks. I fully expect to be receiving phone calls in the very near future seeking my support for the candidates. The election for party leadership is scheduled for shortly after the general election. Stay tuned.

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