There are 3 kinds of people in the Republican Party – thinkers, doers, and politicians.
I mention this universal rule of really all organizations, because the local Republican Party is set to reorganize after the November election. It may seem a little early to start thinking about who will next lead the Johnson County Republican Party (JCRP) and who will lead the Third District, but these are important decisions and mark my words, some of the wrong people are probably already thinking about it. I'm pretty certain there was some crafting occurring a the precinct event last weekend. (I do not know who is slated to use that as a platform to run for JCRP Chair, but... I'm onto you.)
Right now, Theresa Segraves is the chair of the Johnson County Republican Party. You’ll recall she took over when Ronnie Metsker, who served in the role for almost 8 years, was appointed to lead the Johnson County Election Office. Word on the street is that Segraves will not seek the chairmanship. The other officers are Kay Rutherford, secretary, and Mike Kuckelman, treasurer.
Metsker left a large hole. Yes, he was a little squishy, and I can’t bear to mention his name without mentioning the Jody Kramer Experiment. However, he managed to keep a once very damaged Republican Party – filled with so-called Johnson County mods and conservatives – halfway at peace. Not an easy task.
I attribute part of that success to his efforts to open and maintain a county party office. The office gave space and resources to Republicans activists and candidates. The office has been an invaluable party asset, and one the party cannot afford to lose. This home base allowed Republicans of different stripes and different neighborhoods to work together and get to know one another in a safe and mutual place. It sounds silly, but these things matter.
I don’t think keeping the office open and the lights on has been a walk in the park. In fact, I hear there was a real danger of its doors closing not all that long ago. Whoever helms JCRP next should be committed to maintaining an office and holding regular office hours with the assistance of volunteers.
Generally in these elections, loose affiliations of people attempt to draft a slate of people to chair, vice-chair, serve as secretary and treasurer of the party. I’m not a huge fan of this practice. I think if someone wants to run for chair or secretary, she should run without a slate of others. And I think the precinct people, who will elect the next chair and leadership, should vote on the best person – not on a slate of candidates. There’s usually at least one total dud in a slate, and having a formally established leadership isn’t the best way to build bridges and create cohesion or make everyone feel welcome.
But that’s where we’re at. There will be at least one group of people running as a slate. Ick. My guess is there will be two slates vying for the role. One slate will be so-called conservatives. The other side will be so-called grassroots activists. The irony is both slates will be Establishment, though both will vehemently deny it.
Whoever takes the helm at JCRP should be a doer – not an idea or thinker-type and not a politician. This leading doer will need to have fundraising skills – or at least be surrounded by a slate of people with proven fundraising experience. This leadership team will need to have the disposition to help a somewhat divided and diverse (in thought at least) group of people find common ground. It’s not enough to have a plan. This leader will need to execute. In my head, I’d like to see a slate that includes some of these people: John Nelson, Chad Bettes, Candy Cole, Beverly Gossage, Dennis Kriegshauser, Mike Kuckleman. I’m pretty much just spit balling here.
Finally, the Third District reorganization will be of slightly less importance than JCRP, in part, because it only meets once or twice a year. However, there’s no reason the Third District can’t be elevated to a more meaningful part of the party. My heart would be warmed to see a fundraiser and potentially outreach in Wyandotte County courtesy of the Third District. This is unlikely to occur however, without putting doers in leadership positions.
And finally, whichever brain trust is handed the keys to JCRP and the Third District needs to have some media savvy. The television cameras are somewhat regular visitors at party headquarters and events.
I don’t want to seem like a snob, but if I must I’ll say it: By media savvy, I mean someone who owns nice pair of plain loafers or heels and isn’t afraid to wear them. And for the love of all things, no more cowboy boots OR deck shoes on a Johnson County Republican being interviewed on television ever again. Ever.
Republicans are already a giant stereotype of either frat boys or hillbillies. Let’s not give the media ammo by dressing as if we’re one or the other.