Tuesday, November 20, 2007

GOP chairman needs to look in the mirror

Today's word is leadership, as in "an act or instance of leading, guidance, direction." Our second word of the day is teamwork, as in a "cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause."

Leadership and teamwork are two words not in Ken Davis' vocabulary. Davis is chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, a position he has held for the past three years. His tenure was been marked by dissension, discord and a noticeable decline in the once dominant Republican Party in Montgomery County.

Under Davis' rule, the party has lost seats in the state Legislature and failed to deliver Republican votes for the governor's race or U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, who wins Berks and Chester counties, but loses the Montgomery County portion of his 6th Congressional District.

Under Davis, the Republican Party has allowed Democrats to narrow the voter registration gap and the all-important money gap. This is why the race for Montgomery County commissioner was much closer than it should have been.

Under Davis' helm. the GOP lost five county row office contests on Nov. 6. All five have been held by Republicans for as long as anyone can remember, but in January there will be five Democrats hanging out at the Montgomery County Courthouse, planning their next political run while collecting a paycheck from taxpayers.

You can thank Davis for giving the Democrats new life in Montgomery County.

Based on the results of the row office fiasco and Davis' pitiful record over three years, you'd think Davis would have stepped down by now. Or at the very least offered a plausible explanation of why the Republican Party has fallen so quickly during his tenure.

Instead, Davis spent the days after the election pointing fingers.

Davis put the blame for losing the five countywide races — clerk of courts, prothonotary, coroner, register of wills and controller — on Bruce L. Castor Jr., the current Montgomery County district attorney who ran for county commissioner.

Castor did what he said he would: Keep the commissioners' board where it has been for 138 years — in Republican control. Castor finished with 84,735 votes and helped keep the GOP majority by getting Jim Matthews re-elected.

Davis didn't want Castor to head the GOP ticket. He supported Matthews and the other incumbent county commissioner, Tom Ellis. That says a lot about Davis' lack of political savvy. A Matthews-Ellis ticket would have guaranteed Democratic control of the county commissioners.

Castor not only had to face two tough Democratic opponents in Joe Hoeffel and incumbent Ruth Damsker, and take the lead in the Matthews-Castor ’07 campaign, but he also had to contend with Davis' constant sniping and backbiting.

Inexplicably, but no doubt with Davis' support, Matthews ran his own side campaign for commissioner and conveniently left Castor’s name off most of his mailings. An informed source tells me Matthews spent $300,000 on his own campaign, syphoning money that could have helped the entire Republican team.

Davis said Castor is responsible for the five row offices going to Democrats. Castor's coattails should have carried every Republican candidate to victory, according to Davis. Last time I checked, Davis was still the party chairman. When Republican candidates lose, the chairman has to look in the mirror before placing blame.

When you lose a battle, you don't blame the soldiers. You look at the general and his plan of attack. When your favorite team loses, you look at the coach and his game plan.

Davis should have gotten on his hands and knees the day after the election and thanked Castor for keeping Montgomery County in GOP control for another four years.

If you take a look at the political mailings authorized by Matthews-Castor '07, you'll find references to the "Republican Team" and profiles of all 11 GOP candidates who ran for county office, including the five row offices that ended up in Democratic hands.

Contrast that with Matthews' campaign literature, where there's no mention of anyone else on the "team." It's all about Matthews. And by extension, it's all about Davis and the man who pulls his strings, Bob Asher, a big-time GOP fundraiser and national GOP committeeman.

Asher is another party leader with a lousy track record. Republicans lost most of the statewide judicial races this year, which followed a disastrous 2006 when Pennsylvania Republicans lost control of the state House and turned over four Congressional seats to Democrats.

Davis promised to unite the party three years ago. He failed to deliver. And as party chairman, the loss of the five row offices rests squarely on his shoulders.

The Montgomery County Republican Party needs unity and leadership, especially with the presidential election year approaching.

Davis has shown repeatedly he's not a leader or someone who can put his own interests aside and be part of a winning team.

It's time for county Republicans to cut their ties with Davis and Asher.

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