Monday, March 24, 2008

Montco GOP falling on hard times

What has four years of leadership under Ken Davis done for the Montgomery County Republican Party?

It's left the once-dominant party deep in debt and struggling to remain the majority party in Montgomery County.

Davis doesn't deserve all the blame. He had help destroying the party from Bob Asher, the National GOP Committeeman, and Jim Matthews, the one-time Republican county commissioner, who joined forces with Democrat Joe Hoeffel to sink the GOP's 2007 election slate.

The Davis-Asher-Matthews Axis of Evil has left the Montgomery County GOP in shambles.

Davis, who has less than two months to go on his current two-year term, sent a letter to county Republicans last week begging for money.

Specifically, the letter asks the county's GOP state lawmakers, other GOP elected officials and the party's leaders to step up their ticket sales to the county committee's annual fundraising Spring Reception, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

(The $150-a-person reception is scheduled for March 27 at Presidential Caterers in East Norriton.)

From Gibbons' article:
"With one week to go until our annual Spring Reception, I report to you that ticket sales are lagging," Davis said in the letter that went out to all "ticket sellers." "Unless we see a significant increase in activity, I have concerns about our ability to fund many of the pre-election activities to which we are committed for candidates and campaigns and Election Day work."
Hmmmm. I wonder why Republicans have lost enthusiasm for the party? Could it be incompetent, uninspired leadership at the county level? Could it be Matthews' betrayal of Republican voters when he made Democrat Joe Hoeffel vice chairman of the commissioners' board?

Could it be Davis and Asher working behind the scenes to install puppet leadership for another two years?

Montgomery County Republican Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. offered his opinion on why the party has hit rock bottom.

Castor attributed the fundraising problem to Matthews' controversial power-sharing pact with Hoeffel.

"When I reach out to people to contribute, they are so disgusted that the will of the voters was reversed by Jim Matthews and his 'power-sharing' arrangement with Democrats that they want to wait and see if the GOP can recover," Castor told Gibbons.

"Our party has a great story to tell and, once a new (party chairman) is elected, I am confident things will improve both election-wise and financially for the Republican Party in Montgomery County," Castor told Gibbons. "That is, so long as a chairman is elected who represents a major departure from the style of leadership of the last four years."

Castor is backing the chairmanship candidacy of Upper Gwynedd GOP Municipal Chairman Robert J. Kerns.

The only other announced candidate for the county organization's top job is Pottstown Area GOP Leader Jim Vlahos, whom many identify with the Davis-Matthews-Asher faction, according to Gibbons.

Attacks by both Davis and Matthews on other members of the county GOP, including himself, have also hurt the party, Castor told Gibbons.

"When our own elected leaders sound like the Democratic Party chairman, it's going to erode the confidence of your donors and it will impact contributions," Castor told Gibbons.

Read "GOP needs more funds to stay out of debt" at The Times-Herald Web site.

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