Fledgling political alliance aims to reform Clark County GOP

As you might recall, this year’s Clark County Republican Convention didn’t go all that smoothly, and the party was unable to select all of its delegates and alternates for the state GOP convention.

Since then, a group made primarily of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum supporters from the county convention have formed the PCO Liberty Alliance in an effort to reform the party at the county level and defend against an “establishment mentality” in which “principles and philosophies” become “secondary to winning” an election, according to the group’s website.

Christian Berrigan, of the PCO Liberty Alliance, said that although Paul, Gingrich and Santorum supporters might not see eye-to-eye on national issues, they bonded over mutual opinions about Clark County politics. The alliance aims to get a group of 150 like-minded precinct committee officers elected in the Aug. 7 primary.

Primary election ballots, which include PCO elections, will be mailed out to voters on July 18. The county has 222 precincts, and on the primary ballot Democratic voters can pick their Democratic precinct officers while Republican voters can select their Republican precinct officers.

PCOs choose who should sit on the party’s executive board at the county level and also play a role in selecting interim state legislators if a lawmaker leaves office prematurely.

The PCO Liberty Alliance’s website includes ideas for reforming the party, such as better training for PCOs and for people involved in running conventions, as well as more frequent meetings. The group’s website also has a list of endorsements in the upcoming PCO elections.

Berrigan said by phone on Friday that reaction to the new alliance has been mixed. Some of the Clark County GOP leaders seem open minded and excited to see a new passion for activism emerge, while other leaders have been defensive, he said.

But, that’s to be expected when you have change within any group, Berrigan added.

“We are promoting our PCO candidates to be people who are involved in their neighborhoods, actually serving as a liaison between their precincts and their party,” he said, adding that his group wants to create “a culture where people are trying to serve their neighborhood.”

Will the alliance have any impact on the county’s GOP leadership? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics

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