Alameda County GOP spat hits Court of Appeal

Members of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee will be arguing against each other this afternoon in the First District California Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

County committee member and former chairman Paul Cummings Jr. of Oakland is appealing an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s decision to throw out his case contesting the election of several other county committee members in June 2008.

Cummings has claimed committee vice chairman Walter Stanley III of Livermore and six other “Constitutional Republicans” were ineligible for election to the committee because they hadn’t been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they’d belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code.

But that’s not actually what this appeal is about. The Superior Court judge tossed the case, ruling Cummings hadn’t filed it within the five-day period required after a primary election; Cummings argues that this wasn’t a primary, as there’s only one election for party committee posts, and wants the appeals court to reinstate the case and order the county court to review it on its merits. The California Republican Party has filed an amicus brief on Cummings’ behalf.

Besides Stanley, the other defendants in this case are committee members Casey Fargo and his wife Lea Smart of Livermore; David Latour of Hayward; Deslar Patten of Hayward; Christopher Kuhn of Hayward; and John Bartlett of Livermore. All of seven are affiliated with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. Fargo also is a former president of the Golden Gate Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration activist group, and Latour is a former president of the Castro Valley Minutemen.

Stanley et al – represented by attorney and fellow GOP committee member Jerry Salcido, who just a few weeks ago was elected the committee’s chairman – argue not only that it was a primary and Cummings sued too late, but also that the courts don’t have jurisdiction to police party committee elections.

I’ll be watching for the appellate court’s ruling over the next few months, and will report it here.

(UPDATE @ 10:10 A.M. WEDNESDAY 9/9: Cummings wins this round.)

To put this battle in context, 15.13 percent of Alameda County’s registered voters were Republicans as of May 4, while 57.82 percent were Democrats and 22.48 percent declined to state a party affiliation. The county GOP’s registration has slid by almost four percentage points over the past five years (data after the jump).

GOP voter registration in Alameda County
March 20, 2009 – 15.08 %
Feb. 10, 2009 – 15.09 %
Oct. 20, 2008 – 15.17 %
Sept. 5, 2008 – 15.95 %
May 19, 2008 – 16.21 %
April 4, 2008 – 16.47 %
Jan. 22, 2008 – 16.73 %
Jan 1, 2008 – 16.9 %
Dec. 7, 2007 – 16.93 %
Sept. 4, 2007 – 17.13 %
Feb. 10, 2007 – 17.43 %
Oct. 23, 2006 – 17.52 %
Sept. 8, 2006 – 17.48 %
May 22, 2006 – 17.53 %
April 7, 2006 – 17.58 %
Jan. 3, 2006 – 17.52 %
Oct. 24, 2005 – 17.65 %
Sept. 9, 2005 – 17.72 %
Feb. 10, 2005 – 17.64 %
Oct. 18. 2004 – 17.82 %
Sept. 3, 2004 – 18.17 %
Feb. 17, 2004 – 18.96 %

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • So the GOP in Alameda is in the midst of a lawsuit over committee appointments and in Contra Costa the GOP members have called for an investigation into election irregularities in regard to the endorsement of a CD-10 candidate.
    (see http://www.halfwaytoconcord.com/harmer-gop-violate-election-code/)

    I must say all this legal noise gives new emphasis to the GOP as the party of Law and order.

  • mike olson

    It seems to me the Alameda County Republicans let the proverbial camel — in this case a Minutemen faction — to stick its nose in their tent and then cry foul when the whole camel comes in.

    Is this really different than what’s been happening in the GOP for at least 2 decades? That is: at first they courted the Ultra Conservatives at the party’s fringe; then they appeased this Far Right; then the GOP was beholden to them; and now the Republican Party is ruled by them.

  • Dear Mike Olson,

    The GOP is hardly ruled by ‘ultra-conservatives’. The leadership has been and continues to be firmly in the hands of East Coast businessmen. However, you are correct to say these businessmen indeed courted the far-right about three decades ago and now are somewhat held captive by ultras. The Party elite are actually in a tight spot. They depend on “ultra-right” (as you call it) votes, yet they are not happy with this marriage and rather jettison the ultra-right platform. They’ve attempted a series of more or less failed maneuvers to transform the party’s ideology, and consequently you see contestation in the ranks (tea parties, minutemen, lawsuits, etc.).

    However, the ‘infighting’ is really happening at the edges of the party. The center of the party remains quite secure, and most apparent fighting/critique is entirely staged and false. That being said, the GOP leadership continues to walk a tight rope between it’s ‘ultra-right’ constituency and its true liberal, globalist agenda. (oops, I let the cat out of the bag– the GOP business elite are globalists!?!?) Where the Party has been most successful in meshing the two, often contrary interests, is in foreign policy, sic., wars for democracy which can conveniently be wrapped up in the flag, ‘support the troops’, patriotism.

    The legal battles in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are really incidental. While they indeed represent real fissures in the party, they do not typify base-elite relationships. Typically the base is relatively passive and sufficiently misinformed, unlikely to break from party personalities despite grievances. It is really a case of not having a strategy of empowerment coupled with reification of choices.

    That being said, you are kidding yourself if you think the Democrats or even ‘progressivism’ in America is any better an option. Materially speaking, we are really beyond partisan politics. However, most have yet to realize this, and to the degree they fail to do so, it will be to their detriment. I really am not optimistic about an ‘turn of events’. The Alameda GOP is however making an effort. We are hosting an “all party” (greens, p&f, dems, gop, american indy) debate Aug. 28th for CD-10, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=106185675059. However, most will discount this, and in truth it is merely a gesture. We will have to wait and see what comes out of it, if anything.

    Here’s the crux: most americans have no clue how north american political economy is being re-organized right under their nose. Instead, they latch onto epipheremal events and emotions, and their reaction to such is rather random, or at worst conditioned. Given this fact, they are easily manipulated, and it is unlikely they will do anything other than ‘gripe/adjust’ to current world predicament emerging before us. Hellaire Buloc called this era, “the servile state”, but it has been called many other things by more principled theorists on the Left. It is in truth a system that is somewhere between socialism and capitalism, having the benefits of neither. It is the ‘servile’ political economy where we have been longer than most care to admit, but regardless it’s a system where power is removed. Point being, left/right dichotomies are increasingly false, the real polarity is more accurately ‘centeralization’ vs. ‘decentralization’. If “politicos” begin thinking along these lines, they will find more meaningful ways to work together, crossing party lines, and likewise discover issues of more substance than what is usually spoon feed.

    ultra-rightwing minuteman

  • Paul Dumbings

    The truth is I sued these local community activist volunteers because they supported Congressman Ron Paul during the June 2008 Presidential “primary” election, which just so happens to be the same election that I want the court to believe was a “general” election. I don’t care if the CA Elections Code reads,

    Section 316 – A “Direct primary” is the primary election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June in each even-numbered year, to
    nominate candidates to be voted for at the ensuing general election OR TO ELECT MEMBERS OF A PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE.

    I don’t care that these people are more productive at what they do than I could ever hope to be. I’m the former Chairman god damn it. I deserve respect and will do everything in my power to preserve my legacy… even if it is just a legacy of lawsuits.

    It makes no difference to me that there has been a complete roll reversal and I am now forced to sit in the corner by myself while the committee passes resolutions against me calling for my sorry azz to drop the lawsuit. I’m Paul fu*king Dumbings! I’ll ride this sh*t all the way to the California Supreme Court if I have to. I don’t care how much donor money the California GOP wastes away on amicus briefs calling for the removal of seven badly needed volunteers, as opposed to fighting to win elections. I’m proud of the mound of dirt I’ve created out of the Alameda County GOP. My like-minded friends on the left love me for it! They all say, “There’s Paul Dumbings… he used to be a Democrat and now he’s a plant in the GOP.

    All of my Country Club Republicans please stand up! They remember the good old days when we only had 10 members on the 30-member committee and couldn’t even achieve a quorum to transact official business during an election year. I want to go back to the days when we voted to endorse ballot measures that raised property taxes without even reading the measure itself. I want to go back to the days where no members from the public attended our monthly meetings and when they did and decided to open their mouths’ to ask a question, I would call them out of order and discuss what I wanted to talk about. I used to love that!

    I’m asking the judges on the Court of Appeals to legislate from the bench, disregard the plain statutory language of the law and remove these people from my committee so I can have my do-nothing party back.

  • please GOP party members, please keep these minut-men from any politcal power. these people have self-induced ignorance of decency in life. it’s too bad they
    tie up precious court times and i have a suspicion, that tax dollars are being used in their struggle to
    teach and practice inhuman behaviors. no one has the
    right to taint AMERICAN decency.