GOP Musical Chairs

Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013 in Politics

GOP Musical Chairs

by Andi Parkinson

Over the weekend, the Maine Republican Party selected current Trucost board member, former board member of the Maine Heritage Policy Center and co-Senate President Rick Bennett of Norway as their third chair since last year. Via MRP press release: 

The Maine Republican Party State Committee has elected former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett, as the new Chairman of the Maine Republican Party.

    The vote, cast by the party’s 77-person state committee, demonstrated broad support from all areas of the Republican Party, with a majority of members from across the party’s diverse areas pledging support for Bennett in advance and an even greater number delivering votes the day of the election.

    “The Maine Republican Party is ready to make the case to the people of Maine that the liberal leadership and policies of Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves are bad for the Maine people, bad for Maine’s small businesses, bad for Maine’s economy, and bad for the generations of Mainers who will inherit our decisions,” Mr. Bennett said.


    “It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work electing Republicans who will grow Maine’s economy, protect Maine’s small businesses, control the size and scope of government and give the next generation of Mainers a stronger, more prosperous Maine than we inherited,”
    Mr. Bennett concluded.

    In addition to electing Mr. Bennett as new party Chairman, the Maine Republican State Committee also elected former State Representative and current Kennebec County Republican Chair Hon. Susan Morissette as new Vice Chair.

Morisette previously served one term as HD 54 Representative of Winslow before losing her re-election bid to Catherine Nadeau.

gop-split 

But one needs a scorecard to keep up with all of the scandals, claims of manipulation/ disregard of party rules (see RNC2012), changes in leadership and controversies in the Maine Republican Party since 2010- oh, how the party of Margaret Chase Smith and Bill Cohen has fallen in recent years!

When Paul LePage first was elected Governor in 2010, Maine also witnessed both State House chambers go from blue to red- the first time that the state had gone to Republican control in both the Executive and Legislative branches in over 40 years. It heralded a time of devastating party splintering and questionable ethics such as the state had never before seen and was part of a much larger picture nationally.

The chair of the Maine Republican Party at the time, Charlie Webster, claimed much of the credit for the flip, But then… well… Charlie Webster quickly went from being the man” to being “Crazy Uncle Charlie, that guy that has to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner”, telling more and more wild tales:

June 2011: Democrats “steal elections” via same day registration:

July 2011: Webster claimed that UMF College Republicans “parked their vans” on Election Day in 2010, as to prevent students getting to the polls, and submitted a list of 206 names to then Secretary of State Charlie Summers to investigate for voter fraud.

None was found and the accusations/ witch hunt resulted in national attention.

Sept 2011: Webster, still determined that SOME fraud had indeed occurred, insisted that “Canadians were able to come across the border and vote illegally”:

LD 1373, “An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process”, was introduced by Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples) that was passed by the GOP-led 125th Legislature and supported by Secretary of State Charlie Summers and signed law by Governor Paul LePage, went to referendum in November- and was soundly smacked down by Maine voters by a 60-40 margin:

Nov 2012: Grant’s statement of the Rich Cebra sponsored bill LD 1376′s 2011 defeat being the “first vote of 2012″ proved true, as Democrats regained control of both legislative chambers.

maine-gop-chair-suspicious-of-dozens-of-black-voters

Charlie Webster then announced that he would not seek re-election and held an interview with WCSH’s Don Carrigan and still determined that there was indeed voter fraud occurring within the state, claimed that it was being committed by “dozens of black people” travelling into towns. The story garnered more national headlines and Webster later apologized for his remarks.

Then the termed-out of the Legislature Rich Cebra came in as the new party chair, somehow managed to make an even bigger mess than the one he had found time and time and time again… and promptly left- after seven months with no warning.

On July 3, news broke that Maine Republican Party Chair and former Rep. Rich Cebra abruptly stepped down from his position as head of the party amid multiple controversies, and that his Vice Chair Beth O’Connor had given notice a few days’ prior as well. O’Connor originally planned to run against Cebra for the top slot, but chose at the time to pull her name before the vote.

From Dec 2012:

So much for that idea!

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

More previous reaction from Charlie Webster and Bruce Poliquin:

So, here’s the mess that Webster and Cebra left for Bennett- time will tell as to what he chooses to do- or even CAN do- with it.

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