by Tom Llewellyn
August 15, 2014
The Oakland County GOP is beginning to change it’s look. With the New Conservatives (local Tea Party enthusiasts and attendees of other affiliated liberty groups) participating inside the Republican Party as precinct delegates, the exclusionary tactics of the good ‘ol boy Republicans are finally being challenged.
OCRP – A Real Battleground
Oakland County Republicans are in the middle of a war that has been building for years. As the face of the County Party, Chairman, Jim Thienel, gets a lot of grief from both sides. By all accounts, though, Jim is well thought of and regarded as a good man by all groups in the OCRP.
But inside the Party, there appears to be a lot of political pressure to isolate most Tea Party-oriented Republican activists and control all the others. This is especially disturbing to new participates because they read the published Republican principles that declare the Party to be a “bottom-up” organization with leadership to be directed by, and answerable to, the everyday Party participants. At the heart of the trouble to the Republican insiders, is the growing population of new conservative independent delegates. And right in the middle of this battle, is Jim Thienel.
Monumental Turning Point in Oakland County Politics
In what will go down as the most significant milestone in local political history, was marked last night at the post-primary Oakland County Republican Convention.
Election winners of the recent Republican Primary, delegates in attendance at the 11th District Caucus gathering in Pontiac, saw a group of outsiders, finally break through the barrier of the political old guard establishment.
Smack-Down of the Oakland County Republican Insiders
Last night, the OCRP leadership got the shock of their good ‘ol boy lives. Just as the pre-appointed 11th Dist. Chair was about to ram through their SLATE of “establishment” preferred delegates selected to go to the State Convention, a rag-tag group stopped them in their tracks.
With increased knowledge and awareness of County leadership procedural tactics, a whopping two-thirds of the Delegates voted out the temporary 11th Caucus Chair. Then electing Matt Maddock as the new Caucus Chairman, they proceeded to vote in their list of delegates headed to the State Convention, next week.
County Leadership Steamroller Breaks Down
The result of the dramatic shift in power in this Caucus meet was so dramatic, that both sides of the contest were astonished. The capacity room full of delegates, erupted into to cheers or groans. The temperature of those in attendance and the room in general, became very heated.
The next raucous hour of the meeting was completely un-prepared and appeared to be chaotic at times. Without a gavel, Matt Maddock was challenged at every step as he proceeded to in traduce a new more-representative list of delegates to be advanced to the State Convention. The votes were clear and overwhelmingly in favor of the new conservative delegate slate.
Caucus Meeting Gets Chaotic
Like kids at the wheel of dad’s car, the meeting bumped and learched ahead. The losing side of establishment Republicans had envisioned a disrespectful and impudent gang of vocal Tea Party “extremists” would try to disrupt their fast-paced sweep of the proceedings; but that clearly was lost at the start.
Jim Theinel, the County Chair, announced at the start of the evening that he would not put up with any unprofessional behavior. Jim had secured extra security from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, to ensure that the dangerous Tea Party rabble-rousers did not disrupt the scheduled sweep of his hand picked delegates.
But, in the 11th District Caucus, his fellow party insiders were now on the outside for the first time, and they did not like it. On the receiving end of their own tactics, the well-dressed good ‘ol boys were enraged. Long term Republican power brokers, stood up in expensive business suits and constantly interrupted the Chairman.
In a near chair-throwing disruption, these refined gentlemen resorted to screams and threats. As these disruptive elements aggressively fought for their political lives, never once were the Oakland County Sherriff’s police officers at the back of the room called into action to quell the disturbance. There was no one ejected and there were no arrests. How ironic it might have been for some of the political insiders to end up in jail, and then having to call Matt Maddock, a professional bail bondsman, to get them out.
The Process of Introducing a New Delegate List was Difficult
Matt Maddock was very calm and reserved in his running of the meeting, despite the continuous angry shouts and technical interruptions of the losers. Without the aid of the audio-visual equipment in the room provided for the previous leadership, announcing the new list of proposed delegates and alternates was arduous. Re-typing the 242 names at the podium, proved too time consuming; so reading the list over the noise of the crowd, was the only option available to the Chair. Jim Theinel had already announced that caucus business had to be concluded by 9:45 p.m. and the whole building vacated soon after.
If the proposed new list of District Delegates and Alternates did not get voted through on time, the County Party was prepared to declare the 11th Caucus efforts “incomplete”, be thrown-out and their original political insider slate to be declared the official list of delegates and alternates headed to the State Convention.
Last Minute Vote Completes New List of Raised Delegates
Republican leaders knew that if the meeting did not conclude on time, the entire efforts of Matt’s new group could be tossed-out. As time started to run out, the opposition became that much more animated and disruptive.
Delays and aggressive objections from the side of the room of losing establishment delegates, it was very difficult for Matt to control the meeting and get the new list voted on before the deadline.
Literally at the very last minute, a reading of the proposed 121 Delegates and 121 Alternates was completed and the votes passing easily.
This Insider-Outsider GOP Clash was Predictable
The mayhem of the 11th District Caucus meeting was unfortunate and unnecessary if only the losing establishment Republicans would have acted in a more civil and conciliatory manner. Yes, Matt Maddock and his team of caucus appointments were unprepared for the disruptive elements within the losing political group. The inexperience of his team and accommodating nature of Matt, clearly caused the meeting to get out of hand on several occasions.
But, all in all, this was a cherished milestone in this County’s Republican political history for the new conservative voices, now inside the Oakland County Republican Party.
The GOP had a unique and memorable turning point at this important district caucus. It was a “Grand Old Time” that has been years in the making and finally came to pass.
Probable Challenges from the Losing Insiders
Now that the shoe-is-on-the-other-foot, the losing minority of establishment insiders will inevitably submit formal objections to the 11th District Caucus votes. It appears that it is more than just sour grapes, and an attempt to hi-jack the State Convention. This year, the real underlining battle for delegate assignments, has always been to stuff the ballot for Lt. Governor in favor of Brian Calley. But, most of those newly elected from the 11th District Caucus are supporters of the challenger, Wes Nakagiri.
In the next few days, we will see how this plays out. No matter what the delegate outcome, the 11th District Caucus meeting will go down in Oakland County Republican political history as a pivotal moment for the growing number of New Conservative voters. Including new voices in the Oakland County Republican Party is getting closer.