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Friday, June 16, 2006

Wisconsin GOP works to make their party smaller....

GOP Faithful Would Bar Help For Moderates
The Capital Times May 26, 2006
by Anita Weiner

Are moderates being frozen out of the Republican Party of Wisconsin? It appears a large majority of party delegates would like exactly that, according to a nonbinding resolution passed at last weekend's state convention in Appleton.

Resolution 25 urged the GOP "to withhold all promotional and financial support of those candidates that do not consistently subscribe to this overall conservative agenda, be they incumbent or new candidates."

It also urges the party to "actively and vigorously" seek out candidates for office who "will go in this conservative direction, and respect the wishes of party members."

"I have worked hard to raise the conservative voice," convention chair and state Sen. Cathy Stepp, R-Sturtevant, told the delegates in Appleton last weekend. "We should never apologize for our conservative agenda."

From the speech by Stepp to the prominent booths of pro-life groups, the Appleton convention was a conservative's paradise.

It was a paradise with no prominent moderate elected officials, such as former state Sens. Mary Panzer and Peggy Rosenzweig, both previously defeated by more conservative Republicans.

The fundamental touchstones of conservatism like family values, freedom for everyone and fiscal responsibility must be preserved, Stepp said.

The convention delegates later approved a collection of resolutions that strongly promote conservative stands, such as securing the nation's borders, supporting the death penalty and calling for a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.

But perhaps the most resounding support of conservatism was the resolution that could freeze moderate candidates out of the party.

Resolution 25 states that because the convention "passed numerous resolutions of a conservative nature," that is the direction that party members want their representatives to follow. It went on to urge the restriction of campaign help to conservative Republican candidates only, and the direction of all candidate recruiting efforts to the political right.

The resolution did concede that "the people of the party recognize that while they cannot compel representatives to vote" conservative, "they can and do expect them to."

Rep. Terri McCormick, R-Appleton, who is running for the 8th Congressional District seat in the party primary against Rep. John Gard, R-Peshtigo, said she at first thought the resolution was meant to justify the action of Wisconsin members of a Republican national committee who decided to endorse her opponent early in the race.

Later, she came to believe that it was not in response to her situation. But McCormick, who said she is a solid fiscal conservative, remains concerned about the resolution, because "the word conservative can be spun."

She also contends that if more delegates were present in the convention hall during the vote, the resolution might not have passed.

Rick Wiley, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said he does not believe that the resolution excludes any potential candidates.

"Nothing talks about moderate or conservative," Wiley said. "I think they were talking about being fiscally conservative. I don't think this boxes out moderates."