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May 30, 2006

Vance says "Unfortunate Things" Came out of Convention

Posted by David Postman at 4:57 PM

With the fall out from the weekend's Republican state convention, I wondered how it looked to Chris Vance, the former chairman now seemingly happy as a consultant at The Gallatin Group. While Republicans got tough on immigration, he mowed his lawn, played with his kids, played a round of golf and generally seemed pretty glad not to have been there.

"There are a lot of unfortunate things that came out of the convention. All the stories highlight the divisions in the Republican Party rather than the unity in the Republican Party. .... What you and the other members of the press are writing about is disunity. It's not a good thing when you have our major elected officials, like Rob McKenna, and our major candidate, Mike McGavick, saying they disagree with the most newsworthy thing that came out of the convention."

Vance said he was talking to a business lobbyist today who said, "The business community doesn't understand why the Republican Party doesn't understand immigration issues." I hadn't thought about this angle much, but Vance points out that a lot of businesses in Washington — most importantly agriculture but others, too — rely on immigrant labor and may see the Republican position as working against their interests. Already there is a split between business and the GOP over the gas tax and other transportation issues.

In the last convention Vance did pretty well keeping everyone unified on the platform, though not everyone was happy with his leadership.

In addition to the tug to the right on immigration, Vance was bothered by an amendment to the platform that calls for repeal of the Growth Management Act. During his years as chairman he pushed for a more moderate approach on growth, basically that the party should call for allowing rural counties to opt out of GMA but leaving it in place to reassure suburban voters they oppose sprawl.

Vance said the conservative activists that led the platform fight will celebrate their victories — and they are — but it could have the effect of shrinking the party's base.

"Who is going to be part of the Republican coalition? It's like some of these folks would like it to be nobody but intellectual conservatives. That's nice. But that's not how American politics works."

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