State, County GOP meeting to discuss reopening convention

Kirby Wilbur, state Republican party chairman, said he will meet with county Republican leaders Friday evening to discuss reopening the county convention to fill out the county’s delegate slate.

If county leaders want to try it, the state will support them, Wilbur said. He doesn’t want the decision to come from him, however. “I’m leery about the precedent of the state chairman interfering,” he said.

Kitsap County Republicans met Saturday for its convention and failed to elect the full slate of 64 delegates and alternates for the state party’s convention, which starts on May 31 in Tacoma. The convention ended at 4 p.m. with only 14 confirmed delegates.

Wilbur said earlier in the week he wasn’t inclined to let the county reconvene, because he worried about setting a precedent into the future and about the impact in Clark County and Chelan County. Republicans there also failed to complete election of delegates. Both, however had well more than half. In Chelan and Clark the conventions ended because there was no longer a quorum of delegates.

That’s far different, Wilbur said, from what he described as the “arbitrary” deadline exercised in Kitsap by Jack Hamilton, party chairman. Hamilton said he had a firm agreement with officials at Klahowya Secondary School to end the political event at 4 p.m.

Wilbur said county Republicans would only meet to elect regular delegates, not alternates. Nor would there be any platform discussions. He also said he would want agreement from backers of presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to agree to no challenges to the delegate slate once the convention was closed. Additionally, if the county party lost a quorum before all the delegates were elected, the convention would close. The delegates elected by then would be the final tally.

If county Republicans do decide to meet again, the assurances they have that the 50 new delegates would indeed be seated at the state convention would come from members of the state convention credential committee. Two members of the committee were traveling with Wilbur Friday afternoon to Kitsap County as part of the contingent here to discuss the county party’s options.

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