Teton GOP sets platform
Pro-life advocates change party line.
By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 9, 2008
If you support abolishing the federal income and estate taxes, deporting illegal immigrants who are stopped by police, keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, developing nuclear energy, banning abortion and gay marriage, and if you think President George Bush is doing a good job, you might be a Teton County Republican.
If you want to dissolve the Teton County Housing Authority, oppose an additional 1-cent sales tax and a lodging tax, think conservation easements are a good way to protect open space, want to continue feeding and vaccinating elk and bison during the winter, and want to begin planning for another bridge over the Snake River to the west bank, you might be a Teton County Republican.
If you don’t support the above measures and you consider yourself a Teton County Republican, then you should have showed up to vote Saturday when the GOP faithful set party platforms and resolutions for the upcoming election cycle.
At their convention, attended by approximately 80 people, county Republicans approved 76 platforms and resolutions out of the 109 proposed. Though similar in language and intent, platforms and resolutions differ in that the former pertains to state and local issues, while the latter pertains to national issues. Almost all issues were decided by a voice vote. Though the caucus voting – which threw the weight of county Republicans behind presidential candidate Mitt Romney – held at the beginning of the convention was well-attended, many GOP delegates left the convention before debate began on platforms and resolutions.
In an about-face from two years ago, the county GOP readopted its pro-life stance. In 2006, the party endorsed by a single vote a woman’s right to choose to abort a pregnancy. On Saturday, the party adopted two separate pro-life measures. The first states “that the party maintains its recognition of the sanctity of all innocent human life from conception until natural death. We further support the proposition that unborn children have a fundamental right to life, which cannot be infringed upon.”
The second reads that county Republicans “support the pro-life platform of the national Republican Party.”
Teton County GOP Parliamentarian Keith Gingery said the 2006 pro-choice vote pushed pro-life advocates to become more involved in the party.
“What happened is in the last two years a lot of [pro-life] people got active and started running for precinct delegate,” he said.
The vote on both anti-abortion provisions was not close enough to require a show of hands.
On immigration, party members supported “having local authorities immediately contact federal authorities whenever an illegal alien is charged or arrested for a crime in Teton County” and asking the federal government to reinstate a provision exempting returning, documented foreign workers against visa caps.
On energy, the party endorsed resolutions supporting the development of alternative energy, as well as carbon capture and sequestration, and a national energy policy “to include nuclear, and continued exploration for our oil and gas reserves.”
Party leaders also endorsed “conservation of our natural resources and environment ... along with responsible economic development and growth.”
In foreign matters, resolutions to continue sanctions against the Palestinian government and continue “proper funding of our troops with no time lines for withdrawal” also passed.
In local and state matters, party members endorsed four measures aimed at lowering the state property tax on residential properties and commending local elected officials for not levying the full local property tax allowed by law.
Party members passed a handful of resolutions regarding affordable housing, some of which appeared to conflict.
One resolution called for dissolving the Teton County Housing Authority and placing affordable-housing programs under control of a county department. Another stated that party members “believe that affordable housing should be left to the free market and not to government agencies.”
A third platform was passed “encouraging both public and private” answers to the issue of affordable housing. A provision for completely abolishing the affordable-housing program, including existing deed restrictions, failed.
Some of the measures party members rejected may have been just as indicative of the party’s positions as those that were approved. Voters rejected a provision that would have called for the Wyoming Legislature to buy existing energy leases in the Wyoming Range to keep them from being developed.
A provision calling for “the continuation and expansion of our community pathways system throughout our valley” failed after Kate Mead criticized it.
“In the past, elected officials have drawn pathways right through people’s property,” she said. “Then if they want to do something with the property the question comes up that, ‘Well, are you going to give us our pathway now.’”
A measure that called to lower the state drinking age to 19 also failed.
In separate voting, the Teton County GOP elected 10 delegates to the party’s state convention in May. Those delegates will carry the county platforms and resolutions to the convention for inclusion into a set of state platforms and resolutions. Those state initiatives will then be taken to the Republican National Convention in September for similar consideration.