GOP Should Not Deny Secret Ballot For Endorsement Vote

By Chris Freind

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA),
commonly known as “Card Check,” is the misnamed legislation promoted by
Organized Labor to stop the hemorrhaging within union ranks. (From a
high near 40 percent after World War II, union representation in the
private sector has plummeted to just 7 percent today). It would make
organizing a union infinitely easier by eliminating the current secret
ballot vote used to determine whether employees wish to unionize.

Common
sense tells us that whenever a secret ballot is not employed, many
people will not vote their conscience. Instead, they fall victim to
intimidation and arm-twisting, and end up casting a ballot in favor of
the person whom they are strongly encouraged – AKA “told” – to support.
The result is a rigged, Banana Republic election, anything but “Free
Choice.”

The Republican Party, on both the state and national
level, has vigorously opposed Card Check, not only because it is grossly
unfair to companies, but much more important, because it would
cavalierly discard that most fundamental American bedrock value: free
and fair elections. It is a right that has been held sacred in this
nation, and has allowed the people to chart their own course and make
their own decisions, free of outside influence and intimidation.

Given
this, it seems extremely hypocritical that the Republican State
Committee of Pennsylvania — while opposing Card Check – jettisons free
and fair voting for its own members by refusing to allow secret ballot
votes on important issues, such as Party endorsements.

And now,
on the eve of the meeting in which the Committee will vote whether to
endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate (or not endorse at all), that
issue has become a firestorm that is only growing in intensity.

The
big question centers on whether the Party will endorse millionaire
Steve Welch, a favorite among several GOP leaders, including Republican
Gov. Tom Corbett. The problem many have with Welch is that he voted for
Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and supported former
Congressman Joe Sestak, a stalwart liberal consistently to the Left of
Obama. Welch claims he left the GOP out of frustration that it wasn’t
conservative enough, leaving more than a few Republicans perplexed.

(In
an email to PoliticsPA this week, Sestak wrote of his meeting with
Welch: “He expressed support of me and what I stood for. He seemed nice
and, separately, supportive of the Democratic Party and its efforts.”)

So
would the Party really risk massive damage to itself by endorsing an
Obama-voter, and make the sin mortal by doing so without a secret
ballot?

They can’t be that dumb.

But this being Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, all bets are off.

Should they endorse Welch, it will
be a double whammy, throwing the entire Party into a quagmire from which
it would be difficult to escape.

State Committee would cement
the perception that its endorsements are behind-the-scenes deals by
inside powerbrokers hell-bent on executing individual agendas – the
rank-and-file Party faithful be damned. More damaging, it would play out
– in full public view – exactly how ruthlessly efficient Card Check
tactics are, making unions blush with envy.

How could Party
leaders possibly explain with a straight face that the process was fair,
and that no political pressure and intimidation took place – when Gov.
Corbett and certain State Committee leaders were openly pushing Welch?
Would it really be plausible to believe that the message “do it for the
Party, and do it for your Governor – or else your political career stops
here” wouldn’t be made loud and clear?

Even more telling, how
could the Party explain Committee members’ change of heart in endorsing
Welch after only one of five State Committee regional caucus straw polls
voted for Welch as their candidate of choice? In other words, of the
five regional “pre-election” votes that took place – voted on by the
very same people who are now being asked to change their vote and
endorse Welch -only one made Welch a winner. Significantly, Welch’s own
Southeast Caucus refused to hold a straw poll, and Corbett was not even
able to deliver his hometown Southwest Caucus for Welch.

This is
by no means an indictment of Steve Welch. It has nothing to do with him,
and everything to do with the Republican Party. Clearly, in this
particular situation, the wisest course of action would be to ignore the
Governor’s misguided endorsement and refuse to endorse any candidate.

In
allowing grassroots Republicans across Pennsylvania to make their
choice, free of Party endorsements, a civil war inside the GOP would be
averted, and the best candidate — the people’s choice – would emerge
to take on incumbent Bob Casey. And if Welch wins a non-endorsement
primary, his victory would not be tainted with the perception that he
“bought” his way to the nomination. Regardless of the outcome, no one
can argue with the results if rank-and-file Republican voters make that
decision.

Besides gaining immense credibility with many
Republicans should it not endorse a candidate, State Committee could
score a huge coup by then amending its bylaws to allow for that which is
uniquely American: secret ballot elections.

Otherwise, it will become known as Republican State Committee, Local 666.

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