By Dan Spalding
While Republicans nationally are facing a fractured party following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Democrats on the local level are having their own skirmish.
Republicans and Democrats will have a chance to reorganize their leadership on March 6, but Kosciusko County Democrats are watching a dispute play out in public between a former county chairman (Terry Bartley) and the organization’s chair (Brian Smith) who announced last week he would not seek re-election.
Bartley has been unhappy about how Smith has run the party in recent years and once accused the party of not standing up for unions.
Smith announced less than a week ago that he would not seek re-election, saying the work over the past four years had left him exhausted.
In the same announcement, Smith endorsed Vicki Morton, the party’s vice chair, for chair.
Bartley made it clear he would seek the position and asked Smith for information for precinct committee members who would be voting, but Smith denied the request.
In several posts, Bartley accused the party of “fixing elections since 2017″ and described party leaders as “corrupt.” At one point, Bartley wrote:
“The lengths they have gone to keep this from me is simply astonishing. They have removed any member who disagrees with them and the ones that are still there can sit down and shut up. This is not how it should be done. They need to resign. Why do they not want a fair election?”
On Facebook, Smith informed Bartley of his reasoning.
“Mr. Bartley knows that it is the sole discretion of the Chairman as to who receives this list and when. Unfortunately, this past year has seen unprecedented political violence and as a result, the Indiana Democratic Party has gone to new lengths to protect the privacy of our officers and volunteers. This has included removing certain information from the state party website,” Smith wrote.
On Friday, Smith called InkFreeNews to further respond.
“I was made aware of some social media posts by Mr. Bartley this week that really concerned me,” Smith said. “I felt they were unhinged. They were obviously very derogatory toward myself and toward our party. I did not feel comfortable releasing the personal information of our party members to somebody like that.”
As for reorganization, Smith said he’s aware of two people each interested in running for chair and vice chair.
The reorganizational meeting will be done online and can be viewed online through a link that will soon be available on the party’s website.
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STANDING ALONE? – Kosciusko County Republican Party Secretary Austin Rovenstine is no longer a fan of former President Donald Trump. To be honest, I’m not sure how big of a fan the local attorney was when it came to Trump, but his stance now was pretty clear in a conversation earlier this week on Facebook.
He wrote in part, saying “(Trump) engaged in a dishonest, dangerous, and unprecedented campaign to apply pressure to officials across the country and reject the judgment of the people. A more competent president might have succeeded, and no president should ever feel free to try it again. Congress should draw a line in the sand.”
Rovenstine said he realizes he might be the only Republican in the county who feels that way.
I’m guessing he’s not alone.
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SHIFTING ALLEGIANCE? – You’ve probably heard about numerous reports of various states seeing voters updating their registration info to move away from the Republican Party.
In California, more than 33,000 registered Republicans left the party during the three weeks after the Washington riot. In Pennsylvania, more than 12,000 voters left the GOP in the past month, and more than 10,000 Republicans changed their registration in Arizona, according to the New York Times.
Whether that’s happening in Indiana is a well-kept secret since voters are not required to identify their political affiliation.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.