Jaffe: D.C. GOP gets little love in Tampa, or Washington

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Local,DC,Harry Jaffe

Robert Kabel, chairman of D.C.'s Republican Committee, says his contingent of 35 conventioneers "has been treated very well by the RNC."

That must mean the District's Republicans have been granted seats in the convention, invited to parties, slapped on the back. Because when it comes to the Republican Party's support of policies that actually matter in the nation's capital, the RNC gave our folks the back of its hand.

The local GOP group supports voting rights for the District's delegate to Congress, but not statehood, and it hoped to have its position reflected in the party's platform. Nope. More importantly, the D.C. GOP lobbied hard to get the national party to support budget autonomy for D.C., which means Congress would no longer have to bless every dime the D.C. government spends. Kabel was hopeful. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell supported budget autonomy -- along with Darrell Issa, the influential California congressman. Someone killed it.

"We were disappointed by that," Kabel tells me.

Disappointment but hardly surprised. There are precious few Republican votes in the District. In the April primary, 30,276 Republicans were registered to vote, compared to 344,448 Democrats, according to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. Perhaps that's why the D.C. contingent gets little love from the national party. The Republicans can point to one local elected official: Patrick Mara, on the advisory board of education.

But things are about to change. After four two-year terms, Bob Kabel has to step down as chairman, because of term limits. Expect a wholesale change at the top, which could be a good thing. Our local GOP has been the domain of the "raised pinkie" crowd for decades. Historically, they are white, wealthy and rarely venture out of Georgetown. Betsy Werronen, the current national committeewoman, showed up at the Georgetown polls to vote in April, accompanied by her two small dogs, Lilly and Clicquot, as in the champagne. Both were decked out in Romney regalia, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Those of us who prefer a two-party system believe the current round of corruption in local D.C. is aided and abetted by the Democratic domination of local politics. One-party rule corrupts. Now is the time for a more robust GOP.

Ron Phillips, a political pro from Florida, is campaigning hard to replace Kabel. "I want to create a party where everyone feels included," he tells me from Tampa. "We need more African-Americans." A revelation! Phillips is walking the walk, all the way to Ward 7, where he attended the opening of Ronald "Mo" Moten's headquarters. Moten is waging an underdog campaign as a Republican against Yvette Alexander, the incumbent council member.

If the D.C. GOP wants to demonstrate its commitment to local politics, it should send cash to Moten. "Ron is out there scratching," Phillips tells me. "I'm with him."

Moten has a chance, if the GOP sends him more scratch.

Harry Jaffe's column appears on Wednesday. He can be contacted at hjaffe@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Harry Jaffe

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The Washington Examiner