That stage was set, the script was written, and the audience was ready to go at the Sussex County GOP meeting tonight in Georgetown, DE. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go according to the script. In fact, if you want to compare this to a play, I would compare this to the Rocky Horror Picture Show (you know the one, where people dress in drag and the audience is expected to participate). Participate is exactly what this audience did, much to the horror of Sussex County GOP Chairperson Ron Sams (and his gavel).
So, who was in drag tonight? OK, maybe no one, but the spotlight was turned on the newly appointed parliamentarian, Bruce Fitzgerald. I was expecting the proverbial fireworks due to the proposed new Sussex GOP rules (which were due to be presented tonight), but it turns Bruce Fitzgerald and his extremely public online fight with Don Ayotte.
For those of you who are unaware, Don recently announced he would be running for the Delaware GOP Chair seat against Tom Ross. Don simply sent out an email to his networks informing them of his decision to run (the letter was sent to a few thousand people by The Coastal Network and Judson Bennett). The simple announcement including a blog post link was sent out 1/9/11. The Coastal Network follow-up email was sent a short time later. The following email was sent by the newly appointed Parliamentarian Bruce Fitzgerald:
Don Et all
1. You all are outside of the rules
2. Don you have to take care of your bride & son How can you do this in a NON PAID JOB
3. How are you able to be a spoke person for ALL of Delaware ?
4. Why & under what premise do you think you have the POWER & WISDOM to as you said to UNITE when you & your crowd have tried to KILL SUSSEX ?????
So to sum up. go get a beer with Vance
Interestingly enough, this letter was not addressed to Don Ayotte, but instead to the head of the GOP. Don apparently sent a response (which I was not privileged enough to receive) which included the statement that Bruce was “not qualified to use the restroom by himself”.
That is the background which most of the audience was privileged to be aware. Thus, the story progresses…
After discussing a bit of the opening old business, Ron Sams surprised many in the crowd by discussing the recent interactions between Bruce and Don. Ron stated it was “something we need to put behind us… If we fast forward to where we are right now… Bruce’s opinions have nothing to do with him being Parliamentarian. These are the kind of things that make it worse for those desiring to move the party forward… This is something between two people”.
Vance Phillips, Sussex County Council President pointed out at that point the discussion was not between two people; somehow Bruce had brought him into the discussion. Vance pointedly and loudly asked Bruce for an apology or a statement regarding the reason for bringing him into the discussion, yet Vance spoke in vain. He was ignored by, not the crowd, but Ron Sams and Bruce Fitzgerald.
Throughout this whole discussion Don Ayotte was walking up and down the aisles, asking for time to speaking and loudly protesting that Bruce Fitzgerald had made it painfully obvious he could not be objective.
At this point James Picconi, a previous Sussex County Treasurer, stood up to add a point and make a motion. James made the motion that Bruce Fitzgerald not be considered for Parliamentarian. This motion was seconded by numerous people. Ron Sams chose, at this point, to ignore the motion on the floor. Ron Sams, the Sussex GOP Chair, said that he would submit the motion to himself because the decision had been made. He was able to appoint whomever he felt was qualified and he had done that. The collective gasp from the crowd was priceless.
At this point, I felt I was watching the Time Warp unfold in front of me. The crowd was yelling, playing musical chairs, and Ron was banging his gavel repeatedly. He called a few people out of order, and continued to ignore the motion. One woman stated loudly “In all of Sussex County, if you can’t get a better Parliamentarian than that then it insults all of us!” There were even thinly veiled threats regarding Ron Sams and his position as Chairperson.
Ron Sams and his gavel regained control (although his face grew bright red from trying to speak over the crowd). At this point, the meeting continued, although the crowd continued to grumble over the open motion on the floor and the fact that Ron Sams ignored asking about “New Business” (yet again).
The moral of this story? The GOP may not have won the election in Delaware, but the “Establishment” has not won either. The pedestal which many Good Ol’ Boys were placed upon so highly has not just cracked, it has shattered. Change is coming to the GOP, whether its officials like it or not.