Supervisor Brent Oleson
The Cedar Rapids Gazette has an article titled, Linn County GOP boot prompts soul search about the recent move by the Linn County Republican Central Committee to remove GOP Supervisor Brent Oleson from its membership for publicly supporting a Democrat over a Republican nominee for state house in the last election. Olson is a successful politician, he was at one time the only Republican member of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. He was unopposed for re-election and the article points out that he received 98% of the vote. He has long been a Republican activist serving on both the county and state central committees. The strong implication in the Gazette article is that Oleson is considering leaving the GOP.
I think it would be unfortunate – I hope Oleson decides to stay in the party. But by way of full disclosure I should let readers know
I am the one who made the parliamentary motion that allowed the central committee to consider Oleson’s removal
I won’t bore readers with the procedural minutiae, The Constitution of the Republican Party of Linn County states:
A member may be removed by the County Central Committee for … active support of an opponent of a Republican nominee
I understand why Supervisor Oleson supported Democrat Daniel Lundby’s re-election bid against Republican Ken Rizer. Oelson was practically part of Lundby’s family and they are like brothers. Blood IS thicker than water and as I said at the Central Committee, Oleson did the right thing … at least half of the right thing.
In this article Oleson is quoted saying, “What I did, technically, violated the rules …” And in response the committee technically removed him from membership. It does not mean he can’t be a Republican or run under the Republican banner. It simply means that he knowingly choose a course of action in conflict with the rules of the committee.
In my opinion, in a perfect world, Oleson would have come to the committee before he went to the Gazette, and said that he was going to support his childhood friend, his ‘brother’ and knowing that such action would run afoul of our constitution, given his resignation.
It should be noted that this is not the first time in recent years that the committee has removed members for violating the same clause in the constitution. If this standard is applied to relatively unknown members, it is only fair that it be applied to high profile members like Oleson.
The vote to remove Oleson was convincing but not unanimous. In the end Oleson did the right thing, he put support for his friend, his brother above a party label, knowing that it violated the organization’s constitution and he could be removed for it. I think the committee did the right thing as well, knowing Oleson’s actions were antithetical to the goal of electing Republicans and in violation of the constitution, the committee voted to remove him, knowing that hew could decide to leave the GOP altogether.
Sometimes doing the right thing is hard.