I could write a 2000-word blog post explaining why Scott Ott is too far out on the nutty right wing to be Lehigh County Executive, but this story really tells you everything you need to know.
First, remember that Tom Muller, the Democratic nominee, is a recent convert to the Democratic Party. He switched parties last year. Muller wasn’t some rightwinger though. He was a type of Republican that they don’t really make anymore – somebody who fundamentally believes in a positive role for government in solving problems, but who prioritizes efficiency, wants a good return on public investment, and is a bit stingier than the median liberal when it comes to spending and tax issues.
People with that outlook on politics have moved in droves into the center-right camp of the Democratic Party’s voting base. They are not Republicans anymore.
And this is why Lehigh GOP committeeman Ben Long is not going to be a Republican anymore, at least for the rest of 2013. Via Bernie O’Hare, he’s announcing his resignation from his committee seat to support fellow ex-Republican Tom Muller for Lehigh County Executive on the Democratic ticket:
I cannot in good faith support Scott Ott as my candidate for Lehigh County Executive. I feel that I would be doing a disservice to the Republican voters who elected me. Although Scott may be the chairman’s preference, when you do a comparison of the two candidates, Tom Muller is far and away the most qualified. Under our committee rules I cannot support a Democrat, so it is with a heavy heart that I announce my temporary resignation.
Let me be clear, I am not leaving the Republican Party. What I am doing is fighting to take back the Party that I fell in love with. For me to sit back on the committee and say nothing would serve no purpose. I truly believe that Scott Ott’s philosophical viewpoints are far outside most Republican thinking. By my actions I hope to save the Republican Party that has been hijacked by Wayne Woodman and Scott Ott, I will do everything I can to see to it that Scott Ott is not successful in November, so I have decided to help the Democrat Tom Muller.
This tells you everything you need to know about the state of the Lehigh County Republican Party. I like Wayne Woodman’s approach to running a County political party, but he’s badly overreaching ideologically, to the point where high profile Republicans are publicly defecting to support the Democratic nominee, or be the Democratic nominee, as the case may be. If the party’s politics are so right-wing that they’re alienating guys like Muller and Long, many moderate Republican voters (the type of folks who voted for Barack Obama in 2008) are probably going to take the cue and join the defectors.
I do think it’s funny that Long is rationalizing this as an effort to “take back the Party.” How is subtracting a moderate voice from the Republican Party and adding it to the Democratic Party supposed to moderate the Republican Party? He’s leaving the worst elements behind to choose the party’s direction.