GOP group looks to expand
AND GREG MOBERLY
A Grass Valley resident who left the county Republican Central Committee due to a dispute and formed his own group recently made a major push for members.
John Vandenberg left the committee in September 2006 and formed the Nevada County Republican Council.
Earlier this month, in order to “administer CPR to the Republican Party,” Vandenberg mailed a membership and fundraising letter to more than 1,073 active area party loyalists in an effort to expand his new group.
“I’ve had a very poor donation response,” Vandenberg said Friday. “I guess the Republican renaissance is going to be delayed a while.”
Vandenberg and four other former members of the central committee make up the new political action committee.
“I created the (council) the day after Doolittle lost the county,” Vandenberg said. “I was outraged by it.”
Rep. John T. Doolittle, R-Roseville, won Congressional District 4 in the November 2006 general election with 49 percent of the vote, barely topping Democratic challenger retired Lt. Col. Charles Brown’s 46 percent. In Nevada County, Doolittle lost outright with 41 percent, compared to Brown’s 54 percent.
Vandenberg blames Doolittle’s loss in Nevada County on what he described as the poor organizational efforts of the county’s Republican Central Committee.
“What appalls me is that the Nevada County Republican Party has no precinct delegators,” Vandenberg said. “These people are responsible for reaching the voters.”
But Bill Neuharth, the county Republican central committee chairman, said Doolittle’s woes are related to the federal investigation of jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had business contacts with Doolittle’s wife.
Also, Vandenberg wasn’t with the committee for the November 2006 elections because he left on Sept. 11, Neuharth said.
“He was getting hammered pretty hard in the papers (before the election),” Neuharth said of Doolittle.
These aren’t the best of times for party loyalists, Neuharth said. But the county committee is different now.
“Our committee is pretty unified,” Neuharth said. “It’s not the same committee that he (Vandenberg) left.”
The dispute also involved the wording of a fundraising letter Vandenburg wrote for the central committee.
The committee rejected the fundraising plan in the letter, and Vandenberg and four other members subsequently left the local leadership group.
“He’s a good Republican,” said Tony Gilchrease, a central committee member, referring to Vandenberg. Gilchrease called the dispute “silly.”
Vandenberg is moving ahead with his new group. He said he and the other members plan to tap party loyalists to cover the county’s five supervisorial districts and the voting precincts in each.
Vandenberg has no intention of returning to the Republican central committee.
“I’ve left them completely to create this competition,” Vandenberg said.
To contact Staff Writer Lindsey Croft, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4247.
To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4234.
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