Let’s look at the three high profile GOP departures and where they stand / stood on expanding gambling.
First up is GOP Party Chair Tony Sutton. As chair of a party with a clear no-expansion-of-gambling party platform plank, Sutton was the only one perfectly positioned to cleanly maintain a no expansion position. But he was chairing a party where other official party leaders were working to expand gambling. In an environment where other key GOP opinion leaders and public affairs professionals want — or are getting paid to argue — to expand gambling.
I’ve followed Sutton’s career for years. I’ve worked with him for years. For the record, I don’t buy the idea that he somehow mismanaged party affairs. Tony loved and breathed the party. He always struck me as a guy full of integrity. As he and others have noted, the rules in the money game have changed dramatically the last few years. State political parties have been big losers.
It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback the decision to pursue a gubernatorial recount. It consumed a lot of time, effort and money. But as party chair in the heat of the battle, it strikes me that Sutton had no other choice but to pursue a recount. 2010 was a GOP blow-out. Many GOPers didn’t understand why it wasn’t a clean sweep. A recount provided resolution to the doubts.
The only mystery to me about the money in the recount is who was “officially” supposed to raise the money, or who “less officially” promised to raise the money. That’s not something Sutton could have done himself. He cannot be the only person who can be blamed.
Finally, Sutton is lucky he didn’t have a heart attack or stroke out. Ask any party chair. The job requires being accountable to 1000s of party activists. Then there are the GOP legislators, donors and friends. Add a party in debt with no one appearing to try to pay for that debt, and it’s a recipe for an early coffin.
Bully for Sutton for walking. And shame on those engaging in loose and libelous talk about him.
[And for the record, Sutton once infamously called GOP moderates, “quislings.” I’ve been called a RINO, so I suppose that makes me a quisling in the minds of some GOPers. To date, “Quislings defending Sutton” is a committee of one.]