Mitt Romney's Arizona Problem: Randy Pullen vs. Shane Wikfors (and Maybe Tom Morrissey)
Wikfors on Sunday Square Off, sparking a firestorm
Mitt Romney may be attempting a shift to the center on immigration, but word has yet to trickle down to the hardcore nativists of the Arizona Republican Party.
As the GOP presidential hopeful was in Florida yesterday trying to woo the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials with his softer, gentler, made-for-the-general-election immigration stance, a civil war of sorts erupted in local Republican ranks over statements made by conservative-blogger-turned-state-GOP-spokesman Shane Wikfors during a recent appearance on Channel 12's Sunday Square Off.
Here's what I wrote in my column this week regarding Wikfors' comments:
One moment of Republican clarity came during a discussion of the president's DREAM Act order on the Channel 12 news show Sunday Square Off. Asked his opinion on the decision, state GOP spokesman and conservative blogger Shane Wikfors gave a shockingly sane response.
"This is a conversation that's not going to go away anytime soon," he said. "And it's a conversation the Republican Party has got to have at our national convention at Tampa in August.
"I think this party needs to re-evaluate its position on how we deal with people [who] are part of us, part of our community," he added.
Wikfors noted that what he said "went against the grain," but he averred that state party Chairman Tom Morrissey was of the same mind.
Another panelist wondered whether Pearce, the state party's first vice chair, would agree with him.
"I think he would, to a large degree," Wikfors said.
Sadly, that sort of generosity of spirit was not evident in the remarks of Pearce or Brewer. Still, Wikfors deserves props for simply saying what a lot of Arizona Republicans believe but have been too cowed by a nasty GOP strain of ethnic McCarthyism to voice.
I should have started a stopwatch on how long it would take the GOP's brown bashers to pull out the long knives and go to work on Wikfors.
Below is an e-mail blast that committed nativist and former state GOP chair Randy Pullen sent out to the AZ GOP executive committee Thursday:
From: Randy Pullen,
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:04 AM,
Subject: AZGOP Chairman Unilaterally Changes Platform on Illegal Immigration
AZGOP Executive Committee,
This past Sunday on 12 News Square Off (Here is the link http://is.gd/bdhJb9 ), Shane Wikfors, the Communications Director for the AZGOP effectively changed our party's position on illegal immigration. He condoned President Obama's action of last Friday. He went on to state that the position of the party needs to change. When questioned on it, he stated that this is the position of Chairman Morrissey and Russell Pearce. While I do not know Tom Morrissey's position, I know that Russell Pearce does not agree to changing his position on this important issue.
Securing our border and ending employment of illegal immigrants in the workplace are the key points in our STATE and RNC platforms. I have attached the section of the national platform on illegal immigration, most of which I wrote in 2008. It is clear what our position is. It is my understanding that this is the position of Governor Romney as well as the Governor of Arizona. Many of us have worked long and hard to establish our position on illegal immigration and build a consensus in the Party. It is not up to Shane Wikfors or Chairman Morrissey to unilaterally change that position.
Chairman Morrissey needs to clarify his position on this issue. If he stands by what Shane has said, he needs to resign his position as Chairman, if he disavows the statement by Shane, then Shane should be terminated immediately as Communications Director. There is no excuse for misrepresenting so emphatically the position of the Chairman on such an important issue in Arizona.
In other words, how dare Wikfors release a trial-balloon on an end to the state GOP's reputation as an Arizona version of the White People's Party.
Thing is, Pullen and the other nativist moonhowlers in the GOP may have to get themselves right with Romney's somewhat kinder, gentler stance on brown folk, or pull a repeat of the 1948 Dixiecrat walkout from the Democratic Party.
I can't predict what will happen to Wikfors. (Phone calls and/or e-mails to Morrissey, Pullen and Wikfors have not been returned.) Maybe Pullen and like-minded tuskers will boil Wikfors alive in a vat of scalding pitch as recalled ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce performs a black mass and sacrifices an undocumented Mexican on the altar of Beelzebub.
Or perhaps they'll just re-enact The Ox-Bow Incident.
Such are the spoils of intolerance. Romney wants to win, but haters like Pullen, Pearce and all the rest will make it near-impossible to score any significant portion of the Hispanic vote.
Not that Mittens needs to worry about taking Arizona the way things currently stand, but the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Senate Bill 1070 will put Pearce and his fellow haters back in the spotlight. The stench of that crew will inevitably rub off on Romney, particularly given his embrace of "self-deportation" during the primaries.
Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. Only through humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat will the Republican Party return to the ideals of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and so on.
Thus, Republicans should thank Barack Obama, because by whippin' them in November, he will be showing them the way out of the desert of extremism.
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