Critics say Auburn GOP rift another sign of party disunity

AUBURN — A Maine tea party leader who garnered national attention has been removed from his position as chairman of a local Republican Party committee, according to social media.

Posts on a Facebook page set up in support of Pete Harring — an iconic leader of Maine's tea party movement and a prominent figure in the protests that Maine GOP delegates staged during the party's national convention — say he was removed from his chairmanship of the city of Auburn's Republican Party Committee.

Known as "Pete the Carpenter" to his supporters, Harring was featured in news outlets around the country with a clothespin on his nose as he protested an RNC decision to remove half of Maine's convention delegates.

The delegates — supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas — were removed after a Maine national committeewoman challenged their election at the Maine Republican Party's convention in May.

The Facebook posts issued Tuesday and Wednesday read in part, "I was informed this morning by Robert Sevigny that the Executive Committee voted to remove me as chair. No further explanation was provided."

Harring's removal Tuesday from his position locally is more evidence that Maine's GOP is unraveling, said Andrew Ian Dodge, a conservative political observer and independent candidate in Maine's U.S. Senate race.

"It's not very good for the party to be in a civil war right before the election, surely," Dodge said.

Dodge, also a member of Maine's tea party movement, said he too was "culled" from the Maine GOP.

He said mainstream Republicans were retaliating against everyone who supported anyone other than Romney. 

"It's not just Ron Paul guys," Dodge said. "It's anybody who isn't the mainstream and part of the establishment." 

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster on Wednesday insisted the party was on solid ground. Webster said the story that the party was broken is one that's being fabricated by Democratic operatives and opponents. "Democrats would like to think that, but it isn't the case," he said.

"For those people who came in (to the party) for Ron Paul who are Republicans, most of them have stayed," Webster said. "Some of them were not Republicans; some were Democrats who registered just for Ron Paul and some were Libertarians. If you are Libertarian you are not a Republican and if you are Democrat, you are not a Republican."

One local Republican Party member, Chris Dixon of Lewiston, said he thinks the removal of Harring was not justified. At a minimum, he said, Harring should have been present for the vote taken locally. 

Dixon said several prominent local Republicans were calling for Harring's resignation on various social media outlets following comments he made during the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Harring said then he was going to stand his ground and stand by his principles, Dixon said, "and if that meant it cost us the majority (in Maine's Legislature), then so be it."

Dixon also said that if there was just cause to remove Harring, party members should share that information. He also said it highlights internal divisions that will hurt the party.

"If there's an issue with Pete, that's fine," Dixon said. "But I don't see it as something urgent enough that it needs to be handled during an important election cycle. If the Republican Party wants to win in the upcoming elections, then they need to put off all these internal disputes. I fear it could really cost us the November elections."

Attempts to reach Harring on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

GOP rift another sign of party disunity.

Scott 12.09.13 16:40 hst • 
Ayuh ? 
Your headline says it all . † y v m
Now to that - o t h e r - paper
^^ not an endorsement ^^
/s , Steve


This is happening at the national level too

Think Whigs.

As a Democrat, I only hope that a party of moderates - center right - comes out of this to check our own crazies and keep us from being as arrogant as Republicans have become.

 's picture

The Tea Party...

...and I, and Ron Paul, are 180 degrees out, politically. But what's happened to them is abhorrent and a disgrace to the Republican Party. But then, what can we expect from ANY party, regardless of name, being led by a governor who plays by his own rules and anyone who disagrees with him can his his a**.

John Frecker's picture

Dissent in the ranks of the ME GOP

I have mixed emotions about this. I'm an "independent" voter; but I believe in the right of labor unions to exist, so I usually wind up voting Democrat.

In a way, I believe the dissention in the GOP ranks shows them to be a little more "human"; not all of them are "marching lock step" to the orders of their political bosses.

On the other hand, the dissention isn't about how to address the nation's problems, but how to make sure that everything uttered by a "Republican" agrees entirely with their agenda. No variance will be tolerated!

The Republican establishment

The Republican establishment doesn't tolerate much for those who aren't "marching lock step." That point aside, there are many good people within the Party who are working to change it. What you see at the National and even State level is not representative of the shift in progress.

I was a State Delegate the Republican Convention and one of the many who elected Pete Harring to go to Tampa. Pete was unseated by the RNC, in violation of their own bylaws, and replaced with members of the party elite and legislators. Now Pete has had his Chairmanship in Auburn targeted, without the existence of bylaws to backup such a removal.

I'd encourage you to keep an eye on the Republican Party though. It may ugly right now, and you may not always agree with them in the past, but changes are underway. The establishment is shrinking and desperately attempting to hold on. This is evidenced by Charlie Webster's angry comments after the caucus and after convention, as well as the delegation challenge by former National Committeewoman Jan Staples and Maine Romney campaign chairman Peter Cianchette.

We're changing the GOP for the better. Whether or not the GOP is ready for it or not.

Mark Elliott's picture



RONALD RIML's picture

Party Purification

Every once in awhile they've gotta be reminded who's Boss.......

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Main stream power grab

The main stream out of touch party elete will cost the party control pf the legislature.
The active tea party members are the ones who did the hard work of getting the current control.
Not a tea party member but agree with them nore oftem than the elete.


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