Two months after a coalition of Minutemen and Ron Paul supporters nearly won a majority of seats on the Alameda County Republican Central Committee, the committee chairman is filing suit to keep them from taking their seats.
In court papers, Chairman Paul Cummings claims that 10 members of the upstart Republican group, including seven of the 13 who won seats in the June election, hadn't been registered as Republicans long enough to hold memberships in the committee.
The lawsuit, which names Registrar Dave MacDonald and the 10 candidates as defendants, asks that the elections of the seven victorious candidates be voided and their seats be declared vacant.
The victors had been participating in committee affairs even though they won't officially join the committee until November.
The interparty battle could hurt local Republican candidates in November. The defendants, and their supporters, have decided to boycott all activities for local Republicans, said Walter Stanley, one of the committee members named in the suit.
They also are planning to protest at the next committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Stanley said.
The two Republican camps fought publicly during the June campaign.
Cummings said the candidates needed to put in more volunteer time with the party before running for the central committee, while Stanley's contingent said committee incumbents were too supportive of big business and unwilling to take strong stands against illegal immigration and free trade agreements.
The shotgun marriage, however, had been working reasonably well, with the newly elected members proving to be excellent volunteers, Cummings said. He even said he would appoint most, if not all, of them to the committee if he wins the lawsuit.
Asked why he bothered to file suit if he planned to let them back on board, Cummings said he needed to hold the registrar of voters accountable.
"This is between us and the registrar," he said. "(MacDonald) is basically capriciously enforcing the election law."
Stanley questioned Cummings' sincerity.
"He just wants to appoint his buddies to fill the vacancies," he said.
The registrar's office did not return a phone call Friday afternoon.
Central committees don't make policy or endorse candidates in party primaries. Their primary mission is to raise money for candidates, get people registered and turn out the vote.
Committee candidates must be members of that party for at least three months before filing if they previously had been independents, or for one year if they had belonged to a different party.
Cummings said he realized after the election that many of the candidates might have switched over to the Republicans to vote for Ron Paul in the February primary.
Of the 10 candidates Cummings has sued, four were independents and the rest belonged to either the Libertarian or American Independent parties. They registered as Republicans between last September and February.
The Minuteman/Ron Paul coalition won a majority of seats in precincts that represented parts of southern and eastern Alameda counties, including the Tri-City area, where Cummings struggled to find people to even run for the committee.
Even with the new blood, the committee struggles to reach a meeting quorum, Stanley said.
"It's counter-productive to the party's needs," he said, to oust seven members who always show up and had been scheduled to work on behalf of Republican candidates such as Dean Andal, who is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton).
Cummings said state law required that he sue the 10 candidates as well as the registrar. He sent the defendants letters explaining the situation and asking that they acknowledge they weren't eligible to run.
Considering that the defendants are strongly opposed to illegal immigration, Cummings didn't see why they were so bothered by the lawsuit.
"Their position is we believe in the law and the law should be enforced," Cummings said. "In this case we're enforcing the law."
Fremont reporter Matthew Artz can be reached at 510-353-7002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.