Personal assault only diminishes local GOP leaders

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This commentary is not about the three names that were sent to Gov. Brad Little, who is expected to pick one to fill out the term District 2 House seat previously held by convicted felon Rep. John Green.

It’s about a name that didn’t make the cut: Doug Okuniewicz.

In the packed room Tuesday night at a Coeur d’Alene pizza restaurant, Okuniewicz delivered a brief, riveting speech that bolstered his conservative credentials while calling b.s. on the kind of wretched politicking that, frankly, has become standard operating procedure within the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

Okuniewicz referenced a smear campaign carried out against him last weekend via email to the precinct members who would be voting on Green’s replacement Tuesday night. The email, he said, referenced a website that was created just weeks ago, when “it was just the right time to try and smear my campaign with half-truths, innuendo, and outright lies.”

Okuniewicz said the attacks are penned anonymously because exposure would “reveal their under-handed motives as well as their personal relationships which, in turn, would destroy their credibility.” He called them cowards.

One of the arrows slung by these anonymous snipers is that the company Okuniewicz represents has made donations to Democrats in the past.

“… if anyone thinks it is a cardinal sin and they can never support me because a business made a handful of contributions to a few Democrats, and a huge number of contributions to a large number of Republicans, then I guess that means those folks don’t support President Trump either, who has done the same thing and said contributions like this have to be made under our current system,” Okuniewicz said.

He went on to not only refute other rumors and lies, but to state clearly what he would do if he had been selected.

“I hate it when politicians don’t do the job that their constituents elected them to do. Simply put, an elected official’s job is to represent the wishes of his or her constituents. That’s what we elect them for. And, I want you to know that you can count on me to vote the way you want …”

Three thoughts:

1. In the May primary election, Okuniewicz is running again for the seat that someone else will warm the rest of this session. It’s our belief that anybody who’s the target of an anonymous smear campaign is worth listening to and seriously considering.

2. If local Republicans will feast like this on one of their own, imagine what a legitimate Democrat would face.

3. On a very positive note, we’re grateful to Legislative District 2 chair Mike Towan for opening Tuesday night’s meeting to the public. That kind of transparency serves citizens well — in stark contrast to malicious, anonymous websites.

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