A close and contested election may spell the end for the influential party auxiliary.
This past Saturday, the College Republicans National Committee held their biannual convention to elect their national leadership. To say the elections descended into chaos would be an understatement; what happened was closer to a calamity for the organization.
The election was between two factions: a reform ticket led by Arizona’s Judah Waxelbaum and an establishment ticket led by Virginia’s Courtney Britt. The two sides had exchanged heated accusations for months leading up to the election, many of them the routine party politics observers should expect during any election. But the stakes were dramatically escalated when the incumbent national chairman, Chandler Thornton, stripped several state federations supporting the reform ticket of their delegations to the national convention to support his preferred successor, Britt.
The brazen attempt to rig the election was shocking to members of the College Republicans and even drew the attention of influential elected officials. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Senator John Boozman, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, elected officials in states that the CRNC stripped delegates from, released statements supporting the disenfranchised students. Several other state Republican parties also weighed in on behalf of their collegiate counterparts.
Despite the enormous outcry from elected officials and the party grassroots, the CRNC Convention moved forward. The day’s business mainly consisted of heated debate and party-line votes. Courtney Britt delegates systematically voted to strip Waxelbaum-supporting state federations of their delegations to the convention. The plan worked: Courtney Britt was narrowly elected the next chairwoman of the College Republicans.
Or so she thought, as it has become clear her victory was pyrrhic. In the aftermath of the election, outraged state federations across the country began to consider disaffiliation from the CRNC, which would leave Courtney Britt the humiliated chairwoman who broke a 139-year-old party auxiliary. This includes large state federations such as Florida and Pennsylvania, which were stripped of delegates. The Texas and New York College Republicans have already called meetings to formalize their exits. Asked for comment, Texas College Republicans Chairman Brandon Kiser confidently stated, “our vote to exit the CRNC will be unanimous.”
It is not clear how a chairwoman who scorned influential elected Republicans, disenfranchised her members, and set off an organizational secession crisis will be able to rebuild the College Republicans National Committee. After the disaffiliations, it can hardly accurately be referred to as a “National Committee.” The organization is now on life support, and the work to rebuild will fall to the tens of thousands of College Republican grassroots activists on campus. While the CRNC concerns itself with power politics and fiasco, campus conservatives can at least take solace in the honesty and decency of their fellow grassroots activists, upon whom the burden to fight the left without party resources will now fall.