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Placer County’s GOP Central Committee leader upbeat after election loss

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Tom Hudson, Placer County Republican Central Committee chairman since early 2007, received his pink slip from voters during last week’s primary – finishing last in District 4’s election. Hudson, who will stay at his post until January, remains buoyant after the defeat, saying the loss has more to do with an anti-incumbency movement and his placement at the bottom of the ballot. Hudson added that his chances for reelection representing Roseville’s District 1 on the Republican central committee were also hurt by a ruling from election authorities. That ruling required him to describe himself as a “tax attorney” in election documents when his actual job title is senior tax counsel, he said. On the other end of the ballot, former GOP Central Committee chairman Ken Campbell topped the polls in the Lincoln area’s District 2 voting. Campbell said Tuesday that he was targeted in a slate campaign organized and led by Hudson, George Park Jr., another defeated central committee member, and Aaron Park, who won a return seat on the committee in Lincoln. But a movement by Tea Party activists unhappy with the established GOP central committee leadership proved strong enough to bring down both Hudson and George Park Jr., he said. Campbell stepped down as chairman in 2005 but remained on the central committee as a member. There has been lack of goal setting on key party growth mechanisms like voter registration and volunteer recruitment during Hudson’s term, he said. “That’s what we previously hung our hat on,” Campbell said. “Tom doesn’t have goals.” Campbell said that the GOP remains strong in Placer County because the county has an entrenched conservative base. But leadership has been weak without stronger efforts to recruit and get out the vote, he said. Despite his own personal defeat, Hudson said the Republican Party in Placer County and the central committee will remain strong. “We’re going to have the most conservative Republican activist committee in many years,” Hudson said. Central committees provide leadership for parties on candidates and issues, while serving as organizational bases for campaigns within counties. Placer County’s GOP Central Committee has 27 members – 21 who are elected and six others representing two state Senate districts, three Assembly districts and the 4th Congressional District. Hudson’s Roseville district, six candidates vied for four positions. Hudson and another incumbent, Carole Vaillancourt, were ousted, according to a preliminary vote count from the county. The final count – including absentee ballots turned in at the polls – is expected in about a week. Republican voters elected incumbents Phil Ozenick, James D’Orso and newcomers Cheryl Bly-Chester and Jeffrey Allen. D’Orso and Allen joined Hudson on the slate, which earned the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly and Placer County Republican Assembly. District 4’s Republican Assembly-supported slate was made up of Aaron Park, Ed Rowen, Angelo Andriani, David Patterson, Kathy Arts and Bob Backus. Campbell and Rowen were the only incumbents elected while Bob Backus, Patterson and Arts were voted out. The District 4 slate comprised George Park, Jeffrey Atteberry, Lynn Kyme and Joseph Dorr. Dorr, June Moore, Incumbents Atteberry and Dorr were elected with newcomers Moore and Karen England, while incumbents Kyme and George Park were not. Park finished last in the election. Bill Kirby, a GOP member and Auburn city councilman, said Hudson’s removal by voters was an important step in improving the party leadership. “They could put a rabid dog in and it would do a better job,” Kirby said. “What’s needed is a Barry Goldwater-style of Republicanism, not rightwing social-conservative lunatics. We need fiscal conservatives who are socially and environmentally responsible.”