Effort to remove Clark County Republican Party Chair Earl Bowerman fails

Party Precinct Committee Officers narrowly vote to adjourn meeting without a vote on chairman’s status

Editor’s note: The original version of this story included a social media post that was incorrectly attributed to former Clark County Republican Party Chairman David Gellatly. That quote has been removed.

VANCOUVER — “We’re not the party of math,’’ joked a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) of the Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) after an hour-long meeting ended with a thwart of an effort to remove party Chairman Earl Bowerman Tuesday night.

Clark County Republican Party Chair Earl Bowerman (in light colored jacket at podium) presides over a Tuesday meeting called to address a petition to recall him as party chair. The party’s Precinct Committee Officers voted to adjourn the meeting without taking a vote on Bowerman’s status. Photo by Ken Vance
Clark County Republican Party Chair Earl Bowerman (in light colored jacket at podium) presides over a Tuesday meeting called to address a petition to recall him as party chair. The party’s Precinct Committee Officers voted to adjourn the meeting without taking a vote on Bowerman’s status. Photo by Ken Vance

The meeting, held at Bethesda Church in Vancouver, was called to address a petition to recall Bowerman as chair and Brook Pell as vice chair of the party. Pell’s inclusion in the recall effort came in spite of the fact that she submitted her resignation to the board on June 12 because she, and her family, moved out of state.

A roll call count during the hour-long meeting revealed a total of 129 PCO’s in attendance. However, during the often-contentious meeting, four standing votes were held and none of the results of those totaled 129 voters, thus leading to the unnamed PCO’s comment about the party’s math after the meeting was adjourned.

The first vote of the evening came just as the meeting was getting underway. PCO James Rogers moved for the meeting to be adjourned. The motion was seconded and Bowerman called for a verbal vote. To this reporter, the verbal vote clearly seemed to go in favor of those supporting the adjournment of the meeting. A standing vote was then called for and Bowerman acquiesced. Again, it appeared there was a majority in favor of those voting to adjourn.

At one point during that process, Bowerman declared the meeting adjourned, prompting loud calls from those in opposition of the adjournment. Again, Bowerman relented, calling for a count of those standing on the vote for adjournment. To the surprise of many, the count revealed that 69 were in opposition to adjournment and 66 were in favor.

Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) of the Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) met Tuesday night to address a petition to recall Chairman Earl Bowerman. The PCO’s were asked to stand for four separate votes during the often-contentious meeting, which ended with an adjournment prior to any vote on Bowerman’s status with the CCRP. Photo by Ken Vance
Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) of the Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) met Tuesday night to address a petition to recall Chairman Earl Bowerman. The PCO’s were asked to stand for four separate votes during the often-contentious meeting, which ended with an adjournment prior to any vote on Bowerman’s status with the CCRP. Photo by Ken Vance

The roll call was then taken and some of those in attendance could be heard explaining the lower headcount was due to the fact that some PCO’s had left when Bowerman briefly adjourned the meeting. However, three more votes were taken after the roll call count and each of those resulted in a different total count, some lower, and some higher than the 129 PCO’s said to be in attendance.

The second vote was on a motion objecting to Bowerman’s role conducting a meeting called to address a petition to remove him as chair. That vote resulted in a count of 65 in favor of Bowerman conducting the meeting and 55 opposed.

Next, there was an objection to the seating of two new PCO’s, each appointed by Bowerman in the last week. That count was even, with 57 PCO’s voting each way. After some discussion, bylaws were read that revealed procedure allowing the two PCO’s to be seated, which allowed them to participate in the final vote.

Once the party worked through those issues, a second motion was then made asking for an adjournment of the meeting. That standing vote was again counted, this time revealing 68 in favor of adjourning the meeting and 63 opposed. Bowerman then adjourned the meeting.

Bowerman appeared to be conciliatory during the meeting. After, he expressed hope that the long-standing division between the party’s moderates and conservatives could be healed.

“I hope this is a starting point for healing,’’ Bowerman told ClarkCountyToday.com after the meeting. “I don’t know if that will be easy to do.’’

Bowerman said he approached the meeting with a simple philosophy.

“I was going to just speak the truth and see what happened,’’ Bowerman said.

Bowerman said he had no idea what his detractors would do next.

“There were some really angry people,’’ he said. “I can’t predict that. I have no idea.’’

Clark County Republican Party Chairman Earl Bowerman is shown in this file photo during his 2018 campaign as a congressional candidate. Photo by Karen Bowerman
Clark County Republican Party Chairman Earl Bowerman is shown in this file photo during his 2018 campaign as a congressional candidate. Photo by Karen Bowerman

At the meeting, a copy of an email that Bowerman sent to the party’s PCO’s was distributed. The email included the 12 allegations made against Bowerman in the petition to recall as well as the chairman’s responses to each. The petition was shared previously on social media by CCRP Secretary Park Llafet.

Bowerman entitled his response “Setting the Record Straight.’’

“Tired of the infighting? So am I,’’ wrote Bowerman. “Since my election on December 8, 2018 I have been subjected to a series of misleading and patently false allegations made by a handful of people. Those people have set this meeting in motion, with no regard for the Bylaws that you set in place to ensure the integrity of this important process. Clearly, the rules for this meeting are written with the intent to not allow the amount of time to properly address these claims. For that reason, I am presenting to you in advance these facts for your consideration.’’

To view the complete record of the allegations made against Bowerman and his responses, follow this link:

https://clarkrepublicans.org/index.php?option=com_acym&ctrl=archive&task=view&id=34&userid=30-Dux1hFLhE0Bt6G&tmpl=component

Obviously, Tuesday’s meeting shows the CCRP to be divided. All votes were largely split within a few votes of being 50-50. A letter dated Aug. 21 was sent to all CCRP PCO’s and signed by seven of the CCRP board members. The letter was to inform the PCO’s that Tuesday’s meeting was “out of order and in violation of the Bylaws of the CCRCC.’’ (CCRCC refers to the Clark County Republican Central Committee.)

Three board members declined to sign the letter. Those were Llafet, State Committeewoman Jenn Duvall and State Committeeman Joel Mattila. PCO Carolyn Crain was an active participant in Tuesday’s meeting, displaying her obvious lack of support for Bowerman.

Former Clark County Republican Party Chairman David Gellatly shared his thoughts on the recall effort with ClarkCountyToday.com and the current division that exists in the CCRP.

“I did not support nor have anything to do with the recall effort during the process,” Gellatly said. “After the meeting was called by the PCOs, I did reach out to the members in support of electing a new chair who would work with everyone in a positive manner, after hearing several stories of Chairman Bowerman rejecting several volunteers who asked to fill empty PCO positions and telling them they might be RINOs.

“He had promised to try to unite the party and then promoted extremely divisive infighting,” Gellatly said. “However, elections have consequences and are won by who shows up. Many people were no shows at the re-org, and Earl was very narrowly elected, but none the less was elected. I see the division between the current leadership being more self-interest and top-down control of the party and the other side being more big tent and grass roots. This was evidenced in Earl’s attempt to rid the party of all the working committees in order to have more control (in his own words).

“Conservative and moderates are on both sides and has nothing to do with the division,” Gellatly said. “The more evangelic Christian base, which are extremely conservative, are much more aligned against the current leadership, since the nastiness of their attacks on other Republicans has reached all-time lows. I think 2020 will swing back to the local party in a more positive direction, since the majority of Republicans will be tired of the drama.”

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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