The long-time chairman of Allen County's Republican Party will have at least one challenger when precinct officials elect their next leader in March.
Jason Arp, a financial planner and tea party activist, has filed to oppose incumbent Steve Shine, saying the party – especially at the national level – has failed to offer voters “a real choice of distinction from the Democrats . . . party leadership seems to overwhelmingly select candidates for national office who are less than stellar . . . and appear to be disingenuous at best.”
Locally, Arp said, the GOP must promote debate within the party and with the public, serving as an advocate for the ideals that founded the country, such as liberty, personal responsibility and limited government.
Shine, who has served as chairman for about 20 years, easily won re-election four years ago against four challengers, gaining 211 votes to chief rival and tea party activist Ric Runestad's 88. Shine said he's not worried this time, either.
“The party's never been in better shape. It's 20 years I'm very proud of. We've had a great mix of people in the party, and worked as a team,” he said.
Just last month, Arp wrote a guest column in The News-Sentinel in which he criticized the federal debt and the deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Going over that cliff, he argued, “is the only way to reduce the deficits and the overall size of government.” Arp is a member of the steering committee of the Allen 9-12 group.
Shine, however, questioned Arp's commitment to the party or politics, saying he did not vote in the 2010 and 2011 general elections or the May 2011 primary.