Press Talk: Local Republican Heads South

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Editor’s Note: This column was written before Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida, where Lou Brancaccio lives and was evacuated to Miami. A column describing his experience sailing through Hurricane Ian appeared in Friday’s Columbian.

David Gellatly became the second former Clark County Republican chairman to leave the county recently.

In 2022, Brent Boger traveled to Ecuador – in part – to get away from that despicable and oppressive Democratic governor of Olympia.

And just a few weeks ago, David Gellatly moved to Florida. Why did he leave Clark County? Well, it was the lunatics, of course.

“When I say crazy people, I’m not just talking about liberals. I’m talking about the crazies on both sides. We literally have an unbroken civil war, on Facebook, all the time between the meanest people I’ve ever seen on the right and the worst ideas I’ve ever seen on the left. These are the people who control the narrative. So until the moderates take over and we have adults in the room again, I don’t think Clark County is going in the right direction.

To be fair, Gellatly had other reasons for moving. After his divorce, his ex-wife moved to southwest Florida with their 5-year-old son. So Gellatly ended up in Venice to be close.

Yes, the original developer of the city wanted this city to look like Venice, Italy. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. But Venice is a beautiful region. And if you know anything about the growth of Florida, not only is it becoming more conservative, but it’s becoming the land of massive, self-reliant communities. Gellatly landed in one of them.

• • •

Because Gellatly was the former county chairman of the Republican Party, as well as generally involved in the Vancouver community, he is well known. So I found it interesting to hear his reasons for leaving as well as his point of view on what is happening today in politics. But before returning to this central point, a little about how this guy puts bread on the table.

Gellatly makes a living in logistics. Most of us had never heard of this occupation until the pandemic hit. So whenever there was no mozzarella in the store, we would hear “supply chain issues”. Well, logisticians have made their living by making the supply chain work. They deliver a raw product — let’s say it’s milk — to a cheese producer. Then they figure out how to get that cheese (usually by truck) to a store. It’s logistics.

• • •

But back to politics and Gellatly’s move to Florida. When I met Gellatly at his house in Venice a few days ago, he had just taken his son to school. Later he would come for it. And her son’s well-being played a part in Gellatly’s move.

“The fact that the crime was through the roof and as president of our HOA there, I was dealing with all the break-ins, robberies, trespassing, homeless camps right next to my community. So (my ex-wife and I) were both on the same page. None of us wanted Elliot to grow up in the city of Vancouver if it was going to continue in this direction.

• • •

So this moderate Republican packed his bags. I call him a moderate and I’m pretty sure Gellatly likes to think of himself as a moderate. But I had to ask him some “tester” questions to check:

Donald Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis?

“(Trump) was his own worst enemy. With DeSantis, you get the politics, but you get someone you wouldn’t mind.

OK, maybe that wasn’t the best test. For my money, Trump still drives the clown car but DeSantis drives a shotgun. DeSantis is clearly more polite than Trump, but his deplorable decision to use Florida taxpayers’ money to ship immigrants who passed through Texas to Martha’s Vineyard is just one of his political stunts. Look, I think Democrats have to be much, much tougher on people who come here illegally (that doesn’t sound like a liberal, does it?) But I’m exhausted with characters like this. But I digress.

What about Clark County auditor Greg Kimsey versus Brett Simpson?

“First of all, Kimsey is going to win in a landslide. I’ve organized a fundraiser for him. I may not agree with everything Greg does, but I do agree with him more than 80% of the time. He’s a very well-liked person in Clark County and he doesn’t have to bow to either side. He’s a very moderate person. And Clark County is a very moderate county, so it fits the county.

I think I’m liking this guy from Gellatly more and more.

• • •

Finally, I asked what advice he would give to residents of his 20+ year old home.

“People who have a lot of common sense, just good people, have to start showing up in the primary season. Support people who put community first. There is so much vitriol on both sides. On the Republican side, people are scared away. We had hundreds of people showing up as volunteers going to a meeting that would never come back.

“They would come in and say ‘I thought I was a Tory but I’m not’ and they would never come back.

“But Clark County as a whole has so many good people who can work together and work across the aisle. Politically speaking, it’s very fractured and divisive, but I don’t think the current community is like that at all. It’s the contrary. It’s a great community when it comes to working with all kinds of people.

My answer to all of this? Amen.

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