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REAL PoV: The GOP is stronger than ever — growing pains are expected

Clifton French, CEO/Editor-in-Chief, REAL News LLC

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Look at what the GOP has accomplished and continues to accomplish in St. Joseph County. It’s amazing. Republicans control the County Council, County Commissioners, Assessor, Clerk and more. We have a growing party with record-setting membership. Meanwhile, the Democrats are floundering and broke. Their message of sexualizing kids and destroying the economy is, expectedly, unpopular.

The St. Joseph County GOP has the most qualified and talented elected officials in the state. Assessor Mike Castellon is unparalleled in his leadership of an office that had been a complete joke for decades. Within months, he turned that office into a well-oiled machine, clearing through the backlogs of appeals that had only piled up under Democrat leadership. County Clerk Amy Rolfes has professionalized the clerk’s office, streamlining policies, hiring qualified AND diverse employees and saving the taxpayer thousands of dollars by absorbing the Voter Registration Office into the Clerk’s duties.

Meanwhile, County Council Members Joe Thomas, Dan Schaetzle, Amy Drake and Randy Figg have been crucial additions to St. Joseph County’s legislative body. They’ve helped gut the Health Department of power-hungry radical leftists who destroyed the lives of thousands during the COVID panic-demic. They’ve refused to fund abortion and racial activism disguised as “public health.” And, they’ve managed to secure the largest investment in the county’s history with the GM and Samsung battery plant to be located in the western part of the county.

While there is plenty of criticism for how Commissioner Derek Dieter handled issues in the past, he has taken the reigns as one of the most conservative leaders in the county. He is fearless and has made it his mission to do only what is right by the taxpayer and the vulnerable people who were being held prisoner in the dilapidated Portage Manor facility that had been neglected by Democrats for 100 years. Dieter is a fearless fighter who deserves our support. His counterparts in Carl Baxmeyer and Deb Flemming have also shown courage in facing down constant attacks from the activist wing of the Democrat party.

ALL of this is due to the leadership of County GOP Chair Tyler Gillean. He took the reigns during an impossible time. He was forced into this position when the GOP was devastated by the death of our friends Zach Potts and Jackie Walorski. Nobody thought the GOP could recover from the loss of their leadership. AND, nobody could have led our party to the above historic wins except Tyler. He has made it a priority to modernize the party. He is helping to clear the way for a younger, enthusiastic and energetic base. If you’re an older member of the party, this should be refreshing for you to see.

With that growth comes growing pains. And, bad things will happen or be done by folks in the party — it’s a simple fact of numbers. With more people, comes more problems. We’ve recently seen the arrest of the South Bend Common Council 2nd District GOP Candidate Roosevelt Stewart. Nobody saw this coming. While I’m waiting to get all of the details and caution coming to any conclusions until he has his day in court, the reality is, this is bad for him and the party. I do not see a way forward in his campaign. It is extremely unfortunate as he was working hard and appeared to be having a positive impact on his community.

Even more disturbing is the recent revelation of a hidden Domestic Violence conviction involving South Bend Mayoral Candidate Desmont Upchurch. Here’s the deal, Upchurch is not a conservative. He has openly supported CRT, hiring based on racial traits only, reparations and more. AND, he received nearly no support from the party because of his terrible work ethic and leftist views — I’m assuming his criminal past may have played a role in the near 0 support he received, but that is only an assumption. However, that doesn’t mean anyone could prevent him from running. Further, no other Republican came forward to run against him in the Mayoral Primary. And, it would have looked terrible for the GOP to attack Desmont. The best move for party leadership was to simply ignore him as he would eventually flounder and fizzle out. Once again, my assumption is that is exactly what just happened.

These issues are inevitable when you grow any organization. People with an “R” next to their name are going to make mistakes. You may discover that people you supported are just plain scumbags. Democrats and unsavory characters are also going to attempt to infiltrate the party for power. As your conservative news source, RNM has a responsibility to hold conservatives accountable to conservative values. And, we promise to do better to help limit issues like this in the future.

I realize many of the longtime Republicans in our community were used to losing and essentially being controlled opposition to the Democrat machine. It was a comfortable place. However, that is not the case any longer.

We are going to have major ups with historic wins. With that comes deeper lows.

It’s time to celebrate our victories, embrace our leaders and understand growing pains are just part of the GOP’s growth.

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