At his press conference yesterday afternoon, Watauga County Commission Chair Jim Deal named some prominent local Republicans who agree with him about the wisdom of passing the referendum to raise local sales taxes by 1/4th of a penny: Joe Miller, Dale Greene, Rob Holton, Kenneth Wilcox.
In this current context of Tea Party extremism, that mention by Jim Deal suddenly redefined those gentlemen as "moderate" Republicans. Believing that one of the noble activities of government is to increase the public's ownership of infrastructure which enhances the lives of the people through education and recreation has become official heresy to the Watauga GOP. So we guess that as of approximately 4:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Miller, Greene, Holton, and Wilcox are now officially heretics.
Men like Miller, Greene, Holton, and Wilcox don't run the local Republican Party. The people currently running it owe their allegiance to the kind-hearted philosophy of Virginia Foxx, though they appear to be taking their actual local marching orders from tea partiers and from one government-hater in particular. All the energy roused up against the 1/4th of a penny hike in sales taxes is due to the organizing and agitating talents of Deborah Greene, who for whatever reasons changed her party affiliation on March 22nd of this year from "Republican" to "Unaffiliated." It is somewhat paradoxical that the longest running Energizer bunny behind the local GOP is actually not now a registered Republican. (Oh right: the Tea Party "is not a partisan movement." Got it!)
The anti-tax forces also owe David Blust as a prime organizer, and he's very much a face of the local Republican Party (as well as the face of the local Tea Party -- so much for that non-partisan claim). Commission Chair Deal mentioned Blust's name twice yesterday during his press conference. It was Blust who essentially got tagged with the "misinformation, legitimate questions, wild rumors, and outright lies" that Mr. Deal said were being deliberately bandied about in an effort to sink any possibility of a county recreation center and an eastern community center in the Deep Gap area. Blust (for the record) also opposed and voted against the new high school when he had an opportunity to do something constructive for the citizens (and actual power as a County Commissioner in 2005 and 2006), and he was, incidentally, also deeply involved in the attempted Templeton takeover of the Boone Town Council in 2007.
In other words, Blust has quite the reactionary record to run on this year, as he tries to rewarm that seat on the County Commission. He thinks loud opposition to building the infrastructure of Watauga is his ticket back into office.
Mr. Deal spent a good deal of time yesterday correcting the misinformation, unfounded rumors, and outright lies of the David Blust/Deborah Greene anti-tax insurgency, and he did a clear and concise job of it. Not that half the audience was even listening. They were mentally preparing their own verbal rejoinders, accusations, and slogans to hurl back, and when Mr. Deal did not give them that formal opportunity, they shouted and stomped their feet anyway and cried that it wasn't fair that a press conference called by Mr. Deal did not include opportunities for them to proclaim their own reality.
Watauga Democrat account of the press conference is here. A much more detailed account is on GoBlueRidge.