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Posted by on Jul 16, 2009 in Politics | 2 comments

Young Republican Runner-Up Classy in Defeat


If you missed Joe’s mention of John Avlon’s “Wingnut of the Week,” Audra Shay, the new chair of the Young Republicans [nothing to link to on their web page and this is the closest Wikipedia gets to her] OR if you are otherwise unfamiliar with her odious utterings, I will outline them below. But it was Rachel Hoff’s generous comments in defeat that moved me:

She had been silent throughout the election process, even through an anonymous smear campaign that made insinuations about her support for same-sex civil unions. “My focus is on moving the party forward,” she told me. “What happened in this campaign does raise and confirm many of the worst stereotypes of Republicans. There is a lot of work to be done to realign our party with our principles and our heritage. As a start, we need to realize that the fight for civil rights and equal opportunity is not over. “

Hoff reflected on the campaign where Shay repeatedly labeled herself “the only true conservative in the race.” “Some people assumed that because I am young—12 years younger than Audra—and from an urban area that I must not be a true conservative,” said Hoff, who is from Washington, D.C. “But I consider myself a conservative even before I consider myself a Republican. My conservative beliefs in limited government, individual freedom, and equality—the principles our party was founded on—lead me to support civil unions, which was not a popular stance in this campaign.”

Hoff is not backing breakaway efforts. Nor is the country’s only African-American Young Republican Chapter head, Sean L. Conner of Washington, DC:

“We need to do two things now. First, agree with Audra when she is right, and second, challenge her when she is wrong. Voices who support inclusion and diversity have to be louder than those who do not… We’ve just have to double down our efforts and work a little harder now.”

If you Google Shay you quickly see what all the fuss is about:

Shay—a 38-year-old Army veteran, mother, and event planner from Louisiana who has been endorsed by her governor, Bobby Jindal—was holding court on her Facebook page, initiating a political conversation by posting that “WalMart just signed a death warrant” by “endorsing Obama’s healthcare plan.” At 1:52, a friend named listed as Eric S. Piker, but whose personal page says his actual name is Eric Pike, wrote “It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…”

Two minutes later, Piker posted again saying “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.”

Eight minutes after that, at 2:02, Shay weighed in on Piker’s comments: “You tell em Eric! lol.” [READ ON there’s more.]

Since then, Avlon uncovered new details about Shay’s online antics:

In October 2008, in the wake of news that an effigy of Sarah Palin was being hung outside an affluent Hollywood home as an offensive Halloween decoration, Shay replied, returning to the “LOL” style that she employed after the “coons” comment: “What no ‘Obama in a noose? Come on now, its just freedome [sic] of speech, no one in Atlanta would take that wrong! Lol.”

She picked up the thread again the next morning with a clarification and a new insight. “Apparently I could not spell last night. I am wondering if the guys with the Palin noose would care if we had a bunch of homosexuals in a noose.” [READ ON for still more.]

See also The Daily Beast’s thorough coverage of the election last weekend in Indianapolis. What we’re left with is a racist cloud hanging over the newly elected leader of the Young Republicans — who is, btw, a not-so-young 38.

“Ugh… old enough to be the mother of three of my siblings,” tweeted one disheartened YR.

Republican’s may really be trying to revamp their image, but Shay hardly seems to be the way forward. Instead she reeks of the party’s same old problem. That’s too bad for those Young Republicans who might actually be able to affect meaningful change:

Lenny [McCallister, who in the aftermath of the election was on the receiving end of an ugly, allegedly liberal thread titled: “Ask a Black Republican Anything,”] was philosophical: “How can I get upset with what is posted on a message board? The way I look at it, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Medger Evers, and countless others took bullets for me. Many black men were castrated, hung, and tortured. I think about that every day, so how can I walk away from the good fight or get personally hurt with attacks from a message board?”

And Lenny McCallister’s not leaving the Republican Party anytime soon: “Why would conservatives already involved in the party structure nationally leave and expect to affect change subsequently within the Republican Party from the outside? This party was started for the purpose of inclusion, and although I know that was done some 160 years ago, I fully expect to see the party reclaim that principle sooner than later and it will take those of us working on the inside to make it so.”

Lenny McCallister, one of the most vocal opponents of Audra after the controversies came out, is the co-founder of