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|Cooksey challenges Ulrich for GOP post|
Former U.S. Congressman John Cooksey will challenge Ruth Ulrich for the Republican State Central Committee, when voters go to the polls in March.
Cooksey was among more than two dozen individuals who qualified to run in March for a host of state and local party leadership posts. Cooksey is seeking the state central committee District 16 A seat currently occupied by Ulrich.
The move marks Cooksey's first return to the political scene since the three-term congressman unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002.Cooksey said he was moved to run for state central committee because of the impending presidential election in 2012.
"I feel that this presidential election in 2012 will be the most important election in 20 or 30 years because of a lot of the misguided political moves the Obama administration and the Democratic house and senate made a couple of years ago," Cooksey said.
Individuals on the state central committee are in a unique position to support and influence party politics in the state, according to Cooksey.
"I want to represent the people of this district and I want to make sure that we have a good nominee for the Republican presidential candidate, because I think there's a good chance that individual will be the next President of the United States," Cooksey said.
Cooksey said the current makeup of the Republican Party centers around three groups.
According to Cooksey, one portion of Republicans are devoted exclusively to social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Another group is comprised of wealthy elite. But it's the third group that Cooksey said he hoped to represent.
"The most important part of the Republican Party are the individuals, the middle-of-the-road people who run small businesses and work hard," Cooksey said. "Their voices aren't getting heard right now."
Cooksey noted that there are a number of people in Republican leadership roles around the state who have never held a job in the private sector.
"Yet they manage to always have jobs in political races, and manage to influence the outcomes of many of those races," Cooksey said.Cooksey previously served on the state central committee and was a delegate for Ronald Reagan in the then-governor of California's first run for the presidency in 1972. Cooksey has also served previously on the Republican State Central Committee.
"I felt like it was the right time for me to serve at that level again," Cooksey said.
For Cooksey to return to the state central committee, he will have to unseat the incumbent, Ruth Ulrich.
Ulrich is seeking her third term on the Republican State Central Committee. She was first elected to that post in 2004.
In 2008, she was elected vice-chairwoman of the Republican National Convention.
Ulrich said she believed Republican Party members would send her for a third term so that she can continue doing the work they elected her to do.
"We have to make sure that Obama is a one-term president for the good of our country," Ulrich said. "I think we're in more dire straits than we've ever been in before."
Ulrich noted that the state Republican Party has had its most successful years during her tenure on the state central committee.
"When I came on the state central committee, we only had one statewide elected Republican," Ulrich said. "That was Fox McKeithen."
McKeithen died in 2005. Ulrich noted the state GOP has marked significant success since then.
"We have worked very, very hard and now, all but one of the Congressman is a Republican," Ulrich said. "We have a Republican U.S. Senator, we have the governor. Every statewide elected official is a Republican now. We have control of the state House and control of the state Senate. This was done through a concerted effort of those of us on the state central committee, going out there, doing the work to make this happen."Ulrich noted the position is voluntary and that people who serve in state-wide party positions are unpaid and must finance all of their own travel expenses. She said the reason she decided to serve on the Republican state central committee was simple.
"I guess I have to go back to being a mom on that," Ulrich said. "I got to a point that I could not come home and look my child in the eyes knowing she is going to get an America that is less than what I had growing up."
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