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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

The GOP’s “big tent” shows some strains…

The very conservative "Reagan Wing" of the state GOP won't be setting up its booth at the Republican convention in Yakima this weekend after all.

In a statement posted on his website and similar press release, blogger and Reagan Wing president Doug Parris blasts new state GOP chairwoman Diane Tebelius for leading "a blackout session" of the state executive board, with members allegedly barred from talking about why the Reagan Wing's vendor table of literature, t-shirts and buttons won't be allowed.

"The Reagan Wing filled out the necessary paperwork and paid the $150 fee almost 2 weeks ago and has since been taken on a roller-coaster ride with Tebelius' mood swings," Parris says. Citing the chairwoman's description of the state GOP as "a big tent" (during news stories about a state gathering of Republican moderates last week), Parris says the ban caps "a week of almost unbelievable hyposcrisy for Tebelius."

Tebelius' response: that the party's executive board was offended by racist statements made about the party's vice chair, Fredi Simpson. In a nearly unanimous vote, she said, the board agreed to ban his literature and booth.

"The conservatives said there's no place for someone who makes racist statements," Tebelius said. "He (Parris) has used his website as a platform to say lies."

In recent posts to the blog, Parris questioned the "financial interest in illegal immigration" of Mike Sotelo, president of the state's Hispanic chamber of commerce and husband of King County GOP platform chair Lori Sotelo. (The two are investors in a bank serving Hispanic community members and run a bilingual management service, according to Parris.) And Parris described the platform committee metings as a long string of broken procedural rules and stifled debate.

In another post, Parris referred to Simpson as "stridently Mexican."

Asked about that, Parris said "She identifies with the country and we just pointed that out."

Parris, Tebelius said, remains a delegate to the convention.

"And we're fine with that," Tebelius said. "But what we said is you just don't get to put literature on the table that's going to say bad things about people."

Will this dispute set the tone for the convention? No way, she said.

"This is a conference of conservatives," Tebelius said. "There's not one person here that doesn't support the Republican Party."

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.