Michael Crimmins says he never said 'spear chucker.' Photo by John R. Lamb.
“You gotta watch out for those Swedes. They're some tekkie dudes.”—Swedish-born local GOP boss Tony Krvaric on Twitter, Feb. 11
Sitting recently on the wind-whipped back deck of a Point Loma coffeehouse, Republican Congressional candidate Michael Crimmins—San Diego's newest GOP bad boy—hitches up his pant leg and searches for a pale, one-inch scar, one of two bullet wounds the retired Marine major sustained during his three-year tour in Vietnam.
“The other one,” he explained while pointing to his left side, “looks more like a knife wound.”
Crimmins, who taught emotionally challenged children after a 21-year military career, has been in some tough battles throughout his 62 years. But his current skirmish with the leadership of the local Republican Party over his Feb. 8 removal as an ex-officio member of the county GOP's Central Committee seems to be all-consuming.
In a political season that many Republicans define as a watershed moment for them in hopes of combating the Obama administration, the local GOP finds itself mired in a blitzkrieg of allegations—many uttered anonymously—that has some observers shaking their heads.
“It really does seem a lot like junior high school,” long-time right-leaning political consultant John Dadian acknowledged to Spin Cycle.
A squabble that began ugly—a rare ouster of a former party insider over alleged “racist and violent remarks” to a fellow Central Committee member—doesn't appear to be getting any prettier as the election year unfolds.
Local GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric would say little on the record about the latest internal fracas, only that the 44-1 vote to boot Crimmins should indicate the party's solidarity on the matter.
“If that's not a statement,” he told Spin Cycle, “then I don't know what is.”
Statements of all stripes were not difficult to come by while preparing this column, but the number of those offered for private contemplation only was, frankly, overwhelming. Even as the deadline approached for this column, more anonymous e-mail campaigns cropped up, raising fresh acrimonious charges of racism and back-room deals—even some purporting to know what would be said in this space.
Clearly, this is not the American political system at its best.
Crimmins, a personable, salty-tongued guy who inserts military parlance into his Long Island-inflected rhetoric as frequently as possible, insists he was “hung out to dry” by his own party for questioning the integrity and strong-arm tactics of the local GOP leadership, most notably Krvaric. In this case, distain would be an understatement.
“Krvaric's a bully,” he said. “That's not the way we treat people in the Marine Corps.”
Crimmins claims that GOP honchos are now pressuring endorsers to pull their support of his current campaign to unseat Democratic Rep. Susan Davis—he lost by a wide margin two years ago in a race some local GOPers described privately as a “suicide mission.”
Spin Cycle attempted unsuccessfully to confirm this phenomenon, particularly with Jimmy Valentine, former executive producer of Roger Hedgecock's radio show and self-proclaimed “Mayor of Dehesa Valley.”
Valentine operates a blog called the Dehesa Valley Gazette. He recently wrote: “I have now been approached by persons of significant influence in the county GOP to withdraw my endorsement from Michael. … I'm told that my reputation could be tarnished by my continued endorsement of Michael.”
Krvaric scoffed at such political intrigue. “I'm not that powerful,” he argued.
Over the years, Crimmins said he has noticed a protracted effort to silence those who question Krvaric's tactics.
“The people being fanged by Tony are the people with integrity. They don't have an ax to grind,” Crimmins said. “They don't sit around and gin up conspiracies like Tony says that they do. They're just normal people that want to do a good job and get Republicans elected, and be honest and ethical about it.”
To hear Crimmins tell it, he was one of only a handful of “patriots” ballsy enough to stand up to the local GOP leadership, which he claims is loathe to dissension. For his efforts, he said he was taken down by “out-and-out lies” that he uttered the words “spear chucker” to a black Central Committee member who also is competing in the 2010 Congressional primary race to unseat incumbent Davis.
C. Mason Weaver, an author with a rapid-fire delivery who lists on Facebook his political persuasion as “very conservative,” declined to say the phrase allegedly said to him by Crimmins at a political event back in December.
He claimed a third person overheard the comment but said he didn't know who that person was. Weaver said he didn't want to make it a campaign issue when a local reporter asked him about the alleged comment back then.
“I'm a grown man,” Weaver told Spin Cycle. “I don't need protection from anybody. So I asked [the reporter] to leave it alone. I would have left it alone this time had the party not just got disgusted with it. I was surprised that the party got so disgusted with that that they decided to take action on it.”
A Feb. 1 confidential party memo outlining the charges against Crimmins and obtained by Spin Cycle includes what is described as “Mason Weaver's statement” about the Dec. 12 run-in with Crimmins:
“[W]e had a conversation, he thought it was private, as he walked away he made reference to me as a ‘spear chucker' that is known to be a derogatory phrase that white men refer to black men. I then asked him to explain himself, I asked him to clarify what he meant by that, and he did not want to clarify it. He said I should know what he meant.”
Not true, Crimmins countered. He said Weaver seemed shaken the previous week at a Filipino-American function where Crimmins said he spoke in the audience's native Tagalog language to a rousing reception.
At another gathering the following week, Crimmins said Weaver approached him out of the blue and stated, “I speak Swahili.” Baffled, Crimmins said he shot back, “Well, I speak Japanese!”
During the ensuing discussion, Crimmins said he accused Weaver of trying to “chuck shit against the wall to see what sticks.” He also said he equated debating with Weaver with arguing with a pig, in that “everyone gets muddied, and in the end, the pig walks away happy and content.”
In anonymous postings to the right-wing blog site San Diego Rostra, it's been suggested that the “anti-Krvaric” forces have “disintegrated” and “the fight is over.”
To which Crimmins replied: “Yeah, right. Game on, baby!” Got a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.