Establishment Republicans easily beat back a challenge Thursday night by tea party-backed candidates for the top two spots in the Sedgwick County Republican Party.
The party's new leader immediately said he'll try to work with the tea party supporter, whose energetic demonstrations are credited with helping Republicans to big wins in the Nov. 2 election.
GOP precinct committee men and women voted Bob Dool, owner of Mid-Continent Safety and president of the Wichita Independent Business Association, as their chairman for the next two years.
They selected Julie Sipe, a housewife and longtime volunteer for U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, as vice chairwoman.
They turned back a challenge from tea party-backed candidates Jim Anderson, a businessman and conservative radio host who ran in the Republican primary for Congress, and Judy Park, president of Republican Women United.
Although he won 149-59, Dool said he recognizes that as party chairman he has to bridge the gap between the traditional Republicans and the tea party supporters.
He said there's no reason for the two groups to fight because they both support conservative values of smaller government, lower taxes and individual freedom.
"I did not want to talk in terms of them and us," he said. "We all have got to help the party."
Lynda Tyler, the leader of Kansans for Liberty and chief organizer of most of Wichita's tea party events, said her group would take a wait-and-see approach.
"We'll just sit back and see what they do with it," Tyler said. "We'll raise money and support good conservative candidates whatever their party is."
The election of officers and delegates took place against a backdrop of complaints that the process was not fair to the tea party candidates.
The complaints began long before the meeting when Kansans for Liberty sought unsuccessfully to get the list of candidates for party offices.
Tyler said she considered it a victory that there was a ballot and not just an up-or-down vote on preselected, unopposed candidates.
In a less controversial action, the group chose Linda Kizzire to serve the next two years as county treasurer.
Kizzire will fill the unexpired term of Ron Estes, who was elected state treasurer in the Nov. 2 election.
Kizzire is a longtime fixture at the County Courthouse, having served as Estes' chief assistant, and before that as assistant to county Register of Deeds Bill Meek.
Kizzire, her voice breaking with emotion, thanked the 194 GOP committee members who picked her to succeed her boss.
"I am so moved that you have placed your confidence in me," she said. "Together we are the glue that holds the Republican Party together."