And thus a new step…

Following is the Chairman’s report to the Cleveland County Republican Convention on Saturday March 12, 2011. The bulk of the comments differentiate the role of a party officer from that of an activist. This clarification is important, given the District Chairman’s support of a Democrat candidate over a qualified Republican candidate in the 2010 elections, and the subsequent damage done to the local party. As you will read in the postscript, damage to the party continues.

“We began 2010 with several goals. While we did not accomplish our entire mission, none could say that 2010 was not a successful year for the Cleveland County GOP.

“Due to your efforts, and that of others, Senator Burr and Representative Moore maintained their seats against perceived formidable democrat opponents, Kelly Hastings maintained the 110 House seat and we gained House 112 with Mike Hager. For the first time in history, the GOP holds every legislative seat in the county. Jason Falls finished number one against two entrenched incumbents, as we for only the second time gained the majority on the County Commission. We are proud of Phil Brafford’s excellent showing in his first race; drawing the same percentage of the vote as did Falls in his first run. The Don Allen’s race proved much more difficult, largely due to the abundant financial resources of his opponent and the strength of his opponent’s long-planned campaign.

“Both Don and Phil represented us well, I’m sure you join me in thanking them both for their efforts.

“I also wish to take a moment to recognize our officers. Please join me in expressing appreciation to Neal, Sasha and the Keller’s.

“With the completion of this report, my responsibilities as your chairman will be fulfilled, as will my public service to this Grand Old Party. But first, please allow me the indulgence of a few thoughts and a few reflections.

“In 1976, I walked into GOP headquarters to make phone calls for Gerald Ford. I was welcomed by people like Burl Turner and John Cline, and there found a philosophical home, a home that has become less comfortable in recent years.

“35 years ago, we hoped, but I doubt any believed that we would win a local race. We worked hard, and people like Ruth Wilson, Billy Davis, Jean Kincaid, Larry Grier and others were willing to place their names on a ballot for the purpose of laying the groundwork for gains only realized this fall. They sacrificed for the hope of the day when Republicans might achieve a majority on the county commission, or elect a full compliment of Republicans to the General Assembly. They did so, not for the sake of a Republican majority, but for the values a Republican majority would bring to governance.

“I suppose the greatest lesson that I learned about partisan politics was years later from party chairman Col. Pat Hamner. I’ll never forget his comment, ‘a bad Republican is better than a good Democrat.’ Given that my dad (and 80 plus percent of Cleveland County) was a Democrat, I didn’t fully grasp that statement. But, as I matured in my understanding, I came to recognize that the first role of any party officer is to be a partisan.

“Webster’s defines a partisan as ‘a firm adherent to a party; especially: one exhibiting blind and unreasoning allegiance.’ Personally, I have never been as partisan as the position requires, but I have filled the position in a partisan way, with a firm adherence to the party. This has required stands that were sometimes uncomfortable, damaging to my business, and detrimental to friendships.

“Our Tea Party friends will remind us that a blind allegiance to a banner is not healthy, and I agree, but one cannot lead a partisan body unless they publicly exhibit that unyielding allegiance to it, as did Col. Hamner.

“As an officer for 11 of the past 14 years, I am struck by the realization of how many within our party hold misplaced values. Republicans from Washington down seem to value power or winning above all others. All who would stand to lead our party should have well-founded values, which in turn lead to sound principles from which decisions are made. Subversion and coercion are not values of our party.

“I would be negligent in my report to you to not acknowledge what has become a rift within our local party, and the dire need to turn the page on 2010. Today, you have the opportunity to turn a page; to close the door on 2010 by selecting principled, partisan leaders that will work solely for the purpose of electing Republicans to office. As such, they will lead the party through the most successful cycle in Cleveland County history next year; and elect for the first time, Republicans to down-ticket seats; the groundwork for much of this has already been laid.

“The potential of what Republicanism is about is vast and unbound in Liberty. President Reagan reminds us, ‘As long as we remain true to our principles, the future will always be ours.’ Today, make the future ours and unite our party with the single purpose through the leaders you will choose and the standard to which you hold them. Those whom you choose must provide the base on which the ideal of Republican Conservatism becomes the norm in Cleveland County- we are on the cusp of it.

“I leave you now to foster full deliberation regarding the future of our party, as my attention turns to less partisan and at times less Republican, though more objective endeavors.

“Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be involved with you for the past 35 years.”

Unfortunately, as the convention continued so did the enmity of the District Chairman, yielding even greater fissures within the local party as he moved and voted to oppose the vast majority of the nominated slate of delegates to the state convention, including elected officials and many perennial representatives to that convention. This was the first time that the local GOP rejected any potential delegate wishing to attend the State Convention since the Pat Robertson attempt to take-over the State and National Convention in 1988.

It should be noted, as it was during the meeting, at the time the vote was taken most elected officials and several delegate-nominees were at an event that raised in excess of $15,000 for the GOP, or in attendance as invited guests to a local NAACP meeting.

This continuing pattern of impetuous action brings to mind the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Do you want to know who you are? Action will delineate and define you.” During the primary season, the months following, and again at the county convention, the asinine actions of one were certainly definitive.

Unfortunately, not all who would stand to lead our party have well-founded values and sound principles from which thoughtful decisions may be made. Consequently, it is up to us to determine the purpose of those who seek responsibility, that we may choose our leadership wisely.

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One Response to “And thus a new step…”

  1. TRM says:

    Eloquently expressed.

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