Profile: Dublin’s Delegate, Catherine Bernard

The following is a piece written for my paper the Dublin Courier Herald, who was kind enough to sponsor me for credentials this week while in Tampa:

Catherine Bernard isn’t your typical delegate to the Republican National Convention.  The Dublin public defender is relatively young, but the convention hall is peppered with youthful faces.  She was one of Georgia’s 4 delegates who did not cast their vote for nominee Mitt Romney, opting instead for Ron Paul.  And in 2008, she voted for President Barack Obama.

So, how does one who is a relative newcomer to politics end up landing one of the biggest honors a grassroots volunteer can be offered?  Bernard got involved.

Before moving to Dublin, Bernard was no stranger to political activity.  She grew up in a small Virginia town where virtually everyone was a Democrat.  She did some advocacy work and marched in a few feminist rallys.

More recently, she had been attracted to the views of Texas Congressman Ron Paul and began doing her own research.  Ultimately, she decided her views on how to solve the problems she sees every day with the criminal justice system lie not with the Democratic party, but with the “limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise” offered by Republicans.  She’s quick to point out that Republicans are better at talking about these concepts than actualizing them, but that gets back to her own activism.

Above all, she doesn’t believe that Republicans should cede ground to Democrats on social issues.  She believes Republican solutions to the problems of poverty and criminal justice are far better than big government broken promise solutions that have resulted in $3 trillion spent annually on poverty with poverty rates remaining unchanged for decades, or for a war on drugs that places a higher burden on those with minor marijuana infractions than for those who commit burglary or other property crimes.

Bernard began going to meetings of the Laurens County GOP chaired by Hugh Lentile III and became a regular.  She was elected by the county to serve as a delegate to the 12th district convention.  That district gave her one of three delegate positions to the national convention.

She was a delegate originally “bound” by rule to vote for Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich formally released his delegates, and Ron Paul supporters thus chose to then cast their votes for Paul, arguing that they weren’t bound to anyone’s second choice.

Bernard and two others stood firm on the issue, despite pleas from the delegation and Chairman Sue Everhart for “unity”.  She noted that as a public defender, she’s quite used to taking unpopular positions and holding firm.

After it was over, I asked Bernard if she had any regrets or if hard feelings would linger based on the intensity of the argument which ultimately resulted in a party rules change.  She was extremely positive about Everhart and her management of the controversy, saying she strengthened the party by her actions Tuesday.  Bernard maintains “much respect” for Sue.

Despite Paul failing to impact the convention as hoped, Bernard is undaunted and plans to continue as a Republican.  She will vote for Romney over Obama and not defect to Libertarian Gary Johnson nor sit out the election.

With her votes done on Tuesday, the goal is to continue to work through the convention, getting to know other attendees from Georgia and around the country.  She’s impressed by the mix of people she’s meeting, and notes the bent toward entrepreneurship as a common bond with most.

From there, she wants to continue her activism based on the concepts of liberty and free enterprise.  She noted that there’s still a lot of folks suffering, but – pointing over the convention floor – “most of these people are going to be fine”.  It’s the lower middle class that are currently trapped in failed government programs that need more solutions that involve less government.

These aren’t problems that will be fixed overnight, but Bernard appears ready to do battle for the long haul.  And as fellow delegates have learned, once she digs in, she’s not accustomed to backing down.


  1. Great article, Charlie! One place we can start here in Georgia with the “less government” theme is third party power purchase agreements. Currently it’s illegal for you to enter into a contract with a company to install solar panels on the top of your house, agreeing not to buy the panels themselves but to purchase the power generated by them by the kWh. These third party power purchase agreements are legal in most other states.

    I was at a meet and greet hosted by the Georgia Solar Energy Association last night and heard so many people talking about wanting to expand their businesses here in Georgia – wanting to spend millions of dollars to install solar… but they’re not allowed to by law unless they do it in the form of traditional loans. I’ve heard the question from those against these PPAs as to why people don’t just finance them in the traditional sense of getting a loan. That’s a good question. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a credit thing, perhaps it’s the cost that’s kind of scary. What I do know is that nobody is talking about outlawing solar.

    So if we accept the premise that we’re not talking about outlawing solar, then perhaps we need to look at the question another way. Why do we care how people finance solar, so long as the government isn’t picking up the tab? Why should the government or a regulated monopoly have any say as to whether you can enter into a contract with a company for this type of service? Isn’t this yet another example of the government trampling on our private property rights?

  2. Stefan says:

    Being a public defender is difficult and often thankless work. When I was a prosecutor, it was impossible not to notice the degree of “shout and route” (said so they rhyme) that went on in many counties. Disparate treatment for drug offense and the inability of those released from jail to ever contribute to society are just part of the larger problems in criminal justice. Heartening to hear that there is someone in that position who makes an effort not just to do that job, which is hard enough, but to make time to think about and work for better solutions. Maybe she’s the next Foucault?

  3. Per Curiam says:

    I respect her for her beliefs, and don’t think it is a big deal that there was no unity. Matter of fact, as a long time Romney supporter, I did not like the RNC taking affirmative steps to drown out the delegates who supported Congressman Paul. One thing Ms. Bernard said in response to Sue’s question as to why she was casting her vote for Ron Paul intrgued me. I was at the table next to hers, and I believe Ms. Bernard said that she “was a Santorum delegate” (which appears to be different from what Charlie reported”) and that she believed Paul’s beliefs were closer to Santorum’s than Romney’s. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, and maybe I misheard it, but that seems to be an interesting comment.

    • Doug Deal says:

      You heard it correctly as my comment to my tables was “That’s crazy talk.” since Santorum and Paul had about as little in common as possible for them to be in the same party. I did not like the RNC railroading, but I also do not like people making ridiculous last stands on hopelessly lost causes. Why not put the energy into something productive?

  4. drjay says:

    this sort of illustrates the point i was trying to make in the post about the rule change, where i clearly irritated some folks. again, i didn’t agree with the rule change and would have voted against it, had i been a delegate–ut this illustrate what i meant by the disconnect between candidates and their delegates–this woman was elected as a newt delegate even though she was not a newt supporter–she was simply doing what she was “bound” to do, when she was released she then voted for “her candidate” in theory, and as was much more the case before primaries became the main route for dividing up delegates, a “released” newt delegate would still be a newt supporter and willing to go along with the endorsement of romney from newt and vote for him on the floor…that was the whole basis of “favorite son” candidates a respected person from your state could bring a slate of elegates and then deliver them to whomever he worked out a deal with during the nominating process…but now the delegate selection process (state and district convos) and the delegate earning process (the primary) are not fused othe than in the legalistic binding process of the first two ballots…also i get that these free agents CAN do whatever they want, and in the end it really matters little, but once a nominee is inevitable, it is nice, esp. in a world where quick soundbites and 24 hour media and such rule the roost to have a unamimous vote to show the world…it’s like when a city hires a new fire chief and it’s contentious and there are factions and the decision is 5-4 or 6-3–but when the final vote is taken they vote 9-0 so the the new chief is going into the job with a vote of confidence and not looking over his shoulder from minute 1…

  5. Trey A. says:

    Nice work Charlie. I’d love to hear more from Catherine on her ideas on reform in the criminal justice system. It’s a subject I am quite passionate about and one that does not get talked about too much by politicians (unless you’re insisting how “tough you are on crime,” talking about criminal justice does not tend to get you more votes). I’m a big critic of Gov. Deal on a lot of issues, but his work on justice reform is to be lauded and certainly stands out as his most impressive accomplishment since taking office–at least in my book.

  6. rrrrr says:

    A FORCED unanimous vote is actually a hollow victory written off with a simple disclaimer, it’s not the “ground swell” of support you want to mass market …

    The original format actually contained a type of safety value to allow for last minute reactions to late breaking convention revelations.

    The rules change was a poorly timed move and when you include the transportation snafus that delayed many members expressing same, it REALLY didn’t encourage the “kumbaya” memories needed to energize the “door to door” knocking serfs.

    Maybe Richard Steele and the RNC legendary spending habits were simply ahead of the curve.

            • Calypso says:

              Between this comment about Pierce and another of yours about Paul Ryan’s ‘laser blue eyes’ in a different thread, I’m beginning to question your previous explanation as to your screen name. That is, the feminine-sounding nature of it being due to ‘one who goes forward’, hence Sally Forth; as opposed to being related to the box you check when a form asks your gender. 😉

                • Calypso says:

                  Well, apparently you are, even without having to ask my permission! NTTAWWT.

                  Charlie’s going to bust us for a threadjack. I’m going to apologize in advance for the both of us and promise to never do it again until the next time we do it again, even thought it’s all your fault…or maybe Dubya’s. I forget.

                  HOWEVER, if we had the MODIFY feature again, we could go back in here and delete these comments ourselves.

                  • SallyForth says:

                    Calypso, you KNOW all the hot guys have to stick together to wow the ladies. NTTAWW choosing another guy. I’d better shut up.
                    Yep, ’bout that MODIFY thing! Thanks for apologizing for me too – Charlie, what he said.
                    I think what got us into trouble was not having an open thread today.

  7. Jane says:

    The most important virtue in politics is loyalty. Loyalty to the will of the people, loyalty to the ideas of the party, loyalty to the idea that you should not behave in a manner that creates problems for the party and the converative movement. By not standing behind the party and not standing behind the majority of the voters in your state, you are disloyal. You put yourself in front of the good and wise judgement of the people. The half a dozen or so disloyal delegates showed arrogance and were a discredit to the party and to the good people who elected them. The party should take issue with this. If I were Sue, I would withold the state provided Yard signs and stickers from the counties where these delegates came from. I would also reallocate the signs to the loyal counties that heard the call for party unity. I would also reallocate any state financial assistance to candidates from these counties. Let the local county chairmen feel the pain caused by the actions of the people they sent to Tampa. Next time they will be mor ecareful. Party unity is imporant. you cannot start crying everytime you do not get your way. Her actions gave comfort to the liberals, and that is hard to forgive.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Texas standing up for Maine’s delegation after they were replaced by a committee at the RNC was unity. Texas is mostly Romney, Maine was mostly Paul (well, until they were replaced).

      You GOPers here in Georgia talk a lot of talk about unity but I wonder if our 76-strong delegation was shouting down the iron-fisted, pre-determined rule changes, or if they all breathed a sigh of relief, like a happy cow who didn’t get picked by the butcher . . . this time.

      First they came for Maine, and I did not speak up, for I was not a Maine delegate.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Also, Jane, you need to keep in mind that not all areas of this state are as (R)ed and “loyal” according to your definition. When I went to district convention here in the 2nd, had the Ron Paul people not “stacked” the county conventions, hardly anyone would have showed up at all. I guess you would rather have no one in your party than to have opposition.

      • Joseph says:

        sbd – our two Delegates to Rules were strongly opposed to the rule that would have in-essence blocked the grassroots involvement in selecting the Nominee. Anne Lewis & SoS Kemp spoke strongly about the fact that the power-grab by a nominee was not in the best interest of Georgia. Most delegates agreed and it seemed a good number expressed their displeasure in ways that led to a last minute change that did not give up the grassroots power.

        Now, with regard to the Rules Change rule change – this is something (at least in Georgia) we have had the ability to do all along from County up to the state. It also sounds like it also makes it harder for the changes to be made between conventions. Prior to this convention, you only had to get 51 people on-board (the half + 1 of the rules committee, with the Convention acting almost as a rubber stamp). Now, you have to get at least 78 votes if not more (not sure if there was a higher threashold than 50% + 1) and the Republican National Committee is more beholden to the grassroots as they are directly elected when the Party reorganizes ever two years, whereas members of Rules have no one to answer to after the Convention and are selected by a vote of the Delegation – making it even more removed from the grassroots.

        Basically, what I’m saying is – the between Convention rule changes come at greater risk and require a higher level of consensus, since members of the RNC are directly accountable every two years and there are so many more members.

        • seenbetrdayz says:

          Well, I suppose it was wrong for me to ask that question, as it didn’t matter what Georgia thought. John Boehner wasn’t listening to ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ from the delegation to determine how the delegates voted. Found out today that he was reading the results on the screen.

    • “The most important virtue in politics is loyalty. Loyalty to the will of the people, loyalty to the ideas of the party, loyalty to the idea that you should not behave in a manner that creates problems for the party and the converative movement.”

      So what is more important, loyalty to one’s country or loyalty to a political party? I personally don’t like the idea of political parties. I would rather see people run on ideas than the letter beside their name. Make all races nonpartisan. Most people in this country don’t fit neatly into the box of either major party.

      There are plenty of times where party politics get in the way of fixing the many problems we have – from the national debt to the numerous ethical issues that plague the political arena. (Stan Wise for instance is a Republican but is one of the most unethical elected officials in this state. Should Republicans be loyal to him because he has the R beside his name? Or should they decide that his crony capitalism isn’t what’s best for Georgia and perhaps vote for the Libertarian (me) instead? (There is no Democrat in this race.))

      Loyalty is an admirable trait when placed correctly.

  8. Jane says:

    Not all RINO’s are Democrats. Many are Libertarians, Occupy Movement, and Acorn sympathizers. When Ron Paul activists voted differently from they way their district voted, they are RINO”s.

  9. Charlie says:

    “The most important virtue in politics is loyalty.”

    This is perhaps the most stupid comment you have ever made.

    Loyalty gave the GOP Jack Abramoff. It gave us the reign of Glenn Richardson/Mark Burkhalter/Jerry Keen. It provides us the current dysfunctional state senate. Loyalty as a virture above honesty, ethics, principle, and service to constituents has usually been the end of a party, not what strenghtens it.

    Jane, your priorities are extremely f’ed up.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      Jane’s comment is one of the things that pushes independents from identifying with the Rep party (and to a certain extent the Dems as well). This notion that if you do not tow the party line and fall in lockstep is so archaic and is what has lead to many of the issues we see in the political landscape (at ALL levels). This so called loyalty is why the tent shrinks and new members are not be brought in at a decent rate.

    • SallyForth says:

      Jane, loyalty is a two-way street. A party owes loyalty to its members and supporters, which we don’t see much of these days. Parties and people have to earn our loyalty. Blind loyalty sucks.

  10. Jane says:

    Jack Abramoff was a traitor to the party and the conservative movement, because he brought discredit to the party. Same with Glenn Richardson, Ralph Reed, and a certain senator in Gwinnett. They broke faith with those who trusted them. They put themselves above the party for their own ego and profit. Only fools would support them now.

    In comparison, G Gordon Liddy was an idiot, but he fell on his sword something the rest of the Watergate officials would not do and few politicians today have the guts to do. As for disloyal and deceitful activists, these people betrayed their supporters not for money or power, but for 15 minutes of notoriety. They sold out cheap, but like Ralph Reed they sold out just the same.

    As to Sally, the grassroots people who sacrifice for the ideas and ideology of the party ARE THE PARTY NOT THE LEADERSHIP. When delegates, who by being delegates are in leadership, betrayed the trust people they should be discredited and driven out just as Ralph Reed has been driven out of the party.

  11. Jane says:

    Ralph is a has been. He is only a force for GOP progress in his own mind. The truth right wing of the party do not trust him.

    • Harry says:

      This right winger doesn’t trust Reed either, not if money is on the table, but I say there’s a double standard when St. Hillary is deified and Ralphie is chained to the doghouse.

  12. Doug Deal says:

    People acting as delegates should remind themselves that they are delegates and their charge is not to exercise their own will, but the will of those that sent them. By basically signing up to be a Ron Paul delegate under Newt’s or Santorum’s or whomever’s slate (she didn’t seem to care much about that) she is not acting ethically.

    She had no intent to act out the will of the source of her authority (those people who voted for whoever she was representing), she chose to substitute her own judgment completely. As did all of Paul’s* delegates. If they had any intent to represent the will of their voters, it would have been a different story. It is clear that most of Santorum and Newt’s delegates would prefer party unity, and likely had Paul as their clear last choice, given his 6% of the vote.

    * he won 0 Georgia delegates, all of those elected were people who gamed the system, thus they were not in any way his delegates.

    • Doug Deal says:

      That being said, I do admire her courage in standing up for herself, it was just the wrong time, the wrong place and accomplished absoultely nothing.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      he won 0 Georgia delegates, all of those elected were people who gamed the system, thus they were not in any way his delegates.

      If I recall correctly, Dougherty County sent about 1/10th of its allowable GOP delegates to Dist 2. It was absolutely depressing to hear the committee read the report on attendance. Almost 1-in-3 counties down here have no GOP at all. I can’t say much for the rest of the state, but “gaming the system” doesn’t apply down here. There is no system.

    • CSB says:

      Mr. Deal, I assure you that I considered my obligations as a delegate very carefully, as I’m sure all of the 52 delegates originally selected to support Newt Gingrich did when they changed their votes to support Mitt Romney. Being selected to represent the people of my District and of Georgia who had voted for Rick Santorum, I spent a good deal of time familiarizing myself with Representative Santorum’s positions. I noted the presence of Santorum-Paul coalitions in states like Colorado and Tennessee. I read articles in which Santorum called Mitt Romney the worst Republican to run against Obama. And I know that many Santorum supporters were not convinced that Governor Romney shared their fiscal and pro-life values, while they knew that Dr. Paul did. This was not a case of my substituting my own judgment, but rather of speaking to numerous voters to ascertain their priorities and feelings about the various candidates and making a decision according to the principles and values of the Republican Party.

      I take seriously your accusation that I have behaved unethically, and ask which ethical rule you believe that I’ve violated. The relevant legal statute is O.C.G.A. § 21-2-197. Effect of withdrawal of candidate Any delegate to a national convention whose presidential candidate withdraws after being entitled to delegate votes pursuant to this article shall be an unpledged delegate to the national convention. When Rick Santorum formally released his delegates, we became unpledged delegates according to Georgia law, bound only to make the best choice for the people we represent.

      Ron Paul won 6.6% of the vote in Georgia with 58,982 votes. If delegate votes were awarded proportionately, Dr. Paul would have been entitled to 5 of the 76 delegate votes in the state. As it was, he received three. How do you consider this contrary to the will of Georgia voters? And more importantly, if the will of the Georgia voters is your utmost concern, how do you justify the 52 delegates who set aside their voters’ clear preference for Newt Gingrich?

      • drjay says:

        “if the will of the Georgia voters is your utmost concern, how do you justify the 52 delegates who set aside their voters’ clear preference for Newt Gingrich?”

        i’m not doug but i can answer that-by virtue of the candidate they supported endorsing romney–as i had mentioned above, that used to be part and parcel of the purpose of favorite sons candidates going to conventions…

        • Stefan says:

          I am not familiar with the ins and outs of Republican party rules, but I have to imagine they have something to address this contingency. People elected in this way are delegates and not representatives and are there to serve what is mostly a ceremonial function.

          However, the Paul parade sees themselves as speaking truth to power, so it isn’t likely that any rule based argument will be very persuasive.

          I was rooting for a floor fight, but the odds were never in its favor.

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            Too many people are caught up on what Ron Paul people think. Don’t worry about what we think. Worry about what happens when the day comes when what you (not, ‘you’ specifically, but ‘you’ regardless of who you are) think is important becomes unpopular. That’s what this country used to be about. It’s very simple, and yet, at the same time, very difficult in today’s political dialogue for everyone to come to an agreement that we all have the right to self-government, but centralized government is anything but that.

            One reason Reagan was so widely acceptable, across party lines, during his campaign was because he campaigned on de-centralized power. For example, you will *never* be able to get Georgians and Californians to agree on everything. A conservative from Texas is not the same as a conservative from Massachusetts, and a Chicago liberal is not the same as a San Francisco liberal. One diverse nation of 300,000,000+ people was *never* intended to be run as a direct democracy at the highest level of government. We’re just *asking* for disharmony if that is our goal.

            I have to accept the fact that my ideas may not be popular in Georgia. What I won’t accept is that America becomes a nation where there is no where to run to. Reagan said we can ‘vote with our feet’, but, I believe he also said that there’s basically no where to go if America fails.

            • Charlie says:

              I quit reading after the first sentence. Because frankly, I’m tired of the self importance and outright arrogance of some Paul supporters who truly believe you guys are the only ones who ever have stood for something unpopular. You then insulate your ridiculous and childish actions around this crutch.

              There are a lot of people around this world/nation/state who stand up for unpopular truths. The ones who enforce meaninful change aren’t the one’s who are a total tool to anyone that doesn’t recognize their genius.

              Continue to wrap yourself around self grandeur if you want. The convention is over. You guys lost, playing the same script, again. We’re moving on now. You should too.

                  • seenbetrdayz says:

                    I take it you will not watch the video. Okay.

                    Perhaps someone will. If you were smart, you’d ban me from PeachPundit before someone figures out what went on at the RNC.

                    • Stefan says:

                      I wasn’t at the RNC, but I can guess. Was there a giant party to celebrate the media no longer having to say “presumptive nominee” in front of Mitt Romney?

            • Harry says:

              Good points. I’ll be participating in the 2013 GOP mass meetings etc. and doing so as an outsider Paulestinian troublemaker – no matter whether Romney or Obama wins the US presidency.

            • Stefan says:

              America isn’t graded pass/fail. That type of rhetoric isn’t particularly helpful.

              Could the US be doing better? Certainly. Should it have less debt? Probably. Are we Ancient Rome? Not likely.

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