Maybe it’s my personal opinion, but I believe participation from like-minded (although we may not always agree) folks makes for a healthy political body. It’s attributed to Reagan who said that if you show him someone with whom he agrees 80% he’ll show you a friend. Unfortunately, it seems like we’re becoming more divisive not only in Washington, but right down in our Republican mass precinct meetings. The Georgia Republican Party’s convention process is an open invitation to all like-minded voters who believe in the principles of the Republican Party. There’s give and take on all levels, we may not agree on everything all the time, and we may have the occasional “family spat”, but I believe that folks who are willing to sacrifice a few hours on a beautiful Saturday morning to go down and meet with fellow Republicans should be allowed the courtesy of participating.
Michael McNeely, announced candidate for 1st Vice Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, went to his county’s precinct mass meeting this past Saturday, but apparently there was some shabby behavior lead by Douglas County Republican Party board member Jack Gamel to shut McNeely out of the process according to 3rd Vice Chairman Brian Tolar:
At the Mirror Lake precinct table today, Douglas County GOP Board Member Jack Gamel led an effort to refuse Michael McNeely (a strong conservative and 1st Vice-Chair of the Douglas County GOP) a precinct delegate spot. There were 15 delegate slots available and only five people present, yet Jack insisted in his action. Jack’s petty old white man politics targeted one of the rising African American stars of Georgia and National GOP leaders. By a 3-2 vote, Jack’s efforts were successful.
The rules allow the members of the precinct to allocate delegates as they see fit by majority vote, and they don’t have to fill all of the slots and can leave people sitting at the table if the majority is so inclined. By my understanding of the rules, they “technically” are allowed to do this. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
This was an underhanded move by someone who had personal beef with Michael. Perhaps Mr. Gamel had a valid reason on why he didn’t think Michael shouldn’t represent the Mirror Lake precinct, and I invite him to respond to give his side of the story. It sounds like Mr. Gamel was quite pleased with his actions.
This does nothing to help advance our cause. This behavior makes it look like the Republican Party wants to isolate itself from new blood. We need new folks! There are a number of folks who have showed up and want to get involved with the process because they see it as an opportunity to affect their communities, state, and nation for the better. Sure, we may not agree on the open-handed issues, but I believe if that person believes in limited government, maximizing personal liberty, and striving to keep taxes low, then by all means let’s have them involved…especially if they take the time out of their day to get out and sit in a room to fill out paperwork!
I urge the duly elected delegates to the Douglas County Republican Convention to allow Michael McNeely to serve as a delegate to the Georgia Republican Convention in Athens.
Added by Charlie:
I spoke to Michael McNeely today by phone. He told me that Mr. Gamel told him that his exclusion was because McNeely ran against Gamel’s friend Terry Baggett last term for First Vice-Chair of the Douglas County Party – a position that Mr. McNeely won. So, in the pettyness that is county party politics, we have a man at the precinct level who chose to block his county’s First Vice Chairman from being a delegate to his county’s convention out of what appears to be a petty act of revenge.
Making matters worse, McNeely is not only a candidate for First Vice Chairman of the State GOP, but also the Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council. At a time when the Republican Party is desparately trying to figure out how to reach out to non-white voters, McNeely and his wife (who was not in attendence but was nominated to be a delegate) were excluded by a vote of 3-2. Three white votes were for exclusion; Two African American votes were for inclusion. Despite whatever reasoning Mr. Gamel may have employed, the optics of his actions will trump any other reason or judgment he may have used.
Compounding the situation which will not doubt serve as a great embarassment for Republicans at the local, state, and possibly national level is the response issued by Douglas GOP Chairman Bert Blood:
I would like to personally thank all who were able to attend today’s Precinct Mass Meeting. It was a great turnout! Unfortunately, I have been hit with a wicked stomach virus and regret that I could not be with you for the entire meeting.The means by which I am writing you today is an electronic communication service known as Constant Contact which enables the DCGOP Board to communicate with our party members in an expedient manner via email using a database of your names and email addresses.This afternoon a member of our board who had access to the Constant Contact password used this service to air personal grievances regarding an incident at today’s meeting.I want to take this opportunity to APOLOGIZE to all party members for this breach of trust and to assure you that I will do all within my power to insure that the integrity of this valuable database is maintained.Sincerely,Bert Blood, ChairmanDouglas County Republican Party
So a leading candidate for the State Party’s First Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council is blocked from attending his county’s convention as delegate on a 3-2 along racial lines, and Mr. Blood has apologized….for someone using his email list.
Republicans, we have problems.