Republican Convention Process Begins With Flaws And Errors

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

On Saturday, the long and somewhat tedious process of picking the leaders for the local, state, and national Republican leaders began with “mass precinct meetings” held in Georgia’s counties with over 80,000 residents.  All counties will hold their conventions next month to determine who will be delegates to congressional district conventions held in April and the Georgia GOP State Convention which will occur in Athens this May.  State Party leaders along with National Committee members will be selected at that time.

The convention process was once the determination of who held political power and was allowed to run for office.  With the widespread use of primaries, many loyal party voters are now oblivious to the party election system and the rituals involved.  In far too many cases, this has allowed political parties to remove their focus from recruiting and selecting candidates that will best represent the party’s values in general elections and become inwardly focused on self-preservation of the members and their own positions of power.

It is a process that allows for the grass roots to select their own leaders.  It has for some, unfortunately, a place to settle petty scores or to block newcomers out of an overall sense of paranoia or to cling to local leadership posts despite changing times and attitudes.

The Newton County Republican Party implemented exclusionary practices that appear to violate State Party rules which govern how these mass precinct meetings must be held.  Those who agreed to spend a Saturday morning dedicated to being part of this potentially four month process arrived to find that the county party had created a point system based on prior activities within the party, ensuring no newcomers would be entitled to attend next month’s county convention and likely the higher level conventions as delegates.

The move comes as many in the grass roots level continue to fend off organized efforts by Libertarians and supporters of perpetual candidate Ron Paul to take away control of much of the institutional framework that currently serves as a buffer for incumbents and the GOP status quo.  By setting up rules that block any newcomer from participating in the process, the county party has likely not only violated rules, but has ensured that any efforts by party leaders to speak of outreach and growing a bigger tent for new supporters will be muted.

Another example of such came from Douglas County, where one precinct chairman blocked Michael McNeely and his wife as delegates to next month’s county convention despite there being many open slots that went unfilled when the roster was completed.  The precinct Chairman, Jack Gamel, said it was because McNeely had run and won the position of First Vice Chairman of the Douglas party two years ago against Gamel’s friend.

The petty attempt to settle a score has had much larger implications since McNeely is a candidate for the First Vice Chairman’s position for the Georgia GOP, and currently holds the title of Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council.  Just days after National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus was in Atlanta to discuss minority outreach with local GOP leaders, a state party precinct Chairman blocked the man in charge of minority outreach for the GAGOP from attending the Douglas County convention on a 3-2 vote.

Three white voters overrode two African American voters to exclude McNeely over pettiness.  It is an embarrassment for the party and the state, and calls the question of whether this process for electing delegates to conventions is even relevant in this era.

The GOP has clearly had problems articulating a coherent and consistent message over many of the last election cycles.  Unforced errors by those attempting to hold their grip on local fiefdoms do not help the bigger cause.

Change is coming to the electoral landscape here in Georgia.  The Georgia GOP must figure out how to change with it.  If it does not, there will be many local leaders who will be continuing to cling to their grip on power long while Republicans descend into minority party status.


  1. MsFredrickDouglass says:

    The Mckneely issue is unfortunate but is being blown out of proportion by people falling over themselves to call other republicans racist. The fact is the rules were followed and all Mckneely had to do was recruit people 2 more people in his precinct to support him and this isn’t an issue. But his ability to recruit and mobilize republicans of any color is abysmal. He is great at high fiving everyone around him but his record speaks for itself.

    It’s funny how this site is quick to list his black title but not his appointed position by the Governor. Or how a school resource officer got appointed to Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Justice. Live by the good ole boy rules and you can’t get mad when they come back to bite you.

    • debbie0040 says:

      @MSFrederickdouglas, to start with, I doubt you are either African American or a female as your monicker implies.

      I won’t call Jack Gamel a racist and have not called him that. In my opinion, he is a petty, angry, egostistical, self-centered jerk and I do hope he is finished as far as GOP politics. Now, how’s that?

    • eschristian says:

      WOW – seriously? Technically you may be correct that rules were utilized correctly and McNeely could have “recruited 2 more people” but do you seriously think he thought that was necessary? Do you think he thought some petty little tyrant with a grudge would try and block him and his wife from the county convention?

      Just because rules were not broken, does not make this ethical, does not make it right and makes this little tyrant look like an angry fool. And what did this Gamel guy achieve? What came about from his actions? Other than the controversy – did it make him feel vindicated and a score settled that he “got back” the guy who beat his person back at the last convention (fair and square from what I have heard)? Was it really worth it? This is where judgement comes in to play – apparently this guy lacked it or let his personal agenda cloud it during their precinct caucus.

      For example, if a person gets sap on their car from a tree, that the person chose to park under and decides to take a baseball bat and beat the tree up until it suffers enough damage it will result in death of the tree. Has this person used good judgement? Were any laws broken? Probably not. Was it ethical? No, as the tree that was doing nothing more than being a tree will die from the actions of this fool. Under your theory above – the tree should have held its sap because a car was parked under it and deserved to be beaten to death with a baseball bat. Do you now see how unnecessary and silly the actions by this guy Gamel was now?

  2. Three Jack says:

    “The GOP has clearly had problems articulating a coherent and consistent message over many of the last election cycles.”

    The message has been both coherent and consistent — stay away unless you are willing to conform to a rigid ideological agenda first conceived in an era of segregation against women and minorities. In other words, kiss the ring of the oldest white guy you see at any GOP gathering.

  3. seenbetrdayz says:

    So now we have a party that doesn’t give two cents what the grassroots thinks (democrats) and a party that wants to maintain the illusion that they are all for grassroots (republicans).

    “Sorry, you don’t have enough points. Come back when you’re as old and grey and almost dead as the rest of us.”

  4. kzh says:

    I would like to point out that they are actually called “precinct mass meetings.” Sorry for being pedantic.

  5. debbie0040 says:

    This should effect the Rockdale and Newton County Mass Precinct meeting that excluded some people attending the mass precinct meeting from being a delegate to the county convention because of a point system. Hopefully, they will contact those that attended and add them as delegates. It would also be a good idea for people affected by this not to wait to be contacted and to contact the Georgia GOP.–McNelly-headed-to-GOP-convention-in-spite-of-controversy

    McNeely, the First Vice Chair of the Douglas County GOP, was initially denied a spot at the convention after GOP Board Member Jack Gamel’s effort to keep McNeely from being one of the 15 delegates to the county convention from the Mirror Lake precinct succeeded by a 3-2 vote.

    Blood said Everhart told him the only reason to have a vote on precinct delegates would be if there are more people seeking delegate status than members present. Only five members were present, so Blood said the vote was invalid.

    • Vicki says:

      As I posted on another thread:

      This doesn’t make any sense.

      What was done to the McNeelys was ethically wrong.

      But it was procedurally correct. When a precinct meets at a PMM, it’s like its own little mini-convention. Majority rules, and if a majority wants to keep someone from becoming a delegate, whether it’s for petty political reasons or whatever, they CAN do that.

      But now this story says, “Douglas County GOP Chair Bert Blood said he spoke with Georgia Republican Party Chair Sue Everhart Monday morning and confirmed that the vote at Saturday’s precinct meeting to keep McNeely out of the convention was invalid… Everhart told him the only reason to have a vote on precinct delegates would be if there are more people seeking delegate status than members present. Only five members were present, so Blood said the vote was invalid.”

      Sue’s reasoning is logical, but the rules are clear: even if there are only 5 members present, 3 of those members can keep 2 of those members from being elected as delegates, even if there ARE fewer people seeking delegate status than slots available.

      Like I said, what was done to the McNeelys was petty and wrong. But it was valid under the rules. (Under those same rules, by the way, the McNeelys could still be voted in as delegates to the District & State Conventions, even if they aren’t delegates to the County Convention themselves. THAT is how this should be resolved — NOT by Sue Everhart pulling decisions out of her rear end that violate the rules themselves.)

      And by the way, if Sue Everhart now gets to willy-nilly declare PMM votes to be invalid and to just declare that people are hereby anointed as delegates, will she be tipping her scepter in the direction of all the folks who were denied delegate status under this BLATANT violation of the rules “point system”?

      • drjay says:

        i have not read the call or the rules in a couple of years–are they “clear” on this? or is there ambiguity and wiggle room open for interpretation?

        • Vicki says:

          As you know, Dr. Jay, even when the rules are “clear” on something, the folks who get to do the “interpreting” will make it say whatever the heck they want it to say. We’ve certainly seen THAT time and time again.

        • georgiaconservative33 says:

          It is not clear, other than Robert’s Rules of Order takes precedence. A majority vote carries under Robert’s, except for changing adopted Rules.

  6. eschristian says:

    Apparently, 4th District Chair Mike Seigle condones the behavior of breaking of rules/call in the 4th District, as well as the state laws that were broken during the MPM at 2 of the 4 counties contained within our district.

    I have had good conversations with him recently (prior to the MPM) but today I was told that, “There is a process for appealing if you think the county rules were not fallowed. Name calling and threats wins no friends or favors.”

    First of all – I am sure some are looking into the appeals process but I have never threatened anyone or called any names. What you have seen from my dialogue on the matter on here and other threads is the same thing I’ve said in private. The only threat that could be perceived was to “power” that some perceive that they have, all because they hold an office within the party! Yes, I said that unethical people, who break GA GOP rules/Call & state laws should be removed from office. We are the party of Honest Abe – perhaps we should act like it!

    • There is a process for appeal of this. First, it needs to be carried to the credentials committee for the County Convention. If things are not satisfactory after that, they need to be carried to the County Committee or other appeals process laid out in the County Bylaws. If things are still not satisfactory, they would need to be carried to the District level, IF your county is not split into two congressional districts. If it is split or if there is still not a satisfactory resolution, then it can be appealed to the GAGOP/State Committee.

      Bypassing these steps could mean rejection by the higher level. Appeals have been set aside because they did not follow the correct channel. The County has the right to try and rectify this itself before the District or State steps in, which is the way it should be. The County party needs to understand that they are possibly at jeopardy of losing their District and/or State delegates and alternates. Also, since this happened at the precinct level, there is a chance that officers that are elected at the County Convention may not be duly elected and another Convention may have to be held if things are not clarified and an appeal is upheld.

      • debbie0040 says:

        The appeals process should be followed. Who knows, maye the Newton County GOP will remedy the situation without the need for appeal to the district level. I sent Elizabeth the GA GOP rules that lists the appeals process for both county and district

        • Thank you. I just wanted to clarify things, as we are often asked “Why aren’t you doing anything?” It is good for people to understand that there is a process and that we respect that process. While I do not like the situation that happened at all, it needs to go through the proper channels.

  7. debbie0040 says:

    Number one, It was the State Call that was not followed, county rules were followed but the state call should have been followed. This is not going away and I will be happy to assist in getting this resolved. The entire Newton County mass precinct meeting needs to be challenged and in court if necessary.

    • Three Jack says:

      Out of curiosity, say you are successful in challenging Newton County and there is a call for a do-over. How would this benefit the GA GOP? Also, how would this do anything to help elect fiscally conservative candidates?

      • Three Jack says:

        Let me add that I think what Newton County did was really dumb and likely broke rules, but in the end, will it actually mean anything?

      • debbie0040 says:

        @Three Jack, if Newton County GOP is allowed to get away with violating the state call, then the next Mass Precinct meeting cycle other counties will follow and people will be excluded. The county parties can help attract fiscally conservative candidates.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      Says the “man” who posts comments like this:

      Of course, no such things will happen. The blacks and Mexicans will continue to support their new masters and keep them in the seat of power.

      People like you are the reason the party will not grow.

        • Lea Thrace says:

          Do you not see that you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth??? On one post, you denigrate minorities as some sort of group of mindless voters who give no thought to how they vote and on the other you propose that the GOP should be trying to woo those same minorities.

          Did I lie in any thing I said? I simply quoted you and how you contradicted yourself. This is part of the GOP’s problem with women and other minorities. Claiming one thing while doing the opposite is always going to be a turn off to people no matter what the subject matter.

          Get a clue “sir.”

          • Harry says:

            Please don’t take me out of context. On the other thread I was simply making a point that blacks, Mexicans (and others) are having a false and short-term sense of security if they think they can continue to game the system, grab benefits from Uncle Sugar and not seek economic reality. They need to develop good work habits, seek honest work, and get off the dole. “The only solution is the woodpath.” When the system goes down, we all go down. Meanwhile, the Democrat elites are trying to push class warfare pitting the welfare class against the middle class, meanwhile they are in DC/NY and trying to protect their own perks and seek to buy off enough votes to maintain a bare majority and stay in power. It cannot stand – people will not be controlled in that manner for long. All will suffer in the end. Don’t tell me you don’t see this.

            • Lea Thrace says:

              Ah. So you’re saying that blacks and Mexicans contribute nothing to society, dont work, and are just on the government dole.

              Sorry I misunderstood your point.


              Everyone else: This is the kind of thing that will keep shrinking the GOP. People like Harry just dont get it.

              • Harry says:

                Quit putting words in my mouth. Where did I say that blacks and Mexicans contribute nothing to society, dont work, and are just on the government dole?

                • Harry says:

                  You’re the one who doesn’t get it. Your approach to dealing with the status quo will only make things worse.

                • Lea Thrace says:

                  “the other thread I was simply making a point that blacks, Mexicans (and others) are having a false and short-term sense of security if they think they can continue to game the system, grab benefits from Uncle Sugar and not seek economic reality. They need to develop good work habits, seek honest “work, and get off the dole.”

                  Direct quote Harry. DIRECT QUOTE FROM YOUR COMMENT. HOW AM I LYING???

                  • Harry says:

                    I didn’t say that blacks and Mexicans contribute nothing to society, certainly not the greater majority of them, did I? The tone of my comments is meant to be that of an old man’s admonishment given with love. All improvement in this life has to start within oneself, and sooner or later the chance is gone.

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