I’m in San Francisco this weekend through next week, so enjoy this week’s GAGOP Round-up.
Last Saturday heralded the beginning to the Georgia Republican Party convention cycle with Precinct Mass Meetings in the counties with over 80K populations. Most counties met and elected delegates to their respective conventions without any problems (thanks to Floyd County Republicans for allowing me to attend their mass meetings). Unfortunately, there were a few personality conflicts that festered into larger problems. Most notably was Douglas County, but there were other counties such as Newton and Rockdale Counties. I had a couple of letters passed on to me regarding these issues:
To whom it may concern:
On Feb. 9 at 10:00AM I attended my Newton County GOP precinct meeting. This was my first Newton GOP event, though I have worked in the past for Georgia GOP in other counties. My fiancee, Andy Pierson, and I were very excited to become members in of the Newton GOP after our poor showing in the most recent elections.
Upon arriving at the meeting, we each signed a statement saying in effect that we believe in the principles of the Republican Party and paid $10 to caucus with our neighbors. We met some wonderful people, however I was disappointed when the time came to caucus for delegates and alternates. As it turned out, the leadership of the party had already pre-selected who was eligible and who was not eligible to be delegates/alternates. Instead of holding any kind of discussion or vote, we were told which delegates and alternates were being chosen according to a points-based system.
My fiancee and I questioned this, as we were worried those stipulations might leave some Newton seats empty. Let me make clear that I do not wish to steal seats from those who want them, but I feel it impractical and unwise to leave seats empty simply because some members do not have the full 30 points. We want the loudest voice possible for Republicans of Newton! Therefore I challenged the legality of this points-based system.
The county chairwoman instructed us that these rules were in the Newton GOP bylaws. She then stated that Andy and I could be delegates in two years if we keep coming to all their events and support their candidates. I politely responded, “but I’m here and willing now.” Please know it was not my intention, but this comment basically erupted the rest of the floor, turning into about a fifteen-minute debate. The chairwoman and another man then proceeded to shut down the debate despite the protests of many in the crowd.
Afterward, they handed out forms to those few who were specially chosen to be delegates, while the rest of us were left to twiddle our thumbs. I never got an answer to the question of whether or not we were leaving some seats empty. The majority of members were left without a say as to who would be our alternates and delegates. The response of those members to this alarming situation was mixed.
If I had to guess, the room was split about 50-50 as to whether or not “newcomers” should be allowed as delegates. I have to state that the logic behind this practice escapes me. With our membership dwindling, principles under attack, and funds slacking off; why would we turn away those who are willing to lead in our county? Why would we do anything to discourage those who want to fight for our Constitution?
More importantly, does it conflict with state rules for the Newton GOP bylaws (link here) to exclude registered voters from becoming delegates or alternates?
Needless to say, I am very curious and invested in how we can immediately remedy this situation. My fiancee and I would love to be alternates, if not delegates, but we need someone to give us a chance! Thank you so much for your time and diligence in this most important matter. As we work to restore our Republic, I know you will agree that we need as many voices as possible in the fight.
For liberty,Jessica Wright
Marshall,For what it’s worth, here is my story with one caveat: One could say that I was not wronged because I was eligible to be an alternate and [an individual] said at the time that the alternates probably would be seated at the county convention. Thus, I have no grounds for complaint. However, my complaint is based on the severe unfairness of the process. I’ve been a victim of railroad jobs before, but, I’ve never seen anything quite like this.I live in Alcovy Precinct which was authorized to have thirty delegates and thirty alternates go to the county convention. We had about 12-15 present at the caucus, so I assumed everyone who wanted to be a delegate plus anyone who was not present (e.g. my wife was in Mississippi) could be named to the empty spots. But, we were told that the county party last May had instituted a “point” system under which people were awarded certain points for various forms of participation, e.g. attendance at meetings. (This is ironic in my case because I am a paraplegic and the meeting room is not accessible.) Each precinct was given a list of people who were “authorized” to be a delegate or an alternate based on whether they had accumulated the required number of points. In our precinct there were about five names on the delegate list and about 6-8 on the alternate list. It was further explained that the list was exclusive, meaning that just those on the delegate list could be delegates and just those on the alternate list could be alternates. No one else could be added, even if the precinct had more slots to fill. Thus, there were several young people who showed up for the first time who were told that they were ineligible to be a delegate or alternate because they didn’t have enough points.I have been involved in GOP politics for over forty years (my first county convention was in 1968 in DeKalb County). I have never seen anything like this before. When it was pointed out to the leadership that this was patently unfair, undemocratic, and very short-sighted (assuming someone wants to grow the party) the response was that “it’s in the by-laws” and that’s the way it’s going to be.I am troubled by the fact that a number of party leaders and elected officials sat back and acquiesced in this obvious move to prevent any challenge to local party officialdom. Their silence during the discussion is very disquieting.
On February 9, 2013 I announced that I am running for the position of Second Vice Chairman of the Georgia GOP. I did this in Cobb, Cherokee and Bartow counties. By the time I got home, it was clear that others had pressing concerns about the precinct mass meeting process, especially in Douglas, Rockdale and Newton counties. I decided to wait a little while and see what happened. I have seen statements and clarifications of statements from individuals and groups.
Let me be the first to state that I do not know 100% of the details. What I can say is that the GOP should be true to its own rules, platform, and philosophies. When I say rules, I mean Roberts Rules of Order, party rules, the state call, and O.C.G. A… I know that rules should not be written or set aside for specific individuals. They should be written to keep our party working as best as possible and to ensure a fair outcome. If the process needs to be changed, I am open to that, but right now we have what we have.
As Republicans, we believe in local control. We believe that government closest to the people governs best. Just because we may not agree with an outcome of an election, that doesn’t mean we can demand a new election without cause. Convention politics can be a little crazy at times, but those with the most votes usually win, but I will state that the rules have to be followed. We want more people to join our conservative cause and we should be open to their voice, but that is my opinion and not the rules.
In Douglas County, 3 people outvoted 2 people. It may not have been nice, but as far as I can tell, the rules were followed. If we respect local control and the rules were followed, then we shouldn’t worry too much about the outcome.
In Rockdale and Newton counties, there is a different situation at hand. These county parties implemented a point system and put it in their rules. Because of a rule, people attending a precinct mass meeting were told that they didn’t have enough points to be a delegate or alternate to the county party convention. County nominating committees can come up with a point system to make recommendations to the county convention about who should best represent the county, but it is up to the county convention to accept or reject their recommendation. We should not have a rule in place to disenfranchise new attendees. What would be next? Unless they know the secret handshake or are wearing the right color shirt, they can’t try to make our party better? A mass meeting can decide not send people as delegates, which is allowed under the rules. Stating that they have to have extra qualifications not in the call and have that decided before anyone arrives is contrary to the call, in my opinion.
If President Bush moved to one of these counties, would he meet the point system standard? Allowing people to debate and sway opinion is one of the pillars of the political process. We should not be afraid of new voices, but if we are and if we have reason to be, we should bring more people than they do.
If people from any of these three counties are bothered by the result, there is an appeals process in place. I would think that any of these three county parties could hear an appeal and with enough notice, hold a hearing and if they chose to do so, hold a second set of mass meetings on March 9. If they did that, they put their delegations in jeopardy of not being seated. However, their delegations are already suspect by some. The State GOP credentials committee can make a recommendation to the state convention. Personally, I think it would be proper in Newton and Rockdale. Let’s follow the rules.
I am not telling anyone what to do. I just see a problem and am offering a suggestion on how to solve it quickly.
A couple of stumbles out of the gate, but I believe we’ll recover and regain our pace.
If you have anything for the GAGOP round-up, feel free to email me.