10 March 2019

[MB McCart] - Recap of the Newton GOP County Convention

*3/11/19; 4:30 PM - updated w/ a correction: in the "Scott Jay Slate referenced in the piece, J.Thorton should have read: "H.Thoerner." It has been added. Our apologies. 

Cobbled Consensus of Disaffected Delegates Fails; Current Party Leadership Retains Control Amidst Huge Turnout

It was a mild, pleasant Saturday morning when I arrived at Academy Springs Park & I could tell almost immediately that there was going to be a big crowd in attendance for the Newton County Republican Party's County Convention. And this was the big one, which happens every other year, where in addition to voting for delegates to the Congressional District conventions & the GA GOP Convention, the Executive Committee of the county party was also to be voted on.

Against better judgement I actually went in to the parking lot though I saw cars everywhere, it even looked like the American Legion Hall's parking was full, but I got lucky & found the last open spot.

At approx 9:45 I was standing in front of the Lions Club building, where the convention was being held, talking to an assorted cast of characters, when an issue arose. With me. I'd previously reached out to the county party about getting press credentials but they weren't doing that since any guests or spectators were welcome; however, these "guests" had to pay a $10 convention fee & I was made aware I'd have to pay that.

I didn't pay the fee. But it got worked out.

The convention was gaveled into session promptly at 10AM by the party Chair, Scott Jay. He announced several candidates & elected officials that were present including Josh McKelvey, Covington Councilman, and Ken Malcolm, candidate for Sheriff of Newton Co.

There was a hold-up with the Credentials Committee, apparently owed to in part because of a new system being used by the state party. After a 10 minute recess, the committee's Chair, Ms. Leesha Jay, announced a voting body of 70 persons.

Around this time is when the floor leaders of the "Green Badges," the aforementioned disaffected party members, first had issues. Apparently they were under the impression that they'd be able to utilize proxy voting at the convention.

So once that was settled, the convention was actually able to really start. Josh McKelvey was voted as Convention Chair & he appointed Sid Haggard as his Parliamentarian; John Southerland was voted as Convention Secretary.

Then, as it always is in any County, Congressional District, State Convention, or really any assembled body, it was time to vote on the Convention Rules. This always tells you the real numbers, and - as I explained to a few folks once everything was said & done - it's all about the numbers. Either you have them, or you don't.

After some confusion as the procedure & a feeble attempt at enacting a roll call vote, the assembled body voted - by standing count - 40 votes to 25 in favor of adopting the rules as presented by the county party to be the Standing Rules of the convention. The 40, by and large, included the current party leadership & several of the party regulars; the 25 was mostly made up of the Green Badges, Song Alliance, --CRAZY SAMMY HAY-- & the Smith/Fleming contingency.

And there it was - the numbers. Either you have them or you don't.

It was all just a formality after that. The Executive Committee of the "Scott Jay" slate (Jay, K.Brooks,J.Thorton H.Thoerner, M.Maner,D.Thompson,J.Southerland) passed by a vote of 39 to 29.

After that vote, and with a tip of the hat to a very solid showing of the Green Badges, Convention Chair Josh McKelvey stressed that the party needed EVERYONE in that room moving forward. "We need more members," McKelvey said, "We need more energy."

The Councilman did a fine job!

There was another recess as the nominating committee needed time to sort out the delegates for the State & District conventions. It was during this time that some of the candidates for office spoke. Ken Malcom talking about his upcoming BBQ Fundraiser on March 28th which will be at the Lions Club & Academy Spring Park. Clay Ivey also spoke & James "Tim" Walden, the guitar pickin' Preacherman, whipped the crowd into an almost Church-like frenzy. I mean, he really did well!

Malcom's BBQ Fundraiser will be on March 28th at the Lions Club at Academy Springs

Back in session, the party seemed to really try to come together & coalesce as several party regulars - including ole AB - gave up their delegate spots to folks like Carla Ferry & others, so that they could have more of a say at the State & District level. It was a classy move.

And then the kicker was the closing speech by Mr. Sid Haggard. Well...I'll put it to you this way: after hearing that wise man give that speech, it almost made me wish I was still a dues-paying member of the NCRP. Almost...

It was a great day, I thought. Everything was done in accordance to GRP & NCRP bylaws, the Convention Rules, and Robert's Rules of Order. This was a clean convention. All aboveboard, though I understand the Green Badges will be appealing it because, after all, this is Newton County.

Thanks for reading.

- MB McCart