Local GOP conducts annual convention

James HowellStaff

March 17, 2013

During the 2013 Ashe County Republican Convention on Saturday, March 16, long-time party chair John Wheeler stepped down and was replaced by new chair Mary Desautels.

During his farewell speech, Wheeler urged the party to redefine its image and return to its roots of protecting the rights of the people from the government.

“The libertarian wing is the swing-voter wing of the Republican Party,” said Wheeler. “The Republican Party is going to have to make peace with itself.”

“If the Republican Party doesn’t change, we will be replaced by a new party just like how our party replaced the Whigs,” said Wheeler.

The new Republican Party Chair Mary Desautels made similar remarks at the meeting. Among other things, she said the Republican Party needs to oppose entitlement spending, but also said the less-fortunate should be assisted by private funding like charities and church donations.

“We’re not saying we don’t want to fund these programs,” said Desautels. “But we understand the difference in function between family, churches and government.”

Several of Ashe County’s district representatives also attended the convention, including Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and Jonathan Jordan, the District 93 House representative.

“There’s a thing going around saying we could have ended Obamacare. That’s not true,” said Foxx. “We have voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare already. We’re doing everything we can to repeal Obamacare.”

Foxx also said the party should focus on smaller goals rather than a “perfect deal,” where the Republican Party gets everything it wants. She said the party should fight for every yard.

“I’m a receiver on a football team, and I see I can’t get a touchdown, so do I just sit down or give the ball to the other team? Any football player would go as far as they could go,” said Foxx.

Jordan also gave an update about some of the state’s legislative accomplishments in 2012.

Jordan reminded the audience about the controversial decision to turn down Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, and also said he introduced a bill for scholarship grants for disabled children.

In addition, Jordan thanked Ashe County for the support in the 2012 election.

“This is a swing district,” said Jordan. “Watauga is a tough county; I lost by about 1,000. But you gave me a 2,100 vote margin in this county, and I thank you very much for that.”

According to Jordan, his 2012 opponent Cullie Tarleton closed out is campaign account, signaling is withdrawal from the political ring. After the 2012 election, Tarleton said 60 percent of Ashe County voted straight-ticket for the Republican Party, a margin too much for any Democratic candidate to overcome.

During Saturday’s meeting, it was revealed that, aside from the Jefferson District, the every other precinct in Ashe County had more registered Republicans than Democrats. Four precincts had more Republicans than Democrats and unaffiliated voters combined.

After the keynote speakers finished their presentations, the Ashe County Republican Party supported the following resolutions:

• The North Carolina State Legislature firmly resist and refuse any and all new calls for a Constitutional Convention for any reason whatsoever, or by any other method or variant whatsoever including the so-called “Compact for America Initiate.”

• The North Carolina legislators move to nullify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub. Law 11 – 152) also known as Obamacare.

• The North Carolina legislators move to initiate legislation that would require all voters in North Carolina to display a North Carolina issued photo ID card as a requirement for voting.

• That the Ashe County Republican Party joins with the RNC to endorse rejection of the policies and strategies of the United Nations Agenda 21 at the local, state and national level and the rejection of any ICLEI grant monies attached to it.

• We strongly oppose any attempts to put our local law enforcement under any form of federal control or merging with any federal agencies.

• The Ashe County Republican Party urges U.S. congresswoman Viginia Foxx to uphold the U.S. Constitution and, once again, sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 75, known as “The American Restoration Act.”

The Ashe County Republican Party also submitted the following names for positions within the party for 2013.

• Party positions included chairman, Mary Desautels; vice chairman, Carl Witherspoon; secretary, Phyllis Critcher; treasurer, Karen Nieto.

• At large members included Jack Moncrief, Lee McMillan, Tom Pope, Delores Miller, Lonnie Gabbard, Ed McClearen and Fred Duncan.

• Board positions for Ashe County included Ed McClearen for the board of elections, Pam Bailey for the library board, Pam Barlow for the community college board, and Claudia MacDonald from the department of social services board.

• Glen Hentschel was recommended as the 5th district delegate candidate.