Is a 'Coup DeVille' Coming For The Local GOP Leadership ?
Rarely do I have much interesting to talk about when it comes to the local GOP doings, and I don't often break news, so this blog post may be one of my most serious and important ones ever. There is something nasty going on in the days leading to the March 14th Florence County Republican Convention...A coup appears to be in the works.
Here is what I can tell you from my experience. I joined a group called Pee Dee Republicans on Facebook this month. It sounded great, because the local party has not taken advantage of things like the internet and other media outlets to organize and get it's message out. At the last local meeting, we decided to release the phone bank list to get as many people to attend as possible. So far, we're all good here. Then it gets strange...
I got that followup call to attend the convention from someone who obviously didn't know who I was. To review it, I am the last Florence County GOP Vice -Chair, I am the current 6th Congressional Dsitrict Vice-Chair, and I'm a two time candidate for County and Federal offices. Yeah, I'll be at the convention lady, and I'll be leading... The call was odd, because they repeated kept askign me to come and support my county councilman, Ken Ard. Ken is not my councilman, he represents the Pamplico area, and he is not running for anything, so what was this call about? I soon found out.
While I haven't spoken directly to anyone involved, there appears to be a serious fracture in the local party. While this is okay in some counties where they are the overwhelming majority party, in Florence County, this is a fatl mistake, and it needs to be stopped before it starts.
For those of you who don't have any idea of our local party, there are two factions: the organized party that does the legwork, and the financial arm that pays the bills and raises the cash. These two sides never connect.
From what I can tell, the money men were very ticked off at the party for City Council candidate Glynn Willis losing his bid last November. Word is that the local GOP didn't put signs up sufficiently enough for Willis, although Willis handled most of that on is own. As far I know, Willis had enough signs up , and as my Democratic buddy P-Luv will attest, Willis got caught in a once in a generation political buzzsaw known as Barack Obama. To give you an idea of how well Willis did, Ed Robinson and Billy D. Williams were elected with about 300 votes - Willis had over 1500. I spoke to Willis after the election, and he has no regrets, and he doesn't blame anyone for his loss. Such is the chance you take when you run for a city-wide council seat. Someday, he will be a councilman.
But Ard and his friends don't see it that way, because it appears there is a movement to oust Chariman Tommy Phillips, executive Committeperson Shelby Phillips and Treasurer Tommy Grimes. I once spoke to Ard in 2006 when I was running to join him on County Council, and he talked to me about having inherited a big wad of cash upon his father passing, and that he now had the ability to shape things politically as he saw fit. I took that as an offer to assist my campaign, but that didn't happen. This appears to be the opening salvo.
I have received calls from people inside the party, and other calls have supposedly been made that can affect other people's occupations. My first piece of advice concerning that is this: as a guy who HAS lost his job because of his involvement in politics, cut the shit out. None of this is worth it....
Now, while it may sound like I'm 100% standing behind the Phillips', and all I want to do is squash this coup, that isn't at all what I'm saying. I understand the frustration. I was Vice-Chair for a year or so, and I was never let inside the loop or given any responsibility whatsoever. I'm not pleased that all of the decisions for the Florence County GOP are made on the kitchen table at a house on Pineland Drive. The party is a collective of thousands of people, and those voices need a platform, and to be heard.
So, like most problems, each side is a little right, and a little wrong. So, before we all gather on the 14th and start getting ugly with each other, what do we do? First off, we need to get Ard and the Phillips' together and ask Ard what he wants. If he expects to smoothly show up with his friends and take over, that won't happen. We have an excellent opportunity here in Florence. With Barack Obama's election, the alarm has gone off to many Republicans here who have been asleep to get out and stop watching things happen. The LAST thing we need is infighting.
Now, Ard cannot run for Chairman or any position, since he holds public office. Therefore, if he is planning on overthrowing the Phillips', he must have someone in mind. What we need to know is 'Who did you have in mind?'. Now, the chance is pretty good that the person Ard has in mind is not qualified, or has any knowledge of who is in the party. Part of the fault is that person's , part of it is Tommy and Shelby's. They have given no opportunity to train an eventual replacement for both of them, and that is not good for the party.
So, what is the solution? I'll suggest one. The Vice-Chair position has been open since I vacated it last year. Let Ard make his suggestion, and let him/her learn the ropes and pay his dues as Vice-Chair under the Phillips'. They in turn will prepare him/her for the Chairmanship, get to know the other county leaders, and allow him/her involvement in the decisionmaking process. I have one suggestion - make sure the person is someone who has vision and a future, not old party deadwood that has an axe to grind with the Phillips'.
Now, I know, this compromise makes way too much sense for it to work. This is the Pee Dee, and we'd rather burn the whole house down and fight over the ashes than fix the fireplace. Maybe they'd rather duke it out and leave the whole party bloodied and battered. I'm sure Ard and his supporters see this as a necessary step, but they're wrong. The might disagree, but we need to avoid the Nuclear Option here - we need each other.