Lee County GOP elects leadership

Mar. 10, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-2nd Congressional District) spoke about minorities and budget discussions at Saturday’s Lee County Republican Convention, during which the local party elected its leaders and chose delegates to the district and state GOP conventions.

Charles Staley remains chairman of the local party, David Caplan is vice chairman, Kristie Garceau is treasurer and Mark Cronmiller is secretary. At-large officers are Frank Del Palazzo, Sally Porter, Donald Wiltshire, Ed Page and Frank Hayes.

Caplan is also president of the newly-minted Republican Men, which he said he hopes to grow to about 100 active members in the next year. Staley encouraged the 50 or so people in attendance to sign their friends up to vote Republican, saying there will be a party once the local GOP passes the 10,000-voter benchmark. As of Friday, according to the state Board of Elections, there were 9,936 registered Republicans in Lee County, compared to 16,144 Democrats, 97 Libertarians and 7,996 Unaffiliated voters.

Ellmers likewise used her speech to encourage growth, namely among ethnic minorities and women — groups that swung Democratic in last November’s general elections. She said it’s especially important for the party to attract moderate women who might otherwise vote for Hillary Clinton, whom many political observers have listed as the presumptive Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential election.“We’re going to change our tone and make sure (women) know the reason we’re fighting for them,” Ellmers, who leads the national Republican Women’s Policy Committee, said. Ellmers also encouraged local Republicans to reach out to black, Latino and Asian voters.

“They’re conservative individuals,” she said. “They believe in family; they believe in life. ... The reason they didn’t hear our message is they thought we didn’t care. But we can change that.”

The discussion on women and minorities, though, was just a tangent for Ellmers, who focused most of her speech on upcoming budget debates in Washington. She said she and several other Republican members of Congress will soon officially meet with President Barack Obama about the debt ceiling and other budgetary issues — although she said she didn’t expect the talks to be productive.

“I believe there is no negotiating in good faith with Barack Obama,” she told the audience, adding that she thinks the president’s only agenda is to destroy the Republican Party and put the country further into debt, whereas the GOP agenda, she said, is to balance the budget and create jobs. Comparing budget negotiations to a game of chess, Ellmers said she thinks a GOP checkmate is within reach.

“If we keep playing the game the way Barack Obama has played it so well, we will win,” she said.

Other news from the convention:

* A non-partisan town hall meeting about the Second Amendment, hosted by Del Palazzo, will feature Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Administrative Law Judge Beecher Gray, Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter and a representative from pro-gun lobby Grass Roots North Carolina. It will start at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Lee County Arts Center Auditorium at 507 N. Steele St.

* Local Sen. Ronald Rabin and local Rep. Mike Stone will hold a town hall-style meeting in Broadway in the near future.

* The first Republican Men meeting will be April 23, tentatively at noon, at the local GOP headquarters.