The Wayne County Republican Party elected new officers at its convention Saturday, working through substantial confusion which delayed the proceedings and frustrated attendees at times.
Wade Leatham was elected the new chairman of the county party, winning the vote over Ann Sullivan, who nominated herself on the committee floor after saying that God told her to run for the position.
The voting process did not go particularly smoothly. While the original intent was to vote on all five officer positions at once, chairman Brent Heath decided to have the delegates vote on the chairman position first after parliamentarian Billy Strickland advised him that the newly-elected chairman would typically be the one to oversee the other elections. As a result, the delegates had to fill out and then rip off the chairman sections of their ballots, to be counted before the other elections could continue.
When those votes were counted, there were a total of 52 votes entered. Only 47 delegates attended the convention. This nearly led to a re-vote, until Strickland clarified that, even with the extra five votes removed, Leatham would have the majority and still win.
The chairman vote was one of a string of confusing episodes scattered throughout the convention. After clerical issues delayed the credentials report, which was intended to be one of the first items on the agenda, Heath turned to the delegates for discussion while it was sorted out.
State Sen. Louis Pate took the opportunity to make a motion to postpone the vote until the next executive committee meeting, drawing protest from some in the room who wanted to get the process over with. Others supported the idea, noting the relatively low attendance and unfamiliarity with some candidates.
As would become a common theme, the convention became briefly disorganized while party officers tried to figure out if such a thing was even allowed under their rules. In the end, it came down to an executive decision by Heath, who ruled Pate's motion out of order and cleared the way for the election.
After Leatham was elected, the rest of the officer elections went by smoothly and quickly. Linda Harper was elected first vice chair, while Freeman Hardison Jr. took the second vice chair spot. Penny Jordan was elected secretary, and Pam Silver took up the treasurer position.
The more orderly moments of the convention came during speeches by Congressman David Rouzer and Glenn Pinckney.
Rouzer came to speak about what the Republican party is doing in Washington now that it has taken control of all three branches of government. He said that the primary concern for the House is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a bill for which he said should pass in the House by the end of March.
Once that is done, he said, Congress can move on to other big ticket items such as tax reform.
Rouzer said that getting rid of the ACA will take years, especially because House Democrats are unlikely to work with them. In order to pass a repeal bill, House Republicans will need to use a process called budget reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes instead of the usual 60. This keeps Republicans from needing to sway any Democrats, at the trade-off of not being able to fully get rid of the ACA.
Much of what happens after the House passes a bill will depend on the Senate, he said.
Pinckney, a conservative African-American pastor and author, spoke about why Republicans should reach out to other black voters, while condemning liberal ideologies as morally evil and portraying the struggle between conservatives and liberals as a literal war between God and the devil.
Pinckney said that anyone of the Christian faith should be a Republican, and that Republicans should focus on a biblical message when reaching out to black people.