Embroiled Haywood GOP factions to settle the score at Saturday’s convention
A long-awaited showdown in the internal power struggle for control of the Haywood County Republican Party will play out this Saturday during the party’s annual convention.
A tug of war over the direction of the party has been brewing for more than two years. A faction of conservative activists has gradually gained a foothold in the Haywood GOP, prompting mainstream Republicans to abandon ship in the face of constant strife and bickering that derails monthly meetings.
The separate factions have an equal number of supporters on the party’s governing committee, but the upcoming convention will be a turning point in the deadlock.
There’s three critical votes going down at the convention that will determine which camp will lead the party for the next two years:
• The election of executive officers: Both sides are mum on who they will nominate from their camp for the four primary leadership roles on the party’s governing committee.
• The election of precinct leaders: These folks typically play the part of grassroots organizers in each of county’s 29 voting precincts. But in the Haywood GOP, precinct chairs are voting members of the governing committee, giving them sway in party affairs. Any Republican who shows up to the convention can vote in the precinct election of their respective precinct. With 29 precincts in play, a chess-like numbers game is in the works as both camps try to stack the votes.
• A bylaws vote on whether precinct chairs should remain voting members of the party’s governing committee: Under state GOP bylaws, precinct chairs don’t have voting power on the governing committee. But they do in Haywood, thanks to a bylaw change at the convention two years ago that empowered precinct chairs. In hindsight, that change was a concerted strategy by the activist faction to take over the party’s leadership.
Whether precinct chairs keep voting status on the governing committee could be one of the most critical votes of the day. It will determine whether members of the activist faction keep their seats at the table.
“We must all be ready to come to the Haywood County Republican Convention to fight for the right of our precinct chairs to continue to be voting members of the Haywood County Republican Party Executive Committee!” according to an email and online remark by Eddie Cabe, member of the activist faction.
The importance of showing up is one point the mainstream camp and activist faction agree on.
“It is important for all concerned Republicans to set aside time Saturday morning to attend,” according to Haywood GOP Chair Pat Carr, who is in the mainstream camp. Those who attend will “help shape the Republican Party in Haywood County,” Carr wrote in a press release.
The convention will be held Saturday, March 14, at the Canton Armory, starting at 8:30 a.m. The election of precinct officers will be at 9:15 a.m. The other votes will happen at 10:45 a.m. There will also be speeches from elected Republican leaders in the region in between.