|Struggle for the helm of local GOP|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 05 July 2012 15:35|
A power struggle is underway inside the Republican Party of Baker County. For the first time in at least three decades there will be contested party precinct representatives on the ballot and two local men are squaring off for the post of state committeeman.
County manager and incumbent state committeeman C.J. Thompson is running against challenger Danny Norton, a retired trucking company owner who says in recent years he’s had more time to become an active member of the local party.
“I want to see the Republican Party grow and this is a good opportunity to help the party grow,” said Mr. Norton, 53, of Macclenny. “I’m retired. I have the time to do it, and I think I could do a good job.”
Under the bylaws of the Republican Party of Florida [RPOF], each county party can select one state committeeman and one state committeeman woman.
Their jobs are to serve as liaisons between the county-level Republican committee and the state-level committee, which votes on the officers of the state party’s governing board.
State committee members also serve as at-large members of the county party’s governing board and they elect the chairman of the Congressional District Committee, which votes on the state board.
“Over the past four years I have worked hard to establish relationships with our state elected officials, RPOF leadership and other county leaders from around the state,” said Mr. Thompson, 30, also of Macclenny. “Now it is time to leverage these relationships as we continue to move our party, our state and our county forward.”
In addition to deciding who will serve as the county party’s next state committeeman, members of the local Republican Party will also be selecting who will fill 13 contested precinct committeeman and committeewoman posts.
Each precinct, can elect one committeeman and one committeewoman for every 1000 registered voters in the precinct; so precincts with more registered voters may have more precinct committee members.
“They are responsible for getting out into their precinct and getting to know voters, energizing voters and getting out the vote,” explained Don Marshall, the chairman of the Republican Party of Baker County.
Precinct committee members also vote to elect the officers, including the chairman, of the county party’s governing board.
Three of the county’s nine precincts have contested precinct committeeman, committeewoman or both races that will appear on Republican primary ballots. The primary election is August 14.
Party members in the South Macclenny precinct will vote among four candidates (Kirk L. Gravelle, William “Bill” Krall, William L. Lowther, Jr., and William “Bill” J. Svagdis) to fill three committeeman posts and among six candidates (Doris W. Griffis, Phyllis A. Johnston, Susan Leger Krall, Theresa K. Lowther, Eva P. Redmon and Kathleen “Kate” Patricia Svagdis) to fill three committeewoman posts.
In the Macedonia precinct, four candidates, including Mr. Norton and sheriff candidate Cameron Coward, are vying for two committeeman spots. The other men are Michael A. Kindard and Thomas D. Rhoden. In the Macedonia committeewoman race, Carla Coward, Karen Dougherty, Michelle Eagle and Christine R. Norton are facing off for two positions as well.
Three committeeman will be selected to represent the Sanderson precinct. On the ballot for those jobs are five men: Joel D. Barber, Warren A. Butler, County Commissioner Michael Ray Crews, Gregory A. Sheppard and Michael Wilcox.
Supervisor of Elections Nita Crawford said she’s been with the elections office since 1979 and can’t recall ever having contested precinct committee candidates on the ballot. The last contest for state committee members occurred in 2004.
But Mr. Marshall, the local party chairman, says the high level of competition is not a sign of turmoil within the organization.
“It shows an increase in enthusiasm and the importance of this particular election,” said Mr. Marshall. “People want to be involved in what the party does and how it does it, and in order to have the vote, you have to be a committeeman or committeewoman. If you want to have say in what the party does locally, that’s the position you need to be in.”
When asked about heated arguments during recent party meetings, at least one that devolved into name calling between individuals running for positions within the county party, the chairman characterized them as “differences of opinion.”
“There’s definitely differences of opinion, and there always is,” he said. “Now we just have a lot more people active and involved.”
Mr. Marshall added that the disagreements do not stem from the influence of Tea Party members in recent years or new party members having conflict with established members.
“It’s not new guard versus old guard,” he said. “A lot of the new folks disagree with other new folks and a lot of the old folks disagree with other old folks. I don’t see it tied to any particular group. It’s the dynamic of any growing organization that everybody has differing opinions and thinks their way of doing it is the best.”
|Last Updated on Friday, 13 July 2012 15:57|