This past Saturday the Mecklenburg Republican Party held their annual convention at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. While most of us were mowing the lawn or hitting the grocery store or doing those Saturday things, the Party Faithful gathered to affirm, energize and debate the issues of the day.

Or at least that’s how it was supposed to work. Instead what happened was a stunning slap-down by the state party. After three hours of speeches essentially saying the same thing, the convention began the business session. Rules Committee Chairman Warren Cooksey proposed the following change:

Resolutions considered by the Convention shall be in one of the following categories:

i) Resolutions in memory of Republican activists in Mecklenburg County or honoring a particular achievement or achievements of Republicans in Mecklenburg County; or
ii) Resolutions recommending that the State Convention adopt specific resolutions, platform planks, or amendments to the State Plan of Organization.

In other words, the Mecklenburg Republican Party will no longer pass resolutions taking a stand on an issue… any issue… like, ummm, toll lanes. Instead they must go hat-in-hand to Raleigh in the hopes that the NC GOP will deem their issue worthy.

Last year, you may recall, the Meck GOP unanimously adopted an anti-toll resolution. Later in the year the NC GOP Convention debated a similar resolution, but House Speaker Thom Tillis scuttled a vote by walking out. This year, in the words of one party apparatchik, “the GOP didn’t want to have any embarrassing issues back in Raleigh.” Apparently, opposing a plan that costs the taxpayer millions, gives away our public right-of-way, and allows a private company to profit from 50 years of congestion misery constitutes an embarrassment for the state Republican Party.

The official spin was that a representative with a district covering more than one county might get conflicting directives. Of course, this would necessitate the representative getting out and talking to constituents. The GOP leadership solved that “problem” by essentially telling representatives they now take orders from Raleigh.

Not surprisingly the party establishment- led by Thom Tillis- voted in favor of the resolution. We do not have an official count, but we’re told the vote was “close.”

Eighty nine delegates registered this year, down significantly from 164 last year. We’re told this is typical for an off-cycle election with no local elections. But one has to wonder… with North Carolina’s Senate race garnering national attention and Tillis’ seat in the NC House up for grabs, shouldn’t there a be a little more enthusiasm?

Perhaps giving up a Saturday just to be told what to think is a waste of time… even for party die-hards.

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