A lot of you have had questions about all of the hoopla surrounding this weekend’s upcoming Republican county conventions and caucuses. I want to give you the FACTS. There seems to be a lot of misinformation circulating and a lack of understanding of the process. These are held to elect the local GOP’s Executive Committee members and to elect delegates to the state convention. Here it is as simply as I can put it.
First of all, each voting precinct within the county will have a caucus on Saturday, April 23 at 10:00am promptly. You have to be signed in or on the premises at 10:00am or you do not get to participate. There should be a temporary precinct captain on site with the official colored sheets (one is the official sign in sheet and the other is the official results sheet). If no temporary precinct captain is there, these colored sheets should be taped to the door of your voting precinct. If you are concerned that these sheets will not be available at your precinct or know that in the past they haven’t been available at the precinct, by all means get the sheets from the local GOP and take them with you. At your local voting precinct, one delegate and one alternate delegate will be elected to go to the county convention later that same day at 3:00pm. Anyone interested in being a delegate is welcome to attend and bring people with them to support them as a delegate. We do not register by party in this state, so all registered voters can attend.
After the delegates and alternates have been chosen, they will attend the county convention at 3:00pm that afternoon at the county’s courthouse. The first order of business will be for the delegates to elect a 15 member DeSoto County Republican Executive Committee. There seems to be some uncertainty about the duties of this committee. The executive committee is responsible for all of the elections in the county. It is not a paying job, and it is a lot of work. DeSoto, for example, has 40 voting precincts which requires finding poll workers and poll managers for all of those. They handle the voting machines, paperwork, training, etc. to make all of the elections happen. There is a lot to the job during election times. At other times of the year, there isn’t really anything to do. It is not a powerful committee but rather a work committee, and quite frankly, I don’t envy the job they do.
Next, the precinct delegates will elect 16 delegates from DeSoto to go to the state convention in May (maybe more or less for another county depending on how many the county is allotted). The state convention is May 13-14 and has costs such as hotel rooms, food, registration fee, gas, etc. You do NOT have to be a delegate to attend the state convention. The precinct delegates that become state delegates have the following responsibilities: elect the state Republican committee and leadership and elect the delegates to the national convention. No one votes for their chosen presidential candidate. The governor will have a slate of people prepared for the state Republican committee and leadership as well as delegates to the national convention. These are his recommendations. Certainly, the governor hopes that the state delegates will support his choices. There has been a lot of talk about the state delegates voting down the governor’s choices. Let me say this before proceeding.
The national convention costs anywhere from $5,000-$8,000+ and lasts for a week. Anyone chosen as a national delegate has to be able to afford to go and be willing to go for a week roughly and on the specific convention dates in July. The money and time factors make it hard for most people to attend, so when choosing delegates, one must take into consideration who has the time and money to go. It is too important of an event to choose just any person, because the majority can’t afford to go and/or don’t have the time to go. The second critical aspect of this process is making sure the remaining candidates have their earned delegates and fair representation at the national convention. It is common practice for the governor and state party chairman to work with the campaigns in hopes of selecting delegates that fairly represent the outcome of the election and the candidates. Here again, you do NOT have to be a national delegate to attend the national convention. Anyone can attend.
Back to the state delegates and convention. It is possible for the state delegates to vote against the governor’s recommendations, and if this is done, the state convention would likely be extended. Before a person decides to vote down the governor’s slate of national delegates, a state delegate would have to know who Governor Bryant has recommended and who his choices supported in the presidential primary if the concern is fair candidate representation at the national convention. There would have to be a massive, united effort to do this with all campaigns and parties agreeing on the new selections. Considering the tension between the candidates and their campaigns as well as the Republican Party and other parties, this would be difficult to do with little planning, and there is no guarantee that any of the candidates would have ‘fair’ representation at the national convention. Anything is possible though. I completely understand people being upset about this process, not understanding the process and not agreeing with the process, but efforts would have to be made to change it. Unfortunately, right now, we have what we have.
There are some people in all groups and on all sides that have their own personal agendas. The People must not get caught up in those individuals’ agendas and must remain true to their candidate and the best way to ensure this process is fair with great representation for the Republican Party. Long after the delegates have been chosen, we will need Republican leadership that will be committed to doing the work of the Republican Party and leadership that welcomes ALL interested individuals. Electing local executive committee members and the state leadership and committee is equally as important in all of this process.
In regards to the local precinct delegates, you do NOT have to be elected as a precinct delegate or alternate delegate to be elected to the local Republican Party Executive Committee or as a state delegate. All you need to do is show up at the courthouse prior to 3:00pm on Saturday and let the chosen precinct delegates know that you are interested in being on the executive committee or a state delegate. Oftentimes, it is difficult finding people that want to take on these responsibilities, so the interest in helping is most welcome!
I hope this gives some clarity to tomorrow’s county convention and the upcoming state and national conventions.