The reelection of a congressman, the election of a governor and the growth of the South Carolina Republican Party was the news its chairman brought local Republicans Friday evening.
“We’re growing leaps and bounds,” State Party Chairman Karen Floyd told the Union County Republican Party Convention held Friday at the Union County Courthouse. Floyd pointed out that attendance at the county convention had doubled since the previous one two years ago.
In addition to the growth of party membership, Floyd said the GOP had managed election victories others thought impossible. One of those was the reelection of Congressman Joe Wilson who yelled, “You lie,” at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress in 2009. Another was the election of Nikki Haley as governor.
“They said we would never re-elect Congressman Wilson,” Floyd remarked. “Guess what. We did it.”
“After we got the call about the governor in 2009, they said we (Republicans) would never be able to elect a governor,” she added. “We did it!”
Floyd, who is not seeking reelection as party chairman, was praised for her achievements by Union County Republican Party Chairman Mike Fowler.
“If you’re going to go out on top, I don’t know how much more ‘on top’ you could get,” Fowler said.
Three candidates to succeed Floyd as state party chairman — Bill Connor, Chad Connelly and Stephen Brown — also spoke at the convention. The first to speak was Brown, who has practiced law in Greenville since 1985.
“I will work to take this Republican Party and make it the conservative party,” Brown said. “I was tea party before there was a tea party.”
Following Brown was Connor, a Citadel graduate, who told the convention he is a born-again Christian, which heavily affects his everyday life. He also said he would not tolerate political mudslinging from his party if elected.
“There are a lot of things we can do as a party,” Connor said. “The first thing is the structure and decentralization. I believe in powering down.”
Connor also said he believes the primary system would have to be changed.
“Right now we are stacking the deck against outsider candidates,” he said.
The third and final candidate to speak was Clemson graduate and South Carolina Army National Guard veteran Connelly. Connelly, who is currently the chairman of the Newberry County Republican Party, challenged the GOP.
“Are we who we say we are, standing for the platform and the conservative values that we’ve put forth, or is our platform just a piece of paper that’s meaningless and empty?” Connelly asked. “I believe I have the skill set, the leadership, the experience and the courage to stand up for our values; to hold our candidates and elected officials accountable to those values; and to lead our party back to the conservative foundational roots that have helped our party lead our nation.”
Fowler also announced that US Fourth District Rep. Trey Gowdy was not going to be able to attend the county convention.
“Unfortunately — for Obama — Trey decided to stay in Washington and get this thing (the U.S. federal budget) hammered out,” Fowler said.
Freddie Gault — Union County Republican Party Treasurer and friend of Gowdy — read a letter from the congressman.
“God willing, I can come before you at the next convention and tell you what we have cut, what we have eliminated, what we have reformed and that we are making the walk back toward the limited government our forefathers envisioned,” Gowdy stated in the letter.
The convention concluded with the election of the following officers for the Union County GOP: Mike Fowler — Chairman, Dale Robinson — Executive Committeeman, Tyler Shugart — First Vice Chairman, Brad Weaver — Second Vice Chairman, Randy English — Third Vice Chairman, Freddie Gault — Treasurer and Greg Weaver — Secretary. Fourteen delegates and two alternates were also elected to represent the county at next month’s State Republican Convention.