How the Beaufort County Republican Party's endorsements were made
Publisher's note: Often, I hear unqualified complaints, from many people, that both political parties are just alike; one ineloquent description, "two separate wings of the same bird," asserts what some, who are not familiar with the obvious, understand about the intricacies of the two parties.
Obviously, they are not familiar with Charles Hickman's leadership of the Beaufort County Republican Party, and their new found dedication to a clarion vision of their political path.
My compliments to the Beaufort County Republican party for being a group of people, a movement, mindful of Republican core values. I embrace their change and I thank them for daring to be different, and stand for what brought me to the Republican Party back in 1991.
Lately, the Beaufort County Republican Party Executive Committee, which I chair, has been either commended or crucified by other Republican activists. Contrary to the belief of many, I do not think we are saints or sinners in this regard. We are simply struggling to find our way at this time in our history.
This is the fourth county executive committee I have served on. Each committee has had its own strengths and weaknesses. There are several first time members on this committee. One unique trait of this group is that they are outstanding at lending their diverse gifts and talents in the form of productive work. Also, this committee has dared to discuss party differences and has been willing to explore and act on those differences. This is something other committees were reluctant to do, and I believe we have suffered for it over time. Instead of dealing with party issues that were best served by our county committee, we let these issues fester. Previously our leadership has pretended all was well and unified between episodes of lobbing hand grenades over to other party factions. Too many times these attacks were ill timed and proved harmful to our own efforts during general elections.
Our open dialogue led us to the incorporation of a process: We have debated and formally stated our local principles and values. (Our local emphases are all based on our state and national Republican Platforms.); this exercise made it easier to know who we are and what we are charged to do, because we have incorporated our principles in all we do. This action culminated in the endorsement of our party slate from the top of the ticket down. Some of the endorsements were easy and necessary. We favored the Republican candidate in all the national and state level races, of course. It became more difficult in local races, particularly the county commission races which are under the constraints of Limited Voting and the realities of the Voting Rights Act on our part of the country. It is here that much has been said about our actions: some true, some false. Now, I must disclose that not one of our very vocal critics has bothered to call me and ask for clarification on any of this. Consequently, many untrue statements have been and are continuing to be made. This is disappointing to me, because I have worked on previous committees with many of the critics.
Would I personally have done things exactly like we did? No. But, I would have preferred that several executive committees ago we incrementally and formally expressed our concerns about a divided and squandered Republican majority on the Beaufort County Commission. We did not provide that leadership then. So, I am OK with this process and the direction we are going because we are long overdue in dealing honestly with the different factions of the Party. Some have vehemently criticized our endorsements in the county commission races. I'll attempt to explain our endorsement process.
We did not endorse out of the wild blue yonder or under someone's hypnotic spell. These are the steps:
1. We began with debate and eventual agreement on a set of principles we expect Republican office holders to adhere to.
2. We disseminated those principles/values to the candidates and solicited comments. (At this point any candidate could have objected and argued for them to be changed.)
3. We then invited each local candidate to submit his positions on these principles/values.
4. Local Republican Commission candidates (the only race where there was contention.) were invited to meet with the committee to explain their positions and to answer any questions we might have.
5. After this phase of the process our committee studied and debated voting records, where applicable, and campaign positions. (No candidate was a part of these deliberations.)
6. We factored in our interactions with the candidates.
7. We voted on endorsements. (No candidate was there for the vote.)
Let me be clear at this point. We studied each candidate individually and voted on each candidate individually. Theoretically, we could have endorsed three candidates rather than two. We could have even endorsed all four. Two candidates chose not to participate in writing or in person with our Republican Committee. I honestly do not know if it would have changed the endorsements or not. I do know there were initially some committee advocates for all four of the candidates at some point in the process. This committee endorsed two.
It must be stated that the four Republican Commission Candidates and their handlers do not necessarily have the same goals as the Beaufort County Republican Party Executive Committee; the individual candidate committees want to get their candidate elected, and the County Executive Committee wants its slate to win more positions than the Democrats. The Executive Committee must at least hold its present two seats and hopes to create a scenario where three are elected. Four wins would be great, but in an eight person Limited Voting race that would be like winning the lottery and knocking a Grizzly Bear out with one punch on the same day!
To our critics, I sincerely believe that if we are to be a viable movement we must be able to handle disagreements and different opinions on candidates, especially when Republicans compete against one another in primaries or Limited Voting races. We should welcome and embrace our differences; we should not castigate each other for our differences. It is not reasonable to expect a person not to select candidates they will support over competing candidates. There are a lot of people who perceive that the thing driving the disagreement with endorsements is personalities. That is regrettable because it muddies the real issue: Principles.
I believe the task of party leadership is to clearly define what being a "Republican" means and then communicate it over and over in order to teach it to the public. To do this we must thrash it out among ourselves with all factions participating. If our own committee doesn't know our own party positions then we are at a severe disadvantage in fulfilling our duty to the community. Then, when we know who we are we teach it to the public. We must be wary of and screen out candidates who do not demonstrate a commitment to Republican principles. Where applicable we must pick between the remaining candidates and identify the ones who most closely exhibit Republican principles.
This committee believes in and embraces our Republican Core Values:
1. Fiscal Responsibility
2. Improving Our Economy
3. Promoting Greater Individual Liberties
4. Reducing Government Regulations
5. Transparency In Government
6. Integrity In Government And Honest Elections
7. Traditional Family Values
8. Protecting The Second Amendment
We owe it to our children and to ourselves to take a principled stand. Previous generations have not, and the results of letting our government incrementally drift away from our founding principles are the sobering situations we face today in our nation, state and county. I challenge Beaufort County Republicans to stand up for and participate in those things that are bigger than us. We can't afford to fail.
Charles Hickman, Chairman
Beaufort County Republican Party