Beaufort County, Two Republican Parties | Eastern North Carolina Now | Another railroad job. The split continues.

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By:  The Observer Editorial Team

One would think, with the November elections rapidly approaching, the liberal and conservative factions within the Beaufort County Republican Party would be drawing closer together in order to win as many offices as possible.  Not so.  Recent events are driving the wedge deeper. 

It started at the June Executive Committee meeting when the Super executive Committee, announced they wanted to give approximately thirteen thousand dollars (all of the available cash on hand) to judicial candidates running for the State Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court.  The conservative faction immediately objected saying that money was donated by most of the contributors who expected it to be used on the county level.. If they wanted it to be used on the State level they would have sent their donations to the State Republican Party or directly to the judicial candidate(s).

The Super Executive committee was started by former Senator Bill Cook during his Chairmanship of the County Party.  It consists of the Chairman, the Vice Chairmen, the Secretary and the Treasurer.  They supposedly meet and decide important things.  Sometimes they bring it to the Executive Committee and sometimes they don’t.  For example, during the 2020 elections, the Executive Committee supported John Rebholz while the  Beaufort County Republican Party machinery and worked against Tandy Dunn.  They did not support Hood Richardson for re-election as reported to him by many people who visited the Republican Party campaign headquarters..

Lately, because of criticism from this news outlet, the Super Executive Committee has become more sensitive about bringing issues to the full Executive Committee.  However, they were surprised when the Executive Committee failed to rubber stamp their recommendation. 

Of special importance to the conservative Republicans is their recent work in finding three candidates for the four School Board seats to be filled in the November elections.  The teaching of Critical Race Theory, the removal of religion from the schools and the exposure of all students to a wide range of sexual philosophies has alarmed parents and the public in general. 

As a result of objections raised at this meeting, it was decided to appoint a committee to determine what to do with these campaign funds.  The committee was chaired by Steve Rader , who led the debate against sending the money out of the County.  The recommendation was that persons who had been elected to office serve on the committee rather than inexperienced new residents to Beaufort County. Other members (not all members) were Charles Hickman, John Rebholz, Steve Carawan, Adam O’Neal, Bobby Roberson, and Paul Varcoe.  

The committee met the week before the Executive Committee meeting and decided to put $4,000 into the School Board Race, $5,000 into a combination advertising of the Statewide Judges along with the Sheriff, and 5,000 dollars into a targeted, get out the vote campaign.

In attendance, and uninvited by the Executive Committee, was Representative Keith Kidwell (a native of New Jersey).  Kidwell made a pitch to give almost all of the money to the Judges.  That argument went nowhere.

Then came the July Executive Committee meeting on the12th.  The room was full of people, many of whom were recent arrivals to Beaufort County.  Consequently, they have no clue about local politics. Time came to hear from the Special Committee.  The chairman, Carolyn Garris, announced that this was to be a closed session and all non-executive committee members had to leave.  Commissioner, Hood Richardson, was told he had to leave.  He objected stating that in his capacity as an elected Republican official the rules made him an ex officio member of the Executive Committee with the right to stay and debate issues.  Carolyn Garris Chairman of the Executive Committee told him that, when he resigned as a voting member he also forfeited his ex-officio status. 

Richardson and several other members of the recommending committee were asked to leave. Richardson had no choice but to leave.  About ten people went outside and the door to the building was locked.  It is insulting to ask someone to serve on a committee and then refuse to allow them to be present when the recommendation is presented.  It is a gross insult to Richardson, a 26-year elected official to eject him from any Republican meeting.  This behavior shows the corrupt intent of the so-called movers and shakers on the Executive Committee.  It also shines a light on the political ethics of the Chairman, Carolyn Garris.  This provides more evidence of not trusting duly elected Republicans.

The result was that with six dissenting votes it was decided to contribute $6,500 to the Supreme Court Candidates, $5,200 to the Court of appeals candidates, $1600 to the Sheriff’s candidate, 300 dollars to Donald Shreve Candidate for District 8, School Board and $300 dollars to Charles Hickman, Candidate for District 2 School Board. The proposal was presented on a colored brochure by Paul Varcoe.

Do you hear the whistle of the railroad running through Beaufort County?

The bottom line is that the Beaufort County Republican Party is not supporting conservative Beaufort County Republican candidates.  The Beaufort County Conservative Republican Club, along with Adam O’Neal, worked hard to recruit conservative candidates.  The all for one and one for all attitude of the very liberal school Board and their relationship with Democrats is a serious problem in providing educated graduates.  Conservative Republicans are working hard to fix the Frankie Waters and John Rebholz relationship with Democrats on the Board of County Commissioners.  Both Rebholz and Waters were in the room when the money needed to support local conservative candidates was stripped away and sent to Raleigh.

If you believe in conservative principles, please do not give money to the Republican Party.  Find conservative Republican candidates and give it directly to them or donate to the Beaufort County Conservative Republican PAC.

Should Beaufort County's Commissioners fund more projects, while adding to the county government work force, or, should these servants to the People work to cut wasteful spending, and give the taxpayers of Beaufort County a break on taxes, possibly starting a new purpose for their existence?
  Yes, please spend more; so much needs to be done in Beaufort County, and we need more government employees doing it.
  No, please work to be frugal; more mindful that this is the public's money, and return to taxpayers what is not absolutely needed.
  Why should I pay attention to stuff?
488 total vote(s)     What's your Opinion?

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( August 9th, 2022 @ 10:11 am )
Giving money to candidates who share a contributors major concerns is the best way to go, but there is some need to give to a party to run its headquarters, participate in local events, and run local advertising. I have done both but much more of direct personal contributions to candidates. If I see that a party organization is only going to be a pass through to write checks to candidates, then I will keep my money. I would rather be the one to decide which candidates get my money than someone like this Varcoe guy. I do not and would not give money to a party for that. When I go to the State Fair, I always try to give the NCGOP some money at their booth because I think having the booth is a good thing and it costs money to do it.

Who are the good candidates to send money to this year? In North Carolina, far and away the most important is Ted Budd who will be a strong voice against illegal immigration and will cancel out the completely awful Thom Tillis. Sandy Smith is also a good one as her race is likely to be close and the differences on immigration issues are night and day.

Farther afield, Kari Lake for governor of Arizona is a top choice and so is Kelly Tshibaka for US Senate in Alaska. Kelly is very strong on immigration issues and is leading Murkowski, who is very bad on immigration issues in the polls.
( August 8th, 2022 @ 6:50 am )
I have always preferred giving money directly to the candidates I supported instead of to the party. All the Washington and Raleigh party committees are establishment swamps and I would never in a million years send money there. I had thought that the local party committees were probably okay until I read the material here. I also learned I need to even research the campaigns I give to. When a bad consultant is spending the campaign funds of a good candidate, it is probably better to look at sending my money to a different good candidate.

There are some conservative PACs I have learned to trust, especially the Senate Conservatives Fund, but I look at their endorsements and then use their site to direct contributions to the candidates who most appeal to me.
( August 7th, 2022 @ 8:34 pm )
Donald, I support your candidacy and think you will make a great school board member. In looking at the most effective and efficient use of party funds to elect the Republican ticket, we looked at the big picture for the entire ticket, and in a non-presidential year encouraging the Republican base to turn out and vote is the most important goal in electing the entire ticket. The right mix of issues are the right key to do that.

From what has happened in elections around the country, and Virginia is a good example, school issues are red hot, so a focus on them helps not only our school board candidates but also the whole Republican ticket. It helps turn out those base voters for everybody on the ticket while giving our school board candidates a lot of bang for the buck.

Of course, the program also focused on other issues that the polls show as very hot with voters like crime, which resonates particularly on the judicial races and sheriffs race, and Bidenflation which helps the federal candidates. All of these by pulling out more GOP base voters help the whole ticket.

Maybe Mr. Varcoe thought we were spending more than he wanted on school issues, but those are the very issues in Virginia that elected a Republican governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and legislative majority. They resonate strongly for school board candidates but give a huge push for the entire ticket.

It is unfortunate that the Varcoe plan has put much of our local party financial resources into the hands of the very establishment consultant whose strategic blunders in the 2016 reelection campaign of Justice Bob Edmunds cost us our Supreme Court majority in the first place. The failings of this very same establishment consultant also played a major role in the GOP losing another Supreme Court seat two years before in 2014.

This election campaign is far from over, and those of us who want to see Republican victory are going to keep pushing for effective and efficient use of party resources going forward.
( July 28th, 2022 @ 9:30 pm )
Wow, this is just so really hard to believe. Our judicial candidates seem to be good conservatives, not RINOs, but spending the local party money this way does not seem to make much sense.
( July 28th, 2022 @ 5:05 pm )
Well the one thing I would disagree with on Mr. Rader's comment is the part where he feels that giving money to the Candidate would not be helpful. I respectfully disagree, Voters need to hear directly from the Candidate. They want to know their positions and stands on certain issues and how they might govern or decide on policies. This takes direct correspondence to the voters and this takes money. For example, Mailings to thousands of potential voters, rack cards or business cards, postage, yard signs, all of which can be very costly depending on the size of a particular district. In addition, I certainly feel betrayed by our local Republican Party sending the majority of local money for local Candidates out of our County. The disparity of the local GOP proposed disbursement of funding support by the Executive Committee for our local Candidates for the Fall Election, especially for School Board, was very revealing on just how unimportant these seats are to them. How does this appear to our local Citizens who give to our party thinking that their contributions will stay here in Beaufort County. Again, I am quite disappointed that our own Republican Party felt our Board of Education race was so unimportant !! Donald W.Shreve
( July 28th, 2022 @ 9:56 am )
The rejection of the plan put forward by a committee of local Republican leaders and activists with strategic campaign experience on utilization of local party resources was a big disappointment to those of us who recognize the importance of turning out the Republican base in a critical off year election. In non-presidential election years, it is the party that does the best job in turning out its base that wins.

While we have many Republican voters who vote each and every election, Beaufort County also has thousands of voters who are dependably Republican IF they go to vote, but who have a history of regularly voting in presidential years while being hit or miss in non-presidential years like this one. Every county in the state faces the same situation. Motivating these voters to go to the polls should be the first duty of any county Republican organization. That is done by identifying the issues that will drive them to the polls and then engaging with local voters on those issues. Those issues can usually be woven in with the candidates in races that the party wants to target. This was the approach taken by the committee's proposal.

Beaufort County has a very recent lesson on how party advertising to turn out the vote is more critical to actually winning campaigns than just passing out checks to candidates. In the 2021 municipal elections, three registered Republicans were running in contested races. The local party sent checks to two of them, who were running in races that by the numbers were the most winnable. Both of those candidates ended up losing. In the third race, which was demographically much tougher, the party did a get out the vote mailing to Republican voters. In that race, the candidate the party supported won. That candidate himself says it was that letter that put him over the top, a view shared by other observers of that race. In that race, too, there were members of the county GOP executive committee who just wanted to send him a check, but if they had prevailed, he would have lost.

In statewide races, failures of local parties to properly use their resources can cause losses of close races. The narrow loss of a state Supreme Court seat in 2014, for example, could have been saved if the local party in Cabarrus County had not screwed up. There were likely scenarios in other counties as well, but that is one that got particular attention in the aftermath of that race. Cabarrus County alone could have changed the outcome of that race to a Republican victory.

Polling and political experience both point to the issues that can make a difference in turning out our base. School issues have been on fire across the country. In last year's elections in Virginia, they were the main driver of bringing out Republicans who do not usually vote in off years and electing a Republican governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state House majority (the Senate was not up for election). Promoting our Republican school board candidates here in Beaufort County would not only help those candidates win, but also bring out more base Republican voters to help the ticket up and down the ballot, as it did in Virginia.

There are other potent issues shown by polling that could also help bring out those base Republican voters to help win the critical races for US Senate and state Supreme Court. Winning a Senate majority is essential to stopping the Biden disaster, and our state Supreme Court's hard left majority needs badly to be changed. Turning out our Republican base on a county by county basis is what is going to accomplish those things.

The court races are ones that are best won by promoting a Republican judicial team than by a piecemeal approach candidate by candidate. That is why the state GOP in 2020 set up a Judicial Campaign Fund and why the local Congressional district GOP in 2020 ran radio advertising promoting the entire GOP judicial ticket as a team. That is a more effective and efficient way of deploying resources, and it worked. All of the Republican judicial candidates won in 2020. That was the approach that the local party campaign committee proposed for using our resources this year, but instead they were scattered, candidate by candidate, which is much less likely to actually get the job done.

When it comes to judicial races, another huge factor is the ability to use issues that drive votes. Due to very strict judicial "ethics" the judicial candidates themselves are hamstrung in the issues they are allowed to use in campaigning. Party committees, however, are not so bound, and CAN use those issues. For example, one of the Democrat state Supreme Court candidates has been a director of a North Carolina gun control organization, the North Carolinians against Gun Violence. The GOP judicial candidates themselves cannot use that as an issue, but the party CAN, and it would be a potent one in eastern North Carolina.

Frittering away so much of our resources in less effective or efficient ways is distressing, but there are still opportunities to try to use resources on getting out our base vote. A half century experience in politics has taught me that this is what will make or break us in November. I have already begun discussions to try to get some more productive use of the resources we still have. This election is far too critical to the future of our country to just give up. Indeed, if we are not successful in this election, there is an open question as to how long we would even still have a country that we would recognize.

There is one part of the above article, I take particular issue with and that is the comments on Rep. Keith Kidwell. The Kidwells are not johnny-come-latelies. Keith himself has long been active in the party, and is currently a member of the county executive committee where he does not have to be "invited". One of his parents was a very active and very conservative member of the Beaufort County Republican executive committee during the four years I served as county Republican chairman back in the 1980s. In the issue of use of party resources, Keith made contacts with the state party to assure that we could get access to the state party's ultra-cheap mail rates so we could most efficiently carry out the committee proposal.

Turning out our base vote, and using our resources effectively to do that is something all Republican activists should be concerned about. We have to engage with local voters on issues that matter to them in order to do that.
( July 27th, 2022 @ 3:23 pm )
I was there dissenting by vote (one of the six to do so) and argument, but, yes, it was a "railroad job" as described in this honest report of how the current Beaufort County Republican Party operates to the exclusion of how honorable Conservatives would consistently act.

Here in Beaufort County, one must well understand that real Conservatives are too often in short supply when needed, accordingly, consider this incongruent absurdity: When the local GOP meeting report is given regarding county government business, the GOP chairman requests that information from Nominal Republican (an inarguable fact) Frankie Waters, a commissioner who actively caucuses with, and is infamously known as the lead sell-out to the Center /Left Coalition; those controlling members of this bipartisan caucus being the only two Democratic Socialists on the 7 member board of county commissioners.

For this Beaufort County GOP, in regards to the so-called "Republican" majority on the Beaufort County Commission, the necessary "Bipartisanship" to keep wasteful spending intact, lack of proper oversight, and sloppy policy, while supporting the complete Biden Agenda is all the rage. In this regard, it does appear, by their actions or obvious inaction, the Super Executive Committee of this local GOP is fully complicit with all that is decisively wrong in local governing.

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