The GA GOP Convention was held in Augusta on 6/3/17 to elect a GA GOP Chairman and other party officers. Alex Johnson (Dunwoody) was the reform candidate again this year and won 48% of the final vote. Alex ran in 2013 and got 40% and again in 2015 and got 45%. His opponents had been veteran establishment candidates, but this year they were younger establishment types. The establishment prefers unquestioning acceptance of all GA GOP actions and prefers a “top-down” approach. Alex and the reformers prefer a more “bottom-up” party that invites more regular voters into the process.
The vote was reported by Insider Advantage: “Watson wins GA GOP Chair By Baker Owens | June 3rd, 2017 After three rounds of voting veteran GOP strategist John Watson edged out Alex Johnson to be elected as the state's Republican Party chairman. Watson pulled out the victory by the narrow margin of 741 to 679. The second round of voting was between Johnson at 498, Michael McNeely with 449, and Watson at 547. A relatively close round that sent Johnson and Watson to a decisive third. It seemed that a majority of McNeely supporters went to Watson amid a rapidly thinning number of voters as the convention dragged on late in the day”. - Insider Advantage
The Convention was a little better run than in past years and actually used a ballot process to elect the Chairman, but delays in counting ballots and scheduling speeches by elected officials again delayed the voting process until after 3pm. That gave us until about 6pm to complete the voting.
Convention registration was required to close at 10am, but the actual convention didn’t start until 2pm. That gave delegates until 6pm to finish. There were 1578 delegates registered at the beginning, but as the speeches and voting drug on, the delegate count shrank to 1420, by the time we voted for the Chairman slot.
Convention rules require that the doors are locked during voting. But the convention doesn’t follow an agenda, so that delegates know when voting is occurring. Consequently, many delegates are locked out.
The convention uses the arcane Roberts Rules of Order that allows questions from the floor. If the speeches don’t drive delegates out, the rules haggling is sure to increase delegate attrition. After the Chairman vote, was announced, the rules were suspended to save time and we voted for the 1st Vice Chair by standing up for a headcount.
This convention needed to start at 10am and begin with party officer speeches and ballot voting. The marked ballots need to be visually checked and counted by machine to speed up the process and then confirmed with a manual count. Speeches by elected officials should be scheduled after the voting has been completed, but many delegates would leave after the voting is finished and wouldn’t stay around for the elected official’s speeches. These are essentially “Establishment speeches” aimed at encouraging unity.
The convention process is frustrating. The rules would have delegates sitting in their chairs from 2pm to 6pm, waiting to vote. Many of us don’t do that. We only go into the convention hall for the voting.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader