Leatherman not interested in another term as party chairman

Published 12:10 am Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Rowan County Republican Party will likely have its third chairman in as many terms.

Current Rowan Republican Chairman John Leatherman on Wednesday said he isn’t interested in seeking the position for an additional term. March marks the end of a single, two-year term for Leatherman, who succeeded current Rowan Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds in 2013.

The Rowan County Republican Party will have a convention in March and elect a new chairman as well as several other positions.

Leatherman said his reason for leaving is simply to bring in someone new. Being chairman wasn’t something he wanted to do anymore, he said.

“I came in at kind of a traumatic time and tried to fulfill the role,” he said. “Now, I believe in bringing in someone new.”

With his announcement not to seek another term as chairman, Leatherman said he picked a nominating committee that consists of Republican National Committeewoman Dr. Ada Fisher, State Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, and State Rep. Harry Warren, R-77.

Leatherman said the diversity of the committee would be a beneficial factor in choosing a new chairman. As an example, he said Ford lives in southern Rowan, Warren lives in northern Rowan and Fisher represents the Republican party on a national level.

When asked about the process for picking a new chairman, Warren compared it to hiring an employee for a business.

“It’s got to be someone who has qualifications to move the organization in the direction that it needs to grow and someone with organizational skills,” he said.

As the chairman of a political party, Warren said the final choice would also need to be able to raise money.

The committee won’t be the final group to select a chairman, but present candidates that Fisher, Ford and Warren believe are qualified for open positions.

“We’ll present a slate of candidates, but we’ll certainly accept nominations from the floor,” Warren said.

It can be difficult, Fisher said, to get the most qualified people to accept political positions, especially when they aren’t paid, take frequent criticism from the public and have to give up their own time.

“Trying to find good people to run is a challenge probably to both parties,” Fisher said. “Part of the nominating committee’s job is to find people who believe in the party, support the party and want to help get Republican candidates elected.”

Leatherman’s tenure as Rowan County Republican Party chairman began in 2013. Most recently, he led the party during an election that saw the Rowan County County Board of Commissioners, once again, become entirely Republican. The Republican Party also picked up two seats on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board. The race was non-partisan, but two Republican Party-backed candidates unseated candidates supported by the local Democratic party.

In the 2014 election cycle, The Rowan County Republican Party also spent $24,616, which was several times more than the local Democratic Party.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246