Two sets of candidates proposed for Republican convention
By Josh Bergeron
With one day left until the Rowan County Republican Party’s annual convention, the race for leadership positions is heating up.
Two slates of party leadership have been proposed. One was organized by a nominating committee that included State Rep. Harry Warren, R-77, Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, and Dr. Ada Fisher, a Republican Party National Committeewoman.
An alternative slate of candidates was posted Wednesday on the Rowan County Republican Party’s Facebook Page and later confirmed by Rowan resident Wes Rhinier, who’s on the alternative ticket for secretary.
The nominating committee’s slate is headed by Stephen Kidd for chairman. The alternate slate has Tom Speaks running for chairman.
The Rowan County Republican Party Convention will be 9 a.m. Saturday at the county’s administrative offices on West Innes Street. Anyone who plans to attend the convention must show up prior to 9 a.m. to register. The registration fee is $10. To vote in the elections, attendees must have been registered with the Rowan County Board of Elections as a Republican by Jan. 29.
Outgoing party Chairman John Leatherman appointed the nominating committee after deciding he wasn’t interested in seeking another term. In addition to Kidd for chairman, the committee’s proposed officer positions include Terry Osborne as vice-chairman, Daryl Cox as treasurer and Sandy Yon as secretary.
Elaine Hewitt, a former member of the Rowan County Board of Elections, is also on the formal slate as a member-at-large. In a statement, Hewitt said she resigned her Board of Elections seat this week to evaluate options for being involved in the 2016 elections.
Warren has repeatedly touted the qualifications of the candidates selected by the nominating committee and said he’d vote for the group he helped select. Leatherman also said he favored the group of candidates selected by the nominating committee.
“As you can see by the list, we’ve got one of the greatest, strongest slate ever,” Warren said. “These are some of the best possible candidates we could have hoped for.”
Both of the top two positions selected by the nominating committee have previous experience as chairman of the Rowan Republican Party. Kidd served as the party’s chairman from 2005 to 2009. Osborne was the party’s chair from 1992 to 1994 and also served previously as the chairman for the 12th Congressional District.
The alternative group of candidates wasn’t selected by any one person, Rhinier said. Instead, he said, the selection process was a “group effort.”
“The main reason is the slate that they are presenting does not represent the conservative part of the Republican Party, and also they are trying to eliminate anyone who has served on the executive board for the last two years,” he said in an email.
The top positions on the alternative slate, in addition to Speaks, are Jim Sides as treasurer and Rhinier as secretary. The alternative slate doesn’t include a vice-chairman.
Speaks is a local business owner. Sides was the previous chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Rhinier is currently on the Rowan Party’s executive committee.
Joe Coladarci, who ran in 2014 for county commissioner, is on the alternative ticket as a member at large.
Rhinier said the race is essentially conservatives, which he considers to be the slate he’s included on, versus “RINOs” — or Republicans in name only.
Warren said it’s not unusual for Republicans other than the nominating committee’s slate of candidates to seek a party position. County convention attendees can also be nominated from the floor on Saturday.
The candidates elected could also be a mix of both slates, depending on the vote count on Saturday.
Other at-large candidates of the nominating committee’s group include Arnold Beaver, Rick Hudson, Larry Jones, Tom Lynch, Susan Morris, Chris O’Guinn, Don Vick, Nancy Vick and Tony Yon.
The alternative group’s other at-large nominees include John Bare, Mike Bebber, Randy Klocke, Larry Jones, Sharon Mendoza, Steve Poteat, Linda Speaks, Lisa Todd and Chris Whitman.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246
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