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Rowan County Republican Party’s annual convention goes digital

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Though different than meeting in person at the Rowan County Administration Building, the local Republican Party hosted its annual convention via teleconference on Saturday morning, nominating Dr. Ada Fisher to represent District 13 in the 2020 Republican National Convention to be held in Charlotte this summer.

N.C. GOP Chairman Michael Whatley noted that Rowan’s meeting was the 26th convention held in the state so far, hosted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the coronavirus. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home order for the state, which bans meetings or gatherings of 10 or more people.

Within the upcoming week, Whatley said, an online ballot for delegates will be made available. And as all future district meetings are still on, delegates and alternates will be elected at those meetings. The state GOP Convention, however, has been rescheduled for June 4-7.

He also acknowledged that North Carolina is “still one of the four states for (President Donald) Trump to win if he wants to be re-elected.” He also said North Carolina has the top Senate race in the U.S., with incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., facing a challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham. Additionally, Republicans are working to unseat Cooper, a Democrat, and replace him with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

A number of elected officials in the county and those running for statewide positions spoke to the convention attendees about efforts to win re-election and beat Democratic incumbents this election cycle.

Republican challenger for N.C. Secretary of State E.C. Sykes said the state needs a business leader in that role to oversee the economic operations of the state, crediting his record of being a four-time executive in the business world. Sykes is hoping to unseat Elaine F. Marshall, who has held the position since 1997.

Others noted the fluidity of adjusting to campaigning during this time Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, noted that the government-mandated, partial shutdown prompted some DMVs to close, which causes problems for dealers who need vehicle titles and tags. Ford said he has sent a letter to Cooper to look into the DMV shutdown as well as helping local restaurants during this time.

Sykes also noted that an “invisible enemy” was attacking the community, forcing leaders during this time to “trade freedom for our health.”

Ford also said he is looking into the governor’s powers during a state of emergency, particularly because Cooper is “showing how overreach” happens. Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, echoed those sentiments and said he would be joining senators, noting that the governor powers were originally intended to get through natural disasters.

Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, also spoke about his support for the $2 trillion coronavirus relief stimulus package signed into law by Trump on Saturday. Budd noted his and other Republicans’ efforts to “keep most of the liberal wishlist” out of the bill, acknowledging that it was “not as good as it could have been” but was a good form of relief nonetheless.

Marshall Bickett, judge for District Court 19C, also spoke briefly as he’s running unopposed.

Other business discussed at the convention included an announcement of a Rowan County Republican scholarship, which is still in the works, but could be available in the near future.

In his closing remarks, county Republican Party vice-chairman Brian Brady said “we’re going to come out of this better,” referring to the impact of the coronavirus on the community. He also said Chairman Don Vick will assume the full chairmanship in May.

Brady said the key for the state will be judicial races and upholding conservative values.

“We’re going to be in the spotlight, and it’s going to take all of us, including those who aren’t on this call,” he said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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