A flurry of drama preceding the Guilford County Republican Convention this past weekend set the chattering class ticking with accusatory blog posts, ad hominem attacks and the snidest of anonymous comments.
The foofaraw centered on state GOP policy and the funeral service of one of the party’s stalwarts, Rich Brenner, who passed in Greensboro last week while emceeing an American Red Cross Salute to heroes event, one of the many civic causes he supported.
Brenner was on tap to deliver the keynote speech at the county convention on Saturday. Instead he was memorialized in a service that conflicted with the event’s starting time.
Guilford GOP Party Chairman Al Bouldin sent word through e-mail that registration for the convention would be pushed back two hours to accommodate the service for this longtime advocate of the party.
That was when community organizer Jodi Riddleberger of the group Conservatives for Guilford County shot out a reply reminding the chair that he was breaking state party rules by not giving 10 days notice for the time change. The state party eventually gave its blessing to the delay.
Republicans are relatively unpopular in Guilford, and if they want to win some elections, they need every single vote they can get.
It’s tempting here to call out the C4GC group for its divisive and petty tactics, to bust open the details of its attempted coup against the GC GOP that come straight from the tea party playbook, to scold both factions for allowing this situation to deteriorate as one of their own left this Earth.
Instead, we’ll drop some practical knowledge on the upstarts of the kind that Brenner himself was fond of dispensing.
Guilford County, founded by pacifist Quakers who called each other “friends” and helped slaves escape their masters, is a blue county and always has been. Even today, its politics can be described as “center left.” That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of people here who identify with Republican politics — there are. They are just in the minority. By a lot. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by almost two to one in Guilford; 162,698 to 94,896. In fact, there are almost as many registered independents — 72,199 — as there are Republicans.
This means that Republicans are relatively unpopular in Guilford, and if they want to win some elections, they need every single vote they can get — and even then they will never be the prevailing power. Republicans can gain influence — and votes — by luring independents and conservative democrats over to a center-right position, not by staking out the far-right ground and kicking everyone else out of the tent.
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