Saturday, May 29, 2021

Drama-free, low-turnout, Davidson County GOP Convention elects new officers by acclamation.

By Rod Williams, May 29, 2021 - A handful of Davidson County Republicans, numbering no more than 65 in a room designed to accommodate hundreds, gathered at the Maxwell House Hotel this morning to elect officers for the coming year. The disappointing turn-out may partially be attributed to this being the Memorial Day weekend.  People travel and have Memorial Day weekend plans.  A time-crunch resulted in the inopportune date of the convention. Normally the convention takes place in March.  Planning for the convention was difficult and the date was delayed because of the uncertainty of when the lockdown would end in Davidson County. 

This year the convention was a "mass convention." It was a single-meeting event and everyone who showed up got to vote.  In previous years, the process was a two-step process.  First, there was a county-wide caucus at which delegates to the convention were elected.  Then, there was a second meeting at which the delegates elected officers. Usually, this occurred on two consecutive Saturdays but sometimes the caucus would be in the morning and the convention in the afternoon.  This sort of process proved unnecessary. 

Each of Nashville's 35 council districts was entitled to some delegates.  Those districts with few Republican voters may only have been awarded three or four delegates, while those such as Donelson or Bellevue or, in the past, Antioch, where there are more Republican voters, may have been awarded two or three times that many. The problem with this system was that most of the time, there were fewer people attending the caucus than there were allocated slots for delegates.  Almost every person who attended the caucus also became a delegate.  This new streamlined process makes more sense.

Today's convention was scheduled to begin at 9AM, but probably did not actually get underway until about 9:20 or so. It was over at 10:38. There were no challenges to anyone's status as a bonified Republican.  In the past, while I do not recall any challenge to those who participated in the caucus as to their bonafides, there were challenges to the eligibility of some to serve as delegates and to some running for office. Sometimes it got contentious and legalistic.  In previous years, there have been contested elections with several candidates seeking various offices, but not this year.  The most contentious caucus and convention were probably back about 2009 when Kathleen Starnes was elected chairman by only a one-vote margin, beating Matt Collins who became Vice-Chair.  There were multiple ballots and parliamentary maneuvering and floor challenges.  Other years, also had contested elections but not as contentious as 2009. 

While "unity," may be desirable, in my view, too much unity indicates a lack of interest and is boring.  While I prefer devoting only an hour and a half on one Saturday rather than half a day on two consecutive Saturdays, a little more drama and enthusiasm would have been desirable. Quite frankly, today's smoothly run convention was boring.

Scott Golden, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, addressed the convention. He said that across Tennesee, that in the next election there will be more Republicans on Tennessee ballots than any other time in Tennessee history.  He said Nashville represented an opportunity for growth for the Republican Party. He said that while Republican candidates such as Trump, Lee, and Blackburn garner about 35% of the vote in Nashville, that of Nashville's ten statehouse seats there is not a single seat held by a Republican, and of Nashville's three state Senate seats there is not a single one held by a Republican.  He said the Party can do better than that in Davidson County.

My hope is that Scott Golden remembers that speech when it comes time to redistrict and he encourages the drawing of districts that enhance the chance for Republican victories.  I hope today's lack of enthusiasm shown by a County Republicans does not cause the State Party to conclude Nashville is a lost cause and not worth the effort. 

Jim  Garrett, current Davidson County Republican Party chairman was reelected.  He addressed the convention and promised a greater effort to recruit qualified candidates and an aggressive program of candidate training.  He said the party is headed in the right direction and has a promising future.

Below is the slate of officers elected at today's convention:

  • Chairman: James B. Garrett
  • First Vice Chairman: Carol Wendt
  • Second Vice Chairman: Drew Loneran
  • Recording Secretary: Mark Woodward
  • Communications Secretary: Wendi Mahoneh
  • Treasurer: Viven Allen
  • Assit, Treasure: Shannon McGuffin
  • North Region Vice-Chairman: Annalisa Young
  • South Region Vice-Chairman: Eugenia Bush
  • East Region Vice-Chairman: David Hooven
  • West Region Vice-Chairman: Kathy Walker
  • Northern Central Region Vice-Chairman: John Wendt
  • South Central Region Vice-Chairman: Rae Keohane
  • Southeast Region Vice Chairman: Barbara Collins
In addition to these officers, there are 35 District Chairs, one for each council district.  They are not voting members of the executive committee but have responsibilities for organizing the Party in their council district. Many of these positions went unfilled today as some districts had no one who would take the job. I think some districts did not even have anyone show up. Ideally and on paper, each district is to have an election to elect a prescient chair for each voting prescient in that district.  That would total another 162 elected Republican Party officials. The Party has never achieved that level of organization. 

 Chairman: James B. Garret

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