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Dispatches from the MeckGOP Convention

On Saturday, the Republican Party of Mecklenburg County met for its annual convention, which was held on Yancey Road in Charlotte.

The main point on the convention's agenda was the election of the county chairman, but the 9th congressional district fiasco also took a starring role.

The first to offer remarks at the convention was incumbent Chairman Chris Turner, who spoke briefly after former state Representative Bill Brawley's recitation of the pledge of allegiance.

Turner reminded delegates of his successes as chairman, which have included a 56% reduction in party overhead costs, a noticeable improvement in Republican turnout countywide, and the selection of Charlotte as the location for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Turner's remarks were followed by speeches by North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell, who discussed his plan to establish a fixed schedule for reimbursement by the State Health Plan, and North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, who fumed about the new election in the 9th congressional district.

Dallas Woodhouse speaks

Woodhouse's speech, which was rooted in intelligent commentary supplemented with humor, drove the delegates to hearty applause.

Afterwards, the convention turned to the election of the county chairman. John Powell, a real estate appraiser who has been a strong supporter of Republican judicial candidates in Mecklenburg County, challenged Turner's hold on the party. Powell's emphasis was on "turning the ship," and he argued that the promotion of fiscal conservatism was a necessity for Republican success in the county.

After brief nominating speeches, five-minute addresses by each of the two candidates, and a plethora of motions by delegates, votes were cast by secret ballot.

Turner won reelection. Although defeated, Powell was gracious, stressing the need for party unity and requesting that the results of the race remain nonpublic. Turner reciprocated Powell's emphasis on cooperation.

Once the race for the chairmanship was settled, candidates for the party's nomination in the 9th congressional district special election offered brief remarks. The victor in the 2018 general election vote totals, Dr. Mark Harris, was present and clearly engaged.

With Dr. Mark Harris

Leigh Thomas Brown, a realtor and motivational speaker, enthusiastically described herself as an independent thinker who does not allow her positions to be defined by others. State Senator Dan Bishop, a staunch conservative, took a methodical approach, emphasizing his stances on issues of importance.

With Senator Dan Bishop

Former state Sen. Fern Shubert noted her experience in public office, arguing that she was a pioneer in the fight against illegal immigration. Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing presented a strong case in support of border security and promised that he would be able to deliver the district's conservative Democrats for the GOP.

Matthew Ridenhour, a former Mecklenburg county commissioner, combined personal and political themes in an engaging speech that enjoyed an enthusiastic reception.

With Matthew Ridenhour

Stevie Rivenbark, who proudly defined herself as a working mother of two, emphasized her ardent opposition to abortion.

After the oratories from the 9th district candidates, state Appeals Court Judge Phil Berger Jr. expressed his desire to correct the disproportionally liberal composition of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

By that point, the checklist for the convention had essentially been completed. Emanating from the rumor mill were whispers that former state Representative Scott Stone, defeated in 2018, will be running for the lieutenant governorship of North Carolina in 2020.

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The race for the 9th district nomination is important, and it deserves a minute of editorial consideration:

I believe that Rivenbark, with a moving personal story that motivates her policy positions, would be an impressive candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives.

However, Ridenhour, who served in the Marines and has a record of electoral success and the qualifications for federal office, would be the best choice for the U.S. House.

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