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Orange County GOP convention encourages participation in a blue county


Phil Berger speaks at the Orange County Republicans Convention about his campaign for N.C. Supreme Court. The convention was at Sunrise Church on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

The Orange County Republican Convention that was held at Sunrise Church Saturday, kicked off with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and pastries.  

Precinct meetings were held, various Republican candidates running for office made speeches and the OCGOP platform was reviewed. Through all of this was the common theme of being a Republican in Orange County, a majority Democratic area. 

“You being a Republican in Orange County, you daily put your reputation on the line, because those around you, without knowing anything about you, will characterize you as hate-filled, they’ll characterize you as bigoted,” said Paul Newby, a candidate for chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court.

Newby said Republican votes matter as much in Orange County as they do in Randolph County and other less liberal areas. He said every vote matters, and cautioned the crowd not to let any kind of divisiveness separate them, as staying together is vital.

“Having people vote in places like Orange County, Durham County determines the outcome of elections,” said Seamus O’Neill, who helps with technology in OCGOP.

He said participation even for minority parties is important, because even if you cannot win a seat on the town council or elect a county commissioner, you can still affect outcomes at the state level.

“The grassroots aspect of both Democratic and Republican party is absolutely essential,” O’Neill said.

Counties across the country are holding conventions for both parties, which O'Neill said builds legitimacy and a sense of connection. He said a top-down structure often leads to a failure of communication and consequences at the ballot box.

Sammy Webb, an attorney running for state auditor, said the issues of the proposed border wall, voter ID and political and racial gerrymandering are prominent and can easily mislead people. He said to let the courts handle those issues, as they will make a decision whether the people support the result or not.

“I think when we talk about everyday issues with everyday people, that goes across racial lines, disabilities and also gender,” said Webb.

While every election is of equal importance, the Republican Party has lost some ground in North Carolina, and the convention speakers emphasized that these next elections have the chance to determine the future. 

“There are always choices on how the public is governed and how the judicial system is operated. I don’t think this election is necessarily any more or less important than previous elections, but certainly the issues that will be faced in the future will determine the fate of our state, our nation for years to come,” said Phil Berger, a candidate for N.C. Supreme Court.

New chairpersons for the following precincts were elected: Coker Hills, Coles Store, Eno, Hillsborough, North Carrboro, St. Marys and White Cross. The rest of the 44 precincts re-elected their chairpersons. 

The Orange County GOP agreed to urge the state GOP to make opposing anti-Semitism part of the state Republican Party platform, and hopes it will be included in the national party platform for the 2020 GOP convention.

The OCGOP reaffirmed the state party platform and wants laws to be put in place that require abortions at 20 weeks or later to be only at a medical facility where there is immediate medical care for the child, following a federal judge's decision to overturn N.C.'s ban on abortions after 20 weeks. They added a new paragraph to Article I of their platform, saying marriage is between one man and one woman, and sexual relations are for marriage. 

Several other amendments, such as the support for economic assistance to students from public and private schools using market lending principles, were approved to be added or made to the OCGOP platform.

“All politics is local, and just paying taxes and going to the polls, that’s not enough. What’s important is our involvement, our involvement in Orange County, at our local level and our conservative message supporting the Republican Party,” said Waddy Davis, chairperson of the OCGOP.

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