It’s almost that time once again when the Georgia Republican Party enters into a convention cycle to elect officers, adopt rules for the current term, and “for other purposes”. We’ve been through a few long (sometimes very long) state conventions where quorum was lost and remaining business had to be carried on by the state committee. Giving up Saturdays isn’t for everyone, but for those of us weirdos who enjoy seeing friends and taking part of the process, I created a little summary and list about things to expect. It would be good for folks who have never experienced a convention to take a look, and it’s always good for those of us who have been through it a few times to take a refreshing look.
The structure of the Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP) is organized from the precinct level to the county, congressional district, and the state party. Folks tend to focus on counties and the state party, but there’s really more to the party than that. The GAGOP has worked to focus on growing grassroots support versus having a top-down organizational structure. We reorganize every two years—in the years that end with an odd number.
You may be
saying: “well, so what?”
Here’s what’s important to remember–every two years, we elect new
leadership from the precinct level all the way up to the state GOP
chairman. That means, we have an
opportunity to affect the direction of the GAGOP in the next two years. Rather than wax rhapsodic about the virtues
of being involved, I’ll just say this: if you think to yourself “how can I
get involved” or want to help contribute to making a difference in
advancing the Republican Party and not quite sure how to go about it, then you
should take part in the process.
other organization, this will require a time commitment from you. I don’t want to discourage passion or desire
to be involved, but I have seen way too many people who gripe and complain
about processes taking too long and then leaving early before the convention
has completed its business or failing to show up to business meetings during
the two-year term.
an all-inclusive list, but it’s hits a number of points that I observed during
my time as a county chairman (Walker County GOP from 2009 until 2013) and a
district chairman (14th Congressional District GAGOP from 2015 until
further ado, here are a few highlights:
1.) Be on-time. In fact, do everything you can to be there
early and pre-register if your county has pre-registration. It makes registration and credentialing go a
lot smoother. Most metro-area counties
will have their precinct mass meetings in February and their county conventions
in March. These meetings will come to
order promptly at 10a. That means you MUST
BE IN LINE to register prior to 10a.
Usually, one of the sergeants-at-arms will stand behind the last person
in line at 10a. If you arrive at 10:00:01a
and aren’t registered, then you will not be allowed to participate. Don’t cut it close. “To be early is to be on-time; to be on-time
is to be late.”
2.) Be patient. There are processes and procedures
surrounding what occurs with the convention process. At the precinct mass meetings, Republican
voters will be electing delegates, alternates, and officers to the county
convention. There is paperwork involved
to be used as a part of the credentialing process. If you are elected as a precinct officer
(especially precinct chairman or secretary), please make sure that all
paperwork is filled out, dated, and signed.
Also, don’t leave until the chairman (or a designated person by the
chairman) tells you that it’s okay to leave.
At the county/district/state convention, no business can be transacted
until the final credentials report has been presented and adopted by the
convention. The credentials committee
works hard to ensure that all delegates present are validated and determine the
number of alternates (if any) should be moved up to determine the final voting
strength of the committee.
3.) Be committed. As I said earlier, these conventions will
take time. Plan on these conventions
taking all day. If you have outside
commitments that may conflict, then think about your participation. You control your own schedule—not the
chairman, the executive committee, or other delegates. You cannot expect the convention to speed up
the transaction of business to accommodate your schedule. If you know you’ll be planning a family vacation
during the same time as the state convention, then you shouldn’t sign up to be
a delegate. Further, don’t have false
illusions that the state convention will adjourn before dinner time. It’s a large convention, so expect that the
process will be slow and plan accordingly.
4.) Be respectful. When the convention is called to order by the
convention chairman, please cease conversations, take your seat, and pay
attention. Keep debates focused on the
topic at hand rather than about the person (or group) making the motion or
amendment. If you wish to speak on a
motion being considered, keep your comments concise and based on the subject
being discussed at hand. Expressing your
thoughts in a timely manner respects the time of everyone in the convention
5.) Learn and understand Robert’s Rules,
but understand that the county/district/state rules, convention rules (if
applicable), and the state call for conventions supersede Robert’s Rules. Any convention goer should have a basic
understanding of parliamentary process.
If you don’t, that’s okay. This
is your opportunity to learn! Most
county and district parties and the state party use the most recent edition of
Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
You can pick up your own copy at your local bookstore, on Amazon, or
even your local library.
6.) If you want to run for a position on
the executive committee of the county/district/state, then you will need to
submit your name to the nominations committee. Some conventions, by standing or convention
rules, prevent a person to be nominated from the floor without going before the
nominations committee first. The
nominations committee at each level should have a schedule on when they will do
interviews of candidates. Don’t pester
the nominations committee on whether or not your name will come out of
nominations and on their report. The
nominations report is usually confidential until it’s presented to the
7.) Resolutions give a snapshot of what is
on the mind of the convention at that point-in-time, but it’s not the gospel. Resolutions are important to inform our
elected representatives and the public at-large, but they are just an opinion
on what’s in the current news cycle.
Debates can be passionate, but we shouldn’t try to get too hung-up on
resolutions. If you want to submit a resolution
to your county/district/state convention, then ask your county chairman about
dates for submission. Keep them short
and to the point.
8.) Use “down time” to get to know people—especially
those who have been active in the GOP for a long time. The best thing about conventions is that
you’ll see old friends and make new ones.
There will be times when the convention stands at-ease or goes into
recess, so you’ll have time to chat with people.
9.) Terms like “The Establishment” and
“Party Insiders” are labels that are thrown around to sow discontent and
disunity, but most folks probably couldn’t identify a particular person or
group of people that would be classified as such. Politics is one of the few areas where
industry knowledge is a liability more than an asset. There is something to be said about the old
adage “with age comes wisdom”. That can
be said within the GOP as well. In spite
of the calls for fresh blood and fresh ideas in our Party, that doesn’t mean
members with numerous years of experience should be shown the door. County committees should work to make new
ideas welcome but temper them with wisdom from those who have been there for a
while. We once prided ourselves in being
the “Party of a Big Tent”. That label
was eschewed in the late 2000s until now.
We should work towards
10.) Work doesn’t stop at adjournment. The convention may end when the convention
chairman bangs his (or her) gavel upon adjournment, but there’s still a lot of
work to do…even if you’re not an officer.
Local parties participate in local events, so be willing to
volunteer. Leadership isn’t limited to
chairing a county party—it can be something as simple as showing up early to
put out chairs for a county meeting.
11.) Show gratitude towards the organizers. Conventions are stressful affairs. Officers aren’t usually going to be able to
chat and will be pulled in 10,000 different directions during the course of the
convention. It took weeks (if not
months) for a number of people to organize a successful convention. Even after the convention and clean-up,
there’s still the matter of filing paperwork with the appropriate committees. Be polite and thank the folks who make the