Henderson County Republicans celebrated the party's unprecedented gains of 2012, vowed to build on that success by turning out U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year and had fun at the expensed of the vanquished Democrats during their annual convention and Lincoln-Reagan luncheon on Saturday at the Chariot.
With no opposition, the party's vice chairman, Andrew Riddle, was elected party chairman, succeeding Mike Scruggs.
The party scored sweeping gains in North Carolina, carrying it for Romney, electing a Republican governor and lieutenant governor, taking nine out of 13 congressional seats and installing supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature. Henderson County, Scruggs said, had a lot to do with that, handing an overwhelming majority to Mark Meadows, who won the redrawn 11th Congressional District seat for the GOP, and voting for a Republican over a Democrat by at least 60 percent in every case.
"It's time to brush aside the Obama blues," Scruggs said, "because we're on a roll."
State Sen. Tom Apodaca, the second most powerful figure in the Senate, said Republican-voting Henderson County has finally seen the rest of the state follow its preference.
"We have accomplished more in the last two years than has been accomplished in the last 160 years," he said. "Folks, we've been at the front lines for a long time, and we need to give ourselves a hand. Believe me, we are looked at across this state as to how to do Republican politics, and the folks in this room, who have been here for years, it is amazing what we've accomplished, and we're seeing it in Raleigh."
Republicans swept both houses in an anti-Obama tidal wave in 2010 but it was not until January that they were joined by a governor who will endorse what they do.
"It has been an interesting time in Raleigh to have a Republican governor and we're working together very well," Apodaca said. "Congressman Meadows and I were talking earlier, this is a growing process because none of us are used to having each other. So it's like getting married and having to work on the honeymoon."
Forecasting this year's priorities, Apodaca said he expected the Legislature to appropriate design money for a new SBI crime lab at the Larry T. Justus Justice Academy in Edneyville. "It's a significant expansion because we need the laboratory for the new sciences in criminal justice," he said. "We are working on that, we are seeing some positive comments, we should have a little seed money coming this time, it's started in this direction. I'm excited about that."
Both Apodaca and Rep. Chuck McGrady predicted the General Assembly would enact a voter ID bill.
"A photo ID has a photo. That will be what we pass out of the House and Senate," Apodaca said. "Rest assured it will be a photo ID."
He defended his Senate bill, which sputtered in the House, to strip the current appointees from state regulatory boards.
"It cleans the boards off, allows Gov. McCrory to appoint his people to these boards because basically and realistically he's going to be held accountable," he said. "We think they should be his folks on the board, and it's just that simple."
In his keynote address, Meadows applauded the county's grassroots campaign that turned out a strong Republican vote. The Republicans in the House, he said, are making progress in crafting a spending plan that will balance the budget in 10 years.
He told the audience of about 150 precinct committee members, party officers and elected leaders that he and some staff members had walked over to the Senate last week to applaud Sen. Rand Paul's 11-hour stand against drone attacks on Americans.
"I'm hear to tell you when people are willing to stand up like that for the Constitution we need to stand with them and encourage them," Meadows said.
Former Hendersonville mayor Greg Newman, who emceed the convention, got laughs for his remarks that mocked the Democratic Party.
"We've got breaking news that the president has issued a new executive order," he said. "We can no longer call illegal aliens illegal aliens. They're now to be known as undocumented Democrats."
McDonalds restaurant has come out with a new special, he said. "You can order anything you want on the menu and the guy behind you has to pay."
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