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GOP chair turns back challenger

Glen Englram addresses the 2015 Republican Party Convention at the Opportunity House. Glen Englram addresses the 2015 Republican Party Convention at the Opportunity House.

Glen Englram rehearsed his campaign speech for the Henderson County Republican Party chairmanship in front of his Welsh Corgi.

Cricket must have been a faster listener than the audience of party activists gathered at the Opportunity House on Saturday. Englram overran his allotted seven minutes and kept going despite warnings by the timekeeper and a scolding by a party member who questioned why he was breaking the rules.
The awkward end to his convention speech may have cost him support from delegates eager to leave but when the votes were counted, the incumbent easily turned back a challenger he painted as a risky choice. He won 96-34.
Ron Kauffman, who announced his candidacy in an email to party members a week before the convention, emphasized the value of volunteer work and collaboration.
"Two of the most important phrases a volunteer can hear are 'please' and 'thank you,'" he said. "You have to know that your leaders do not know everything and that if I am the leader of the Henderson County GOP please expect to be asked, 'What do you think? And how can we get it done?' Also expect to hear me say, 'I appreciate you.'"
"We'll be one of eight states to decide the (presidential) election as a swing state," he said. "If you don't think that means that every vote and every voter counts, what could be more evidence than being a swing state in 2016 to take back the White House?
"Since I started this a couple weeks ago, I kind of feel like Howard Beal in the 1976 movie 'Network' when during his broadcast he basically told his entire listening audience, 'Go to your window, open it up and yell at the top of your lungs,' "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."'
"Today our party locally and nationally is really fragmented. We have to stand together as a team. We're not going to agree on everything but the goal is to have the unified key issues."
Englram, 64, went directly after Kauffman as something of a Johnny-come-lately, although both are newcomers to Hendersonville. The party chair called on the Republicans to give credit to his work as a precinct chair and executive committee member.
"Ron can't offer you that experience," he said. "Ron's not a precinct chair. Ron's not on the executive committee. One of the choices you have today is you can elect someone who's actually doing the job, at every level, or you can take the risk frankly that our country took in 2008 when it said, 'You know what, let's put someone in the job that hasn't come up through the ranks and see what happens.'"
Kauffman, 70, said afterwards he accepted the outcome.
"The people spoke. They did a great job," he said. "They chose the person they'd like to see run it. It doesn't change how I feel about the party or the effort I put behind it."
What did he think of Englram's riff tying him to the political leader Republicans most revile?
"The same way I thought about him taking an extra three minutes to speak," he said. "The playing field wasn't exactly level."
The result appeared to validate Englram's chief point.
"We've been doing the job," he said as he accepted congratulations from party members leaving the assembly room. "I think for most people it matters that we've got a track record. You don't have to speculate."
He had told the convention voters that he was no newcomer to party work and leadership.
"At the executive committee a year ago in February, I didn't have to parachute in and announce that I was going to throw my hat in the ring," he said, another swipe at Kauffman's late announcement. "I was at the table. I was already serving as the county party vice chair and before that the precinct chair. When the vote was cast it was unanimous ... You don't have to wonder, Where is Glen's footprint, because it's been evident."
He recalled working in the May 2012 primary to head up the volunteer efforts in favor of North Carolina's anti-gay marriage amendment at the Etowah South precinct.
"We repeated the process again that fall," he said. "The point is under my leadership and influence, we've been working a pattern and it goes like this: Get many others involved beyond ourselves, and we've seen new leaders emerge. People stepped forward who didn't do the job before."
Elected without opposition were teasurer Wally Booth, secretary Becky Todd and vice chair Jason Brown.