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MossColumn: Final thoughts on GOP convention

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

The Henderson County Republican Party had a grand old time figuring out how to conduct an election on Saturday.

There had not been a contested election in a while and what with turnover in the pool of party activists, the process was new to a lot of the members.

After all, the candidates for election to the chairmanship are themselves newcomers.
Tea Party activists just three years ago, incumbent Glen Englram and challenger Ron Kauffman competed for the privilege of running the party.
Like many of the other speakers during the three-hour convention Saturday morning, Kauffman focused on the 2016 election.
"We'll be one of eight states to decide the 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?"
Kauffman uttered the name of his opponent exactly zero times while Englram made Kauffman a punching bag. Ron (which is what Glen called him) is not experienced enough. Unlike Ron, Glen did not "parachute in" to run for chair a week before the election. Ron is like Barack Obama.
"One of the choices you have today," Engleram said, "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 the ranks and see what happens.'"
Good stuff, if you like hardball.
Englram didn't take a punch from his opponent. He just shot himself in the foot. As we describe elsewhere, he stubbornly marched on past his allotted seven minutes so he could finish his speech — despite warnings from the timekeeper and a growing buzz of grumbling. It had been a long two hours. Englram clearly had the votes. People wanted to get out of there. His strange refusal to stop — to play by the rules, as one party member scolded — made for an awkward finish. He delivered no big kicker to bring the crowd to its feet. He just kind of fizzled out.

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State Rep. Chris Whitmire, who represents southern Henderson County, said he was impressed that when he arrived he in Hendersonville from Polk County's Republican convention, he had to circle the parking lot three times to find a space. The big turnout, he said, is a good omen for the big election season coming next year. If the GOP wants a Sweet '16, it will have to work.
"While 2014 was extremely important with the Senate race and others down the ballot, 2016 that will begin in earnest this summer, you all are going to have to work that much harder for all of us," he said. "We've got to get the presidency back, we have another Senate race up, the gubernatorial race is up, as you go down the ballot, judiciary, legislative, executive, a key will be your hard work, shoe leather and pulling more folks in to help with that."

* * * *

State Sen. Tom Apodaca echoed Whitmire's campaign forecast for '16.
"We need this for the momentum going forward to 2016," he said. "We heard a lot of rhetoric in 2014 how they were going to come get us and take us over and kick us out and send us back home. We didn't seem to hurt too much. We lost two people. Sadly they were in Buncombe County. But we have to deal with Asheville. We'll leave it at that."
The capitol press corps, Apodaca said, had been eager to exaggerate a revenue shortfall and blame it on "tax cuts for the rich."
"Back in the fall they jacked it up to a $800 million budget shortage," he said. "The last thing they printed, about three weeks ago, was $250 million. I'm happy to tell you today that they haven't reported anything in the last three weeks and that's because our revenues are way up, from what we projected with our massive tax code change.
"What they said were quote-unquote tax cuts for the rich — many of us in this room have been paying quite a few of those taxes. I think the situation is going to be better than we ever imagined, and that's good for Chuck (McGrady) since he's going to spend all the money as the appropriations chair" in the House.
"Our ultimate goal in North Carolina, let me remind you, is to get to a zero corporate and personal income tax rate," Apodaca added.
Everyone cheered.