Adventures at a State Party Convention

My podcasting partner Dianna Deeley missed our last podcast because she was a delegate to the Georgia State Convention of the Republican Party. Here’s her description of the event.

The 2023 State Convention of the Republican Party of Georgia

As observed by a first-time delegate from Lowndes County, which is known for flying cars and not much else.

My husband and I were elected as delegates to the Georgia Republican State Convention, held in Columbus, GA, on June 9th and 10th. Given that I have a living to make, we only attended the business portion of the meeting, held Saturday, June 10, at the Trade Center, which used to be a metal foundry.

Georgia is a little cross-grained, holds its state-wide elections in non-presidential election years, and its party conventions in off-years. Why? I don’t know, yet; so far, it’s because that’s how we do it, and the older, wiser heads do not feel that I need the history of this. Yet. I was a delegate to the precinct caucuses, the county and district conventions in both 2021 and 2023, and now to the State Convention.

How do you get elected? Fail to duck fast enough, or just sign up. Since I want to save Georgia from Californication, I signed up.

So we got up at 4 am on Saturday, fed the cats, and performed morning ablutions. I took the dog for a walk while R. made breakfast. We cleaned up the kitchen and were on the road by 6:10. We arrived at the convention site about 9:15, and that was when it all started to get awkward.

We got our credentials just fine – that was well-organized, all a delegate needed was to walk down a hall, show ID, and voila, there’s your badge, have a nice day. Granted, getting out was harder, as every single candidate for party office had stationed smiling sharks disguised as interns to pounce upon you and offer you stickers, hats, flyers, t-shirts, and other things. I felt like I needed to imitate the scene in Airplane! just to escape.

Now, credit where credit (and blame – don’t forget the blame!) is due: the committee had done a great job of organizing the convention. Then Trump declared he was coming about a week before the convention. The Secret Service had the committee send out emails to all the delegates telling us what we could and could not bring, and notifying us all that we had to go through security.

The problem began with the fact that there were more than 2,000 people waiting to get in and (initially) two metal detectors, plus nine TSA employees in blue shirts, six uniformed Secret Service with wands, and innumerable guys in suits with earpieces eyeing the increasingly overheated and cranky line with cool suspicion.

When I began my trek to the end of the security line at about 9:25, I did not count noses, just ran a quick-and-dirty estimate that I was approximately the 1300th delegate. I took my place, my husband joined me, then I spotted another Lowndes delegate, an older lady with mobility issues, and tucked her into line with me and my husband. Fifteen minutes later, as the sun beat down unmercifully upon us and she began to look faint, I suggested she wait somewhere near the door, and when (If?) I got there, she should join us. I didn’t see her again until I got into the hall, some three hours later, when she told me that someone in security took pity on her and got her through security.

The Secret Service finally set up a third metal detector, and opened that line for people with no bags. It helped, at least a little, or I believe the wait might have stretched to four hours.

So, now it’s about 12:15, and the convention ought to have started at 10:00 am sharp. People are milling around, talking, politicking (Hello! It’s a political convention!), campaigning for party officers, looking for food ($4 for a bottle of water, let’s not discuss the cost of anything else, and no outside food or drink allowed.), water, restrooms…it was loud. The Chair tried to get everyone into their seats and quiet. This took about an hour.

We finally got the meeting opened. We had a motion to adopt the rules and a second; we had motions from the floor to amend the rules so that more motions could be made from the floor. The Chair had a voice vote, which was ambiguous. So then there was a standing vote, which was close, close enough that some people felt it might just have been more about the Chair did not want to deal with the hassle.

Someone came forward with a motion to move the Resolutions to earlier in the agenda – this might have been a great idea, but veteran delegates were not in favor. AT ALL. DEFINITELY NOT IN FAVOR.

Let it be said, I can understand that, because I was part of a rebellion at the District 8 Convention this year that rejected the resolutions proposed by the committee, and adopted four from the floor. The process made the convention at least an hour longer than it would otherwise have been. I felt it was worth it, but, as two of our veteran members explained, resolutions mean nothing (No legislator bothers with them.), and they sow contention.

Then, before we could start on voting for party offices, we were told that Trump would be there soon!!!!! However, Trump was running on candidate time, and showed up more than an hour later.

The Donald spoke for more than an hour.

If you have ever attended a Trump speech, you know how it went. He said some wonderful things with which I agreed entirely. There was rambling and repetition, and hyperbolic statements that were not accurate (No, Atlanta is not one of the most dangerous cities in America, and please stop saying it is.), but conveyed the emotional point. He called DeSantis “DeSanctimonious” at every opportunity, took a few swipes at Biden – nowhere near as many as at DeSantis – and condemned the witch-hunt indictment. He finally wound it up around 4.

Business resumed.

I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow, here, mostly because I was so tired I was punchy, I had a violent headache from having stood in the sun for three hours, and I was cranky as a toddler because I hadn’t eaten.

This convention was presented with a slate for party officers, and rejected it. Only one person from that initial slate was elected, the new Chair, Josh McKoon. No incumbent was re-elected. I would not call the floor rabid. I would say that the delegates were in no mood for the status quo, business as usual. They want effective party leadership on the way to victory. If you’re not up for a fight, go home.

I confess that my husband and I were part of the reason there was no quorum for the resolutions. Six o’clock had come and gone, and we’d only just finished electing the First Vice Chair. There were four candidates for Second Vice Chair, and every single one of them had someone who was going to give a nomination speech, then the candidate would speak, then we’d vote, and the vote would get messed up, then…Rod said, “If there are going to be any more speeches, I’m leaving.”

We left. We got home around 10 pm, and I finally got to bed around 1 am.

That was my experience of the 2023 Republican Party of Georgia’s State Convention.

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