Republicans in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District met in Cornelius on Saturday for a convention to elect a new slate of leaders for the congressional level of organization within the party. The event brought numerous politicians to Cornelius Town Hall including Congressman Robert Pittenger, NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis as well as Representative Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Senator Jeff Tarte of Cornelius among others. About 100 of the party faithful were in attendance.
There was some speculation that there would be fireworks surrounding the ongoing intra-party tensions around the I-77 HOT lanes supported by most Republican elected officials. When it came time for nominations for officers, Convention Chairman, Billy Miller, paused extra long to see if there were any additional nominations beyond the existing slate - even making a joke that he thought there might be. However, in the end the elections for offices was not contested and John Steward of Union County and Davidson's Linda Angele maintained their positions as Chairman and Vice-Chair respectively. It was a good show of unity within the party.
That unity was a culmination of a theme hit on by most of the speakers throughout the morning.
Speaker Tillis first hit on the topic, highlighting "The Eleventh Commandment" made popular by Ronald Reagan..."thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican". He also paraphrased another quote commonly attributed to Reagan.."the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally."
Claude Pope, campaigning for NCGOP Chairman, said "for party unity we have to teach the losers how to support the winners, rather than taking their ball and going home."
Finally, John Steward, in his brief acceptance speech as NC 9 Chairman said that Republicans can't win without the Tea Party, the Tea Party can't win without the establishment Republicans, and that the Libertarians can't win on their own. A statement that highlights the need for all the facets of the conservative cause to work together for a common purpose to be successful.
To a degree, they are obviously all correct.
However, for that unity to occur all sides must feel that they are being dealt with fairly, and far too often things occur during campaigns and during contentious issues to undermine that sense of fairness. Whether it be perceived meddling in primaries, or how contentious issues are handled, to put all of Saturday's words into real action will require much more than saying "can't we all just get along?"