It's not often I get to write about happenings in my old neck of the woods, but that's a fact of life when you were born and raised in a relatively sleepy suburban county of metro Atlanta. Still, don't let the "sleepy" bit fool you; once you peel back that layer, you find the same kinds of political gamesmanship and good ol' boy network shenanigans that exist everywhere else.
This story comes to us courtesy of Erick's old stomping grounds at Peach Pundit. Apparently, 1st Vice Chair of the Douglas County Republican Part Michael McNeely, who is also the Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council, has been blocked from being a delegate to the county's GOP Convention by county GOP Board Member Jack Gamel. Peach Pundit links to this post from Constant Contact, where Bryan Tolar, 3rd Vice Chairman of the DCGOP, tells us:
At the Mirror Lake precinct table today, Douglas County GOP Board Member Jack Gamel led an effort to refuse Michael McNeely (a strong conservative and 1st Vice-Chair of the Douglas County GOP) a precinct delegate spot. There were 15 delegate slots available and only five people present, yet Jack insisted in his action. Jack's petty old white man politics targeted one of the rising African American stars of Georgia and National GOP leaders. By a 3-2 vote, Jack's efforts were successful.
Charlie from Peach Pundit, meanwhile, adds this:
I spoke to Michael McNeely today by phone. He told me that Mr. Gamel told him that his exclusion was because McNeely ran against Gamel’s friend Terry Baggett last term for First Vice-Chair of the Douglas County Party – a position that Mr. McNeely won. So, in the pettyness that is county party politics, we have a man at the precinct level who chose to block his county’s First Vice Chairman from being a delegate to his county’s convention out of what appears to be a petty act of revenge.
As Peach Pundit notes, none of this was against the rules, but this nevertheless is establishment politics at its worst. A conservative candidate (McNeely) dares to run against the guy hand-picked by a party boss, and as a consequence, the conservative gets hit with payback and shut out of the process.
Mr. McNeely's race should be irrelevant to this discussion, but the optics here are not good nevertheless. The GOP already has enough of a problem with its reputation as the party of "old white men", so what better way for us to live up to that image than by excluding a conservative black man from a county convention! It only looks worse when you consider the fact that McNeely is the Chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council!
Nice job, guys.
Oh, but it gets worse. As Peach Pundit notes:
At a time when the Republican Party is desparately trying to figure out how to reach out to non-white voters, McNeely and his wife (who was not in attendence but was nominated to be a delegate) were excluded by a vote of 3-2. Three white votes were for exclusion; Two African American votes were for inclusion.
As if that wasn't enough, the Douglas County GOP hasn't been exactly proactive in its response. The only thing they've done so far is condemn the guy who posted on Constant Contact. Bert Blood, chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party has this to say (again, courtesy of Peach Pundit):
This afternoon a member of our board who had access to the Constant Contact password used this service to air personal grievances regarding an incident at today’s meeting.I want to take this opportunity to APOLOGIZE to all party members for this breach of trust and to assure you that I will do all within my power to insure that the integrity of this valuable database is maintained.
This is an embarrassment. The Douglas County GOP should be ashamed of themselves. By letting these antics county continue in a county that has gone Democratic in the last two Presidential elections, they are doing themselves no favors at expanding their base and turning the county red again. We shouldn't let petty vendettas keep those who want to serve from doing so, especially when there are more than enough spots open for them. Georgia and Douglas County Republicans, let's fix this.
P.S. The Georgia Young Republicans have a nice statement on the situation. As they note, apparently Michael's wife Jennifer McNeely was also kept from becoming a delegate.