Republican group attempts to oust chairman
Some Haywood County Republicans are unhappy with party leader Pat Carr and have initiated proceedings to remove her from office, an act statewide party officials say is extremely rare.
Carr was elected to a two-year term in 2013, and apparently riled a faction of the party during the March 2014 party convention, according to emails circulated within GOP leadership circles. At the convention, a resolution was presented to shrink the size of the executive committee. Though the resolution was withdrawn before it was even voted on, it seemingly sparked a backlash against Carr.
A group representing a third of the party’s 27-member executive committee called the Monday night meeting held at Duvall’s Restaurant in Waynesville for the purpose of censuring or removing officers or elected officials where applicable, according to the meeting notice published in The Mountaineer on March 26.
Emails sent among party members made it clear Carr was the target.
About two dozen individuals showed up at the meeting, though only 15 or so were voting members of the executive committee. From the brief discussion the media was allowed to witness, it appeared there were executive party members on both sides of the issue. There were at least 15 members of the party's governing board who didn't answer the roll call, indicating their absence at the meeting.
Despite the fact the meeting was called by her opposition, Carr cited party organization rules stating she was the chairman and was to preside at all meetings until she handed the gavel over to someone else. Monroe Miller, the vice-chairman of the Allens Creek precinct, likewise attempted to take charge of the meeting, creating chaotic discussions at times.
It took about 45 minutes for the group to conduct roll call and consider multiple motions that excluded the press. That ultimately required suspending party organization rules because those at the meeting wanted to allow Republicans not on the party's executive committee to stay, but also exclude two Republican members of the press attending the meeting — Mountaineer Publisher Jonathan Key and Becky Johnson, a Smoky Mountain News reporter who changed her party affiliation that morning to cover the meeting.
When the group adjourned about an hour later, few discussed what had occurred.
Carr confirmed she had turned the meeting over to Craig Collins, an attorney from Gastonia who serves as the GOP chairman of the 10th Congressional District. Collins said he was attending the meeting at the request of the N.C. GOP Party Chairman Claude Pope and its executive director, Todd Poole.
Lisa Womack, chairwoman of the Allens Creek precinct, commended Collins for the job he did.
“Once he took over, it took on a new tone,” she said.
Kenneth Henson, chairman of the Center Pigeon precinct, said his concern in calling the meeting was to ensure everyone had a vote.
“If it was up to me, the executive committee would be twice as big as it is,” he said.
Carr said once she formally receives the charges against her, the next step is for another meeting to be called where she will be allowed to present a defense. At that point, it will require a two-thirds vote of the executive committee — 18 members — to remove her from office.
Beyond that, none in the room would go into specifics about the issues behind the attempt to remove Carr, who the group would like to have as the new chairman or what direction they would rather see the party move in.
“It’s a family quarrel,” said Collins. “We're just keeping it in house.”
Carr seemed puzzled by the situation.
“I’ve wondered for a long time what their motives are. When there is a call to volunteer, they don’t volunteer,” she said of those instigating the meeting Monday.
As for the change in the party’s plan of organization that seemingly riled some of the members, Carr said anyone was entitled to present a proposal at the convention.
Collins said an issue discussed in the meeting included a plan for moving forward.
“Whatever happens, we need to be unified coming out of this,” he said.
Both Collins and Poole, who were interviewed last week, said the process set forth in the party’s plan of organization to remove a party official is seldom used.
“It rarely happens,” Collins said.
Who called the meeting
The 10 individuals listed as calling the special meeting of the executive committee to consider removing Carr as chairman included the following.
• Eddie Cabe, precinct chairman of Beaverdam 1, who has written numerous emails castigating Carr, particularly for her alleged association with the March resolution altering the party's plan of organization;
• Debbie King, the Beaverdam 3 precinct chairman whose husband is seeking a county commissioner post;
• Greg Burrell, the Beaverdam 5/6 precinct chairman. Burrell said he isn't sure who he would rather see as party chairman, but said he is tired of liberals running the country. "It's Republicans, too, allowing things to happen as they are. It takes true leadership to bring people together." Burrell said the property taxes he pays to the county have gone up three times since the recession, and it is time those running the government learn "they work for us. We're not working for them."
• Tomile Cure, the Hazelwood precinct chairman;
• Jonnie Cure, the the Waynesville 1 precinct chairman. In an email, Cure questioned the March resolution that would have returned the party's governing committee to the way it was a year ago before every precinct chairman in the county was added to the executive committee. Cure also placed and paid for the advertisement in The Mountaineer for the special-called meeting.
• Lisa Womak, chairman of the Allens Creek precinct;
• Ken Henson, chairman of the Center Pigeon precinct;
• Eleanor Worley, chairman of the Beaverdam 2 precinct, did not attend the Monday night meeting but said Tuesday, "They called me, and from what I understand, things aren't going that well with her (Carr). I haven't been to that many meetings." Worley said she would have to check into what was going on before voting on whether Carr should be removed from office.
• Mark Zaffrann, chairman of the center Waynesville precinct;
• Andrew Jackson, who served briefly as party chairman several years back and is the current chairman of the Crabtree precinct.
Also see story on Republican Party plan of organization rules