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Local GOP steers clear of controversy
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Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown addresses the 1st Congressional District Republican Convention Saturday at the Dorchester Civic Center in Midway. - photo by Photo provided.

Republicans in the 1st Congressional District managed to avoid the controversy seen elsewhere in Georgia during nominating conventions last weekend.

Each individual delegate nomination was challenged from the floor through parliamentary procedure during the 1st District GOP convention Saturday at the Dorchester Civic Center in Midway. After several hours of deliberation and counting the votes, the 1st District Republican Committee elected three delegates and three alternates to represent the district at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Two of those delegates are bound to Donald Trump and one to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Benedictine Military School senior Will Carter, 18 (bound to Trump); Kay Godwin of Pierce County (Cruz); and Linda Olson of Chatham County (Trump) were elected as delegates. Alternates are former state Sen. Clinton Day from Glynn County and Carri Johnson and James Hall, both from Chatham County.

W. John Wood, the 1st District GOP chairman, said that because Trump won the 1st District by nearly 20 percentage points in the March Presidential Preference Primary, two delegates are bound to Trump and one to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, Trump received 41.4 percent of the vote in the district, while Cruz received 24 percent.

“The 1st District voters made its voice heard on March 2 during the SEC Primary that originated in Georgia. We are expecting those that serve as delegates and alternates to honor those votes to Donald Trump,” Wood said.

Elsewhere in Georgia, the 11th Congressional District convention in Marietta captured much attention after two Cruz supporters were elected as that district’s two delegates despite Trump collecting nearly 35 percent of the vote there in March, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And a Trump delegate who was defeated in the 7th Congressional District meeting in Gwinnett County marched out of that convention with several fellow Trump supporters, carrying the American flag with them, the AJC reported. In that district, Trump received 33.1 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 24.4 percent.

Wood noted the contrast between those conventions and the 1st District gathering.

“We followed the rules to the T, and each person that was nominated had an opportunity to speak to the assembled delegates of the convention,” he said. “At the point of voting, we did a standing vote where the sergeant of arms individually counted the votes by seated section and added the total.”

A total of 175 delegates from Liberty, Effingham, Chatham, Bryan, Wayne, Glynn, Camden, Charlton, Ware and Pierce counties attended the district convention. The district’s three elected delegates will be part of the 76 delegates who will make up the Georgia delegation to the RNC.

County conventions held in March selected delegates and alternates — based on 2012 Republican presidential county vote totals — to the district and state conventions. The state convention will be held in early June in Augusta.

Though electing delegates was the priority of the day, those in attendance Saturday had an opportunity to hear from a number of political officials, including Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, who welcomed the crowd before leading the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“This is the first time that I have been to something to like this, and it’s amazing to see the enthusiasm and support for candidates,” Brown said.

Brown and Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s victories in last year’s elections were considered hallmarks for Coastal Empire conservatives, according to Wood.

Convention-goers also heard from former congressman and current Georgia Republican Foundation Chairman Jack Kingston, 1st District Rep. Buddy Carter and Wood. All three spoke of the importance of involvement in the process but also about the need for unity of the party.

“You certainly do have a good mayor in Allen Brown and certainly someone that understands the importance of a strong relationship with Fort Stewart, which plays a major role in our national defense,” Kingston said. “The only bad thing I can say about Allen is he played football at Carolina, but we can forgive him for that. I will tell you today that whoever ends up taking the Republican nomination, that is who I will be supporting for president.”

Conducting the nomination and counting the votes took most of the afternoon.

A term that is being bandied about in the political circles is the possibility of a brokered convention, with Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kaisch battling to win the 1,237 delegates that are needed to secure the Republican nomination before the July convention. Wood said he hopes that scenario can be avoided.

“This year, this election, in a fractured political landscape, the Republicans would do well to not have a brokered convention,” Wood said. “Moving forward to the state convention and preparing for the RNC, it is my sincere hope that we can push aside the bitterness felt by both sides and all begin to support the Republican candidate that either is decided before the convention or at the convention during the vote of the delegates. We need to support our candidate unabashedly, unbiased and wholeheartedly in order to unite the party and win the White House.”

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