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Gearing Up for the Next Round this Summer: It’s Convention Time

By Dasha Morgan

 Buncombe County Democratic Officers 2019-2020. Jeffrey Rose is the County Party Chair. (L-R) Emily Whitmire, Ellen Costanzo, Denise Marecki, Jeff Rose, Beverly Miller, Rich Lee.

With candidates duking it out with endless debates and tussling with each other over every current issue, the political field of candidates is narrowing to a more manageable level. Primaries continue to take place from state to state. North Carolinians just cast their primary ballots on Tuesday, March 3, but this issue of the Tribune had gone to press, so no discussion of this will be in this article.

The conventions—county, district, state, and national—are the order of the day until November. Both political parties begin their grassroots organizing. The Henderson County Republican party will hold their 2020 County Convention and Precinct Meetings on March 14th at Apple Valley Middle School at 43 Fruitland Road.  Doors open at 12:30. Meetings start at one.  All Republicans registered by Jan. 31, 2020 are encouraged to participate.

The meetings start with the Precinct Meetings where each precinct meets individually to elect officers and nominate delegates.  This is the best way to meet your precinct leaders and engage in Republican Party activities. The Convention immediately follows. This is where delegates are seated for the County Convention.  Party officers are elected at the Convention this year, and other party business will be conducted.

Merry Guy, chair of the Henderson County Republican Party, elaborated on this:

Here are some FAQ’s that you may find helpful.

Q: Who can go to these meetings?
A: Anyone who registered as a Republican by Jan 31st, 2020, may participate in the convention. Republicans can bring friends registered as an UNA as a guest.
Q: What’s the difference between a Precinct Meeting and the Convention?
A: The Precinct Meetings are held immediately before the Convention in the Cafeteria. Each precinct will have a table (35 total), and hold their meeting conducted by the precinct chair. At that meeting, the group will elect delegates and alternates to the county Convention. Detailed instructions will be given on the day of the meetings. You must be at this meeting to be seated as a delegate to any other conventions. (district or state). The Convention is held in the auditorium, and everyone is together. NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby will speak as well as other candidates. Delegates will be seated, resolutions and changes in the local plan will be considered at the Convention. On odd years, officers are elected during the Convention.
Q: Why should I consider going?
A: The County Convention is a great place to meet candidates, meet your precinct chair and find out how to get involved with the Party.
Q: Does it cost to attend the County Convention?
A: This is a no charge event. We do ask for a $15 dollar donation to cover the facility expense, however it is a voluntary donation, not an event charge.
Q: If I am seated as a delegate, does this obligate me to attend other conventions?
A: No, however it does help us to get the maximum number for Henderson County seated because the voting at the state level is weighted based on the number of delegates we seat.
Q: Do I have to pre-register?
A: No
Q: Who do I contact if I have questions?
A: Stop by or call the office at 828-693-6040 or email questions to: hendersoncountygop@gmail.com

The Buncombe County Democratic Party

The Buncombe County Democratic Party is one of a hundred counties that make up the North Carolina Democratic Party. The Buncombe County Democratic Party is organized into 80 precincts and the precincts are grouped into 11 clusters.

What is a Precinct? On Election Day, every voter has an assigned location to cast their ballot. This polling location is based on where you live, so you and all your neighbors likely vote at the same place. In North Carolina, the lowest level of Democratic party organizing is centered around that polling location, which is called the precinct.

All power in the Democratic Party derives from the precinct. Officers at the state party level, contents of the state party platform, even what the party rules are – that all begins with the local precinct. Your precinct helps enable democracy by staffing polling workers, recruiting election day volunteers, and helping make sure issues in your community are represented in the party.

Buncombe County Democratic Convention

At the annual organizing meeting, each precinct will send a number of delegates to the annual Buncombe County Convention. The Buncombe County Democratic Convention will be held Saturday, March 28, 2020. At 10:00AM at Asheville High School. Being selected as a delegate is straightforward – each precinct has a good amount of delegates, usually more than the number of people who attend the precinct meeting.

Attending the precinct meeting and being a delegate gives one the ability to vote at the county convention. In odd-numbered years, the county convention is responsible for electing a new set of county party officers who will manage county-wide party business for the next two years. The convention will also elect state executive committee members to represent Buncombe county at state meetings.

Resolutions passed by each precinct will also be discussed at the annual county convention. Resolutions passed by the convention will be sent to the district and eventually to the state level – then hopefully into the state party platform.

The National Conventions

The delegates chosen at local, county and states conventions will then head to their respective National Convention. In July a four-day convention will be held from July 13 – July 16 at which the Democratic Party will come together to formally nominate their candidate for the next president and vice president of the United States at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then a little over a month later from August 24 to August 27, 2020, the Republican National Convention will be held at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, doing the same thing for the Republican Party. These Nominating Conventions are held every four years by the two parties in the summer prior to the presidential election. Over the years, the exact way, and by whom, a candidate is chosen has changed. The conventions are usually still hotly contested, often with many times of voting before a decision on the final candidate is made.

Delegates, who have been elected by party members in each of the states and U.S. territories, gather together to officially nominate the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the general election. It is a unifying event and helps keep the respective party healthy. The convention delegates approve the party platform—the policy commitments the party makes to the public to guide their governing priorities—if they are elected.

The convention is where the statement of the party’s principles and goals are adopted, which is called a platform. The proposals and goals that make up the platform are called planks.

Conventions are a major transition point in the presidential campaign, and thus obviously of great importance. This marks the end of the nominating phase of campaigns, when multiple candidates of the same party compete against one another to be the single candidate of the party. The national convention not only makes the nominee the official candidate of the party but provides the opportunity to unify the party, rally its members for the fall campaign, and shift its messaging to appeal to more moderate and less politically engaged voters in the general election. The parties unite to take on the opposition.

After all these county, district, state and national conventions, the parties then gear up for the actual election to determine who will be the next President and Vice President of the United States. Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will the 59th presidential elections. A lot is at stake for this country.

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