BOONE — The Watauga County Republican Party honored its outgoing vice chair and gave calls to action at its annual convention, held March 2 at the Watauga County Courthouse.
Local attorney Nathan Miller is stepping down as vice chair after six years.
“He’s carried this party the last few years,” Watauga County GOP Chairwoman Karen Greene Lerch said of Miller.
Lerch was re-elected as the party chair. Missy Searcy was named the new vice chair and Linda Byrd was named the new secretary. Stacy “Four” Eggers IV and Miller were named the Watauga GOP’s N.C. Fifth District representatives.
In her speech, Lerch thanked N.C. Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Blowing Rock) and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) for sharing their resources and time with the Watauga County GOP and implored the GOP to be diligent and pray for the country.
Foxx confirmed to the crowd that she’ll be running for a ninth term in 2020.
“I don’t want us to lose this seat,” Foxx said. “You know how difficult it would be, how hard it would be to get this seat back. We’re going to have to spend a lot of money to get back 18 seats in the (U.S.) House. We’re working hard to get the majority back in 2020.”
Foxx spoke about several subjects, including a “post-secondary education reform” bill that is being worked on. Foxx said she recently met with Ivanka Trump and told the crowd that post-secondary education reform is a “No. 1 priority” for Ivanka and that the president is also interested.
The funding of 55 miles of new physical barriers, new technology and additional personnel for the Mexico border wall and funding to prosecute immigration crimes was praised by Foxx. Other legislative updates from Foxx regarded bans on genetic modification of embryos and various abortion restrictions.
“It’s a small sample of what we’re getting done that nobody knows about,” Foxx said.
Foxx agreed with a point Lerch made earlier, saying that the country is “one election away from socialism.”
“When you are helping to elect or me or any Republicans, you’re not just helping that individual personally, you’re helping the country and yourself,” Foxx told the crowd.
Speaking briefly, Ballard said that the ongoing N.C. General Assembly long session is very busy. Pro-life, school construction and education are priorities of Ballard, with a focus on community colleges.
Ballard spoke about supporting N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby for chief justice in 2020 and said that it is “extremely critical” to support his campaign.
Former N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan spoke briefly, asking people to keep an eye on the state legislature. Jordan asked Republicans to raise money, recruit and get the message out.
“Don’t feel down,” Jordan said. “We’ll keep the High Country in good shape.”
Jordan said that the percentage of Democrats in Ashe and Watauga counties are similar, just that Watauga has a lot more unaffiliated voters.
North Carolina 24th Judicial District Court Judges Ted McEntire, Rebecca Eggers-Gryder and Hal Harrison, who will soon be up for re-election, spoke to the convention about the work the judicial system does.
Harrison informed the convention that after 24 months of fighting cancer, he’s now in remission.
Eggers-Gryder spoke about having drug treatment courts in all five counties of the 24th district (Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey) and the fight against the opioid epidemic.
“This could be you or me,” Eggers-Gryder said. “Addiction takes over your lives. It’s our children and our community.”
Watauga Register of Deeds Amy Shook also spoke to the convention, as well as Watauga County Board of Education Member Steve Combs.
“What we need to do as the Republican Party is don’t sell out what we believe in,” Combs said. “The other side is selling their souls for a dollar. As long as we know what is right, the outcome will be good because Jesus is a part of it.”
Watauga County Soil and Conservation District Supervisor Chris Hughes said that in 2020, Republicans will take back the Watauga County school board and leadership of the county commissioners.
“We need all of us to commit to Republican victory in 2020,” Hughes said.
Robert Pope, an Appalachian State University graduate student, spoke for Chad Brown, who is running for secretary of state in 2020. N.C. Lt. Gov. candidate Deborah Cockham sent in a video asking for support to become the first female lieutenant governor in N.C. history.
Several resolutions were passed unanimously. Those include a resolution to have the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations, calling for the N.C. legislature to support transparency and audit the Federal Reserve System, supporting the Electoral College presidential election system, condemning late-term abortion, thanking Nathan Miller for his six years as vice chair; as well as resolutions honoring the lives of Ray Farmer, Betty Greene Koontz, John W. Tester and Stacy Eggers Jr.
The Watauga County Democratic Party will hold its annual convention on Saturday, March 30, at the Watauga County Courthouse, starting at 12 p.m. The Watauga Democrat will provide coverage at that time.