Fireworks at Meeting

Tempers flared yesterday at the Midtown Republican Club meeting even before it officially began. The topic was a post mortem on Thursday’s election.

Fireworks began when I asked President Goff if he had read the editorial yesterday by a Democrat blaming the GOP loss on hyperpartisanship.

He replied he had not, but he believed it to be true. He also pointed to Washington and blamed the things that were going on there for drifting down to us and bringing a blue wave.

This got an immediate reaction from one member in particular, who said that it was precisely the fact that we don’t back President Trump, have officials who back Trump and lackluster candidates that back away from Trump as the reason turnout was tepid. Certainly the energy of Trump voters was missing here Thursday.

Goff did not agree. He thinks that Trump and Republicans everywhere need to adopt a more moderate, less aggressive approach. He then got hammered about the Democrat partisanship. A shouting match between him and another person ensued.

Some of us felt that the election was validation of partisanship. Democrats voted for Democrats with little crossing over. It is my opinion that they usually do.

Blame then turned to the governor race which several felt hurt the local election because it was so nasty. The Boyd and Black feud may have turned off usual Republican voters. Perhaps some stayed home because of it.

That wasn’t true across the state, however. Tennesseans voted Republican in large numbers elsewhere. It was in Shelby County that they stayed home.

Inevitably the issue of race came up. Some felt that the loss of our two main black candidates, Paul Boyd and Robert Hill in the primary, made us look exclusive. Everyone agreed that we need to concentrate on black outreach and that maybe if either of them became Shelby GOP Chairman, it might help to dissuade people from using race against us.

Goff explained that in his race for County Commission District 7, he had gone to three black churches and appeared on black radio. He felt he got good feedback from them, but that the other candidates did not do that.

Regardless, Goff lost by big numbers. His opponent, Tami Sawyer, got 7,700 votes; he got 1,854.

Conservative radio host Ben Ferguson has excoriated the Shelby GOP for not going on his program or others on WREG. GOP Executive Committee representative Tim Beacham disputed that. He said Republican candidates were not invited on his show. Goff added that he had wanted to go on conservative radio but no one would schedule him. Beacham added that the Shelby GOP dropped $60,000 on radio ads on these stations.

The problems that occurred Thursday night with the two hour delay in vote counting by the Election Commission was brought up but never answered. But many of us felt that a big mistake had been made in the Election commission’s decision to stop the early voting downtown location. The Democrats complained that not having that poll would hurt black voters and dissuade them from going to a poll out east.

That gave Democrats an issue to bash Republicans with and that fueled their turnout. The newspaper and other media made it a front page story and because they made such an issue of it we got more bad publicity. That may have turned off voters, too, even though it was a decision by the Election Commission, not the GOP.

Many of us asked why we don’t fight back. Democrats do. Even though Chairman Mills wrote an op ed explaining that no one was being turned away, it was ineffective. We keep stumbling while they walk all over us.

Two young men associated with College and Young Republicans said we need to up our data bases. They pointed out that it was too late to do this in 2018. We need to work now for the 2020 elections. Democrats use this tool effectively.

One of the young men, who is working for Rep. David Kustoff, mentioned that the $3.5 million spent by George Flinn in that election could have made a big difference had it been applied in Shelby County. He also believed that we’re going to have to approach fellow Memphians via issues rather than party. He explained that the College Republicans had done that on the campus of U of M somewhat successfully.

We Midtowners tussled with that suggestion because most of us feel unable to discuss our Republican identity with others and don’t do that anyhow. Few campaigning in Annesdale Snowden or Central Gardens wants the difficulties that would ensue to anyone of us who does that.

Even though the discussions got heated, and Mr. Goff did apologize for his early comments, it was a good thing to have a frank discussion.

Families sometimes need to brawl to get issues addressed. We need more of this and less navel gazing.

Next Thursday GOP Chairman Lee Mills will address the Lunch hour Republican Club. The topic is again, a recap of the election: “Facing an organized and well-financed Democratic Party for the first time in years, a twenty-point voter registration disadvantage, and national political headwinds, the Shelby County Republican Party suffered significant losses in last week’s local election. Join Chairman Lee Mills and the Lunch Club NEXT THURSDAY, AUGUST 17 to hear him break down the election results, dig into the numbers, and share his perspective on how the GOP can bounce back.”

Here’s the information:
August 16, 2018
11:45 AM – 1:00 PM
Owen Brennan’s Restaurant
6150 Poplar Ave. #150
Memphis, TN 38119
RSVP
LunchHour@shelbygop.org
TWO Easy-Order Menu Choices: $20 all inclusive (salad, entree, drink, tax, and gratuity), or entree-only.
Seating will be limited, so please RSVP today!

I hope the turnout will be good.

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