Washoe County Republican Convention

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You may remember that in January at the Republican caucus I volunteered to be a delegate to the Washoe County Republican convention. The convention was yesterday and I was there. I’m a neophyte at all this. Other than being a voter, I’ve never before been involved in the political process. Here are a few of my observations.

  • At the beginning of the convention the chairman asked everyone who had
    never been to a convention before to stand up. 95% of the room stood up. Less than 100 people attended the last Washoe County Republican convention. Yesterday there were 738 seated delegates and a total of about1200 people attending. We were told that in Clark County (Las Vegas) they had 138 attend the last convention and 3300 attend this one. The 3000% increase in participation is because Nevada had caucuses this year instead of a primary.
  • It cost $35 to attend the convention. It never occurred to me that there would be a charge. But I guess in hind sight is obvious that someone needs to pay and it makes sense that it should be the delegates.
  • The convention was supposed to last from 10 to 4. The vast majority of the day was spent on procedural issues. At lunch time the convention was still debating the rules and seating of delegates. Because most of us didn’t understand the process everything was confusing and somewhat chaotic . There was a lot of debate about things that seem silly. In a meeting with over 700 people you can imagine that there are a lot of people who want to have their say. For example we spent about 30 minutes debating the wording of the  resolution in support of our troops. In spite of all this we finished by 5. I thought the chairman, Bill Bilyeu, did a good job of moving everything along while keeping it civil and still allowing people to be heard.
  • Less than an hour before we were scheduled to adjourn we finally started discussing the platform. There was a small group of Libertarians in the far right corner of the room who were proposing changes like getting rid of the Homeland Security Department and not requiring children to attend school of any kind.  I was glad that more mainstream issues were also raised.
  • One platform plank that did get debated was support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. A strong case was  made that this plank is in conflict with the stated principal that we believe in equal rights for all. Since I support gay marriage I was glad that I at least got to vote on this issue even if I was very much in the minority.
  • In their story about the convention the Reno Gazette Journal says that the convention elected delegates to the state convention. If you read this story would you assume that delegates were elected based on who they supported and where they stood on issues? If you assumed that you would be wrong.  In fact the delegate election took about 30 seconds. Everyone who volunteered was elected because there were 664 volunteers and Washoe County is allowed 674 delegates. I volunteered so I am a delegate to the state convention. Interestingly enough delegates can vote any way they want to. I’m sure the majority will vote for McCain but we could all vote for Ron Paul if we wanted to.
  • The Reno Gazette Journal story also said "Mc’Cain’s second place showing in Washoe County gave him few delegates to the county convention." This is baloney. No one knows who the delegates to the convention support. Most delegates were elected because they volunteered not because of who they support. I have not once in either the caucus or in yesterday’s convention been asked who I support. When I emailed the county Republican party after the election to ask how my precinct voted their reply was "Precinct by precinct results are not available." So even if I wanted to vote according to how my precinct voted I couldn’t.
  • It was also a surprise to me that there was no vote or discussion or even a rubber stamp vote for  who our presidential candidate should be. Of course it will be McCain but that wasn’t a subject discussed at the convention.
  • I don’t think George Bush’s name was mentioned once all day.
  • Even though the convention was basically irrelevant when it comes to the the presidential election or the direction of our country it was still fun to see the debate and watch the process. I enjoyed myself. It did make me think about how the process should be changed so that Nevada voters actually have some say in how their delegates vote at the national convention. It doesn’t really matter this time but it certainly would matter if we had a fight for the nomination like the Democrats do.
  • The Nevada State convention will be held in Reno on April 26. I’ll be there.

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