Republicans Hold Mass Meeting and Women’s Convention

On Thursday evening, the Roanoke County Administration Building was packed to capacity for the Roanoke County Republican Mass Meeting.  The meeting convened to elect a new chairman for the party, and was contentious to say the least.  Current chairman Mike Bailey was running for re-election and right at the filing deadline, Al Bedrosian decided to put his name on the ballot as well.

Typical meeting attendance is about 75 people, but since this was a contested election, well over 300 people tried to pack into a room with a capacity of only 150.  The fire marshal was on hand to keep count; eventually he ordered the doors closed, limiting the overflow crowd to the hallways.  At 7 p.m. the outside doors were locked and only those that made it inside were allowed to become a voting delegate.

After the credentials committee validated the delegates, speeches were given first to the audience in the room and then again for those in the hallways.  Many people became frustrated and left before the voting began. Bailey spoke of his numerous qualifications saying, “My role is not to be in the lime light.  My role is to work with everyone in such a way that we develop good party platforms, we elect good Republican leaders and we make everyone work together for a common cause.  My role is to hold the umbrella under which we all may stand.”

Bedrosian stated that he felt it was his “time to lead,” adding that the group must become a Christian organization, offending some in the room that were members of other religions.

Many in attendance were put off by the fact that Bedrosian ran as an Independent in the last election against the Republican candidate for the Hollins district in the Board of Supervisors race.   Since Bedrosian is not a dues-paying member of the Roanoke County Republican Committee and has not been attending meetings regularly, some in attendance felt he should be disqualified from running.

Mike Bailey handily won by a three to one margin.  In his acceptance speech, he thanked his many volunteers and invited everyone who voted to come to the next meeting and consider joining the Committee “so that their voice can be heard.”

Republican Women’s Convention: Over the weekend, 300 women from all over the state arrived at the Hotel Roanoke for the annual Virginia Federation of Republican Women’s convention.  The Saturday night banquet featured Governor Bob McDonnell as the keynote speaker, who appeared with his wife Maureen and daughter Jeanine, who sang the national anthem.

McDonnell spoke about last year’s election and the fact that the Republicans swept the state for the top three offices.  He was especially gracious to outgoing VFRW President Brenda Campbell, thanking her for all the hard work she and the other members did for him last year.  He added that he could not have won the election without the support of the women, who donated over three million dollars worth of volunteer time to his campaign.

Local dignitaries in attendance included Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson; Kathy Hayden Terry, RNC National Committeewoman; Senator Ralph Smith; Delegate Dave Nutter; Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark and Congressman Bob Goodlatte and his wife Maryellen.

Sunday’s keynote speaker was Sue Lynch, President of the National Federation of Republican Women.  She spoke of her many travels around the country in support of Republican candidates and how the country’s attitude is changing in the face of Obama’s liberal agenda.  Lynch then installed the new officers for the 2010 to 2012 term, including new President Fay Williamson.

Achievement awards were presented to the Republican Women’s clubs from around the state; the Roanoke Valley Republican Women received the Gold Achievement Award, the highest honor.

By Carla Bream
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