LAURINBURG — Scotland County Republicans at their 2014 convention heard an overview of this year’s judicial races, as well as the platform of a Richmond County businessman who will oppose incumbent Democratic state Sen. Gene McLaurin in the November election.
Neil Oakley, a member of Robbins May & Rich law firm in Pinehurst and former clerk to North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Ann Marie Calabria, told the 13 party members gathered at party headquarters on Saturday that although appellate judicial races are billed as bipartisan, party affiliation can give away much of a judicial philosophy.
“I think sometimes you can tell things about the judge or judicial candidate … from their political registration,” Oakley said, “… particularly in terms of their views of the Constitution.”
Oakley stressed the importance of keeping a Republican majority on the state Supreme Court. Four is needed for a majority, and four seats are currently up for grabs.
“A lot of the issues that you see being debated and passed by the legislature and the governor are or will be before the courts,” Oakley said. “You’ve got education reform, you’ve got redistricting, you’ve got teacher tenure. All those types of things are being brought before the courts. So think about that in terms of what type of philosophy you want your judge and justices to have when they are considering these issues.”
Oakley prepared a list of candidates so that conservative voters would be aware of for whom they should cast their ballot. That list can also be viewed at daregop.com/judicial-races/.
Senate candidate Tom McInnis, of Ellerbe, told county Republicans that rules and regulations are preventing entrepreneurs and corporations alike from flourishing, or moving into, North Carolina.
“We have got to keep our rules, our restrictions and our regulations to no more than the health, safety and well-being of our citizens. When we get over that, all we’re doing is killing the incentive of those who would go out and start their own business.”
“If we’re going to succeed in Scotland County, in Richmond County, in Anson County and Stanly and that portion of Rowan which encompasses this district, pretty much all that rural,” he said, “we have got to keep that focus.”
McInnis also said that while the majority of residents in Scotland and surrounding counties are registered Democrat, it is because they don’t realize fully what it means to be a Republican.
“So many of our people, across racial lines, across socio-economic lines, have not looked at the platforms of both parties and see the significant difference in where we stand versus where they stand,” he said.
Also at the convention, Charles Brown, the party’s vice-chair and chairman of the Scotland County Board of Education, related findings from a meeting with Lindalyn Kakadelis, director of education outreach for the John Locke Foundation. Kakadelis, Brown said, informed him that no early education teachers were involved in the creation of Common Core Curriculum, evidenced by the fact that questions designed for a 6-year-old had as many as 40 words — “completely out of touch with reality” for what a student at that age could achieve.
The state board of education agreed to adopt the curriculum in 2010, but state legislatures are currently in talks and could consider changes.
Also on Saturday, party members nominated all 13 people who attended the convention to serve as delegates, two less than the maximum number allowed. Delegates can attend either the district or state convention.
Delegates are Mark and Bonnie Schenck, John and Dorothy Carpenter, Hazel Owens, Robin Chapman, Sylvia Whitmore, Hal Culberson, Sammy and Linda Simmons, Margaret Bullard, Charles Brown and Rusty Botwright.
In other business, the party approved a resolution in support of enacting the Fair Tax Act, which would replace income, payroll and estate taxes with a nationwide tax on retail sales.
Schenck, chairman of the party, cautioned fellow Republicans to not get fixated on small aspects of a candidate’s platform that they may disagree with, saying “commitment is more important than compatibility.” Voters should also be wary, he said, of candidates who base their entire platforms on opposing, rather than improving, current legislation.
“We want to make sure we’re got somebody elected who knows what he’s doing and not someone who’s only going to criticize,” Schenck said.
Abbi Overfelt can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 12. Follow her on Twitter @aoninscotco.