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Republicans of the 9th Congressional District clash at convention

Saturday, April 19, 2008 | 7:52 p.m. CDT; updated 1:20 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

MEXICO, Mo. — Republicans of the 9th Congressional District (including Boone and 25 other counties) met Saturday to elect three delegates to the state convention, select a presidential elector and to review amendments proposed for the party platform.

And they did, but the procedure was not without controversy.

Tension began to build even as the rules were passed out — one of the first items of the day that did not involve appointing officers or taking attendance. William Samuels, an attorney from Columbia who was a Boone County delegate, motioned for a 15-minute recess to read the rules, an action which ended up being little more than an argument with Acting Chairperson Lew Melahn, who had been elected to preside over the convention. The following vote was carried out orally, and Samuels’ motion was ruled as defeated.

During the discussion of the rules, Samuels presented points that he wanted the convention to consider. He asked that the convention consider that when choosing delegates for the state convention, they should only be allowed to vote for a slate of three delegates that had been submitted rather than vote for individuals.

When he began to talk about how the delegates from Missouri are proportioned as winner-take-all even though it did not reflect how the state had voted for Republican candidates, Melahn ruled him out of order.

“I know the law,” Samuels said to Melahn.

“I know the law, too,” Melahn said. After the argument, a majority of the delegates voted to close debate over the rules and adopt them. The vote was done orally and no actual count was taken. Several members groaned and voiced their dissatisfaction with the procedure, contending that the vote’s results were questionable.

The convention took a 5-minute recess to allow delegates to prepare and submit slates of potential delegates for the state convention.

At the end of the recess, two slates were submitted. Susan Ecklecam, Joy Gerstein and Patricia Thomas made up what was called the Lincoln Slate. Todd Adams, Amy Bremer, and Charles Kerner made up the Conservative Multi-County Slate.

More than a two-thirds majority of the 220 in attendance elected the Lincoln slate to represent the 9th District at the State Republican convention.

Shortly afterward, Nadine Thurman, a retired teacher and a United Methodist minister, was elected to be the presidential elector.

“I was so excited and thrilled and surprised,” Thurman said. “I had no idea. It’s such an honor. I’ve done so many other things but never been an elector.”

Delegates voted by show of hands during these two elections.

Terry Spickert, chairman of the Boone County Republican Party and a member of the convention’s Platform Committee, said that one reason the convention exists is so that people can voice their opinions.

“That’s just part of the process,” Spickert said. “This gives our party affiliates an opportunity to speak.”

Immediately afterward they took recess for lunch and listened to brief speeches from U.S. congressional candidates Rep. Danie Moore (R-Fulton), Bob Onder, Brock Olivo and Blaine Luetkemeyer. The candidates touched on issues that have already gained national attention on the campaign trail, including immigration and balancing the budget.

The first order of business after lunch was the consideration of the draft of the state platform and the local caucuses’ suggested changes. In Missouri, the Platform Committee reviews the suggestions from local caucuses and then makes a recommendation to the convention about what to do with them.

The Platform Committee recommended that all of the amendments be sent to the state convention except for one, which it brought to a vote.

St. Charles County had submitted an amendment that would change the Republican Party platform to oppose the war in Iraq.

Three speakers for and three speakers against the motion were allowed to comment on the motion.

“I spent seven months over there (in Iraq) running convoys,” Todd Adams, a delegate who supported the motion, said. “I saw a lot of wasteful spending going on. A lot of them (his friends in the service) are wondering why exactly we’re over there still.”

One of the main sentiments of those opposing the motion was that it would not be supporting the troops.

“Everybody’s in favor of the troops and supports them wholeheartedly.” Adams continued. “It’s a question of the mission and where it’s going. I just don’t understand, and my friends don’t understand, why we continue with this without a solid vision of where it’s going. We just hope that we can come to a reasonable ending before we spend so much money and get so deep in the hole that we have a hard time ever getting out.”

Merrill Townley, known as “Doc” to many at the convention, spoke against the motion.

“We don’t need to deal from a policy of weakness, we need to deal from a policy of strength,” he said. “This would be just an admission that we’re a weak country and that we don’t have any principles to stand up to, and I urge you to not approve this amendment.”

One of the delegates from St. Charles County stood and announced that the amendment did not represent the majority of office holders in St. Charles County.

The amendment was rejected after a vote.

When a motion was made to approve the rest of the amendments, as recommended by the Platform Committee, a motion to quickly read through and summarize the amendments was struck down.

A woman in the back of the seating area stood up and asked for a point of information, a parliamentary procedure that is allowed at any time during the convention. She expressed a concern that she was voting for amendments that she did not have on paper in front of her and did not know the contents of.

Since her concern was not technically a point of information, she was ruled out of order, and a vote was taken which approved the amendments to be sent on to the state.

No new business was presented after the amendments, and the convention was adjourned approximately four hours after it had begun.


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