The NC GOP Conevention got underway yesterday in Wilmington.  It was a perfect day for a drive along the coast and a stroll on the riverfront but not such a perfect day inside the convention hall.  From technical snafus to a registration boondoggle, the party leadership appeared not only unprepared but careless and arrogant.  The bright spot was the attendees.  The Tea Party people are out in force here and determined to be shown some respect.

Party leaders, determined to either show either their ineptness or their contempt for theTea Party (or maybe both), screwed up the video message prepared by Tea Party favorite, Michelle Bachmann, that was to be delivered to the assembly.  Bachmann’s message was not on the published agenda and ToD wonders if it was added at the last minute as a sop to the Tea Party.  In any case, the message was started and stopped several times while the techies tried to figure out how to display the video on the screen ( how hard is that?).  That proved a daunting task so they just let the audio go on while we stared at the creative and inspiring NC GOP logo.  No one at the head table seemed too interested or concerned about the snafu as it dragged on.

This little incident, I’m afraid, is symptomatic of the disconnect between the NC GOP and the Tea Party.  The old guard is determined to protect the old ways while the Tea Party is equally determined to put their stamp on the party.  Chairman Hayes made no remarks about the Tea Party or the power of the grassroots activism that swept the GOP into power in 2010.  He offered no gratitude for the work done largely by Tea Party activists to turn out the vote in 2010.  He made no mention of the victories of Tea Party candidates like Renee Ellmers and Thom Goolsby.   The attitude that I see is “Hey, thanks for the votes but we’ve got it from here.”

Another display of this contention is the race for Vice Chair of the Party.  On one hand, you have Tea Party favorite, Tim Johnson.  He’s young (well, he looks young), black and passionate, all attributes lacking in the party structure.  He’s got baggage, though, including his questionable P.H.D. and some criminal charges related to a domestic incident in the 90s.  But Johnson has spent his time over the past two years traveling the state, speaking to conservative groups, with enthusiasm and energy.  The people that have met him love him and are enthusiastic about supporting him.

Johnson’s opponent, Wayne King, chairman of the Cleveland County GOP, is seen as the establishment favorite.  This blogger has not met Mr. King despite him holding a late night reception in the room next to this blogger’s room just last night.  Mr. King, although standing two feet from this blogger’s door when she approached her room, failed to introduce himself or offer and condolences for having his party next to her room. Not wanting to hold that against him and not knowing a thing about him, all I have to go on is what others have written.  Carolina Politics wrote about him last night, painting a picture of someone who is at the beck and call of the old guard.

While the blogger at CP did not care for Mr. King, neither did they favor Mr. Johnson on account of the aforementioned.  You can read the CP piece on Johnson here and on King here.

With only two choices in this race, we are in a sad predicament indeed. However, my choice is clear.  The old guard must fall.

UPDATE 1: According to a letter being distributed to delegates, Tim Johnson claimed that Allen West endorsed his candidacy for NCGOP Vice Chair. The letter, written by Congressman West’s staff, refutes this claim. The letter is handed to delegates as they enter the convention hall.