The tale of the voice mail: The plot thickens in NCGOP-Davidson Co. GOP tiff



We reported earlier on an uproar in Davidson County about filling a vacant state House seat.  State Rep. Jerry Dockham (R), the area’s legislator since the 90s, resigned to take an appointment to the NC Utilities Commission.

Under state law and GOP bylaws, local Republican leaders in the state House district had to nominate someone to finish out Dockham’s unexpired term. THAT is where the “fun” began:

Local Republicans say a voice mail left by a North Carolina Republican Party official further confirms a Davidson County man was denied his right to participate in the vote to replace former House Rep. Jerry Dockham.

Thomasville resident Dwight Story was one of six Davidson County Republican Party Executive Committee members eligible to participate in the vote to replace Dockham, who recently took a position with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

However Story, who was traveling with a church group in Wytheville, Va., was not allowed to contribute after other eligible members voted 3-2 on July 11 not to allow him to cast a ballot via telephone.

Holly Grove resident Roger Younts, who cast one of the three ballots against Story voting by telephone, was eventually selected to replace Dockham, also by a 3-2 vote. Younts, the county party’s treasurer, also voted for himself.

Gov. Pat McCrory confirmed Younts last week, and he will serve the remainder of Dockham’s term, which expires in 2014.

A voice mail obtained from Story’s phone shows that he was scheduled to vote in the proceedings. The nearly 25-second message, left by NCGOP Political Director Kim Canady, was recorded on Story’s phone on the morning of July 11, hours before the meeting to replace Dockham.

“I am the one that you will be talking to, and I will be calling you tonight to take your vote over the phone,” Canady said in the message.

Story said Canady never called him to take his vote or tell him that he would not be voting after eligible members motioned for him not to be included. However, he said Canady did call him last week, to apologize for what happened.

HoustonRaleigh, we have a problem.  Story seemed to be rather willing to forgive and forget about the episode.  Others DID NOT: 

“It really didn’t upset me, because I’ve been in politics long enough to know that things do happen,” Story said on Tuesday. “It was assured that I would have an opportunity to vote by phone, but there was a motion made to exclude me from voting by phone.”

Some rather interesting details were passed on to me by folks who were at the meeting.  Reportedly, representatives of The Red Dome  political consulting group — closely tied to operatives at NCGOP HQ — were at the meeting.  According to my sources, the Red Dome reps appeared to be active supporters of Younts and his efforts to gain the appointment to the House seat.  I was also informed by sources on the ground that Canady was set to — shortly after this meeting — take a paid position with the Thom Tillis for US Senate campaign.  MORE: 

Canady and NCGOP general counsel Michael McKnight traveled to Lexington to oversee the voting procedure, which followed the party’s plan of organization, Robert’s Rules of Order and a set of meeting rules voting members approved.

Some local Republicans, including county party chairman Lance Barrett, became upset after the vote to select Dockham’s replacement, mostly because they thought Story was denied his right. Barrett said he spoke with Canady as well as voting members, including Younts, who all said they would be agreeable with Story voting by phone.

Younts said last week he did talk with Barrett, but never indicated his stance on Story voting.

Barrett said the voice mail to Story only further indicates that eligible voting members made a conscious decision to exclude him from the process.

“Sometime between that morning and that night, they got together and changed their mind,” Barrett said. “From the beginning, it was not that Roger recused himself that was so troubling to so many people, it was the fact that Dwight was prevented from participating in the vote.”

GOP members trade barbs

Former Wallburg Town Councilman Gary Craver, who voted for Younts’ appointment and against Story participating via telephone, said proxy voting is generally prohibited in the North Carolina Republican Party Plan of Organization.

Craver also said that some party members, including Barrett and former chairman David Rickard, have prohibited telephone voting in the past, including during the appointment of Davidson County Sheriff David Grice.

Hmmm.  But evidence suggests that an NCGOP official had approved a vote via telephone.  MORE: 

The party’s executive committee selected Grice over several candidates in June 2004 after an interview process. Rickard, who was chairman at the time, said one committee member, Linda Ferguson, did not participate in the interview process or the vote because she was out of town.

“There was no vote ever taken as to whether she wanted to vote or not, and that was left up to Linda,” Rickard said. “She bowed out gracefully.”

Younts was one of six candidates vying to fill Dockham’s seat, including Davidson County Commissioner and general contractor Sam Watford, who received two votes at the meeting.

Craver contended that the real reason so many Republicans are upset is because Watford was not selected to replace Dockham.

“The only thing that caused all this is because Lance Barrett didn’t get the person he wanted in the job and he shamed the whole Republican Party by the way he acted,” Craver said.

Barrett said that’s not the case.

“It’s not a Roger Younts-Sam Watford issue,” Barrett said. “It’s a procedural issue with how it was handled by the NCGOP and an issue of not letting Dwight Story vote.”

I wasn’t present for this affair. But from what I’ve seen and heard, it looks bad.

Instead of rushing the approval of this matter and seating Younts — party officials in Raleigh SHOULD have slow-walked this thing and taken time to address local concerns. What was the hurry?

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve got another troubling chapter in an on-going saga of apparent heavy-handed tactics by NCGOP leaders against local party leaders.