Last updated: June 09. 2014 11:09AM - 1171 Views

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The NC Republican State Convention is over.

State conventions typically mark the official beginning of state and national campaigns. The NCGOP is focused on unseating Sen.Kay Hagan. N.C. Speaker Thom Tillis is poised to unseat her. Hagan is vulnerable because of her close ties to President Obama. North Carolina could very well determine if Obama-friendly Democrats like Hagan maintain control of the Senate. Republican control would marginalize the president.

Many pundits did not miss the irony that the NCGOP Convention was held at the casino in Cherokee as the GOP platform opposes gambling. However, this past weekend delegates did approve an amendment recognizing the right of individuals to pursue such activities.

The GOP brand historically has struggled with such ironies. The party of individual freedom and less government intrusion paradoxically supports intrusion on certain moral issues. The GOP simply believes that a strong nation cannot exist without acknowledging God’s law as its foundation.

So unlike the attempt by Democrats to remove God from their platform, the GOP is not about to attempt removing God from its platform anytime soon. But such individual freedom amendments may lighten the party image a bit. Being a guardian of individual freedom means you may be forced to defend freedoms with which some disagree. So while Democrats may have a point that certain Republican platform planks seem hypocritical, it’s now less an issue.

Democrats must give nods to very liberal groups within their ranks. The list is long and some border on communist. Republicans embrace Tea Party and Libertarians within theirs. Republicans will take Tea Party and Libertarians any day.

The Cherokee chief was a gracious host. He is an ardent Republican. The casino is a showpiece for the Tribe of which they are proud, nestled within beautiful mountainous views. The only downside is accessibility. More roads clearly lead to Robeson.

The Robeson delegation met with state and national leaders along with key operatives. This networking is important as Republicans continue to build a credible local alternative to Democratic policies. It’s not that Republicans and Democrats differ broadly at the local level. Ideological differences are more apparent at state and certainly national levels. It’s simply that ideological support begins locally and our government works best with balance Republicans are trying to provide.

African-American outreach and social networking were key workshops attended by the delegation. President Obama led the way in social media. Republicans are trying to catch up and the local party is now a state leader in technology utilization.

The RNC staffs a full-time office for African-American outreach as this leadership is growing within the party. Dr. Ben Carson’s booth was one of the most popular at the convention and Louisiana Sen. Elbert Guillory attended the convention as well. He’s an African-American senator who switched to Republican. His reasons, posted on YouTub,e went viral and can be seent at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_YQ8560E1w

Former Arkansas Gov. and Fox commentator Mike Huckabee sent personal greetings to Robeson as did Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Reagan cabinet member William Bennett. Of note, Bennett is now a North Carolina resident. The party will post those messages on media platforms soon. All are aware of the Republican growth in Robeson, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In fact, Robeson will be a target county for the Tillis campaign. Both Democratic and Republican operatives understand you don’t have to campaign in 100 counties to win a statewide election. But there are about 20 key counties. As Republican strength continues to grow in Robeson, the county continues to rise in political significance, as it becomes a battleground area for both parties.

Much strategy is finalized at the NCGOP state convention and Robeson factors heavily in those plans. Robeson is a barometer of sorts. What happens here affects the state and the nation as well. It’s a broad picture Republican operatives appreciate. It’s a broad picture that hopefully conservative Democrat friends appreciate as well.

Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.

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