E-mail reveals GOP’s concerns

Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Staff Writer

The chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party recently sent a revelatory e-mail to the Daily News, a move he said was an accident.
The e-mail, from Larry Britt, was intended for Greg Dority, a longtime local GOP operative.
Dority is also a campaign adviser to Ashley Woolard, a Washington Republican seeking his party’s nomination to run in congressional District 1.
The e-mail, sent to news@wdnweb.com, was addressed to “Greg.” Dority shares the first name of Greg Katski, the Daily News’ community editor.
Referring to a county GOP executive committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 19, the e-mail advises Dority that Britt believes the party has “around $7,000 to put into the election season.”
Dority serves on a strategic committee that’s pulling together an election-year strategy to promote Republican candidates, Britt explained Monday in an interview.
In the e-mail, Britt questions whether the local GOP should use its election-year funds for signs, forums, Internet ads or newspaper ads.
“I want to get as much publicity for the BCRP as we can as we make some noise and get noticed, even if it’s a bit controversial,” Britt wrote. “I think we should have a meeting before the 19th of all key political figures to get input and ideas.”
It wasn’t clear to which key political figures he was referring.
Asked about the e-mail on Monday, Britt said, “I don’t know why you would have gotten it.”
He noted that Dority’s e-mail address starts with the word news, and that the same word begins the Daily News’ general e-mail address.
Britt said his computer might have picked up on the key word “news,” and filled in the send line with the wrong e-mail address.
“I’m sure that was carelessness on my part,” he said.
Speaking of the e-mail’s content, Britt commented, “We’re trying to put together a campaign where we use our money wisely.”
Britt predicted that the county GOP would try pushing itself as the conservative alternative to counteract voter disaffection with some figures on the national Republican stage.
He said the focus likely would be more on promoting the party than individual candidates.
“People are not happy with what the Republican Party has done in years past,” he said. “They have not been a conservative party.”
Describing himself as a Republican modeled after former President Ronald Reagan, Britt added, “We want to change the thinking of what people think about when they think about the Republican Party.”
Evidently talking about the years when President George W. Bush was in office, he said, “I think most Republicans today know that we screwed up in the past eight years.”
Addressing criticisms leveled against county GOP officials in the past, he cautioned that the local executive committee doesn’t hold secret meetings.
Speaking of the e-mail, he said, “It’s one of those things that wasn’t meant for public consumption, and was a mistake on my part.”
Also reached for comment Monday, Dority said he’ll recommend that the committee on which he serves delay its strategy report until after the filing period ends.
The filing period, during which candidates will sign up to compete for offices statewide, runs from noon Feb. 8 until noon Feb. 26.
The report’s release should be pushed back because of unfolding developments in various races, Dority said, adding that the county-commissioner contest is shaping up to be a major one.
“One of our biggest decisions is going to be whether to run two or three candidates in the county-commissioner race,” he said.
Dority’s revelation hearkens back to a strategy the county GOP employed in 2002, when Republican candidate Roy O’Neal dropped out of the commissioner race, clearing the way for fellow Republican office-seekers Carol Cochran and Earl Tetterton.
Cochran and Tetterton won two of the three seats up that year, giving the GOP a majority on the board of commissioners for perhaps the first time in the county’s history.
Third in the race was Commissioner David Moore, a Democrat and the only incumbent in the contest. Moore attributed the GOP takeover to O’Neal’s departure from the race.
“The commissioner race is probably going to be the biggest race, locally,” Dority said Monday.
Attempts to reach Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, for comment were unsuccessful.