GOP to open headquarters

Published 7:18 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

Staff Writer

The Beaufort County Republicans’ leadership body voted unanimously Tuesday night to open an election-year headquarters in a Market Street office owned by Hood Richardson.
Richardson, a Republican and Beaufort County commissioner, offered to let the party use the space rent free.
The office once housed the Beaufort Observer newspaper, a conservative publication that suspended its print version but currently publishes an online edition.
“It’s really set up for a walk-in,” Richardson told nearly 30 members and guests of the GOP’s executive committee during a meeting in Washington.
Richardson said he would pay the electricity bill, provided the party is willing to help cover those bills once the air-conditioning is turned on.
The party will pay the phone bill, the committee agreed.
Richardson’s offer to let the party use the space came after Beaufort County Republican Party Chairman Larry Britt reported he had scouted downtown-Washington office spaces as possible locations for the headquarters.
“For a town that has so many empty buildings in it, everybody is proud to death of them,” Britt said after the vote. “And they want some money for them.”
The party will put together a committee to organize the headquarters effort, Britt said.
Charles Hickman, second vice chairman, said he had served on a previous headquarters committee.
“Having a headquarters was a great thing, but it was a very draining thing, expense-wise,” he said. “Hood’s offer is a very generous one.”
Earlier this month the Beaufort County Democratic Party’s executive committee also voted to pursue opening a headquarters, opting to raise funds for that goal before opening the doors. As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been no additional word on the Democrats’ headquarters.
Later, Hickman reported on changes in county voter-registration numbers, noting that registered Republicans ended 2009 with 9,457 enrollees.
At the same time, Democrats had 16,120 registered voters, the ranks of the unaffiliated had reached 5,699, and Libertarians had 12 adherents, he added.
The GOP gained around 62 voters from May through December 2009, while the Democrats lost approximately 71 voters, according to Hickman. During that same period, unaffiliated rolls grew by about 210 voters, he said.
“They’re the most popular party in Beaufort County,” he joked of the unaffiliated, adding, “And we’ve got some work to do.”
Hickman told the group, “Bottom line is, we have a tremendous opportunity before us now. We’re going to succeed even falling on our butts.”
That opportunity will be enhanced all the more if the party doesn’t fall backward, he asserted.
County Republicans can defeat Democrats “if we get the independent votes,” Britt said. He said the local GOP’s principles are “very close to what the independents believe.”