Follow-up to an RNC election: A note from Linda Umberger

A straw-hatted delegate at last Saturday’s Georgia GOP convention in Augusta. Todd Bennett/The Augusta Chronicle via AP

A straw-hatted delegate at last Saturday’s Georgia GOP convention in Augusta. Todd Bennett/The Augusta Chronicle via AP

On Wednesday, we told you of some curious doings at last weekend’s state GOP convention in Augusta involving a three-way race for a Republican National Committee seat involving Ginger Howard, Linda Umberger, and Maria Strollo Zack. Howard was the eventual winner.

In an anonymous flier, Umberger was attacked on social issues. Her antipathy toward abortion was questioned, as was her support for “religious freedom.” The handout also noted Umberger’s support for bringing more women, youth and minorities into the party. As if that were a bad thing.

Later in the day, Umberger sent us a response. Here ‘tis, in full:

On Wednesday, June 8, the AJC’s Political Insider blog published a story about the National Committeewoman race at the Georgia GOP convention in which I was a candidate.  The article took particular issue with some of the negative campaign tactics that were levied against me on certain policy issues. I appreciate the opportunity to respond because putting this race behind us and moving forward as a party is a priority.

For those AJC readers who do not spend their weekend engaged in partisan politics, the job of RNC Committeewoman is a volunteer political job, not a policy job. The sole purpose of the RNC is to manage the party and ensure the Republican Party is “the party of the open door; the party of liberty, the party of equality, of opportunity for all and favoritism for none” per the RNC Rules and Preamble.  The RNC is not a policy making body. My campaign for National Committeewoman did not focus on religious liberty issues for the simple reason that bills like HB 757 are a state policy issue for state lawmakers to debate, not national political party leaders. In fact, the issue of religious liberty is settled at the federal level. Even Sen. Josh McKoon will tell you that we have had a federal RFRA law since 1993.

But for the record, I support religious liberty. The free exercise of religion is the heart of the Republican Party and the foundation of our country. I am also staunchly prolife. I was the only candidate to have experienced the gift of life first hand as a mother and the only candidate who, when confronted with a crisis pregnancy, chose life. My 27-year-old son, John, is a daily reminder to me that God has plans for every one of his creations and every life is special. I am thankful every day for my first-born son.

I built my campaign on the premise that we, as Republicans, must begin to heal from a very divisive and drawn out nominating process. Before Republicans can make any inroads with independent and undecided voters, we have to be united behind our candidate. This healing process requires we put both the political and policy fights of the past year behind us. Neither Cruz Conservatives, Liberty Conservatives, Religious Conservatives nor Trump Conservatives can beat Hillary Clinton alone in November. It is only when we fight together as Republicans that we have a chance at ballot box.

The AJC also noted my support for recruiting more women, minorities and Millennials into our party. The simple fact is that women are a majority in this country and Millennials are now the largest voting bloc in the US electorate. Republicans will never win the White House if we do not incorporate these demographics into our party. If Republicans focus on the politics of division and run on a platform of “No” we will never recruit these new voters into our party. For every litmus test we concoct to define “a true conservative” we disenfranchise another voting block that will either stay home in November or vote for the opposition.

Finally, immediately following the final vote for National Committeewoman on Saturday, I asked the convention for consent to record Ginger Howard’s election as a unanimous election of the delegates because this motion was exactly what party unity needed to look like.  I wanted Republicans to leave Augusta united behind Ginger Howard and Randy Evans, the National Committeeman.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve our party and I look forward to working with everyone who calls him or herself a Republican to defeat Hillary Clinton in November, and congratulations to Ginger Howard on her race and her win.  I am excited to support her leadership.

Sincerely,

Linda Clary Umberger


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