GOOSE CREEK - The Berkeley County Republican Party reached a bit of internal peace Thursday, but getting there required the referee skills of the state's GOP chairman. And even with the goodwill, everyone seems candidly aware there still are a number of problems stewing just below the surface.
More than 130 Berkeley Republicans finished their interrupted chore of county party reorganization, cleaning up a state requirement just in time for the county convention two weeks from now. They also filled some open delegate spots.
State GOP Chairman Katon Dawson came down from Columbia to oversee Thursday's make-up meeting at Goose Creek High. While he didn't directly address the conflict over legal vs. illegal meetings, he did recognize that as Americans "we don't always have to agree."
Even with the reorganization settled, party faithful still recognize a divide remains among rank-and-file Republicans in one of the strongest GOP counties in the state. Some say it's shaped by old members vs. new ones, or between the growing suburban towns and established Moncks Corner.
Some just said it's a plain clash of personalities.
"It doesn't disappear after tonight, sure," said Tim Callanan of Daniel Island, a Berkeley County councilman who said he'll run for party chairman April 25. "There's going to have to be some repair work done after the county convention."
Dawson's appearance was prompted by a complaint that some party functions were illegal. But simmering deeper is a duel over how delegates and officers are chosen. The group that filed the complaint said party leaders have been stacking the deck and bending the rules to make sure people they favor are elected.
Linda Riney of Cross, who signed the complaint that created the challenge, said Thursday night she was satisfied with how the redo went. But she continued her criticism that unidentified members of the party's hierarchy are behind the miscues in the name of keeping old-time control.
"They want to keep control even if it means killing the party," she said.
She claimed officials don't follow the rule book. "They make it up as they go along," she said.
Wade Arnette, who said he is not running for re-election as county GOP chairman, acknowledged the recovery meeting went well, but added that the charges over party rules are overblown. He did some finger-pointing of is own.
"The whole thing is that this new crowd has come in," he said.
Dawson said he was pleased with the way things went, acknowledging that in the wake of the recent publicity, dozens more Republicans were able to come out and get involved in local party functions.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at email@example.com or 937-5551.