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Looking for a mutant
Jonathan Pait
April 3, 2002

I'm looking for a mutant. Well, maybe not a mutant--but since I don't believe in evolution, I don't see any other options. Perhaps a clone of several people into on is the best answer. That isn't possible, is it? Anyway, it couldn't happen before April 9.

First Monday, a lunch club for Upstate Republicans, hosted a forum with the three candidates for Party Chairman. Katon Dawson, Cyndi Mosteller, and Tommy Windsor shared their visions for the future of the Party. They certainly offered a contrast in presentation.


If you saw the candidates for the first time at the luncheon, you would probably end up with the following impressions.

Katon Dawson: Dawson is a package. When you see him and hear him you just know he has been shaping himself to be where he is today. He carries that air of confidence that comes from someone who sees himself as the leader in the race. There is no doubt that he has no reason to think otherwise. Besides, he has been here before.

Cyndi Mosteller: Mosteller is articulate. When she steps behind the podium she makes you think you are the only one in the room. Hearing her speak at First Monday, I was reminded of Elizabeth Dole and her speech at the 2000 Republican Party convention.

Tommy Windsor: Windsor gets an "A" for effort. He has a raw energy that exudes when he speaks or shakes your hand. His love for the Party shows. That isn't to say that he loves the Party more than the other two, it just shows a little more.


Looking beyond simple impressions, what is the take on these candidates?

Katon Dawson: He wants it bad. 2000 shows that. He is a politician amongst the politicians. He has the connections and the support of the executive committee. He has the advantage of living in Columbia. He is recognized as a proven commodity that can raise funds. As a spokesperson for the Party, you could expect pretty much a continuation of the same.

Cyndi Mosteller: She is the alternative. Her strength could be that she isn't a continuation of the same. If the vote for chairman were based on being the spokesperson for the Party, she would win hands down. It isn't just from behind the podium. Of course, she also has the baggage of having supported McCain and is linked with Quinn.

Tommy Windsor: He is the long shot. Regardless of his long service as a County Chairman, Windsor comes across as "young." You have to admire his energy and loyalty, but he probably will not be able to get enough weight on his back tires to keep from spinning them. What is it they said about Bush? He needs some gravitas.

The mutant.

What if we could take the connections of Katon Dawson, the communicative abilities of Cyndi Mosteller and the obvious energy of Tommy Windsor and package it in one leader? Well, it won’t happen. As it stands you can count on Katon Dawson being your next Republican Party Chairman. "Are you saying that is a bad thing?" you ask. No--don't try to read between the lines. However, I do not like the way it will happen.

Before the State Convention brings the votes to the floor, Katon Dawson will be given a major advantage. He will be voted in as the interim chairman by the Executive Committee to replace outgoing Henry McMaster. In many ways, this will make him the incumbent. The distasteful memory of the 2000 convention will be on the minds of many and will Mosteller's and Windsor's run be viewed as a "rebellion?" Then again, who was leading the rebellion last time? ***

I would prefer to see an interim chairman who has no stake in the election from the convention floor. Yes, it forces the party to go "leaderless" for the foundational period of the next election. Yet, is a single leader that important? Why do we have an executive committee? I call for them to step forward and be the leaders (perhaps they should have been a little more involved in the past eight years). Let the decision be made on the floor.

***Jimmy supports his comment with a letter sent to various Republican leaders around the state. I am not on his mailing list and therefore did not see it myself. The statement is much clearer than the quotations from The State and The Greenville News. You may read it here.

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