Beltram Irks Few In Spartanburg
February 10, 2003
A lot of noise and commotion has been made in the past several days about the Spartanburg County Republican Party and its Chairman Rick Beltram. As I have watched members of our local legislative delegation and a small minority of party activists denounce Beltram and have asked him to step down over “several issues,” I cannot help but laugh at this entire fiasco.
My first encounter with Rick Beltram was in October 2001 at the infamous Spartanburg County Convention where he was re-elected Chairman by only 14 votes. In fact, I was one of the delegates who actually voted for his opponent, Marlene Saad. My first impression of him was not very pleasant partly because Saad portrayed Beltram as a cut-throat, power hungry man who had his own agenda that was not about getting people involved who wanted to be involved.
When I met Beltram at the county convention, all of those preconceived notions I had about him seemed to be accurate. He looked and acted like a politician who only wanted my vote to wield more power for himself. In the week leading up to the convention, Saad had called me at home several times warning me about Beltram and to assure me that she would be an active chairman and would love to have me play an active role in the local Republican party. Nevertheless, when Beltram won, I decided to approach him about how I could be involved.
To my surprise, not only did Beltram use me but he would personally call me many times whenever he needed assistance. Especially during the busy campaign season last year, I was called several dozen times to assist the party with various mailings, candidate registration, writing and organizing the party newsletter and anything else that needed to be done. In short, Beltram welcomed my support and used me every time he needed my help.
(By the way, Marlene Saad never EVER got involved in the Spartanburg GOP after she lost at the county convention. When I attempted to confront her about this several times last year by telephone, she never returned any of my calls.)
Later, I was startled to find out that Beltram’s devotion to the Party superceded his desire for more power so much so that he did not actively campaign in his bid for re-election as party chairman. My respect and admiration for him grew when I discovered what he did. Although it almost cost him his job as Chairman, Beltram has not backed down from his role as the leader of the Republican Party in Spartanburg County.
As I got to know Rick Beltram even better over this past year, what I often saw was a man who is sometimes misunderstood. Beltram is a living, breathing oxymoron. He is a visionary and a go-getter. His demeanor is disciplined, but yet he is also personable. He is a hands-on leader and he delegates responsibilities well. This dichotomy of conflicting characteristics is a part of what makes Rick Beltram the best at what he does. At the same time, this is also precisely what others fear most about him.
I think it is worthwhile to take a look at what has happened in the Spartanburg Republican Party since Rick Beltram became Chairman in 1999:
In 2000, Rick Beltram led a successful get-out-the-vote campaign in Spartanburg County that provided George W. Bush over 23,000 votes enroute to becoming the 43rd President of the United States.
In 2001, Rick Beltram successfully recruited new grassroots leadership through radio and local media (in fact, I remember hearing him do a live advertisement on The Ralph Bristol Show on WORD-AM Radio that propelled me to get active), with the highest number of delegates ever attending the county convention in Spartanburg County. With well over 300 in attendance at the county convention, Spartanburg County easily outpaced many of the larger counties in South Carolina.
Then, in the historic 2002 elections, Spartanburg County was once again instrumental in delivering big victories to Gov. Mark Sanford and the entire Republican ticket. They could not have done it without the votes that came from Spartanburg County Republicans.
All of these accomplishments are BECAUSE of the leadership of Rick Beltram, not in spite of him as his adversaries would have you believe.
Truth be told, Rick Beltram irks very few people in Spartanburg County (I would almost be willing to bet if you stood in front of the Wal-mart in Spartanburg and asked 1000 people if they even know who Rick Beltram is that you would be hard pressed to find even ONE person who would know!). Still, a very small group of naysayers have been against Rick Beltram being Chairman of the Spartanburg GOP since day one.
This leads me to another incredible attribute of Rick Beltram that I discovered. In yet another example of his wise and prudent leadership abilities, Beltram reached out to some of his opponents within the party after his close victory in 2001 and purposely selected some of them to serve with him in leadership roles within the local party organization. Although he had strong disagreements with some of these people, he felt the local Republican party would be strengthened by their presence on the team. These people know who they are and should be grateful to Rick Beltram for showing real maturity as a leader for allowing them to play such an active role in the local party.
This renewed call for Beltram to step down is not at all surprising, though. It has actually been brewing for a very long time. Now that the 2002 elections are over and the 2004 election season does not really begin until this Fall, Beltram’s political enemies have decided to strike at this time. To his credit, Beltram has not succumbed to the pressure and has vowed that “there’s no way that I’m stepping down.”
Rick Beltram has even gotten some unexpected support from two of the state’s top elected officials: Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and 4th District Congressman and 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Jim DeMint. They are standing behind and supporting Beltram during this difficult time.
The Spartanburg County Republican Party since 1999 has become one of the largest grassroots Republican Party groups in South Carolina and the United States. Whether his enemies like it or not, a lot of the credit for this goes to Rick Beltram who has provided steadfast guidance throughout his tenure as Chairman. He will weather this storm as he has every other one he has faced.
These same opponents are now questioning whether Rick Beltram should run for re-election as Spartanburg GOP Chairman in October 2003 or even remain as Chairman for the remainder of his current term. Because of his track record for success in past elections, I cannot think of another person more qualified to lead Republicans in Spartanburg County to another victory in 2004!
Regardless of what he decides to do, we all owe Rick Beltram a debt of gratitude for furthering the causes of the Republican Party in South Carolina. We need more Rick Beltrams all across our state and the nation who are willing to do the little things to increase voter participation in elections and to vote Republican.
THANK YOU, Rick Beltram! You are an inspiration and very much appreciated by an overwhelming majority of Republican activists in Spartanburg County. If you decide to run for re-election as Chairman of the Spartanburg County Republican Party, then you have my support!