Buncombe County Republicans on Saturday elected Tim Johnson as party leader, the first time in its history that the local GOP has elected an African-American to the party’s top post.
A group of more than 100 Republicans attending the party’s convention at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College elected Johnson by acclamation. The group gave Johnson a standing ovation after he delivered a short speech.
“Passion without commitment is false advertising,” Johnson told the crowd gathered in Laurel Hall’s Ferguson Auditorium. “When it’s all said and done, we want to win in November.”
The 43-year-old Johnson served 21 years in the U.S. Army and moved to Weaverville from Cleveland, Ohio, two years ago. Johnson is president and CEO of his own leadership training company, Leadership 101. He’s married to Latessa Johnson, director of student services for Asheville City Schools, and the couple has four children.
Johnson’s election appeared to end party in-fighting last year that saw the party elect a leader who promptly stepped down, complaining of personal attacks. Last year’s internal fighting followed 2006 elections that saw Buncombe County Republicans lose to Democrats in two of three state House races, the state Senate, the race for sheriff and the race for clerk of court. In a region-wide race, Republicans also saw Democrat Heath Shuler dethrone their party’s top elected official, eight-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor.
This year, Buncombe GOPers will again fight to retake the 11th District’s U.S. House seat, improve their numbers on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and win in state House and Senate districts. They’ll also be working on behalf of statewide candidates in a number of races, including U.S. Senate and governor. And don’t forget the presidential race.
Johnson said he’ll work with party faithful to create strategic plan and increase the number of registered and active local Republicans. Registered Democrats out-number Republicans 69,956 to 49,023 in Buncombe County.
“We are going back to war. We have much to say and much to do,” he said.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor