The Carolina Stompers, circa 2007. Chad Nesbitt, in center with boxing gloves. Don Yelton to the right, with Santa Claus hat.
With Don Yelton’s controversial remarks on the Daily Show making national news, here’s some context about local right-wing activism. In 2007, Xpress profiled the Carolina Stompers, a local hardline conservative activist group including Yelton and then-future Buncombe GOP Chair Chad Nesbitt, known for flamboyant tactics and its promises to “stomp” liberalism.
Then, Yelton framed the groups’ activities as arrayed against Buncombe’s elite:
Buncombe County resident and perennial gadfly Don Yelton, who has also signed on, says the Stompers are going after the traditional power elite.
“Where I grew up, out in Jupiter, I remember the powers that be coming around and handing my father a slip of paper telling him who to vote for,” Yelton recalls. “Chad saw the other side of that—he was around the people writing up those slips of paper. Whatever your political belief, we can all be for more transparent and open government.” Group members, he notes, are a diverse lot: “Chad and I don’t always agree; all of us have different views.”
As for the promise to “stomp” liberals and “RINOs,” Yelton says that, too, is directed at the local powers that be. “If you look at who has the power in this county, it’s Democrats and a few select Republicans; that’s who we’re targeting. They should be open about what they’re doing with our tax dollars, whether it’s federal, state or local. If it’s a nonprofit, we should see where they’re getting their money from. I think we can all agree on that, whether you’re liberal, conservative, gay, straight, what have you.”
But Yelton’s emphasis on “getting people together” on common issues, as he puts it, contrasts starkly with the reactions from the objects of the Stompers’ rhetoric.
He later talks about his belief that religion must be reintroduced into public education:
Yelton, meanwhile, comes down more overtly on the side of religion. “When they took prayer out of the schools against the will of the majority, that’s when things really started crumbling,” he maintains. “Every civilization has prayed to some god.”
(Although federal law prohibits state-sanctioned prayer in public schools, individual prayer isn’t barred unless it disrupts a class or school activity.)
Would the Stompers ever consider cooperating with conservative adherents of other religions on certain issues? “I’ve never seen a pagan conservative; I’ve never seen a Muslim conservative,” says Nesbitt, adding, “The answer is no.”
Yelton also mentioned that “the problem is that the old-time Democrats are dying out, and they’re being replaced by this liberal, socialist, even communist group.”
The article also goes into the Stompers’ disputes with local liberal activists, their beef with others on the right, including libertarians and other factions of local Republicans, their investigation by the state board of elections for alleged campaigning violations, and more.
Nesbitt would later go onto a controversial tenure as local GOP chair at a time that saw no shortage of infighting and the Stompers have since mostly gone dormant (their website’s last update was in 2010).