FRANKLIN, Tennessee–Long-time conservative grassroots activist Debbie Deaver swept to victory over establishment favorite Tom Miller at a packed session of the Williamson County Republican Convention on Tuesday night.
“Tonight the Williamson County Republican Party had a choice for leadership,” conservative activist and Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, a resident of Williamson County who was in attendance, told The Tennessee Star.
“The choice was between a Republican and a liberal. The party chose well,” Phillips said.
One former chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party told The Star it was the largest crowd he had ever seen gathered to vote for a new county chairman.
Not everyone who showed up was selected as a delegate to the convention.
The evening began when the attendees gathered in twelve separate groups, corresponding to the voting district of the county in which they reside. Each district selected a maximum of 30 delegates who were authorized to vote. A total of 262 delegates and 7 provisional delegates were selected.
After all the delegates were credentialed, they gathered in the auditorium, which was jam packed, standing-room only.
Outgoing chairman Julie Hannah introduced the two candidates, each of whom was given five minute to address the crowd.
Deaver emphasized her experience as an entrepreneur, her vision for a proactive party leadership team, and unveiled a plan to establish a Republican welcome wagon to greet the 19,000 new residents who move to Williamson County each year. She noted that the greatest number of these new residents come from California and Florida.
Miller, in contrast, emphasized his record of leadership as former mayor of Franklin. Another theme he advanced was to argue that Williamson County Republicans should not be involved in non-partisan political races in the county.
He also took part of his five minutes to take a veiled shot at The Star.
“Recently, a reactionary rag called me a moderate,” he said, an obvious reference to The Star’s story on the race that was published on Tuesday.
After the speeches, the delegates cast their ballots, and tension built in the room during the fifteen minutes it took to count the votes.
When the results of the votes were announced and Deaver was named the victor, she took over chairmanship of the meeting from Hannah.
Miller walked briskly past the lectern where Deaver stood without offering congratulations and quickly left the building.
“The decision of the WCRP was validated when Miller simply stormed out of the meeting after losing,” Judson Phillips told The Star.