The threat of a hurricane crashing the Republican National Convention hasn’t deterred travel plans for area Republicans ready to attend.
The nation’s biggest political events, which only come around once every four years, are about to begin – and participants from York, Chester and Lancaster counties are gearing up for the action.
The Republican National Convention is scheduled to kick off Monday in Tampa, Fla., but the Republican National Committee may delay the convention a day because of the storm. The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte begins on Labor Day.
Linda McCall of Rock Hill and Drew Johnson of Chester are heading to Tampa as delegates to the RNC.
Married to York County GOP Chairman Glenn McCall, Linda McCall has degrees in political science and communications and worked for years in banking before being laid off and taking a job in the Rock Hill office of U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land.
Tampa will make her third GOP convention, she said, and she’s looking forward to the “joyful atmosphere” on the convention floor.
“It’s like a party atmosphere, but a good type of atmosphere,” Linda McCall said. “Everyone is just excited with the nominees that we have.”
A Missouri congressman’s recent controversial comments about rape won’t sully the experience, she said. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who won the Republican U.S. Senate primary, recently said in an interview that in cases of “legitimate rape,” the female body has ways of avoiding pregnancy.
“When I first heard it, I thought OK, he’s got to be kidding,” she said. “There’s no selective rape.
“We have a party, just like the other side has a party, (and) we have some folks who make some crazy statements.”
It’s unfortunate that more pressing issues such as the economy and jobs “get put on a back burner by these crazy statements made by these individuals,” she said, calling them “sideshows.”
Johnson, who works for communications company TruVista, serves as the S.C. GOP’s 5th Congressional District chairman.
In that role, Johnson said, he’s always working to help Republicans win across his district.
At the convention, he looks forward to networking with Republicans from North Carolina and continuing to strategize about how they can work together to “make sure (North Carolina) goes red.”
Johnson is excited about presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his pick for vice president, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
“I’m extraordinarily impressed with him,” Johnson said of Ryan, who put out “a very good budget.”
Other local Republicans attending the convention this week:
• Kevin Smith of Fort Mill and Patricia Standfield of Rock Hill are attending as alternates.
• Glenn McCall, York County GOP chairman and the state’s representative on the Republican National Committee. McCall serves on a convention committee tasked with planning welcome events for delegates, including the kick-off event at Tropicana Field.
• Mulvaney, who represents York, Chester and Lancaster counties as part of the 5th Congressional District, will speak at a reception called “Saving the American Dream for Future Generations,” sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
• Diane Carr, vice chairwoman of the York County GOP, will attend the convention as a guest. Carr looks forward to attending a reception for Maggie’s List, a political action committee aimed at helping conservative women get elected to Congress. Carr serves as the PAC’s South Carolina chairwoman.
“I’m not looking forward to having to evacuate,” she said, in case Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way to Tampa.
• Barbara Haba of Lake Wylie, a member of the York County Republican Womens Club, also is attending as a guest.
• Peggy Upchurch, who formerly served on the York County Council, will be at her third RNC, having attended in Houston and New Orleans.
Upchurch is looking forward to the breakfasts when Republican leaders debrief them on the details of the day.
“It’s like Twitter live,” she said. “You are in the know, and that makes it so exciting.”
Jamie Self 803-329-4062