Pat Goodwin became the Columbia County Republican Party's new leader on Tuesday.
A former vice chairwoman of the party, Goodwin inherits an organization that has suffered months of internal conflicts and high-level resignations. Many hope that she will bring unity to the divided party.
"We don't always agree, and it's OK if we don't as long as we disagree in the room and leave united," said Goodwin, who was the sole candidate.
Tenth District Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee, who presided over a portion of the meeting at the Evans Government Center, also stressed unity.
"I hope this history in the party, it's got to end," he said. "This is important. Unity is important."
Republicans face tough challenges in state and national elections. Of the 21 counties in Georgia's 10th District, Columbia County's Republican Party is the largest and is a needed "cog" in the "Republican machine," Barbee said. "The enemy is the Democrats," he said. "We've got a lot of battles. We can't fight amongst ourselves."
Much of the current strife started in December when the party tried to oust then-Chairman Lawrence Hammond. He disputed his removal, contending that party leaders failed to provide him with adequate notice of the meeting.
The 10th District Republican Committee sided with Hammond in March, saying he received just five days' notice of the meeting when 30 days' notice is required. However, Hammond resigned soon after his reinstatement.
"It takes a high level of tolerance to work through these types of situations and I no longer have a desire to commit my limited time to that task," Hammond wrote in his resignation letter.
Another resignation came in April from Sarah Harper Scott, who was the fundraising chairwoman.
In a letter Scott sent to The Columbia County News-Times , she wrote that party leaders were more concerned with maintaining their power than they were with continuing the party's mission of supporting area Republican candidates.
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