Elgine McArdle, the state chair of the West Virginia GOP, delivered the keynote address at Sunday's Lincoln Day Dinner at the Bicentennial Inn. / Photos by Katie Kuba

State GOP Chair says Republican candidates must ‘stand for character’ in 2024 Election

BUCKHANNON – The state chair of the West Virginia Republican Party on Sunday told constituents and candidates they were united by a single goal – to elect conservative Republicans in the 2024 Election.

The Upshur County Republican Executive Committee invited the state chair of the W.Va. GOP Elgine McArdle, to deliver the keynote address at the first Lincoln Day Dinner since the pandemic Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Bicentennial Inn.

Licensed to practice law in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, McArdle was elected state GOP chair in 2022.

“I think it’s important to remember that we are all Republicans,” McArdle said. “We have one goal in 2024, and that is to elect conservative Republicans and beat the Democrats, so we need to keep that in mind.”

McArdle supplied a few tips to attendees, whether they happened to be voters, volunteers, candidates or office-holders.

“Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities within ordinary people, and that’s what’s here in this room – ordinary people doing extraordinary things, rowing the boat in the same direction and not against one another,” she said. “You must keep that in mind.”

“Doing the right thing is never easy, but doing the right thing is never wrong, and keeping that in mind, I have some tips,” McArdle added. “Character is what the Republicans must stand for in the 2024 election, so that being said, you need to feed your mind with positivity.”

McArdle said that while being productive is important, physical activity and rest are key.

“You need to stay active,” she said. “It is so important. My dad passed in 2012, and he said, ‘No matter what you do, if you do not have your health, you cannot do anything.’ We all run ourselves ragged, so you need to take time for that coffee in the morning. Turn off your phone, go out on your deck … whatever you do, just take the time to relax because you need it.”

McArdle recommended that Republican candidates network with positivity and maturity, and said that no matter how miserable a day they’ve had on the campaign trail, don’t ever dodge shaking a voter’s hand.

“You haven’t eaten; you’re tired; you’re grumpy, but guess what? You still have to meet that voter; you still have to shake their hand; you still have to put a smile on your face,” McArdle advised. “It’s hard, but that delivery – that 30-second interaction with every voter makes a difference.”

She said never quit, although persevering may require refocusing and restarting myriad times.

“Behind every strong person is a story that gave them two choices – sink or swim,” McArdle said. “What are we going to do? Are we going to sink with all the negativity, or are we going to swim with the positive thoughts and go forward in the 2024 Election?”

McArdle also announced that the Republican State Executive Committee had passed a resolution over the summer to vet conservative Republicans running for nonpartisan officers and send out a mailer endorsing them.

“To those of you who are running in nonpartisan races – mayor, judge – I’m happy to announce that the State Executive Committee in our summer meeting passed a resolution that is going to endorse conservative Republicans and put out a list in a mailer before the Primary [Election of 2024] of all of those individuals who are vetted by the State Executive Committee and determined to be conservative in the nonpartisan races.”

Each Senatorial District will have a representative tapped to serve on the vetting committee.

“Those (candidates) names in the nonpartisan races – from city officials to judicial positions all the way up to Supreme Court and Circuit Court judges, their names will be vetted, and they will go out in a mailer,” McArdle said.

Earlier, as the event got underway, Vice Chair of the Republican Executive Committee LeVera Gillum asked attendees to pay tribute to the late longtime county executive committee chair Patty Adams. Gillum said Adams had a long history of working “tirelessly” in any way she could for the Republican party.

Gillum then introduced the new chairman of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, Del. Carl “Robbie” Martin, R-65.

LeVera Gillum, vice chair of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, welcomes attendees to the Lincoln Day Dinner.

“I met one day with Robbie Martin, and I said, ‘Robbie, would you consider being the chairman?’ and with this great big smile, he answered me, ‘I would be honored to,’ and on that day, I pledged my total support to him as well as whoever was going to be on the committee.”

Martin thanked Gillum and said he was grateful for a large turnout.

Del. Carl ‘Robbie’ Martin, chair of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, speaks at Sunday’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

Retired Col. Robert ‘Bob’ Kincaid led a special veterans recognition that he hoped provided a window into what he believes West Virginia veterans expect from their elected officials.  

Kincaid said members of the U.S. Armed Forces are charged with preserving and protecting the Constitution.

“You’ve got to remember that the Constitution of this great country is what the service members support,” Kincaid said. “They don’t support the people; they don’t support the states. They support the Constitution of this United States. When you become self-serving, whether you’re a voter or a politician or a judge or a sheriff, then you may start violating those constitutional rights, and our republic is built on those rights.”

Martin and Gillum also welcomed another special guest in attendance — Benjean Rapp, the W.Va. State Republican Chair of Chairs and chairwoman of the Nicholas County Republican Executive Committee. Rapp was elected Chair of Chairs during the winter of 2022.

The 2023 members of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, include Martin, Gillum, Secretary Jeani Hawkins, Treasurer Doug Roberts, member Tim Bennett, member Lindsay Bever, member Gary Connell, member Caiden Cowger and member Chris Mundy.

JAW’S BBQ! catered the event, which included brief pitches from candidates in attendance and door prizes.

2023 Upshur County Republican Executive Committee members, pictured from left, are Caiden Cowger, Lindsay Bever, Treasurer Douglas Roberts, Chairman Del. Carl ‘Robbie’ Martin, Vice Chair LeVera Gillum, Secretary Jeani Hawkins, Gary Connell, Tim Bennett and Chris Mundy.

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