Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Mark Woodward, Recording Secretary for the Davidson County Republican Party, gives a State of the Party report. Mark is not seeking reelection.

Dear Nashville Republicans,

I have served as the Recording Secretary for the Davidson County Republican Party for the past four years, and I wanted to share my perspective on the growth and success of our party over the last four years and my hopes for the party now that I am resigning my position. 

It may not seem this way from the outside, but Republicans in Davidson County have made huge strides from where we were just four years ago. We tripled and quadrupled our volunteer base and fielded more candidates in county races than ever before in recent memory. 

And we galvanized voters who showed up at the polls. Here’s an example. In 2018, Democrat Rachael Elrod won School Board District 4 with over 67% of the vote. In 2022, “No Woke" Todd Pembroke held her to a modest 57% victory, gaining on her by a net 700 votes. In a small school board race, that vote shift is significant. On a small budget, Todd Pembroke garnered a full 1000 votes more than the charter-funded opposition candidate from 4 years earlier.

We campaigned hard, and our volunteers did not let us down. They gave money, knocked on thousands of doors, made hundreds of phone calls, and showed up in person to hold signs on Election Day. The results did not go in our favor, but the momentum coming out of the election is ours. The Democrat Party cannot continue to silence free speech, support the indoctrination of students without facing a tremendous backlash from citizens who are waking up and willing to fight for their country. 

The unsung hero of our local campaigns was a transplant from the UK named Bart Smith who became our 2nd Vice Chair in 2022. Recently transplanted from the UK, Bart managed and/or gave significant help free of charge to all but one of the local Republican and Independent candidates. He helped with strategy, designed mailers and door hangers, arranged interviews, organized fundraisers, and was behind several successful DCRP press releases. Bart’s considerable talent, fueled by deep convictions was met with only gratitude from candidates and volunteers, but earned him no small degree of suspicion from others on the board. In his zeal to get things done, he accidentally missed a few steps of protocol and personally offended some important people. DCRP board members wasted precious meeting time upbraiding Bart for moving too fast and putting campaign concerns above his responsibilities as DCRP 2nd Vice Chair. 

Chairman James Garrett did his best to stay above the fray while protecting Bart from official discipline. But the damage was done, and Bart resigned after the election.

Two other heroes that deserve recognition are John and Carol Wendt. Carol has been the 1st Vice Chair, and John a Regional Vice Chair for the last few years. They came into the party with a plan to recruit and train volunteers, and they did what they set out to do. They created a volunteer manual, they organized volunteer events, and created a community where there had been none. Along with their organizational talent, they are people of great character. I can remember a situation in a board meeting where two members had a sharp disagreement with one actually daring the other to quit the party. With calm dignity, John broke in and reminded everyone to communicate in a respectful way. Not only his words, but his manner — quiet, calm and confident — completely quelled the storm and earned John my enduring respect.

James Garrett has endorsed Lonnie Spivak to replace him as chairman at the coming reorganizational convention on Saturday, Feb 11. In his post lower down on this page, Mr. Spivak shares his goals for the party. I commend his digital engagement idea and his awareness of the issue of competing conservative groups. Should Mr. Spivak win, I hope he will support some of the good efforts that are already underway. Dia Hart and Laura Nelson are spearheading a committee to engage, recruit, and train local candidates — and they are on fire. Carol and John Wendt have breathed fresh life into the party, engaging volunteers and organizing events. We need to keep the momentum going and build on what we have started for the sake our movement and our message.

It is about the message. Republicans stand for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law, personal responsibility, patriotism, and family values. These ideals are not always glamorous, but our society is built on them, and they are worth fighting for. 

If you want to get involved at the local level, please attend our Davidson County Reorganizational Caucus and Convention on February 11, 9:00 AM at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. 


Mark Woodward

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  1. Thanks, Mark. Classy.

  2. I think Mark has given an exact snapshot of where the Davidson County Republican Party is. This article is so spot on. I hate this organization basically ran Bart Smith off. He pours out his heart and soul to help Republicans win and gets criticized after he does. Jim Garrett has guided the party while letting the right people step forward and take leading roles like Carol and John Wendt. They are truly a God send to this Republican Party. Rick Williams

  3. Excellent summary Mark, and I appreciate all the support & advice you gave to me during the campaign. It's a shame we had to live in the same District! Bart was also instrumental in guiding me along...without him I would have been lost in the sauce for sure. The silver lining is we have woken up the masses and energized the constituents that may not have been interested before. Let's keep riding the wave to the path of victory! - "No Woke" Todd Pembroke