WENTWORTH — Rockingham County Republicans voted Saturday not to support a proposal that would forbid unaffiliated voters from casting ballots in their party’s primary.

North Carolina, which works under a hybrid primary process, allows unaffiliated voters to participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary.

The vote came at the 2016 Rockingham County Republican Party Convention on Saturday night.

“The concern that I have with this message is that right now we are not an open or a closed primary, we are a mixed primary, which means we will only accept unaffiliated voters to vote in our primary,” said Tom Schoolfield, Republican party member. “What happens if we make this change and our state Republican Party picks up on it, but the Democrats do not, what kind of message does that send?”

Rockingham County Republican Party Chairwoman Diane Parnell said that if the vote had passed, it would not have immediately led to a state law change, but would have let others know the local party’s position on the issue.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas spoke Saturday on local support for the Republican Party and his endorsement of presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.

“We have a chance to get a guy who has not recently adapted his views,” he said. “These are not newly found convictions; these are things he believes to his core. I know Ted Cruz and I know he could do a great deal for our country.”

Before ending the convention, N.C. Rep. Bert Jones, who represents Rockingham County, urged the candidates to continue to be involved.

“If you run for office, you will be criticized and I lost my first attempted election at a public office,” he said. “There are going to be those who win and those who lose on Tuesday. For those who don’t win come Tuesday, I hope you do stay involved with the Rockingham County Republican Party.”

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