The National Republican Convention is being held this week both in Jacksonville, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina — and Switzerland County has a tie to the event.
Lisa Fisher, Switzerland County Republican Chairperson and member of the Switzerland County Council, was one of just 57 people from Indiana to be named as an official delegate to the Convention.
It is believed that she’s the first county resident to serve as a National Convention delegate since Fay Olds attended the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.
Although the honor is official, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that both National Conventions were held virtually — without delegates actually attending the event.
“I was bummed out,” Fisher said. “I was supposed to be on a plane to Jacksonville, and how disappointing it is. I’ve got a proxy, Kyle Hupfer, who will be officially casting my vote. We really don’t have a choice, because we’re not allowed to go. We have designated people — which is our party chair for our state — becomes your proxy to go. Kyle’s going to be voting for me. I put down how I vote, and hand it to him. It’s kind of anticlimactic, really.”
Hupfer is the Indiana State Republican Chairman.
Fisher said that she was looking forward to being on the convention floor and the atmosphere of the national convention and being there.
“The enthusiasm, you kind of lost all of that. I can’t imagine how that’s going to be,” she said. “You don’t feel any of the energy coming to you. It’s very hard to hold somebody’s attention. The feel is just not there.”
Fisher applied to be a national convention delegate, with the state convention delegation making the choices of who will be an actual delegate from those applications.
“They take everybody who’s in the pool who applies to be a delegate,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what criteria they use to make the choices, other than you are to be a Republican in very good standing. Being the county chairman I think helped. They choose so many from your district.”
Fisher said that she spoke with Fay Olds before about the process, and Olds told her that you have to do some lobbying in order to get the position.
“She told me that because there’s so many people in the state, you’ve got to make yourself known,” Fisher said. “There are three delegates from the Sixth District.”
Fisher said that those people who are elected as delegates are allowed to bring a guest, but those guests are not allowed down on the floor, they can only observe from the stands. Delegates pay their own expenses, including travel and hotel accommodations — with Fisher sharing that hotels in the convention area setting a five night stay minimum.
“Really, your voting happens in a day, but the whole pomp and circumstance of it all and the speakers, all of that is done over a five day period because the hotels and the city that you go to make you stay for five days,” she said.
Fisher said that the pandemic situation forced several changes to the convention format — and location.
“Originally they were set for Charlotte, but they said there couldn’t be any large groups of people, so they pulled out of Charlotte to go to Jacksonville,” Fisher said. “Then with Florida’s large change in COVID cases, that’s why they pulled out of having it on site and just doing it virtual now. There’s a handful of delegates going, but they are someone who’s representing the mass of your state.”
Fisher said that those applying to be a delegate to the National Convention did not have to be delegates to the State Convention, noting that there are some “at large” delegates from Indiana along with delegates from specific districts.
So what got her interested in being a delegate?
“Talking to Fay Olds,” she said. “I was sitting and talking politics with her, and she was telling me about when she was a delegate to the National Convention and I asked her how she did that. She’s the one who told me that you have to make yourself known around the powers of the state. She would go to the State Convention and made sure that she was introduced or she would introduce herself to the ones that she knew would be doing the picking. So I told some of those people who I already knew that I was planning on applying. I’m very honored to have been selected.”