Murray Defends Oconee’s Republican Women’s Chair
By Riley Morningstar
SENECA — Oconee County Republican Party Vice President Pat Murray defended herself and a constituent in a more than 20-minute speech Thursday after the party’s recent feuds became public knowledge.
Murray spoke to nearly 80 people Thursday at an Oconee County Republican Women’s Luncheon at a Seneca restaurant after group president Keri Unsworth asked her to.
At times emotional, Murray addressed several online posts and comments made in The Journal by county party chairman David McMahan and others who criticized her and Unsworth. Just this week, Oconee County Councilman Matthew Durham said the local women’s group “has a RINO problem,” using an acronym for “Republican in name only.”
“I wouldn’t be here to talk to you if – in my opinion – a target hadn’t been put on the backs of the OCRW,” Murray said. “As founding president, I owe it to you to share what happened.
“I am devastated that my character and my integrity are devastated in this county,” she added.
In a Jan. 7 report in The Journal, McMahan said an anonymous caller told him to “watch your back” around Murray after Councilman Glenn Hart said there was an ongoing insurgency for the kick out of the seat. State party rules show that McMahan cannot be removed from office. Murray said she was “sick to the core” over the allegations.
Murray reiterated that the women’s group that hosts luncheons, hosts speakers and organizes community charity drives is separate from the county party.
Her comments were the first she made publicly about the party, as she declined to be cited for Journal articles.
Once she finished, Murray was applauded, with more than half the room standing.
Moving on to Unsworth, Murray said the documents shared at the party’s constituency executive committee meeting last Friday night were dishonest and false. The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office was called into the meeting after a Precinct Chairman claimed he was assaulted by Unsworth, who asked someone to call 911. The documents have been posted online and characterize Unsworth as a “RINO”. The documents include a social media post from Unsworth supporting Democrat Jody Gaulin in her 2018 run against Republican State Rep. Bill Sandifer. Murray said Gaulin is a friend of Unsworth, regardless of his political affiliation.
“We have them all,” Murray said of having family and friends with opposing political views.
Murray called Unsworth a “strong woman” and encouraged anyone interested in joining the band to do so.
“We want it to keep growing,” she said.
President: Do not answer with division
After Murray finished speaking, Unsworth said she was “not mad at anyone” and wanted to focus on building the band.
“It’s 2022 y’all, it’s an election year and we have the power to come back so strong in a sea of red and impeach the president,” she said. “I want you to know that you have to do your part and not participate in the divisive rhetoric. I prayed and will continue to pray for (those who are against her) – and I don’t leave anyone behind.
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