CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Melody Potter, a longtime state Republican Party official, was elected chairwoman of the state GOP today.
Potter takes over the unexpired term of Conrad Lucas, who is running for Congress. A vote for a full term will take place during the party’s convention this summer.
Potter, a former Kanawha County Republican chairwoman and national committeewoman, won the endorsements of several elected Republican officials in West Virginia over the past couple of weeks.
She had been up against Tom O’Neill, a lawyer who has also held a variety of positions related to the party. As it became clear that Potter had the votes to win, O’Neill backed off today and wound up being the one to nominate Potter.
Charleston businessman Larry Pack was elected to serve as the next national committeeman to represent West Virginia at the Republican National Committee.
“It is amazing to see our Party at its greatest heights, but ready to fly even higher with conservative policies,” stated Lucas, the outgoing chairman.
“All the pieces are here for us. Our team and teammates are strong. We leave this Party after more than doubling our delegations and taking over the State Legislature, sweeping the House of Representatives, and helping to elect our first female Senator. It has been the blessing of my life to get to serve all of you this way.”
During a telephone interview on Friday, Potter said she looks forward to providing the support system for Republican candidates in West Virginia.
“The role of the state party and the county parties is to get Republicans elected,” Potter said. “The state party along with the national party — we do a platform every four years. The state party is not involved in policy-making but the planks of our platform should bleed over into policy. That’s what we hope to achieve.”
Potter said she’ll be able to work with all parts of the party’s big tent.
“You have your conservatives, your ones that are not as conservative and on down the line. Because you have a difference of opinion does not mean you’re enemies. It just means you stay together and work harder.”
Potter has taken some recent criticism, mostly from outside the party, for comments she made at a recent Republican gathering in Nicholas County.
“We are Republicans for a reason, because we are totally the opposite of the Democrats,” she said. “You all know that, a few years ago at the Democrat convention, they took God out of their platform. And I’m going to make a general statement: They are godless. That’s one of the reasons why our nation is in the shape that it is in — why our state is in the shape that it’s in.”
Potter, is a South Charleston resident and a small business owner and vice president of Tri-Star Coal Sales.
“I love our party. I’m passionate about our platform. We have a mission to defeat Joe Manchin and to fill the ballot and to build on our majorities,” she said Friday.
“I’m experienced. I served on the RNC. I’ve been involved with the West Virginia party for many different roles, involved with voter registration drives, fundraising. I’ve served in just about every capacity.”
She drew praise on Friday from Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the highest-profile Republican in West Virginia.
“Melody Potter is a very strong individual, a good friend of mine. I’ve known her for years. I think she’d be a strong leader for the party,” Capito said.