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GOP welcomes new leadership
Underwood to head up party
Republicans 5 es
Ethan Underwood receives applause as he makes his way to the front. Underwood was named the party’s new chairman Saturday. - photo by Emily Saunders
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The Forsyth County Republican Party Convention did not hold to script Saturday, officials said.

As expected, Ethan Underwood was elected the party’s new chairman. But in a twist, Joshua Jones was named convention chairman.

“The convention is always a potential for a surprise,” said Underwood, who previously served as first vice chairman. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”

It was a hard lesson to learn for Joel Natt, who organized the convention as interim convention chairman.

Instead of voting Natt to convention chairman, the delegates chose Jones, who pledged to speed up Saturday’s proceedings.

The decision did not please Natt, who past party chairman Andrew Miller said had worked behind the scenes to “get things prepared.”

District 9 U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal was the keynote speaker at the event, which Miller said drew about 200 delegates, alternates and guests.

In addition to Underwood’s election, Richard Ward and Brad Wilkins were selected first and second vice chairmen, respectively.

“Richard has been very active in the party for year and years,” Underwood said. “I worked with Richard for several years in the Republican Party and Brad I met during the McCain/Palin campaign. He’s just a hard worker ... We’re going to turn him loose with the county party.”

Underwood said his goals as chairman are to grow party membership, funding and influence. Though the county is conservative, he wants to rally Republicans.

“They have not been as active as we’d like them to be,” he said. “We’ve got such wonderful talent that I got to meet during the McCain/Palin campaign and it’s just time to tap into it.

“We’ve got such a broad amount of talent that I think hasn’t been brought together for the Republican Party, so I’m excited about growing the party and utilizing all those folks for the benefit of the party.”

The next event for the local party is the congressional district convention on April 18 in Jasper.

E-mail Jennifer Sami at