The state Republicans choose a new party chair today. Did some reconnaissance at the GOP convention last night: Chad Adams‘ backers liken their man’s quest to the showdown four years ago in the Democratic party, when Gov. Mike Easley tapped Ed Turlington to be the Dems’ state chair, but the rank-and-file rose up and picked Jerry Meek instead. Same thing here, the Adams team says. Tom Fetzer, the former Raleigh mayor, is the choice of the GOP establishment. Adams is the insurgents’ favorite.

And as one Republicans not associated with either camp said to me, finding an effective state chair is much more important to the GOP today than it was to the Democrats in ’05. Back then, Easley was a no-show leader, but the Democrats had other folks in high offices commanding public attention. Today’s GOP has nobody.

Big flavor of Ron Paul libertarianism around Adams’ side, and definitely a younger cohort of supporters. Around Fetzer, there were young and old, but mainly older folks. Adams’ pitch is all about grassroots organizing and using technology to build the party. Fetzer emphasizes his fund-raising abilities and leads, in his printed stuff, with pictures of him from the ’80s with the Gipper and Jesse Helms.

Feeling around the Raleigh convention center was that this is a close contest, and may turn on such factors as who shows up from Hoke County …

… in a weighted voting process, each county’s delegate count is fixed and based on GOP turnout in the ’08 gubernatorial election. So Hoke County gets 22 votes, regardless how many delegates are sent by the county party. If two delegates from Hoke show up, each will cast 11 votes. But if only one shows , she’ll cast all 22. As of last night, apparently, no one from Hoke was there.

(Updating that last point: One delegate did arrive from Hoke and cast all 22 votes for Adams. Three counties — Jones, Tyrrell and Yancey — had no delegates and thus cast no votes. The biggest delegation by far, not surprisingly, was Wake County’s, with 324 actual Republicans in attendance (at $30 a head). Mecklenburg was next with 110.