By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Hundreds of local Republican leaders from all over Alabama came to Birmingham’s BJCC to decide who would lead the party into the 2014 election cycle. The members of the Alabama Executive Committee are selected by their local county parties and represent the grass roots leadership of the Republican Party and they elect the officers of the party.
The highest officer in the Alabama Republican Party is Chairman. Bill Armistead has been Chairman since 2011. Some factions within the Republican Party have not been satisfied with Chairman Armistead’s leadership and encouraged Shelby County attorney Matt Fridy to run for Chairman against Armistead. Despite the endorsements of Governor Robert Bentley, Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, and Secretary of State Beth Chapman the Republican Executive Committee to re-elect Bill Armistead.
Before the vote, Terry Lathan said that Bill Armistead delivered on his promises two years earlier and said, “l look forward to Bill Armistead’s continued leadership.”
David Black Chairman of the Colbert County Republicans said, Chairman Armistead came to Colbert County to support our efforts.” Black said that without Armistead he would not have elected to the Colbert County Commission
Clarke County Probate Judge Valerie Davis said that four years ago Republicans held just one position, but today they hold 7 positions. “Without his (Armistead’s) leadership and vision I don’t think I would be standing here.”
Dianne Branch Clay County Probate Judge Dianne Branch said, “Two years ago Bill Armistead promised to focus on the county level. As the result of Chairman Armistead I was elected for a full term as Clay County Probate Judge.” Judge Branch said that she attribute a lot of the Clay County Republican Party’s recent success to Bill Armistead.
Chairman Armistead spoke last. Armistead said, “I am grateful for your support. I have not strayed from those conservative principles since I was 19 years old.” Addressing the Mike Hubbard controversy Chairman Armistead said, “Lets be honest the division I caused by one person.” Armistead said that when he took over the party he conducted an audit, something that he said would be normal when taking over any new business. Armistead said that audit revealed some things. The steering committee chose to keep those findings secret, but somehow it became known to the press (‘The Alabama Political Reporter’). Armistead said, “It did not come from me or anyone associated with me. That is why all these people have come together to take this chairman down.”
Armistead said that the Alabama GOP elected over 329 Republicans in the November election. Armistead said that his opponent said that the party only raised $750,000. Armistead said that that was $750,000 more than the party spent on local races four years ago. “This week we have 25 sheriffs we are going to get more. We can take this to the grassroots. Yes I am an old man but I have a lot of life experience.” “If you elect me as Chairman I will give glory to God.” “We will elect more Sheriffs we will have Republican counties along with a Republican State”
After the votes were counted and it was announced that Armistead was the winner he said, “This is a primary and what we do after a primary is we come together and become one party. I am glad Matt ran because it forces me to get out and meet you.
Fridy said, “It did not turn out like we wanted it to but now we have to unify and come together as a party.”
Newly re-elected Chairman Armistead said, “This is all behind us. We can not let this divide us. I will go to any length to heal the divisions that are out there.”
In a written statement released later Armistead wrote, “I see this sort of like a primary and the primary is over. Republicans come together after primaries and work for the good of the Party and that is exactly what I expect to happen as we approach the election of 2014 and beyond. The Party is bigger than any one Party official or elected official. I’ve been working in the Republican party for decades and I am not going to let the party go backwards under my watch. We are going to move forward by electing Republicans to every statewide office in 2014 and add to our Republican majority in the legislature. And, we are not going to stop there. We’ll focus on the judicial races including Circuit and District Judges and I believe that voters will resoundly reject the liberal philosophy of the Democrat Party. We will again target selected county races next year with an emphasis in the Sheriff’s offices. We only have 25 Republican Sheriffs and that means that Democrats have 42. That is unacceptable for a Republican state. We will focus like a laser beam on the Sheriff’s offices next year.”