By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM—The Republican Party of Alabama has a new political director, a young man with talent and ability to help Chairman Bill Armistead move forward with the ALGOP agenda. Shreveport, Louisiana native John Kay has taken on the position after the successful tenure of TJ Malone. Building on the momentum of the past several years, Kay looks to be a part of the ALGOP’s ever-expanding horizons.
Those who follow politics closely know that Chairman Armistead is a man of boundless energy. From a late night text to an early morning meeting Armistead seems to be always on the job. Kay, a man in his early 20’s, plans to keep pace with the chairman and assist him in his vision for the state.
Insiders surely noticed the rapid-fire response the ALGOP gave to the split in the Democratic Party. Even before ALDEM’s could feed their story to AL.COM, Kay and Armistead were telling the state news organization what Kennedy was up to. Armistead and Kay defined the events and message leaving the dems playing catch-up on every turn. Kay, gives a shy laugh when the incident is mentioned. He knows that he beat the Dems to the punch, but downplays his actual involvement.
A 2010 graduate of LSU Shreveport, Kay focused on Mass Communications and Public Relations in college.
Since an early age he has been passionate about conservative politics, working in several positions within the LA Republican Party. In April Kay began his tenure with the ALGOP. He has quickly embraced Armistead’s plans for the future.
“As you know, the Alabama GOP has had very good success, in the last several years, from the U.S. Senate, to Congress, all the statewide constitutional offices…the next step is to insure that we retain those positions and add to them on a county level,” said Kay. Chairman Armistead has said that he wants to carry the GOP success down ballot into the county races.
“If you look across the state of Alabama there are more democrats elected as sheriffs than republican, and one of our main goals is to change that,” said Kay. While saying, “Democratic Party in Alabama is in shambles,” he does not believe the Republicans can rest on their past successes. Kay said, “We’ve done a good job with our plans and policies on a statewide level. We’ve done a good job fighting-off and staving-off bad policies on the federal level for about 2 years so now it’s time to step into these local areas.”
For the last two years Kay has devoted his time to, “working almost exclusively on local level campaigns from judge races to other county races in Louisiana.” Kay says this has given him an understanding in how to, “message to smaller audiences.” Having worked on statewide campaigns as well as local races Kay believes he can bring not only the right strategic messaging but also the kind of fiscal discipline a small campaign needs.
“Messaging is a big thing but so also is learning how to save money on local campaigns,” said Kay. “That’s something that I will be able to bring to the table and help republican candidates with to make sure they are spending their resources in a way that can serve their campaign and ultimately in a very efficient manner.”
In the last few weeks, Kay has hit the ground running with visits to Shelby, Talladega, Tuscaloosa. Jefferson and Montgomery.
“Everybody I’ve met in Alabama have been extremely hospitable,” said Kay. “They are very passionate about their politics and want good government.”
He says that he will be working closely with the Chairman and local leaders to find the right candidates for the 2014 races.
He says that the ALGOP has a simple message, “As far as the principles go, it’s a very simple message: lower taxes, lower government interference in our everyday lives, let us do what we see fit with our lives. Kay adds, “What we want the government to do is to insure that we have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Another of Chairman Armistead’s goals has been to expand the party by reaching out beyond the traditional white base.
“Our policies shouldn’t be geared towards the color of your skin,” said Kay. “They should be geared towards what it means to be Americans. We’re all Americans. We’re not hyphenated Americans, we’re Americans and we’re all here for the same reason: to live free lives, that’s what we believe in America.”
Kay concedes that the party needs to do a better job in explaining its message but that the message doesn’t need to change.
“We have to get out of the weeds,” he explains, “some of the same old sounding rhetoric and explain our policies better than we have in the past. We don’t need to change the direction of the party, we just need to explain better the direction of the party.”
He also says that the party needs to, “stop allowing others from defining us…we have to define ourselves.”
Kay says he loves living in Alabama and is excited to make it his home as the next chapter of his life unfolds.
“I want to do all I can do to get republicans elected in the next couple of years. He finished our interview by saying, “If anybody needs anything they can reach me at the party headquarters and there’s another thing I wanted to say is if there are any elected democrat officials out there reading this interview and you feel like you’re conservative and your principles match ours, please give us a call at headquarters. We’d love to talk to you about switching to our party.”
John Kay can be reached at 205.212.5900