By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In most counties in Alabama, there is a County Republican Party. It is the job of the County Republican Party to build interest in the Republican platform and support local and State Republican candidates against all foes: be they Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, or even a Conservative Third Party like the Constitution Party. Members of the County Republican Party typically run candidates from among their members for the County and State Executive Committees. If there is more than one candidate for a slot, then the race appears on the Countywide Republican ballot to be decided by Republican Primary voters.
Many longtime County Republicans were shocked in the 2014 Primaries, to see opponents qualifying for these positions. In some cases, longtime members of the county executive committees were being challenged by people whom they claim were not active in the county Republican Party at all. Alleged attempted takeovers of the Republican Party by outside groups was a very heated topic at the summer Alabama Republican Party Meeting on Saturday, June 21.
Adam Lowther a member of the ALGOP Executive Committee from Elmore County said, “We had a number of candidates that qualified for State Executive Committee that were not known to the Elmore County Executive Committee.” Lowther said that we had an attempt to pack the executive committee with people that are not active Republicans. “This went on all over the State.”
To combat this, Lowther, proposed both a change to the bylaws and a resolution which would limit Republican State Executive Committee candidates to: Active members of the County executive committee.
Active members of affiliated Republican groups like the Young Republicans, the Republican Women, or the Minority GOP.
Persons that the County Chair certifies are active Republicans in good standing.
Jim Woody from the Lee County Republican Party said, “I strongly support this idea.” “We had candidates running for office we had never heard of before.”
An Executive Committee member from Houston County said they had six candidates running for 4 executive committee positions that were recruited by interlopers. They need to bring border security to the Executive Committee.
Becky Sloan from the Lowndes county GOP said that a young man who was not a resident of Lowndes County and was not a registered voter in Lowndes County, applied to run for the State Executive Committee, representing Lowndes County. There was one hearing. Then a second hearing, but the young man did not attend the second. Despite this, two members of the Executive Committee still voted to allow the man to qualify to run to represent the Lowndes County GOP on the State Executive Committee.
An angry Chairman Bill Armistead said “that young man was Baron Coleman and he is a professional liar who works for the AEA,” (Alabama Education Association).
In the spirit of full disclosure, Baron Coleman works on air for the s ”
Coleman said that is was Armistead who recruited him to run for the executive committee from Lowndes county. He has challenged truth of Armistead’s statement, in an email and in a story published at alreporter.com.
Former Republican National Committeewoman Betty Fine Collins said, “I have a problem with the process.”
A State Executive Committee member from Jefferson County, Jonathan Barbee said, “I definitely think something needs to be done. I was real active in the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 but I never got involved in the Republican Party until 2010 when I ran for State Executive Committee. I was not aware of the Jefferson County Executive Committee then but I was elected to the Jefferson County Executive Committee later. I have donated thousands of dollars of video work to this party. What you are telling me is that under these rules I could not have run for the State Executive Committee. I understand that there are people who are trying to take over the party. Run a real campaign against them with signs and campaigning. This will allow the county executive committee to have too much control.”
Barbee introduced a motion to table the resolution but it was voted down on a voice vote.
The Resolution passed on a voice vote.
Then the measure came before the Alabama Republican Committee as a bylaw change.
A bylaw has much more force upon the County Executive Committees than does a resolution but to pass a bylaw change from the floor bypassing the ALGOP bylaws committee requires an 80 percent majority.
Elbert Peters from Huntsville told the Executive Committee: “I am going to vote for it. We have been looking at this for two or three months. The premise is not to exclude Republicans. The bylaws committee can propose changes to the wording if we need to fix it. If we are ever going to have anything similar to this we need to pass this right now. If not this will linger.”
Collin Luke, the Legal Counsel for the Alabama Republican Party said, “This can not be passed retroactively. It can not affect the process this year.”
Alabama Young Republican Chair Clayton Mark Turner said it is difficult for people who are trying to become involved in the party to be allowed to be involved. He thanked the sponsors for inserting language allowing persons who are active in Republican affiliated groups to still be able to run for the State Executive Committee. Turner said that people who run for the State Executive Committee should be active in Republican politics and not just disappear after the Chairmanship vote next February that they were recruited for.
Ultimately the bylaws change got 72 percent of the ballots cast…….not enough to pass under the 80 percent rule.
The measure will be forwarded to the Alabama Republican Party’s Bylaws committee, who could make a recommendation on this at the February ALGOP Winter Meeting.