By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, February 16, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead bid a fond farewell to his many friends in the Alabama GOP. The popular Alabama Republican Party Chairman is stepping down on Saturday, February 21.
Chairman Armistead said in his emailed statement, “It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the Party in this capacity.” “I thank God for providing this opportunity for me to serve as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. When I followed Senator Barry Goldwater into the Republican Party as a college student in 1964, I would not have dreamed that I would one day serve as ALGOP Chairman. During the last 50 years I never waivered from my commitment to the Republican Party and am proud to say that I have never voted for a Democrat.”
Chairman Armistead wrote, “Having served in the Alabama Senate for eight years, when Republicans were very much in the minority, I wasn’t sure I would see the day when we would have a super majority in both the House and Senate. Some thought the election of our super majority in 2010 was just a vote against an unpopular president. But last year voters not only returned our super majority to Montgomery, they gave us three additional Senators and five additional House members. We now have 26 of 35 seats in the Senate and 72 of 105 seats in the House.” “We have increased the number of Republicans holding office at the local level by over 200 in the last four years.”
Armistead said, “As I look back over the last four years, one of the things I feel we accomplished that will have a lasting impact – in addition to electing a record number of Republicans – was to finally secure a permanent home for the Alabama Republican Party. Now that we are the majority party in Alabama, I felt we should have a headquarters building we could be proud of and have as our own (as opposed to pouring money into rent).” “We were blessed to have some faithful donors who agreed with us, and through their generosity we purchased a beautiful building in Hoover that is now our state headquarters. And it is completely paid for.”
Armistead also thanked the many volunteers and staff people who helped him and the Alabama Republican Party over these last four years including: our full-time volunteer receptionist “Miss Carol”, Chief of Staff Harold Sachs, TJ Maloney, Megan McIllwain, Britney Garner, Shana Kluck, Susan Cowart, Rudy Scott, Zach Bowman and many wonderful interns. “Thanks to all of you who have made these last four years such a success. I am so grateful for you.”
The last five years have been the high water mark of the Alabama Republican Party. The GOP did not have a statewide elected office holder for decades…..now they have every statewide office holder. For 134 years the Alabama Democratic Party controlled both houses of the Alabama legislature. Now the Alabama Republican Party has massive filibuster proof majorities in both houses.
In 2002 then State Senator Armistead gave up his state Senate seat to run for Lieutenant Governor. Although Congressman Bob Riley (R-Ashland) narrowly defeated Governor Don Seigelman to become just the third Republican Alabama Governor of the 20th Century, Sen. Armistead lost to Lucy Baxley (D). Senator Armistead increased his standing among conservative grassroots activists by opposing Gov. Riley;s massive Amendment One tax increases in 2003. Armistead was on the Alabama Republican Steering Committee when Chairman State Representative Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) led the party to its first landslide election in 2010. Former Senator Bill Armistead defeated a key Hubbard Lieutenant then State Representative Jay Love (R-Prattville) to become the Party Chairman in 2011. In the 2012 election, the GOP eliminated the last remaining statewide Democratic officeholders. In 2013 Armistead crushed a challenge for the position by then Shelby County GOP Chairman Matt Fridy. In 2014 the GOP easily held on to its six congressional seats, every statewide elected office in the state, grew its super majority in both Houses of the State Legislature, and were unable to even find a candidate to run for State Supreme Court or for US Senator Jeff Sessions.
Former Mobile County Republican Party Terry Lathan and former State Representative Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) are vying to replace Bill Armistead as Chairman.