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Republicans divided over Etowah County “Party switchers”

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Former Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn (R) released a statement critical of a hot dog supper tonight being hosted the Republican Executive Committee of Etowah County to, “Welcome our newest elected official members: Etowah County Circuit Clerk Cassandra “Sam” Johnson and Etowah County Revenue Commissioner Linda Barrett-Vaughan,” who switched to the Alabama Republican Party from the Alabama Democratic Party.

Commissioner Dunn told The Alabama Political Reporter that he had concerns about anyone who could run and serve as a Democrat while Barack Obama (D) was President. Dunn suggested that if Obama was not too liberal for you to switch parties then, why someone would switch now…..other than to improve their chances of being reelected in a State that is increasingly Republican as was demonstrated by the record GOP votes for Donald J. Trump (the most votes for a presidential candidate in state history). Pres. Trump also carried Etowah County by a large margin.

Commissioner Dunn said in a statement, “If people can freely swap back and forth between the Republican and the Democrat parties any time the political winds change, what’s the point in having political parties at all?”

Dunn also stated that Sam Johnson actively supported Larry Means, a Democrat who ran against Republican State Senator Phil Williams in 2014. “Mrs. Johnson literally sent a check to renew her dues to the Democrat Executive Committee just a few weeks before asking approval from the Executive Committee to become a Republican.”

Dunn is a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee.

The Etowah County Republican Committee voted to recommend Sam Johnson to the Republican State Steering Committee last month (Linda Barrett-Vaughan was approved by the county committee. Approval requires 2/3 of those present and voting to recognize a Party switcher. Because Circuit Clerks qualify with the State Party to run on the ballot, a 2/3 vote of the State Steering Committee is required to approve a Party swap at that position.)

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Some members of the State Steering Committee have privately expressed reservations with approving this switch.

The Alabama Political Reporter talked with state Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) who voted in favor of the switch on the Etowah Republican Party Executive Committee. He said that there was no opposition at the meeting and questioned why the State Steering Committee asks our opinion if they are not going to follow our recommendation.

Many members of the 550 member Alabama Republican Executive Committee have expressed concerns about party switchers. Jackie Curtis who heads Young Republican Federation of Alabama and is a member of both the State Executive Committee and the 21-member State Steering Committee introduced an amendment to the party’s bylaws to require extreme vetting of party switchers at the Winter Meeting of the State Executive Meeting. That measure did not pass; but had lots of support.

On an email vote that took place between March 16th and March 20th, the State Steering Committee voted 9-3 to disallow the switch. Another meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 22nd where Sam Johnson will appear before the State Steering Committee.

Former PSC Commissioner Terry Dunn added that, “I believe the leadership of the Etowah County Republican Party is trying to pressure the Steering Committee into voting for Mrs. Johnson by holding a hot dog supper in celebration of her switching Parties four days before the Steering Committee votes on April 22nd. This has the potential to embarrass Mrs. Johnson and the Etowah County Republican Party should the Steering Committee again vote to disallow the switch.”

 

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Brandon Moseley
Written By

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with over nine years at Alabama Political Reporter. During that time he has written 8,297 articles for APR. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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