The State Executive Committee of the Alabama Republican Party voted overwhelmingly in favor of recommending the restriction of primary participation to registered Republicans.
The resolution requests for republican lawmakers to pass a bill closing the primaries ahead of the 2024 election.
The recommendation was expected, as Republicans began discussing the matter after seeing Democrats sharing that they had participated in the Republican primary.
“I think that when we look at how we should exemplify what we do as far as running elections and how to run a state, we can look to Gov. (Ron) DeSantis in the state of Florida,” said Baldwin County GOP Chairman Michael Hoyt. “Florida has done a knockout job. Florida has closed primaries. It has party registration. The time for open primaries is over.”
Some Republicans expressed concern that the move could result in the party actually losing some voters who fail to get registered before the election.
One member suggested allowing primaries to remain open for the 2024 election, and registering everyone voting in the Republican primary at that time to allow them to vote in future closed primaries.
“The Democrats go and just declare they’re Republican to get a Republican ballot, so you can take the effort to go down and register to be a Republican,” he said. “If not, don’t vote in our primary.”
Alabama is currently one of 15 states with open primaries, while nine states currently have closed primaries.
The committee also took other actions to change party bylaws to stomp out any support of non-Republicans by Republican candidates.
The Republican bylaws already punish elected Republican officials who publicly support or give money to non-Republican candidates by removing them from ballot access for six years, and the change extends that to all candidates. The committee also adopted a change to its “sore loser” policy that disciplines members who lose in the Republican primary and then run as an independent or a write-in campaign.
“if you have Republicans supporting Democrats, you don’t need to be running on our ballot,” said Andrew Sorrell, Republican nominee for auditor.
A member questioned whether a Republican could support a Democrat in the instance when no Republicans are on the ballot. He gave the example of two Democrat candidates facing off for a sheriff position.
Chairman John Wahl said that would already be a violation of current bylaws. Elected officials can vote for a Democrat, but cannot publicly support them.
“Personally, I can’t think of an extenuating circumstance where I would ever support a Democrat, even if they were the only one on the ballot,” Sorrell said.
The body also voted overwhelmingly to take a position on the raid of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Paul Reynolds, national committeeman of the state GOP, said the statement was crafted to be “forceful” but tried to avoid language that would have it picked up by the national media.
“We’re finding anything we say can be used to say ‘you are inciting MAGA basically, to riot,’ and this is ridiculous,” Reynolds said.
The statement says Alabama Republicans stand in solidarity with Trump and calls the actions of the FBI and DOJ an “unprecedented overreach.”
Resolutions also passed calling for lower adoption costs and securing parental rights, both calling generally for legislation.
Wahl said it is imperative for Republicans to win elections in order to “safeguard our country.”
“Quite frankly, Democrats have lost their minds,” Wahl said. “They are in an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are. They don’t know what America is. They don’t even know how to tell the difference between a man and a woman … We’re going to stay with common sense. We know what life is and we know what male and female is. It’s not that complicated if we just stick to it.”
The general election is Nov. 8