Local county government has been dominated, as long anyone can remember, by people who claim to be conservative Republicans. A machine has existed with the help of Republican party officials. These people have preached thou shalt vote Republican, but this August election has shown that many of those people don’t practice what they preach when the people they don’t like win Republican primary races.
Peggy Lambert, Republican National Committeewoman, criticized the eventual winner of the May Republican primary for Juvenile Judge, Kenlyn Foster, for not being Republican enough. Lambert says she’s backing Foster in the general election saying, “I always support the Republican ticket.” Evidence shows otherwise. Lambert donated $150 to Gerald Kirby’s general election write-in campaign (page 15 of 58). Kirby lost the May Republican primary to Jamie Daly by 23 votes. He launched a write-in campaign to try to take the seat back and spent $4,552.80 in less than 1 month for a race that many spend less than $1,000 to win (page 1 of 53).
Several party officials and Republican office holders spent time hanging out under the write-in Kirby tent, including Republican National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert, State Committeewoman Susan Mills, Republican State Representative Bob Ramsey, Republican Circuit Court Judge David Duggan (his wife Kari served as Treasure of the Republican Women’s Club Blount County) and current Male Vice Chairman Rob Goddard. There were several other Republican officials who chose to visit the write-in Kirby tent. Most of them did not speak to the women who won Republican primaries and were also at the Courthouse talking with voters.
Exclusion and favoritism are nothing new. All 21 of Blount County’s Commissioners are Republican, but for about a year the Blount County Republican Party chose to exclude Commissioner Jim Folts from it’s website. When Tona Monroe, a delegate for Ron Paul, was asked by the Ron Paul campaign to speak to the Blount County Republican Party about Paul’s presidential candidacy the Chairman Susan Mills called and asked for the campaign to send someone else to speak. Several people were prohibited from attending a Republican meeting in Feburary 2013.
The Blount County Republican Party gave Gary Farmer $5,000 (page 3 of 55) for the general election, presumably because he has a Democrat opponent. That’s a lot of money for a commission race. Why weren’t other Republican nominees given similar amounts? Kirby spent over $4,500 in July on his write-in campaign. Where’s the Party money to help Daly, the Republican winner?
4 years ago several independent candidates ran for County Commission and the Republican Women’s Club donated to all the Republican nominees who had independent challengers (pages 7-9 of 59). It doesn’t appear that any money was given to the Republican winners of the May primary, who face write-in challengers even though a write-in challenge is an independent challenge. The Republican Women’s Club invited several candidates to speak at it’s July meeting, including Susan Mills who is unopposed in her race for State Executive Committeewoman, but did not invite Jamie Daly and Karen Miller who won their primaries and are facing write-in candidates. The favoritism and actions of Party officials and their friends during early voting leads one to conclude that those controlling the Republican party in Blount County aren’t happy with the outcome of the May 6th primary election.