About 20 minutes before last Thursday’s deadline for candidates to withdraw from this year’s elections in Tennessee, state Republican Party chairman Scott Golden sent Secretary of State Tre Hargett a letter disqualifying Franklin’s Raeshawn Sanchez from the August 2nd primary. When Williamson County election officials sent her an email later that afternoon, the woman was understandably shocked.
Sanchez picked up her petition to run against Glen Casada, the Republican House Majority leader, on the first day they became available (Jan.5) and all was proper when she filed about three weeks later. Her ouster – surprise, surprise -- leaves Casada as the lone name on the Aug. 5 Republican ballot. Casada is white, Sanchez is black.
“The Williamson County Republican Party had a wonderful opportunity to let people see them in a different light, and they blew it. This is one of the most anti-democratic things I have ever witnessed. They did not let the democratic process happen like it is supposed to happen,” she told the Williamson Herald.
“I am floored at the possibility that someone can tell you your views are conservative or not conservative enough. That is despicable.”
Sanchez said she was not previously notified of the disqualification before its announcement. “I was not contacted by anyone from either the state or local affiliates of the Republican Party,” she said. “They have done bad business."
“It is un-American to be a bully – to not allow someone to defend themselves,” Sanchez also told the newspaper, saying she plans to stay in the race as a write-in candidate.
More unbelievably, Golden did the same thing in Williamson County not two months ago, disqualifying Tom Atema from running for the 4th District seat in the county commission race just 30 minutes before the deadline.
Golden, who once worked for Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, rather notoriously disqualified seven of her challengers from the Republican ballot this spring.
Both of the Republican candidates in Williamson County were disqualified because they were not “bona fide.” You see, according to the clubhouse rules, it takes only two voters in the same district as the candidate to challenge a Republican candidate’s validity. Here’s what the murky by-laws say (and read the last line closely):
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“According to state GOP bylaws, a candidate’s bona fide Republican status can be contested per Article IX, Section 2, by any two registered voters that live in a candidate's district.
To qualify as a bona fide Republican, as stated in Article IX, Section 1 of the state party’s bylaws, a candidate must meet the following criteria:
A. Any individual who is actively involved in the Tennessee Republican Party, his County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either; and resides and is registered to vote in said county; and either
B. Any individual who has voted in at least three (3) of the four (4) most recent Statewide Republican primary elections; or
C. Any individual who is vouched for in writing to the satisfaction of the State Chairman as a bona fide Republican, such as by an officer of the TRP, a member of the SEC, CEC of the County where the individual resides, or a Republican elected official. The State Chairman may require additional verification that the individual in question is indeed a bona fide Republican, and shall have final authority to make the determination.”
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Did you catch that? One guy in this, the land of the free and home to the brave, “shall have final authority.” And you can’t smell the stench yet?
In February, when the GOP slammed the door on Atema with less than an hour on the clock, Michael Sullivan, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, told the Herald, “It’s in our code, and we want folks involved to be in the primary. We want potential nominees to be able to hold up the principles and standards of the Republican Party," Sullivan said.
"We see it as ensuring that folks who are running are true Republicans. We have to have some line in the sand, and it might not be perfect, but it’s the line we have right now.”
Debbie Deaver, the chairman of the Williamson County Republicans, said the county party was not consulted in the decision to disqualify Sanchez and Casada said he was also not involved. But both are eager for Tennessee to change from being an open primary state – which does not require voters to be affiliated with a political party to vote for partisan candidates – to a closed format.
“You can’t vote in a Democratic primary and then run as a Republican,” Deaver told the Herald.
“It’s a little disingenuous to allow someone to select a candidate for a party they don’t identify with and who they will not vote for in the general election.”
“Just like Alabama doesn’t let Tennessee pick its head coach, and Apple doesn’t have the board of Microsoft select its CEO, we should not let non-Republicans pick our nominees,” Deaver explained further in a recent press release.
Deaver said changing the law would make a candidate’s affiliation more clear; otherwise the bona fide statute in the state bylaws is much needed, she explained to the newspaper.
“That is the whole reason for this (bona fide) rule,” Deaver said. “That is the only way we know if you are Republican or not.”
Wonder how they tell who is a Christian in Williamson County?
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* -- “That ol’ boy is so crooked he can sleep in a barrel full of fish hooks and won’t get stuff nary a time.” – Tennessee political expression.
* -- “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.” -- Winston Churchill
* -- “A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.” -- Winston Churchill
* -- “An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.” -- Mark Twain
* -- “Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.” -- Charles De Gaulle
* -- “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” -- PJ O'Rourke
* -- “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president but they don't want them to become politicians in the process.” -- John Fitzgerald Kennedy
* -- “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” -- Plato
* -- “Statesmen tell you what is true even though it may be unpopular. Politicians will tell you what is popular, even though it may be untrue.” -- Anonymous
* -- “A politician thinks of the next election - a statesman of the next generation.” -- James Freeman Clarke
* -- “Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen.” - Bob Edwards
* -- Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress... Ah, but I repeat myself.” -- Mark Twain