Almost 98% Of Tennessee Republican Primary Voters Believe Open Primaries Should Be Closed
Image Credit: Public Domain & Thomas R Machnitzki / CC
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Many Republicans in the Volunteer State have voiced significant concerns about crossover voting by Democrats in Republican primaries.
Among other allegations, they charge that this is a tactic, sponsored by Democrats, to secure the election of the weakest or least Conservative Republican candidates in our Red state.
With this in mind, we here at The Tennessee Conservative, conducted a survey presented to our subscribers, those who frequent our website and to our social media followers regarding crossover voting, also known as crossover raiding.
1,733 individuals replied with 96.94% of respondents being Republican primary voters.
When asked if Democrats should be allowed to vote in Republican primaries, 97.92% voted No.
When asked if they feel the Governor, House Speaker and Lt. Governor should work to pass legislation that would close GOP primaries to prevent Democrat crossover voting, 97.11% voted Yes.
When asked if they feel that the State GOP Chairman should be more outspoken and proactive about preventing Democrats from voting in Republican primaries, 97.81% voted Yes.
Prior to running our survey, we contacted all the members of the Tennessee GOP’s State Executive Committee (SEC) to ask if they supported the closing of Tennessee’s Republican primaries to Democrat voters. Of the 65 members, five chose to respond.
District 20 Chairwoman, Michelle Foreman, who is now running for Tennessee House District 59, said, “I sit on the TNGOP State Executive Committee and voted to pass a resolution (to the General Assembly) to close our primaries. That resolution passed the SEC by an overwhelming vote but the bill did not go far in the legislature.”
District 26 chairwoman, Kathryn Bryson, said, “I have always supported closed primaries. Really, what we are talking about is party registration. In Tennessee, we should have the option of registering to vote as either Republican, Democrat, or Independent. A voter should be a registered member of a political party to choose who that party’s nominee will be. The motive for crossing over and voting in the other party’s primary is most often to elect the weakest candidate who might then lose to your own party’s nominee.”
District 11 Chairman Bobby Wood also indicated he supports the closing of Tennessee’s primaries to Democrats.
“They should be closed. Republicans should choose Republicans and Democrats should choose Democrats,” District 32 Chairman Lee Mills said.
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We also asked the SEC members, “Should Republicans who win primaries by actively working with Democrats to win through crossover voting be allowed to retain their nomination?”
Michelle Foreman replied, “I chair the Permanent Elections subcommittee of the SEC, and among other election integrity issues we passed in a resolution (again, to the General Assembly), we are actively working on a resolution to introduce Partially Closed Primaries. The pushback against Closed Primaries is voter disenfranchisement, but Partially Closed Primaries should nullify that argument.”
Kathryn Bryson said, “Overturning a primary election is a very slippery slope. If the state party has a very, very good reason to believe a primary election was compromised, the best course of action would be to hold another election.“
“Winners of primaries are often accused of courting the Democrat vote. I have even heard about a candidate’s family members asking Democrats to crossover, but the party cannot hold a candidate responsible for a relative’s actions,” Bryson said, “The other problem is even if widespread crossover voting does occur, we have no way to know exactly who those voters selected.“
“Courting Democrat voters does not always pay off in Tennessee. I know first hand of a candidate who did actively ask Democrats to vote for him in the Republican primary. This strategy backfired. His actions made Republican voters so angry that he lost the election. So it would be wise for Republican candidates to watch their opponents’ races. If their opponents are asking Democrats to crossover, a smart candidate would use that fact against them,” Bryson concluded.
Bobby Wood said, “If it can be proven that the election was swayed, then no.”
Lee Mills replied, “Unfortunately, Tennessee Code Annotated 2-7-115 b(2) allows a person to make a one-time declaration at the time of voting. It doesn’t matter what the intent of the legislature was. What was signed into law takes precedence.“
“2-7-115 (b)(2) At the time the voter seeks to vote, the voter declares allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and states that the voter intends to affiliate with that party. If the law did not allow that one-time exception, then I would likely vote to reprimand,” Bryson concluded.
As a follow-up, we asked the SEC members, ‘Why do you feel Republicans in the legislature have failed to address the issue of crossover voting in the past when it has been brought to their attention by SEC members?”
Kathryn Bryson replied, “Several Republicans in the state legislature do support party registration, but obviously not enough. I really do not know why some Republicans reject it. It could be that they are happy with their own election outcomes and don’t want change. But I am only speculating.”
“They want to give the appearance of having an open invitation to the republican party, but minds are already made up long before,” Bobby Wood said.
Lee Mills replied, “I have no idea why the legislature refuses to act. Both parties should want closed primaries.”
District 20 Chairman, Ron McDow said, “The House and Senate leadership and the Governor do not support Closed Primaries. That is why there is no action on it .”
Michelle Foreman indicated that she would use the Tennessee Conservative’s survey results as ammunition to attempt to get new legislation pushed through in the General Assembly.
Following the closing of our survey, the Tennessee Conservative reached out to the leadership of the Tennessee Republican Party as well as the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives, sending them the survey results and asking for their comments and whether the issue may be addressed in the next session of the General Assembly or prior.
Specifically, last week, we reached out to State GOP Chairman Scott Golden and Vice Chair Jennifer Little in the Tennessee GOP.
In the Senate, we reached out to Lt. Gov. and Speaker Randy McNally, Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile, Deputy Speaker Janice Bowling, Deputy Speaker Jon Lundberg, Republican Leader Jack Johnson and Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Yager.
In the House, we reached out to Speaker Cameron Sexton, Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Marsh, Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson, Republican Leader William Lamberth and Assistant Republican Leader Ron Gant.
Upon publication of this article, none of the above had responded to our inquiries.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com
2 thoughts on “Almost 98% Of Tennessee Republican Primary Voters Believe Open Primaries Should Be Closed”
That’s how Weston Wamp got elected. My understanding is he approached heavily democratic churches and their folks voted in the Republican primary as Republicans for him. In a straw poll, he came in third with Matt Hullander coming in first. How else could he have won?
One can only think the Tn legislature endorses a jungle primary
Otherwise too many of them would not be able to have a career of suckling at the tax payers teat.