Bill To Close Primaries Killed In Tennessee House Committee By Voice Vote (Update 3.9.23)

***Update 3.9.23 – Article has been updated to add the statement: “Representative William Slater was present at the meeting but tells us that he chose not to vote for or against the legislation.”

Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov

The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

A bill that would have compelled voters to affiliate themselves with a political party for the purpose of voting in a primary election failed in committee, by a very narrow margin of just one vote. 

Considering that the closing of primaries is of great importance to those residing in the Volunteer State, Freshman Republican Representative Bryan Richey (R-D20- Maryville) was determined to make it a priority and sponsor a bill that would resolve the dilemma once and for all. 

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HB0405 as introduced, prescribes a process by which a person must declare a statewide political party or recognized minor party affiliation before voting in a primary election; designates unaffiliated registered voters as independents who have not affiliated with a political party prior to the primary election in August of 2024. – Amends TCA Title 2.

As the law currently stands, it is a crime to vote in an opposing party’s primary with the sole intent of having an influence over the outcome. 

However, this law is rarely if ever enforced because it is virtually impossible to prove the intent of a voter when they enter the booth and cast a ballot. It is due to this inability to enforce the law, Tennesseans overwhelmingly favor the idea of closing our primaries. 

To officially gauge the interest on the issue of closed primaries, The Tennessee Conservative conducted a survey in June of 2022 presented to our subscribers, those that 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.

Finally, 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.

The Tennessee Conservative sent the survey results to the members of the Tennessee House and Senate, along with the Republican State Executive Committee (SEC) to let them know where their constituents stand on the issue.

The Tennessee State GOP has been open about the fact that they are supportive of closed primaries and have passed resolutions shared with the General Assembly that reflect that. However, the legislature has remained tone deaf and unwilling to act. 

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This week, in a voice vote of the House Local Government Committee, HB0405 failed.

According to the calculations of Committee Chairman Representative John Crawford (R-D1-Bristol/Kingsport), the Noes outnumbering the Ayes. 

However, based on a count taken by the bill’s sponsor, there were 9 Ayes and 8 Noes.

In a social media post, Representative Bryan Richey wrote, “Today I learned a valuable lesson that should not have been a surprise. I Introduced HB405 (closed primaries) into the Local Government full committee and it failed. We received 9 ayes and 8 nays. Which the chair ruled the bill failed from the no majority. Lesson learned I will call for a roll call vote going forward.”

Those Republican Representatives who are recorded voting yes in support, are Representatives Clay Doggett, Greg Martin, Jerome Moon, Jay Reedy, Tim Rudd, and Robert Stevens. 

Additionally, the sponsor, Rep. Richey told The Tennessee Conservative that Republican Representatives Kevin Raper, Rebecca Alexander, and Jeff Burkhart also voted yes. Making a total of 9. 

Representative William Slater was present at the meeting but tells us that he chose not to vote for or against the legislation.

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Representative Richey encourages Tennesseans to contact their representatives in support of a similar piece of legislation sponsored by Representative Kelly Keisling (R-D38-Byrdstown) that will functionally do the same thing and achieve similar goals as his legislation was aiming to resolve. 

Keisling’s bill, HB1045, as introduced, requires each voter to declare a political party affiliation or that the voter is unaffiliated with a political party on voter registration; authorizes political parties to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in that political party’s primary. – Amends TCA Title 2.

HB1045 is scheduled to be heard in the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee on March 1st.

If you are in support of HB1045, contact to subcommittee members below prior to their meeting on March 1st.

Rep. Tim Rudd (R) – Chair – rep.tim.rudd@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-2804

Rep. Jeff Burkhart (R) – rep.jeff.burkhart@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-6804

Rep. John Crawford (R) – rep.john.crawford@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-7623

Rep. Clay Doggett (R) – rep.clay.doggett@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-7476

Rep. Esther Helton-Hayes (R) – rep.esther.helton@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-1934

Rep. Larry J. Miller (D) – rep.larry.miller@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-4453

Rep. Jerome Moon (R) – rep.jerome.moon@capitol.tn.gov – (615) 741-5481

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at kelly@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

7 thoughts on “Bill To Close Primaries Killed In Tennessee House Committee By Voice Vote (Update 3.9.23)

  • February 24, 2023 at 5:27 pm
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    Don’t worry fellow conservatives, one of these days we will have a competitive Democratic Party in this state so when the Democrats vote in the Republican Primary it will be for conservatives who they feel will be easier to beat and PRESTO we will have closed primaries. In the meantime, “Millions for conservative candidates. Not a penny for the Republican Party.”

    Reply
  • February 24, 2023 at 6:50 pm
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    RINOs know their days are numbered WHEN we finally have closed primaries
    Till then McNally and friends will do all they can to weaken Tn conservatives

    Reply
  • February 24, 2023 at 11:41 pm
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    I’m NOT rejoining the Williamson County GOP. Instead, I pay dues to a conservative group – Williamson Families. The Williamson GOP knowingly allowed a Leftist to run as a Republican because he paid the $50 dues. All the Libs and Dems endorsed him and voted for him and he won by a few votes because he was endorsed by the Williamson County GOP – shame, shame, shame!!! The real conservative who lost filed an appeal with the State GOP and they rejected it. That was when I knew they really aren’t conservatives. In Williamson County the best thing that happened was having separate primaries. That changed our School Board from 10 Libs and 2 Conservatives to about 7 Libs and 5 conservatives. The Libs still register to vote in the Repub primaries because they know a Dem can’t win ( the County is 65% Repubs).

    This must be called out. It is sickening. We MUST boycott the fake conservatives and support real conservative groups. Don’t be used or fooled. Any “Republican” who is helping the Libs needs to be defeated.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2023 at 3:03 am
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      I’m a member of Williamson Families too David (I even bought both the short and long sleeve T-shirts) but I am still a member of the Williamson County GOP though I am happy to report that I contribute many times more to the former than the latter. Throughout most of this country’s history we have had, and will continue to have for the foreseeable future, a two-party system, one right-wing and one left. I’m afraid the Republican Party is the party of the right, such as it is, and thus conservative’s only vehicle to political power. I believe our job as conservatives is to move the Republican Party rightward, rightward, relentlessly rightward. We can only do that if we remain members of the Party by paying whatever nominal amount it takes to do so. Conservatives must organize and form their own organizations (e.g. Williamson Families) but we must never abandon our only vehicle to power, the Republican Party.

      Reply
      • February 25, 2023 at 8:07 pm
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        Stuart, I wish you luck with that but the Williamson and TN GOP disgust me and I think it’s hopeless. I’m going to spread the word about them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire organization is taken over by Leftists – they don’t seem to care as long as someone pays them $50 a year.

        Last year there was a conservative in an elected position and they kicked him out for being conservative and opposing the Williamson GOP letting a Leftist run as a “Republican”.
        This quote is from June 2022 > “Of the 8 WCRP board members who were elected, 4 have resigned or been forced out since April 2021. As planned, the last remaining conservative, First Vice Chair Sean Raesemann will be removed from office to be replaced by someone of the chairwoman’s own choosing.” And from TN Conservative News in June 2022 > “Our source believes this attempt to remove Raesemann is meant to “push conservatives completely out of the CEC and permit unfettered control over the party before the county general/state primary election in August.”

        As mentioned in my earlier comment, in 2022 one of the GOP board members actually endorsed a Leftist for School Board who supports DEI, mask mandates, porn books in public schools, and every Leftist idea you can think of and opposed Moms For Liberty – I can’t think of any conservative things he supports – I think he’s 100% liberal – it is shocking, shameful and stupid that he was allowed to run as a Republican. He was endorsed by all the Libs and a very Lib organization. The Libs voted for him in the Republican Primary. The Williamson County Dem Party endorsed him even though someone was running as a Dem.

        He only defeated a real conservative by 39 votes. She appealed but in June 2022 the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee “certified” the Leftist by a 36-6 vote. That de-frauded Republican voters who assumed that if they voted Republican they were voting for a conservative. My advice to conservatives is > “Don’t assume the GOP only endorses conservatives.”

        Recently a parent complained about 4 books. A conservative Board member said some of the books contain “rape scenes, force oral sex, and rape of a girl that had too much to drink at a party,” The Leftist “Republican” said > “some of the issues explored in the books could be beneficial to teens.” He spouted the Lib argument that banning any books is bad and those books would “improve literacy”. Wonder what he would say about a book that attacked the Dems? We know the answer.

        Everyone needs to know that this Leftist is a “Republican” and was endorsed by the Williamson County GOP. Ridicule and exposure are the best ways to get them to change. I tried working with them but it’s a stacked deck. If you organize a way for Conservatives to take back control, spread the word and write an article and ask Brandon Lewis to publish it – I think he will if you ask.

        Are you by chance related to Sherry Anderson (the president of the Williamson County Republican Career Women) or to the Pat Anderson who endorsed Eric Welch?

        Reply
  • February 25, 2023 at 1:52 am
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    Voice votes NEED outlawing. Got WAAY to many RINO committee chairmen like John Crawford.
    TNGOP is CRIMINAL, glad to see folks MAYBE wising up.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2023 at 6:18 pm
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    This is TGOP & McNally ‘s handiwork
    Voice votes need to be abolished
    Tennesseans have a greater right to know how our politicians vote than their self preserving arrogance and backstabbing
    This is an example of the cursed politicians rot that has diminished all aspects of our country
    I Serve for me, not thee.

    Reply

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