Tennessee Republican Party Upholds Williamson County Primary Results

Image Credit: Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

By Holly McCall [Tennessee Lookout -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0] –

The Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee voted to uphold election results in two Williamson County races on Thursday during a 90-minute meeting−the second day of a two-day discussion of the challenges—with committee members again expressing their desire for closed primaries.

Christopher Richards, a candidate for Williamson County Commission District 7 challenged the outcome of his race, while Williamson County School Board candidate Ali Adair challenged the outcome of her bid to unseat incumbent Eric Welch.

Both races were close: Richards came in third place behind incumbent GOP commissioners Tom Tunnicliffe and Bert Chalfant, losing to Chalfant by only nine votes, while Welch defeated Adair by 39 votes.

And both challenges hinged on allegations of crossover voting in Republican primaries by Democratic voters.

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In the Richards-Chalfant case, Austin McMullen, attorney for Richards contested 11 votes that were cast at the College Grove early voting location, but TNGOP Chair Scott Golden pointed out that only two of the 11 contested votes had been cast in the District 7 county commission primary.

After about an hour of wrangling, committee member Randy Ellis of Roane County called the question on the motion he first made during a Wednesday meeting to accept the results of the election. Ellis’s motion passed 27-13, with one abstention.


In the second case, rookie candidate Adair and her father, who was on the call, alleged Welch had been supported by Williamson Strong, a nonpartisan public education group, and its leader, a “known Democrat,” according to Adair.

In his defense, Welch noted his Republican bonafides and a long history of involvement with both the state and Williamson County Republican parties.

“I was the only bonafide candidate,” Welch said. “(Adair) has not voted in Republican primaries and had to get someone to vouch for her. Until she pulled papers to run, I’d never met her”

The committee voted to uphold Welch’s win by a 36-6 vote with one abstention.

The ensuing discussion about a desire for closed primaries—Tennessee has a partially open primary system that does not require party registration—continued a growing call from party activists for closed primaries.

“Close the freaking primaries,” said Maria Stewart of Sumner County, who said she spoke to Republican House Whip Johnny Garrett about the issue. “He said if we close the primaries, we’ll lose seats. We have a supermajority!”

The fracas is only the latest discord in the state Republican Party over bonafides and crossover voting. Two weeks ago, the group voted to uphold a challenge to the outcome of the Hamilton County GOP mayoral primary and the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on Friday to uphold the TNGOP’s removal of 5th Congressional District Robby Starbuck from the ballot.

About the Author: Holly McCall has been a fixture in Tennessee media and politics for decades. She covered city hall for papers in Columbus, Ohio and Joplin, Missouri before returning to Tennessee with the Nashville Business Journal. She has served as political analyst for WZTV Fox 17 and provided communications consulting for political campaigns at all levels, from city council to presidential. Holly brings a deep wealth of knowledge about Tennessee’s political processes and players and likes nothing better than getting into the weeds of how political deals are made. Follow McCall on Twitter HERE.

4 thoughts on “Tennessee Republican Party Upholds Williamson County Primary Results

  • June 13, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    Interesting…..on so many accounts! I’ve got email proof that a well known liberal Democrat in Williamson County encouraged, and in fact begged his email contact list to crossover to ‘save our Williamson County School Board’, which is all but run by Democrats or even ‘lefist’ educrats. Futher, the irony here – I’d bet lunch that the writer of this article Holly McCall, another liberal Democrat as ‘informed’ as she may be was a recipient of this email. She was laughing while typing this article! Wake up short sighted, Tennessee legislature – you may have a super majority now, but unless you are willing to fight for “LOCAL” republicans then you’ll lose in the long term and Democrats know this! Eric Welch may be a bona-fide Republican but he does not vote that way, and he CERTAINLY does not have a mandate with a 39 vote margin. Shameful that more fat and happy Williamson County Republicans or conservatives didn’t go vote!

  • June 13, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    Start with the basics. Why do taxpayers finance political party primaries? Why are Tennessee taxpayers required to finance primaries for only two parties?

  • June 13, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    They not only have a “supermajority” but they have Democrats crossing over to vote in their primaries in order to defeat bona-fide conservatives. Life is good if you are a centrist/tepid conservative Republican.

  • July 20, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    The TN GOP is allowing Eric Welch, an ultra-liberal who is in favor of CRT and mask mandates, to run as a Republican. Stupid and shameful. They are destroying the public’s trust that people who run as Republicans are conservatives. Now we can’t even vote for a “Republican” without doing research, because a “Republican” candidate might be a Leftist.

    Welch gamed the system and they upheld Welch. Welch is endorsed by a leftist group named Williamson Strong.

    It is pathetic and everyone who voted to certify Welch should be removed form office because they are either liberals or stupid.


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