Local GOPers express near unanimous support for party ballot

With Tuesday’s upcoming election and some state Republican office holders disavowing the party’s presidential candidate, The Blount Countian surveyed locally elected and contending Republican candidates for clarification of their positions on the party ballot. The question included an introductory statement, both printed next: We presume you support your party’s ticket top to bottom. Is that correct?

Of the 26 surveyed, all but three answered “yes.” The degree of enthusiasm in responses appeared to vary. Some spoke emphatically “yes” suggesting whole-hearted and enthusiastic support. A handful began explanations, until reminded the comments were subject to publication. They then chose not to comment.

Some asked to go off-record. Their words reflected degrees of reservations which others nationally have mirrored.

Three did offer comments for attribution. Due to the intensity of opinion on the election, The Blount Countian has chosen not to attribute their quotes.

In still other disclaimers, one of the two not responding “yes,” Circuit Judge Steven King, noted he feels he cannot respond. As a judicial officer he does not feel he is permitted to comment on positions other than judicial.

In still another critique, one noted the lack of specificity in the question. He indicated that a negative response does not necessarily indicate lack of support at the top of the party ticket. One citizen asked of polling Democratic candidates with the same question but was reminded that there are no local Democrat office-holders or candidates to poll on Tuesday’s ballot.

Believing the offered comments instructive, the newspaper shares these below in synopsis. The first spoke of how he never agrees on every issue with any candidate. He elaborated that based on his party’s platform and positions, he stands with the Republican Party. He spoke confidently of his support when comparing it to the main opposition.

Going further, he offered that he attempts to be his own man, allowing his conscience through prayer to be his guide. He echoed another in saying that, as a Republican, he has never been asked to sign a pledge of total support for the party. Concluding, he proffered his view that candidates should be able to run without party label in local races, as they do in county municipal contests.

Sharing a similar outlook to the first, a second agreed that in his office, political party was not really at issue as in legislative bodies. He summarized his position as, “I have supported the Republican Party and party-elected officials. I have very severe concerns and reservations about the presidential candidates on both sides; but, unless something unusual occurs between now and the election, I plan to support the party ticket.”

The lone responder who said “no,” did not specify which candidate(s) he opposes. He explained that he votes for the individual best qualified for the position sought. He noted that in his particular field, the other party has, at times, been more supportive. He, too, noted he has never been asked to sign a pledge [a practice of the state Democratic Party through its loyalty oath and other provisions].

The third who did not respond positively stated his unfamiliarity with the entire ballot and declined to answer. He had asked, as did two commissioners, did the question refer to the tax referendum. The question referred only to candidates not issues.

The office-holders or seekers surveyed were: Will Ainsworth, Allen Armstrong, Gregg Armstrong, Loyd Arrington, Ken Benton, Sherry Burns, Dean Calvert, Pamela Casey, William Ferry, Chris Green, Rodney Green, Steven King, Chris Latta, Bruce McAfee, Cindy Massey, Mike Painter, Connie Rowe, Clay Scofield, Carthal Self, Randall Shedd, Shay Shelnutt, Jackie Sivley, David Standridge, Gary Stricklin, John Mark Vaughn, and Nick Washburn.