FRANKLIN, Tennessee–The GOP State Executive Committee (SEC), the governing body for the Tennessee Republican Party, met in Franklin, Tennessee at the Hilton Garden Inn on Saturday and removed eight candidates from the August 2 Republican Primary ballot for failing to qualify as “bona fide” Republicans as defined by party by-laws.
Seven of the candidates had filed petitions to run for the U.S. Senate; one had filed to run for Governor.
Party by-laws require a candidate to have voted in three of four successive Republican Party primary elections, and/or provide additional evidence of service to the Republican Party in order to qualify. Additional prospective candidates seeking election to U.S. Congress, and the state House and Senate, who do not meet the bona fide Republican standard, are likely to be removed in the next few weeks.
Objections had been filed with the State Party regarding at least eight statewide candidates, and after reviewing and confirming that the complainants met the bona fide standard themselves, the Political Committee, chaired by SEC member Jim Looney, reviewed the qualifications of the candidates that were the subject of complaints.
A slate of eight candidates were recommended for removal at the SEC meeting, including U.S. Senate candidates Darrell Lynn and Rolando Toyos.
Toyos attended the meeting and sought to speak in defense of his qualifications as a “bona fide” Republican despite having failed to vote in any of the past four Republican Primary elections. However, a motion to suspend the rules to allow him a one minute presentation (requiring a 2/3 vote of those present) failed on a voice vote.
Darrell Lynn did not attend the meeting and had agreed not to contest the removal after having a conference call with GOP Chairman Scott Golden and other party leaders on Friday afternoon. Lynn explained that while he doesn’t like or agree with the by-laws definition, and the implication that he is not a “bona fide” Republican, despite his past fundraising, donations and other efforts for Republican candidates, he understands the action being taken by the SEC and appreciates the leadership and commitment of Chairman Scott Golden and other SEC members who are working hard to keep Tennessee in the ‘RED’ column at every level.
“I share that commitment,” Lynn said, “and was always more focused on electing good, conservative, business oriented and principled Republicans — and supporting and reelecting President Trump in 2020 — than I ever was on getting elected myself. I look forward to working with Chairman Golden and other Republican leaders to win races and promote solid conservative policies in 2018 and beyond.”
SEC member Chris Hughes specifically spoke to the fact that he had talked with Lynn and that he is a good, committed Republican who simply doesn’t meet the qualifications as a Republican candidate “at this time,” but that Lynn is anxious to move forward helping Republican candidates in Tennessee and devoting significant efforts to raise funds for Tennessee candidates and for President Trump’s reelection campaign and looks forward to working with him.
Another SEC member, Julia Hurley, noted that Lynn’s approach was a “very classy move” and that he clearly represents exactly the kind of person “we need to get more involved in the Party and our election efforts going forward.”
At one point in the discussion concerning removal of the candidates a motion was made to hold the vote in “executive session” with only SEC members present. That motion required a 2/3 vote and failed overwhelmingly.
The vote to accept the recommendation of the Political Committee and remove all eight prospective candidates from the ballot was approved by voice vote unanimously.
Tennessee Republican Party Scott Golden released the following statement:
The Tennessee Republican Party has always been an organization that encouraged new membership and involvement. However, we do have in place a set of rules for determining who we allow to run as our Party’s standard bearers. We want to ensure that the candidates seeking our nomination are active and invested in the Republican Party in Tennessee and today the State Executive Committee followed the process laid out in our Bylaws to do just that.
The next scheduled meeting of the GOP SEC is immediately after the August 2 primary election.