Election season is heating up in Tennessee. The midterm congressional elections occur this year and the release of the proposed new maps has led to even more discussion about potential candidates and district races in Tennessee.
In addition to satisfying the federal and state requirements to run for U.S. Congress, candidates seeking the Republican nomination for any elected office in Tennessee must satisfy the Tennessee GOP’s governing criteria in order to qualify for the nomination contest.
A candidate seeking to run for a Republican nomination must first visit the TN GOP website, click on the 2022 Candidate Registration link, and fill out the forms.
The Tennessee Republican Party bylaws state in Article IX that a candidate must be considered a “bona fide Republican” in order to qualify to seek the Republican nomination. A “bona fide Republican” must satisfy the following:
A. Any individual who is actively involved in the Tennessee Republican
Party, his County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either; and
resides and is registered to vote in said county; and either
B. Any individual who has voted in at least three (3) of the four (4) most
recent Statewide Republican primary elections; or
C. Any individual who is vouched for in writing (to the satisfaction of the
decision makers defined herein) as a bona fide Republican by an officer of the TRP or a member
of the CEC, excluding SEC members, of the County and/or District where said individual
resides. The decision makers defined herein may require additional verification that said
individual is indeed a bona fide Republican.
The bylaws define “actively involved” as an individual giving either time or money to the Tennessee Republican Party, the County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either. That must have occurred since the most recent County Republican Party reorganization. The Tennessee Republican Party and local parties maintain lists of recognized auxiliary organizations. Examples of recognized affiliates are Young Republicans, College Republicans, and the Tennessee Federal of Republican Women.
The bylaws further state that, “The final decision concerning said individual’s bona fide Republican status shall be determined by a majority vote of the following: the State Chairman and each SEC member who represents any portion of the district covered by said individual’s proposed candidacy.”
Another qualification is that a candidate must submit a filing fee. For the office of U.S. Representative, that filing fee is $2,500. If the office that is being sought is occupied by either a Democrat or an Independent, then the filing fee is waived. The Tennessee GOP determines the proper manner for accepting the fee and the fee needs to be received by the applicable filing deadline. A copy of the nominating petition must also be provided.
Section 2 of Article IX governs the challenging of a candidate’s “bona fide status”.
The challenge is made to the State Chairman from two or more registered voters from within the district that the candidate is running in. A statewide candidate could get challenged from any area of the state, while a congressional candidate could only be challenged from that congressional district. All the individuals making the challenge must “voted in at least three (3) of the last four (4) most recent Statewide Republican primary elections. Such a challenge must be made no later than five (5) days before the deadline for removal of a candidate’s name from a ballot under TCA Section 2-5-204 or otherwise, or any other applicable deadline.”
The state chair is empowered to be the authority to communicate to the appropriate election officials the decision as to whether the challenged candidate is a “bona fide Republican.”
TN GOP State Chair Scott Golden told The Tennessee Star that the goal of the candidate qualification process is to make sure that, “If a voter goes into the booth and they see a GOP name on the ballot, they will be confident that the candidate shares Republican values.”
He also stated that he is looking forward to the challenge of 2022 and the role that Tennessee will play in putting the Speaker’s Gavel in Republican hands.
The TN GOP bylaws were codified in 1994. The most recent changes to candidate qualifications were made in 2017, according to the TN GOP.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Tennessee State Capitol” by Tennessee State Capitol.