Blount County State Executive Committee-Elect Mark Pulliam Describes Efforts Made by the Tennessee GOP to Keep Him Out

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Misrule of Law blog creator and California refugee Mark Pulliam to the newsmaker line to discuss his win of the GOP State Executive Committee seat in Blount County and the efforts made by the Tennessee Republican Party to take him off after the election had been certified.

Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line by our very good friend Mark Pulliam, who is a refugee from California and Texas, moved to Blount County in 2019, and is a well-known conservative activist and blogger and retired attorney. Good morning, Mark.

Pulliam: Good morning, Michael.

Leahy: Okay, so you’ve been on this program many a time, and you’ve talked about the fact that you were a candidate for the State Executive Committee. You won the election on August 4th.

You got over 300 write-in votes, and now you want to be seated on the State Executive Committee. But there’s a twist and turn – apparently, there are some forces using a technicality to try to keep you from being seated. Bring us up to speed on all this, please.

Pulliam: Michael, I want to thank you for giving visibility to this issue. This issue is of even greater public concern than the dispute about the 5th Congressional District, where candidates were taken off the ballot prior to the election.

What we’re looking at here is an attempt by somebody at the Tennessee Republican Party, either the professional staff or some other forces, to alter the results of an election after the fact.

We’re now a month after the election, the secretary of state has certified the election results, and even though there was no other candidate running and I got over 300 votes, they are taking the position that they can – the State Primary Board, which is one of the hats that the State Executive Committee wears – can unilaterally refuse to recognize those election results if various grounds are not met: not timely paying a registration fee, not being a bona fide Republican, which is bogus.

Leahy: Let’s go back to those standards. Did you receive a letter from Scott Golden, the chairman of the Republican Party, about this issue?

Pulliam: I received one email that was addressed to me, and then I was copied on an email that he sent to the State Executive Committee, which was the notice for the Zoom call that’s going to take place at 5:00 p.m.

Leahy: Are you going to be on that Zoom call today?

Pulliam: I intend to be, although the invitation, or the notice of it, did not specifically give me the right to do that. But I assume that I am entitled to participate, and I intend to participate.

Leahy: I’ve talked to a couple of State Executive Committee members who say they assume you’ll be there as well. I’m just telling you that subsequent to our conversations yesterday. However, the August 4th election was held to elect State Executive Committee members around the state.

There are 66 members from each State Senate district. There’s one man, one woman. You found out a couple of days before the filing deadline that no one had registered to run officially as a Republican candidate in your area, is that correct?

Pulliam: That’s all. That is correct.

Leahy: And then, I don’t know, like 24 hours before the filing deadline, you went in and you filed as a write-in candidate and you called the state party and said, what do I have to do to be on the ballot? What did they tell you?

Pulliam: Well, yes, because this election cycle, they had instituted this registration fee. So if you wanted to be a candidate whose name was on a primary ballot as a Republican candidate, you had to notify them and pay a fee ahead of the election. Well, I was not a registered candidate.

My name was not going to be on the ballot, but I nevertheless was aware of this registration fee. So I called the headquarters of the Tennessee Republican Party and said, okay, so it’s kind of unclear. Do I pay this registration fee, which is $100?

And they said, no, because you’re a write-in. You’re not subject to the registration fee. So I didn’t pay it. And then later, after the election was over, is when I received my one and only email from Scott Golden. He raised that as the primary basis for objecting to my election is that I had not paid the registration fee.

Leahy: Is Scott Golden objecting to your election based on the failure to pay a $100 registration fee that one of the staff members told you that you didn’t have to pay because you were a write-in?

Pulliam: He has raised that. It’s a little bit of a moving target, because at various times other issues have been raised as well. It has been asserted that somehow the bylaws do not permit a write-in candidate, even though the bylaws are silent as to write-in candidates.

And in the most recent communication, the notice to this Zoom call, it’s now being asserted that because I did not file my petition for write-in candidacy in every county encompassed by District 2, the district that I was elected to represent, that I’m disqualified from serving at all even though the statute specifically says that the consequence of failing to file in a particular county just means that your write-in votes cannot be counted.

Leahy: So here’s the bottom line. Nobody filed to run for the State Executive Committee seat as a Republican. When you found this out, you did everything properly to run as a write-in. You got over 300 votes. The election has been certified.

It seems quite clear to me that you should be seated on the State Executive Committee. And it also seems quite clear to me that somebody in the Republican Party wants to violate the will of the people and find a technicality to keep you out. That’s what it seems like to me. This will all be addressed on the Zoom call later today. Is that correct?

Pulliam: At 5:00 p.m. today.

Leahy: And will a vote be taken by – is this sort of like the State Executive Committee acting as a committee on the whole?

Pulliam: Yes.

Leahy: Okay. The new group doesn’t come in until, like, a week from now, right?

Pulliam: That’s what I understand. I have received no communications from the Tennessee Republican Party about my status as to what will happen if and when I’m seated. So I don’t know when they meet or when the term begins, where you take the oath, et cetera.

I have to say, the one thing that annoys me the most about this process, other than the contempt that is being shown to the voters in District 2, is they are still making noises that somehow my status as a bona fide Republican is in question.

Leahy: You’ve been active in the party, that’s clear. And you voted in the last three of the last four primaries, I assume.

Pulliam: Yes. I voted in every election since I was eligible to do so in 1976. And this is just insulting to have my bona fides as a Republican questioned.

Leahy: Someone obviously is trying to use a technicality to keep you from being sworn in as a member of the State Executive Committee, it seems to me. You’re an attorney, retired.

But it seems to me that if that were the decision, you would have the standing to sue the Republican Party of Tennessee and you would likely win in that case and be forced to put back on the State Executive Committee. That’s my view of it.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mark Pulliam” by Mark Pulliam















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