Alabama GOP renews call for closed primaries after teachers union ‘meddling’

By Johnny Kampis | Watchdog.org

CULLMAN, Ala. — Republican Chairman Bill Armistead fired a shot at the powerful Alabama Education Association teachers union Monday, accusing the group of trying to influence the GOP primary in a blog post and renewing his call for closed primaries.

Armistead said since Democrats had few serious primary races, the AEA urged that party’s voters to cast ballots in the Republican primary.

ARMISTEAD: Close the primary system to avoid crossover “meddling” in elections.

“The efforts of these Democrats and the AEA were attempts to influence who won our primary,” Armistead wrote. “Their goal was simple: get candidates loyal to the AEA nominated in the Republican primary or elect the ‘weakest candidate’ as the Republican nominee to enhance the chance of electing a Democrat in November.”

It was widely speculated the teachers union funneled money to more pro-education candidates through the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government.

AEA spokeswoman Amy Marlowe didn’t immediately return a call from Alabama Watchdog on Tuesday morning.

Armistead said one of his goals since his 2011 election as party chairman was to “close” the state’s primary system, requiring voters to register with one party or the other and only voting in that party’s primary.

The Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee passed a resolution at its 2013 summer meeting endorsing closed primaries, but the Legislature didn’t act on the measure during the 2014 session.

Currently, Alabama is one of 11 states with an open primary system. Others include Arkansas, Georgia and Missouri.

Armistead vowed to continue fighting that mission.

“The Alabama Republican Party will continue to promote the idea that Republicans should select Republican nominees and Democrats should select Democrat nominees,” he wrote. “Until such time that we enact legislation in Alabama to have a closed or semi-closed primary, we will continue to see Democrats ‘meddling’ in our Republican primary.”

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley agrees with Armistead — sort of.

She told AL.com party registration is important for primaries to function property, but noted that voters like being able to choose in which primary to vote. Worley also said the potential influence of crossover voting is overblown.

“I think it’s more talk than action,” she told AL.com.

Reach Johnny at johnny@missouriwatchdog.org.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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