— BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Republican Party re-elected Bill Armistead as chairman Saturday despite a campaign by the governor and other top Republicans to oust him.
Armistead beat Montevallo attorney Matt Fridy 221-159 in voting by the State Republican Executive Committee.
Fridy, a 37-year-old attorney from Montevallo, drew support from Gov. Robert Bentley, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Armistead, a 68-year-old former state senator from Columbiana, had the backing of Chief Justice Roy Moore and many low-profile grassroots workers within the party.
The outcome was an embarrassment for some of Alabama's top Republicans, said William Stewart, retired chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama. "It shows Roy Moore is more powerful than the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker," he said.
Bentley left the GOP meeting before the vote. A spokesman said he had no comment about the outcome, but he sent Armistead a note saying he would continue to work with him as they approach the 2014 elections, when the governor, lieutenant governor and Legislature will be on the ballot.
Armistead said he and Bentley will meet next week, and uniting the party will be his priority. "If we don't unite, it will be the Democrats' dream and our nightmare," he said.
Republicans hold every Alabama office elected statewide, six of seven seats in the U.S. House, and more than 60 percent of the Legislature.
Moore said he supported Armistead because he treated him fairly when he challenged and beat Bentley's hand-picked chief justice, Chuck Malone, in the Republican primary last year. He said previous party leaders had not treated him fairly in prior elections. "I've had to fight the people trying to seize power in this election," he said.