The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

June 13, 2013

UPDATE: Local GOP debates sheriff probe, vetting


Call for calm

District Attorney Brian Jones and Limestone County Commissioner Ben Harrison both called for calm and cooperation among members.

Jones said he was “extremely disheartened and disappointed” in the group for bickering during the meeting.

“Don’t let individual ideas rip us apart,” he said. “We’ve got to put aside our differences …”

Harrison cautioned members to be tolerant of a variety of Republican philosophies.

“We need to treat each other with respect whether we agree or disagree,” he said. “We need to take the personal stuff outside.”

He said there were aspects of Libertarianism and Constitutionalism that he supported, though not many on the Democratic side.

“We need to learn how to speak with civility to each other based on principles, not emotion,” he said.

State Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens, was not remotely rattled by any arguing at the meeting.

“What has gone on tonight is a constant, daily occurrence in the state Legislature,” he said, drawing laughter.


Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Republicans discussed the process of determining the suitability of candidates seeking to run on the Republican ticket, a process also known as vetting.

Although he encouraged more Democrats residents to become Republicans, Jones said the vetting process for candidates was important.

He said if a Democratic office holder who lost in the last election tries to switch parties to win, the committee should say, “Hell no, you’re not coming across the line.”

“You have to ask yourself, do you want quality or quantity,” Jones said.

Williams also strongly encouraged the committee to carefully vet candidates for the upcoming races.

“The AEA (Alabama Education Association) is going to run candidates in the next state election and they will try to run as Republicans,” Williams said. ‘So, this idea of vetting is very important when a candidate comes up to run as a Republican.”

He said it is easy to identify those who simply ran on the Republican ticket or switched parties to try to win an election because they get elected and the party never sees them again.

At one point in the meeting, Committee Vice-Chairman Toney Llewellyn complained that Coffman had said Davis should be kept off future ballots (for public office) because Davis was “a weak Republican” who had breakfast with Blakely.

Llewellyn said if members were going to be defined as strong or weak Republicans, he wanted to know the criteria for such assessments and how each member of the committee would rank.

Coffman said the comment about Davis angered Llewellyn because the two men are friends.

“Rex has told me he believes in the Libertarian way, and he said in the paper Sunday he is not a conservative,” Coffman said. “The Republican Party stand for conservative values and I stand for conservative values.”

Davis, who was allowed two minutes to speak, said he never said he was associated with Libertarian views. He said he was a Goldwater Republican and a classical liberal, the latter began the nation, he said.

He also noted that there are several types of Republicans, including conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and classical liberals.

“Those who do not understand should, perhaps, study it and not throw rocks,” Davis said.

Coffman said the state committee said that it is the job of the executive committee to determine who is a good Republican candidate before approving money (for campaigning).

Davis said Wednesday that although Blakely is a friend, he is also a Democrat who needs to be replaced by a Republican.


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