Catoosa GOP Denied Ballot Access

In a strange twist of irony, after a week-long (and continuing) saga of the Catoosa County GOP being hauled into court because it denied four Republicans ballot access to run for election/re-election on the Catoosa County Republican Primary Ballot, it has now been the Catoosa County GOP itself that has been booted off the ballot.

In case you didn’t know, the County Parties (both Republican and Democratic) are allowed to submit ballot questions to their local election superintendents asking where their primary voters stand on certain policy issues. This has allowed the parties the ability to poll their voters. For instance, for the 2020 Republican Primary, the Cobb County Republican Party asked if educational choice should be expanded in Georgia: SHOULD GEORGIA LAWMAKERS EXPAND EDUCATION OPTIONS BY ALLOWING A STUDENT’S STATE EDUCATION DOLLARS TO FOLLOW TO THE SCHOOL THAT BEST FITS THEIR NEEDS, WHETHER THAT IS PUBLIC, PRIVATE, MAGNET, CHARTER, VIRTUAL OR HOMESCHOOL?

Over 75% of the 69,682 voters who answered the questions said “YES”.

The leadership Catoosa County GOP, eager to make their point that they should be the gatekeepers and sole decision makers as to who is and who is not a Republican (because we certainly can’t trust the thousands of Republican primary voters on something that important), on the final day of qualifying, presented ballot questions that mostly read like a big temper tantrum because Superior Court Judge Don Thompson allowed the Republicans they didn’t consider Republicans circumvent the local party and qualify as Republicans anyway.

The first handwritten ballot questions ask:

1. Do you think anti-Trump Democrats should be able to get a court order to force the elections board to qualify them as Republican candidates for office?

We assume that the Catoosa GOP is now trying to label the four Republicans (three incumbents and one challenger) as “Anti-Trump Democrats.” While that may sound redundant as most Democrats tend to be anti-Trump as most Republicans are anti-Biden, if their point wasn’t received in Question 1, Question 2 left little doubt to their point:

2. Did you know that Stephen <sic> Henry, Vanita Hullander, Jeff Long, and Larry Black were not approved to run as Republicans by the Republican Party?

The Secretary of State’s Office was quick to inform that Catoosa GOP leadership that, once again, they were not in compliance with State Election laws.

Charlene McGowan, General Counsel for the Secretary of State, wrote in her email to Catoosa County GOP Chair Joanna Hildreth, “The Secretary of State cannot publish party questions on the ballot that contain the names of candidates or commentary regarding those candidates, as that constitutes unlawful electioneering.”

The email, which was sent on Friday, March 15, gave the Catoosa GOP until 5:00 PM on Monday, March 18 to submit substitute questions.

Meanwhile, a fund has been set up to raise money to cover the self-inflicted mounting legal costs that Hildreth and the other party officers have burdened themselves and the Catoosa County Republican Party with. Seeking to raise $200,000 from donors who firmly believe that a Star Chamber of a few, select party insiders should choose who governs rather than leaving in the hands of the voters, who, according to the GRA, can be easily bought or deceived, the fund has, since its inception about a week ago, has managed to raise a whooping $2,620 from mostly anonymous donors.

1.31% down….98.69% left to go.

7 Replies to “Catoosa GOP Denied Ballot Access”

  1. Jason, from what I gathered from the arguments Bryan Tyson made, he was specifically arguing the law as it exists currently in Georgia, not the “feelings” of who should and who should not make a subjective determination of what qualifies a person to run as a Republican.

    However, you do bring in a bit of emotion (“feelings”) in your paragraph above of “…The leadership Catoosa County GOP, eager to make their point that they should be the gatekeepers and sole decision makers as to who is and who is not a Republican (because we certainly can’t trust the thousands of Republican primary voters on something that important)…”

    SO…looking back at the Duke v Massey case (linked below), decided in 1996 in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case from 1992 where then-Ga GOP Chair Alec Poitevint and two of his fellow Republicans comprised of a “Presidential Selection Committee” of sorts for WHO could appear as a candidate for President as a Republican, they unanimously decided that under the rules/laws of O.C.G.A. at THAT time, they could vote to constitutionally and legally exclude David Duke’s name from appearing if they so choose.

    BUT, the law ASIDE, Jason…I’m guessing that based on what you wrote above, and the feelings I have read of Scot Turner’s, regarding Catoosa GOP’s attempts in restricting who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify as a ‘Republican’ in 2024, y’all BOTH would be on the side of David Duke in his “right” to obtain a ballot spot in 1992, right?

    Because…how dare a mere 3-person presidential candidate committee be allowed to determine who qualifies as a candidate for President on the Republican ballot, right?

  2. Bill:

    The law is pretty clear, and still is, on the difference between the Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) and the regular state and local primary. State law give the Executive Committees (EC) of the state parties the sole discretion of deciding who will be on the PPP ballot because the voters in the PPP are not voting directly for the nominee, but for delegates who will then vote for the nominee…and the voters may vote for a candidate who, by the party’s nominating convention may not be a candidate anymore. That means the delegates will then, under state law, decide who to vote for for the nominee.

    Contrast that to state and local primaries where the voters directly elect the nominee for the party they choose. This is key to the reason that the General Assembly through state law decided on different processes. The PPP process understands that it is much more of an internal party function, but recognizes that the state plays a role. The general primary is much more of a direct voter driven process and, therefore, there is a state interest in allowing voters from each party the broadest possible choice. There is another “case” which the GRA claims shows that the party is allowed to bar candidates from the ballot, and that was a vote by the Chattooga County Democratic Party to bar the sole county Commissioner, Jason Winters, from qualifying when he ran for re-election in 2020. However, the CDP informed Winters that he had been booted for putting up signs for Nathan Deal and Sen. Jeff Mullis AFTER Winters had been re-elected in 2016 as a Democrat. Winters didn’t even bother to challenge the DPC and simply qualified for re-election in 2020 as a Republican. So no precedent (legal or otherwise) was made as the Party’s actions were never challenged…Winters just went around the Party and the Chattooga GOP accepted the highest elected Democratic official when he switched parties. Winters did lose in the GOP Primary runoff.

    The GRA and the Catoosa County GOP are simply trying to re-write history. What Alec and the EC (or a committee authorized by the EC) did at the time was both the LEGAL thing and the RIGHT thing. They had all of the authority they needed under state law. By denying those four candidates the right to run for election/re-election on the primary ballot based on policy differences, the Catoosa GOP did not do what was legal and they did not do what was right. It is up to the Republican Primary voters, not six party officials, to decide which candidates are “Republican” enough to be elected as Republicans.

    You can agree of disagree that the EC of the GOP did the right thing in 1992, but one thing is certain…legally, they had the right to do it because of how state law was written to govern the process.

    1. Correct…legally, yes. That is what I concurred on.

      But, putting aside the law (as I hoped you would do), according to your reasoning statement of “…(because we certainly can’t trust the thousands of Republican primary voters on something that important)…”

      …Alec and that 1992 committee at that time should have allowed David Duke on the ballot…AND trusted the 1,000,000 or so Republican PPP voters to decide something that important.

      1. The GRA’s argument is you can’t trust the voters, which is their motivation which is clearly outlined in their promotional materials which are linked in the article. In 1992, even if Duke didn’t win the primary, he may have been awarded delegates based on even a minority showing from the voters. In the general primary, unless there are more than two candidates leading to a runoff, a minority portion of the vote doesn’t get a candidate anything. Yes, I’m being a bit snarky in my wording. Must be a Dec. 11th thing!

      2. I am here just to gawk at the fact that Bill Simon, who writes in pure emotion in everything he has ever communicated to me, is now highlighting the emotions of others.

  3. The GRA needs to be held directly responsible for the misinformation they’ve spread, and the two shameless brothers who run the other Pundit site should be run out of business.

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