The Jefferson County GOP chose its new leader this week. Chris Brown was elected chairman at the executive committee meeting.
Brown will serve for the next two years, and he has already laid out goals for his term:
Communicate with Republican voters year-round through paid and unpaid methods
Build enthusiasm again among traditional Republican voters to vote all the way down the ballot
Encourage infrequent Republican voters to vote on a more regular basis
Register and grow more Republican voters in the county
Work to expand minority outreach in the county
Recruit excellent candidates for winnable races
Build on our already successful ballot security program
Re-activate and motivate the Council of Clubs so that our Jefferson County Republican Clubs can serve as a gateway to the County Executive Committee
Help develop future Republican Party leaders
The plan is expected to be adopted sometime in April. Brown, who has been a member of the Jefferson County GOP for 20 years and has previously served as chairman, told 1819 News the party had a lot of work to do.
"We've lost good voters because they've left," Brown said. "A lot of Republican voters have moved outside of the county ... we're kind of a stagnant county right now. In Jefferson County, the last 10 years, I think we've added six new voters, new people in 10 years."
While being optimistic because some areas such as Mountain Brook, Vestavia and Trussville are growing a Republican voter base, Brown said there was a need to get people out to the polls.
"I do think in some ways the Republican party has become a problem with their own success," he explained. "In Jefferson County, we still have competitive races at the local level. We care about those races and try to elect Republicans. But when you have races on the November ballot like the Governor's race, where nobody really thinks the Governor has any issue, which she didn't, the enthusiasm to vote isn't very high. The same thing with Senator Britt, where nobody thought she was in trouble, so there was no sense of urgency to vote for a lot of people because they thought it was already a foregone conclusion. So, I think the success the state Republican party has had at a statewide level has kind of impacted us, but I still think that Jefferson County is considered a purple county because we need them to drive turnout for us so that we get people to vote all the way down the ballot."
After years of running political campaigns across the state, Brown has identified things that can be done to turn the county back to red county eventually, but he doesn't think it will happen overnight. He said communication between the party and the electorate should be a priority.
"My plan is to be out there growing voters, registering voters, having informational sessions to explain the importance of voting at the courthouse level and trying to make the elections more local again," he outlined. "When we just show up a month before the election, or you do a mailer and some social media advertising, it's almost like it was too late."
During the 2022 primary election, Republicans in Jefferson County noticed there was not a Republican candidate for any of the Circuit Court Judge seats. Brown said he believes part of the challenge facing the party in that realm is the lack of assurance for potential candidates.
"It's hard for lawyers to put their lives on hold if they don't think they can win an election," Brown explained. "So, we're going to try harder to recruit capable, qualified candidates, but a lot of people won't do it because some of them would then have to appear before the judges they just ran against. So, it's a dichotomy that we are trying to overcome. We haven't proven that we've been able to win an election in 10 years in the county, and until we do that and break through, some of the judges just don't want to run. It's hard to convince someone to give up their legal practice, run a campaign, possibly lose, then have to go in front of that judge as an attorney. So, it's a problem. We've had less and less judicial candidates each time."
It's more important for Brown to have quality candidates on the ballot than a higher quantity of candidates. He said he would serve for the next two years and then plans to move on and hand over the job to someone new.
After being elected chairman, Brown thanked former Jefferson County GOP chairman Paul DeMarco.
"Thank you, Paul John DeMarco, for your service to our Party," he said. "I have big shoes to follow."
DeMarco said he was thankful to have served and hopeful for the future of the Jefferson County GOP.
"Considering how difficult the past three years have been, we have been so successful in increasing the number the activities and membership in the Jefferson County GOP," DeMarco said. "We have made a priority to increase the funds in the party with our fundraising. The Jefferson County Republican Party is in the best financial shape in the history of the party and has the monies to 'plow the fields' as we gear up for the next election cycle."
Also, in the election, Deanna K. Frankowski was elected secretary, and Keith Mitchell was elected treasurer.
Secretary of State Wes Allen and ALGOP chairman John Wahl spoke at the Jefferson County GOP executive meeting.
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