It sounds like the start of a joke: What do a Democrat, Libertarian, independent, write-in candidate, and other non-Republicans have in common? The answer: They cannot run as a Republican for six years.
The ALGOP has received criticism for this perceived "heavy-handed" approach.
On Saturday, August 13, the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee voted to expand their "sore loser" provision in their bylaws. Any officeholder or candidate who lost a GOP primary and subsequently ran as a write-in candidate or an Independent was already barred from running as a Republican for six years. Now potential Republican candidates who were denied GOP ballot access in a challenge were added to the list.
The changes were recommended by the Bylaws Committee of the ALGOP, chaired by State Auditor candidate State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals).
"What Dean Odle and Kimberly Butler are doing was already covered under the sore loser rule prior to this change," Sorrell told 1819 News. "Both ran as Republicans in the primary and lost and then ran as write-ins against our nominees."
Dean Odle was one of several candidates who challenged Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary. Ivey, as the polls predicted, beat the challengers without a runoff. Odle is asking supporters to write him in on the ballot in the November 8 general election.
"I wouldn't be doing this if we had had a change," Odle told 1819 News. "If Lindy or Tim or Lew had won, I would be supporting them. I am doing this because we have a RINO in office. I have been a Republican longer than Kay Ivey, longer than John Merrill, longer than Steve Marshall. I have the dates that they switched parties. I never switched. I have always been a Republican."
Kimberly Butler is running for Alabama House of Representatives District 2. She ran as a Republican in the primary but narrowly missed the Republican primary runoff. She is now running as a write-in candidate against GOP nominee Ben Harrison.
"I have never been more proud of our Republican platform and more disappointed with the decisions of the people who call themselves Republican leaders," Butler told 1819 News. "I am not challenging the 'clear winner of the Republican primary.' There is no Democrat on this ballot, so there is no chance of splitting the vote. I am simply giving the people of HD 2 the runoff that they are rightfully owed."
There were some errors by local election officials in the May 24 Republican primary that meant that some District 2 voters did not get the correct ballot. Butler argued she had a claim on the Republican nomination on these grounds and challenged the election results. The ALGOP candidates committee denied Butler's challenge.
"Speaking of the sore loser clause itself, I did not lose," Butler said. "I was a part of an election that was invalid, therefore incapable of determining a legitimate winner. I am also not 'sore.' I'm disappointed that ALGOP refused to hear my case, but I am not angry. I am simply giving the people of House District 2 a vote that they were not allowed."
The "sore loser" rule was also expanded to include people who donate to candidates that are not Republicans in partisan political races.
"If you donate to Democrats, you should not be running on the Republican ticket," Sorrell said. "If you vote in a Democratic primary, if you belong to a Democratic Club, if you belong to a Libertarian Club, you cannot run as a Republican."
Libertarian candidate for governor Dr. Jimmy Blake said that this is targeting Libertarians.
"They just fell on their swords with that," Blake said. "That is absolutely crazy."
"I think these are big government authoritarians," said Libertarian Party Chairman and District 7 congressional candidate Gavin Goodman. "There are a lot of small government conservatives that should come on over and join us."
"This is an obvious power grab," Butler said. "I believe in the platform of the Republican party. But the party has stepped off their own platform by not supporting election integrity. I have made the decision to stand in the gap for the people of HD 2 to have their vote counted, and their voice[s] heard. I freely accept the punishment that they give me for 'disobedience of the party governance.' But to extend that to others who also believe in election integrity is beyond unacceptable. Republicans will now live in fear of the punishment for speaking their mind and showing support for someone who stands more firmly on the Republican platform than the current party themselves. This move is hypocritical at best."
Odle maintained that he is still a Republican despite challenging the Republican nominee on the ballot.
"I am not relinquishing that I am a true Republican," Odle said. "You don't get to call me not a Republican. I am in agreement with all of the GOP platform. Kay Ivey - she doesn't support the Republican platform. She raises taxes, she allowed the unconstitutional shutdowns of businesses and churches, she allowed Common Core to be taught in our schools, and she appointed eight Democrats as judges. She also took a contribution from George Soros' PAC and $2 million in dark money. Why should we have to settle for the lesser of two evils?"
"How is Katie Britt on the ballot?" Blake said. "She and Richard Shelby helped [Democrat] Doug Jones get elected."
"I feel sorry for Republicans; we would never do this to members of our party," Goodman said.
Sorrell said that a candidate's county executive committee could lift the six-year ban by a three-quarters vote.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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