GOP primary has lots of intrigue

Mar. 22—With the primary election less than two months away, members of both local political parties are closely watching the Republican side of the ballot.

With numerous candidates running for the GOP nominations for governor and the 5th Congressional District, it will garner lots of attention.

But in Madison County the interest will be on racing for two seats on the Board of County Commissioners and the three at-large seats on the Madison County Council.

Among local Republicans there are two factions working to garner wins in precinct committee races.

There are 112 precincts in Madison County and on the ballot are 42 contested races for precinct committee positions.

Of the 112 precincts in the county there are only 11 on the GOP ballot with no candidates.

In that instance the party chairman can name a precinct person.

During two meetings this week that attracted large numbers of Republicans at a forum in Alexandria and the Madison County Tea Party in an unusual happening, the precinct committeemen candidates were allowed to introduce themselves.

At the Tea Party meeting it was noted that the precinct committeemen vote on vacancies in elective offices as a result of resignations.

It was also highlighted that the precinct committeemen get to vote at the party caucus in 2025 to elect the party leadership.

With 42 contested precinct positions, the faction looking to unseat long-time party chairman Russ Willis will have to campaign to pick up 15 votes.

Willis has been challenged in the past for the party leadership position and over the years has disgruntled some party members by endorsing candidates in local races.

Most of the people running for county office are also seeking to win a position as a precinct representative.

It is making for some interesting contests on May 7.

In Anderson Ward 5, Precinct 5, Katherine Callahan, running for the Auditor nomination against Todd Culp is in a three-way race for the precinct post.

She is challenging former GOP party chairman Kevin Sulc with Jacob Deiwert also in the contest.

Willis is unopposed but county vice-chairwoman Kelli Heuer is being challenged by Heather Prophet in Ward 5, Precinct 6.

Prophet lost a bid for the party's nomination for Anderson mayor in 2015 to Kevin Smith.

While a leadership battle could be on the GOP horizon, nothing similar is expected for local Democrats with Terri Austin and Norman Rayford taking over the leadership reins after turmoil in the party ranks.

Activity among the GOP faithful is sure to increase in coming weeks.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.