Republicans Call for Primary in County Elections

July 9, 2021

Residents of Smith County are used to elected county officials being non-partisan and not allowing partisan politics to affect the organization and decision making or the local government; however, that is set to change beginning next election cycle with the introduction of a Republican primary for all county elected seats except the school board.

Yvonne Gibbs, Administrator of the Smith County Election Commission, has released a statement indicating that the Smith County Republican Party has called for a primary election to be held May 3, 2022, before the usual general election for county offices in August. You may read the complete statement here.

In Smith County, county elections have been non-partisan, and all candidates were considered independent. With a primary request, every candidate will either have to decide to run as an independent or select to run for a party nomination through the primary. If a candidate wins the primary, the party name will be listed alongside the candidate name for the general election. If a candidates runs for a party primary and loses, the candidate will not be listed on the ballot for the general election.

The request comes from the Smith County Republican Party after leadership from the state party deemed the local party inactive and selected new leadership earlier this year. When reached for comment, Irene D Reichenbach, chair of the Smith County Republican Party, gave the following statement, “The Smith County Republican Party of Tennessee will be holding a Primary for the upcoming 2022 Elections. Why? The answer is simple, to give people a choice. Smith County Republican Party is excited to offer the opportunity for the voters to participate in the upcoming primary which will provide a clear difference between the candidates, their platform, and to the process, while expanding voting to a more representative group of voters. The primary is for the Republicans to have a partisan choice for who the Republican Party wants as their candidate. We are moving forward in a positive way to ensure that every Republican has a vote, and a voice.”

Carol Brown Andrew, Interim Chair of the Smith County Democratic Party, released the following when asked for comment about the local party’s plans for a primary, “The Smith County Democratic Party will discuss the possibility of a primary at our July meeting. Our focus is to ensure fair elections while giving voters clear choice.”

By state statute, the local county arm of a statewide political party may request a primary for county offices. The county is then statutorily obligated to hold the primary. [Editor’s Note: the Republican and Democratic parties are the only recognized statewide political parties, so other political parties are unable to request a primary.] This will be an additional election for Smith County, so the county will be looking at an additional estimated cost of around $35,000-$40,000 to facilitate this process.

Read the complete statement from Yvonne Gibbs, Administrator of the Smith County Election Commission at this link.