Earlier this month, Alabama Democratic Party executive director Wade Perry commented on Twitter how “helpful” Republican Senate candidate Katie Britt was in electing Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate in 2017.
Alabama GOP chairman John Wahl said the comments were “concerning” and said it was a wake-up call for the Republicans on how Democrats were trying to influence the Republican Primary process.
Tuesday, Wahl argued on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program” that it was time for a closed primary system in Alabama.
“I’ll tell you one thing — next legislative cycle, I’m going to encourage closing the primary,” he said, “and having a registered party system where we know only registered Republicans will be voting in the Republican primary.”
Currently, the law states that voters can choose which party’s primary they want to participate in, but they cannot switch to the other party’s primary in the runoff elections.
The GOP chairman said he did not like seeing Democrats meddle in a Republican primary.
“[W]e are seeing in Alabama a push from the Democrats to try and insert themselves into our primary and have influence in picking out nominee,” he said, “and I think it’s very inappropriate.”
Responding to Perry’s comments about Britt, Wahl said there was a debate on what he was actually trying to accomplish in his public support of the Senate candidate.
“Some are sure that was meant to help Katie Britt, that comment was meant to help Katie Britt” he explained. “Katie Britt’s campaign very rightly says ‘you know we don’t think so, that we think that was meant to hurt us.’ So no one can know Wade Perry’s underlying push with that comment.”
He reiterated that an open primary system causes too many problems in the process of choosing the best nominee for the party.
“Sometimes,” he continued, “they’ll say, ‘OK, you’re the candidate that we want to vote in the primary because we think they’ll be easier to beat in the general.’ So, whatever the reason is, there is no good reason for a Democrat voting in a Republican primary. It’s either to water down our nominees and elect Democrats that are running as Republicans or it’s to pick a nominee that they think is easier for them to beat in the fall. Either way, let Republicans pick. Let Republicans vote for our nominees.”
Wahl said this would be a major focus for him next session.
“I’d like to think that even in politics good common sense reasoning and a good argument, when you can explain it, can carry the day. For me this is one of my number one targets for the next legislative cycle,” he concluded.