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ALGOP chair John Wahl doubles down on closed primaries, slams Democrat ‘influence’ in GOP elections

Amid immense speculation that Democratic voters crossed over to partake in the Republican primary to sway the election’s outcome, the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) has come out in public support of party registration.

The reform to Alabama’s electoral system would close party primaries to voters of the opposite political affiliation.

Republicans outvoted Democrats nearly 4:1 in their parties’ respected gubernatorial primary elections this cycle, which represented a 40% decrease in voter turnout for the state’s minority party from the 2018 cycle.

ALGOP chairman John Wahl has repeatedly called for the change, maintaining that only Republicans should be allowed to participate in the party’s primary elections.

During a recent appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Wahl doubled down on his stance and said that Democrat “influence” in GOP elections was “incredibly concerning to the party.”

“I think it’s clear. This election cycle not only highlighted some of our problems with redistricting and with some of our processes, it also highlighted the fact that Democrats are purposefully using the Republican primary to influence the election of the Republican party,” advised Wahl. “That’s incredibly concerning to the party. That’s incredibly concerning to any Republican voter out there. And I really think it shows the need for this right now.”

Wahl pointed to a New York Times op-ed authored by Auburn University creative writing professor Anton DiSclafani, a self-described “left-leaning Democrat,” who said that he voted in the Senate District 27 GOP primary election to oppose incumbent State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn).

“I don’t know anyone who thinks that’s a good idea or a good thing,” he explained. “Republicans shouldn’t be voting in Democrat primaries and Democrats shouldn’t be voting in Republican primaries. That’s just the way the party system works.”

When host Todd Stacy pushed back against Wahl by arguing that closing primaries could dissuade moderate and independent voters from joining the Republican Party, the ALGOP chairman downplayed the assertion and insisted that the electoral reform would not prevent “sincere” individuals from becoming Republicans.

“[I] expect in Alabama the large majority of people when they register, to register as Republican. We’re a supermajority state,” noted Wahl. “They’re going to know whether they’re Republicans or Democrats. Now, as those people, like you said, may see the error of supporting Democrats, which I think we’ve seen droves right now with the policies out of the Biden administration and the lack of respect for people’s rights and freedoms… So we want those people who are disenfranchised by frankly the terrible policies of the Democratic Party. We want them in the Republican Party — we welcome them.”

He concluded, “But you have to remember, with the closed primary system, you can switch your registration. Nothing prevents you from changing from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. It’s just not as easy and you can’t do it flippantly and then switch back instantly. And I think that’s the key. We want people who are sincere.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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