The Baldwin County Republican Party is hosting their second annual summer dinner on June 14 and have chosen Dr. Ben Carson to be the keynote speaker (Get tickets HERE). Carson is the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He made medical history in 1987 when he became the first surgeon to successfully seperate conjoined twins who were joined at the head. He went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the higest civilian award in the U.S., in 2008.
Carson recently gained national recognition for eloquently and respectfully shredding liberal ideology in his keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast while President Obama listened from just a few feet away. He’s retiring from Johns Hopkins later this year, and talk of his entrance onto the national political stage has been widespread for the last couple of months.
We caught up with Baldwin County GOP Chairman Matt Simpson late last week to talk about their upcoming dinner, their choice of Dr. Carson as the keynote speaker, and more.
So you guys chose Dr. Ben Carson as the keynote speaker for your summer dinner. What made Dr. Carson the ideal fit for this event?
Dr. Carson has really exploded on the political scene since his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. We thought this was an opportunity to get a great speaker on the rise. I don’t know if he is running for President in 2016 but these speaking engagements and television appearances are a good start.
YH: What will money raised from this event go toward?
MS: The money raised for this event will go toward getting Republicans elected to office and keeping them there. The 2010 elections were great for our party and our state but it would be foolish to just think the Democrats are just going to concede the 2014 cycle. Baldwin County can be a major factor in helping keep a Republican stronghold in Alabama.
YH: Do you believe the GOP must do a better job of reaching new demographic groups? If so, how?
MS: I think we can do a better job reaching conservatives in general. We have the best message and we have shown that when Republicans stick to our principles, our state and nation flourish. I don’t think we should cater our message to a specific group or demographic. It comes down to one question: do you think big government is the solution or do you think big government is the problem? If someone favors a smaller government it shouldn’t matter what group or demographic they come from. We just need to get our message to them and let them know they are welcome in our party.
YH: What do you believe is the county parties’ role in the upcoming election cycle?
MS: I think the county parties should focus on keeping all branches of government in Alabama Republican. We are blessed in Baldwin County to be one of the most, if not the most, conservative counties in the state. We need to help out our neighboring counties and make sure that the people of Alabama understand that this is not their grandfather’s Democratic Party. The days of the conservative Democrat are over. The fact that we don’t have Democrat opposition to our candidates in Baldwin County means that we have a great opportunity to help fellow Republicans in other counties.
YH: There has been an ongoing debate over having an open or closed primary in Alabama. You currently don’t have to be a member of a Party to vote in an Alabama primary. What do you think?
MS: I am for an open primary but I would like to see some changes. I think if someone votes for one party in the primary they should be prohibited from voting in a runoff in the other party’s primary. We have the ability track who voted for what party. The primaries are put on so that the parties can determine who is the strongest candidate to put on the ballot in the general election. To allow an opposing party to determine which candidate the other party will nominate seems counter productive to me.
What else is going on?
1. This week’s Rumors & Rumblings
2. The Least Business-Friendly Cities in Alabama
3. How Business-Friendly Are Alabama’s 50 Largest Cities?
4. Beth Chapman Will Not Seek Elective Office in 2014
5. BCA & NRA Square Off