How the TNGOP used their bylaws as a way to discriminate against young Tennesseans that have "America First" values.
The TNGOP used bylaws in an attempt to prevent Democrats from coming to Tennessee and running for office as a Republican. Young Tennesseans that were born and raised in Tennessee were also blocked.
The recent events regarding the Tennessee Republican Party removing candidates from the ballots going into the 2022 primaries has received considerable backlash and criticism from even the most prominent Republican Party Members. The TNGOP proclaims their use of a bylaw qualifier that requires a candidate to meet a 3 of 4 votes made in the last 4 primaries was implemented to prevent out of towner’s from moving to Tennessee from a predominately Democrat region and running for office as a Republican. It has since been used to challenge dozens of candidates on their “bonafide” Republican status. Even Republicans that were born and raised in Tennessee.
The overly aggressive and shady tactic of using discriminating bylaws as a way to challenge a candidates “bonafide” status is actually being used as a way to strategically target “America First” candidates that the TNGOP wants to block and it allows the TNGOP, and to literally pick and choose their winners. Simply put, the TNGOP can pick their winners and protect their sitting incumbents from being challenged by Grass Roots, “America First” Republicans who were born and raised in Tennessee by disqualifying candidates via protesting their “bonafide” status, and then using the appeal process as a defacto way of removing them from the ballot at their will.
Yes, just the protest of a candidates “bonafide” status itself triggers an automatic disqualification. The candidate is later notified that their candidacy has been disqualified by mail with instructions for the appeal process. This puts the candidate into the appeal process automatically, unless they chose to withdraw.
The TNGOP has a so-called appeal process for candidates that have been protested and disqualified to give the appearance of providing fair due process to the candidate. The entire process is nothing more than theater and a formality to an ends of disqualification at their choosing.
So this is where I will begin sharing my personal experience with the TNGOP as a 20 year old Christian Conservative that was born and raised right here in Tennessee. Well, raised here in Tennessee with the exception of a two year move to Myrtle Beach back when I was 12 years old. But even then I was always looking for a way that I could better my community. I even started an organization called “Trending Change” to help the homeless in Myrtle Beach before I was age 13. You can read more about that here.
I have spent my entire life being raised to believe that I was a Republican. I was born and raised in a conservative, christian family and share the values of my Father and my Mother, who themselves have always believed they were Republicans. Come to find out, none of us are Republicans until Mr. Golden and 2 committee members say we are. So if you think you’re a Republican, think again. You are in fact just a fan of the Republican Party. You can’t claim to be a Republican yourself based on your entire life, values, principles, morals etc. Nope, you are only a fan of the Republican party, until they say that you are one of them. They call this being “Bonafide”.
So please be sure to read this carefully if you are a young Tennessean that wants to seek public office. Especially if you want to run as a Republican. My personal experience with the TNGOP as a young Conservative may cause you to think twice about doing so. To be direct, they don’t want us.
Regardless of whether we were born and raised in a Republican family, in the state of Tennessee as proud Constitutional Republicans for generations, as my family has been. It doesn’t matter. If you love your country and you are for “The People”, they would rather you stay off of their ballot.
On May 13, 2022, The Mountain Press released an article written on behalf of the TNGOP that explains their decision to block my candidacy. It was written in a way to smooth over the actions taken against my candidacy by the Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden.
It’s important that the citizens have transparency and full disclosure from both the Republican Party and the Candidate. I didn’t see see where that took place in the article. It appeared to be a piece designed to justify improper actions from the TNGOP and distract readers from the point of my complaint.
Here are the facts that I can provide.
Late 2021 I decided to run for the school board, I am about “We the People” and I would like to give our schools back to the parents of our county and remove non-compliant curriculum that is driven by social justice and racial equity. I went into the election office to pick up a petition, and I was asked to declare a party.
I thought that was a weird request because I was under the impression that the school board was non-partisan. I asked about it and was told that it was a brand new thing this year brought in by the Republican Party. So I declared I was running as a Republican. I was asked to pay the Republican Party $25 fee and get the required signatures. Once I did both, a few weeks later I was added to the ballot.
I was then put on the election ballot here in Sevier County as a bona fide REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE for the School Board. So After getting on that ballot I saw an opportunity to possibly bring change in a more impactful way by seeking to run in for the TN House in the primary. That would make me a Republican challenger to incumbent Dale Carr, and that is where it went bad.
I went to the election commission, picked up my petition, and once again I was asked to declare a party. Once again, I declared Republican. I was told to pay the $500, and get signatures. So I did. I went out into our community and shared my views, my principles, and my values with the citizens of Sevier County as a Republican. I got their support and signatures to go on the ballot as a Republican Candidate. Then I submitted my petition back to the election office on time. Only this time there was a bit of shadiness by the Republican Party. After I paid the $500 fee I received a receipt that said I would have access to a data server for the Republican Party. I of course didn’t get access so I called the Republican Party directly and was told that they manually send access out to candidates and that it will take a few weeks. Regardless, I was still on the ballot.
However, within a few weeks I received a letter from Mr. Scott Golden, stating that my candidacy was disqualified due to a protest of my “bona fide” status.
According to their bylaws, they said that I must have voted in 3 of the last 4 most recent Republican primaries to be considered a Qualified Candidate or “bona fide” Republican. Did I mention that I am 20 years old? That’s impossible to do.
I called the Republican Party directly and asked the person on the phone what the issue was and explained that I was only 20. It was mentioned to me that it was, in fact, most likely my age and that I didn't meet the 3 of 4 votes qualification. He also mentioned that my personal situation was highly unusual and that the Chairman, Mr. Scott Golden would most likely provide a waiver. I was instructed to email Scott Golden, So I did.
Scott Golden only responded with how to qualify by getting “Vouch For’s”. Which is the first step in the TNGOP appeal process. So I was suddenly appealing the disqualification automatically. He never said we apologize and you should not be subjected to the process because of your age. He instead simply proceeded to explain the next step in the appeal process. He knew at this point that I was only 20 and that it was impossible for me to meet the 3 of 4 past primary votes requirements of the bylaw.
Keep in mind that Mr. Scott Golden had already publicly commented on the issue of offering waivers to candidates that were too young to meet 3 of 4 past primary vote requirements, as seen here in the Knox news article here.
The same statement regarding candidates who are too young to vote in all of the required races, and how they will be handled is mentioned in the ARTICLE IX BYLAWS OF THE TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN PARTY, as seen here.
In his email reply to me, he mentioned that I registered as a voter in 2019 and but missed two State Primary votes in 2020. I did, I was brand new at being a voter and I was neck deep in college courses at the time. So my thoughts were on the Presidential election and college. I did vote in the General election in 2020 for Donald Trump, but as you can see from the email below, it didn’t matter.
Notice that the response email I received from the TNGOP starts with Mr. Golden citing the 3/4 bylaw requirements, and yet then he acknowledges that I am not old enough to have voted in 3 of 4 past primaries.
“The TNGOP Bylaws require all those wanting to candidates for the Republican nomination to have voted in 3/4 Statewide Republican Primaries. Our office was correct, younger Republicans that do not obtain their voting record due to age would require a vouch from me. However, you registered in 2019 and failed to vote in the March 2020 (Press. Trump) and August 2020 primary (US Seante/State Senator and Rep) thus making you 2/4 if you were even credited with voting in the years when you were under age.
This is important information in my complaint because this is where Golden acknowledges that he is not using the actual bylaw requirement of 3 of 4 past votes as he should or, as it is written. Instead, he is stating that at my age, my candidacy requires a vouch from him personally. So it’s standard procedure to require a vouch for from the Party Chairman if you are under 22 years old? Well, it sure is. That’s because it is not possible to have made the required 3 of 4 past primary votes at a younger age.
So at this point, Mr. Scott Golden has acknowledged that he realizes that I am NOT old enough to have made the minimum of 3 required past Republican primary votes. Regardless of whether I voted in the two in 2020 or not, I still am not old enough to have met the specific bylaw requirement of 3 of 4 past primary votes. So even if I had voted in every primary that I could from the moment I registered to vote, I still wouldn’t be “Qualified” according to the bylaw. Anyways..
He then goes on to say that younger Republicans that do not obtain their voting record (3 of 4) due to age would require a vouch from himself.
This is truly the definition of de facto age discrimination by way of a legally questionable Republican bylaw that requires a candidate to be old enough to have made 3 past primary votes. The bylaw basically requires any candidate to be at least 22 years old or be subject to disqualification at the discretion of Scott Golden.
That’s why unlike the recent TNGOP blocking of the Morgan Ortagus, Robby Starbuck and the Baxter Lee candidacies, blocking the Mariah Bailey Candidacy sparked a public disagreement and full on debate about the bylaws de facto age requirement that a candidate must meet to be considered a “bona fide” Republican.
It’s a bylaw in place to subject younger candidates that can’t possibly meet the 3 of 4 votes to disqualification at the will of Scott Golden. As you can see here it even applies the SEC candidates as stated in ARTICLE III MEMBERS OF THE STATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
If you have followed along this far, then you have probably realized that in his email response to me that he states that I can still become “bona fide” and continue,
So, as related in the bylaws, you still have the opportunity to become a Bona Fide Republican by (1) getting vouched for members of you local GOP party leadership and by (2) a vote of your 2 State Executive Committee members from your district.
Rather than to cause a scene about the age discriminating bylaw requirement of 3 of 4 past primary votes or how I should not even be in an appeal process, I just decided to use the advice he offered and hopefully get it resolved for him. He specifically said that I still have the opportunity to become “bona fide” by getting vouch for’s from members of my local GOP party leadership. So I did.
I got a unanimous “vouch for” by my Local GOP Leadership here in Sevier County as Scott Golden requested. The County Executive Committee and I were in a closed meeting for hours and had discussions on principles, values, views etc. They all agreed that I was a bonafide Republican in their view.
The Local GOP Leadership sent the “vouch for's” to the TNGOP as Scott Golden requested. Remember, that this was his suggestion to me as a way to resolve my inability to have voted in 3 primaries due to my age, and become “bona fide”.
That process took about a week to arrange and complete, but I was excited that I had completed his suggestion to become “bona fide”. I sent Scott Golden an email as soon as I arrived back home from the meeting with the Local GOP Leadership.
Then the next day I sent a follow up email to make certain that Scott Golden received the unanimous Vouch For’s.
The next response I actually got from Scott Golden was on April 21. It was a letter of Denial. Scott Golden just says that we have decided to give is NO.
I did inquire as to why he voted no, but I never received a response again. However, he did have the Mountain Press write an explanatory article for the TNGOP.
***In response to his explanatory article that was written in the Mountain Press on 05/13/2022, Mr. Scott Golden spoke with The Mountain Press and made the comment that he did not offer me a waiver because I didn’t vote in two primaries in 2020, which would have been my first year ever being able to vote in the primaries. Anyways, the bylaw that he is using against my candidacy says that a candidate must have 3 of 4 past primary votes, not whatever Scott thinks about the 2 of 2. I haven’t even hit the age to have a 3 vote opportunity mark. This was intentional and specific targeting of my candidacy and it was because he didn’t want me on the ballot.
Mr. Golden remarked that the bylaw starts off assuming that a candidate is “QUALIFIED”, Which is why I was allowed to run for the board of education.
So the Bylaw starts off assuming that the candidate is at least 22 years old? Because that is the de facto age requirement to be considered “QUALIFIED”. This bylaw and more specifically the way Scott Golden has used it against younger candidates just screams de facto age discrimination at the discretion of the TNGOP.
Notice that the reason he provided to the mountain press for saying NO to my candidacy was because I missed my first year primary votes.
The exact two he referred to in his original email that he sent me. Remember, he stated then, in the email that I did still have the opportunity to become bona fide, and instructed me to start the arrangements to get vouch fors from the local GOP Leadership. That was a lie. He basically already knew he was going to say no in the end, but wanted to appear as if he was providing me due process and a fair appeal.
***As I mentioned, that was my first year as a voter, I was 19 at the time, and neck deep in college courses, and I did vote in the general election for Donald Trump. Either way, the point is that he already disqualified my Candidacy and subjected me to the appeal process because I couldn’t meet the 3/4 vote requirement at age 20. The bylaw itself, as written, requires that a candidate be 22 years old to accomplish voting in 3 of 4 past primaries. So it automatically singles out young candidates to be subjected to disqualification without a waiver being offered. Once disqualified the candidate is then subjected to the appeal process that allows the TNGOP or Scott Golden actually, to unilaterally control the fate of the candidacy.
***In the Mountain Press article it mentions that another Candidate was disqualified, but was added back to the ballot because of their extensive and long voting record, even though that candidate hadn’t voted in the past few primaries either.
It was an attempt to compare me to another candidate that was allowed to continue. That Candidate is much older than 20 and actually should have a long record of voting, but to expect that from a 20 year old is not realistic.
***In the Mountain Press Article it quotes Scott Golden saying that he wanted people that were active and that voted. Well, I have been actively engaged with my community and its leadership since I was 12 years old, and I did vote in the general election. It was my first year ever as a voter.
***He then made a comment saying “We want you to participate in voting. It’s not enough to say you’re interested in politics and I want to be an elected official, but I don’t have enough time to go out and vote.”
This comment is Scott Golden, a so-called leader, attempting to portray me as uninvolved. Has anyone else ever missed a primary vote when you were 18-19 years old? If so, then Mr. Scott Golden would say you are “Not Qualified” to participate either.
First of all, I am not interested in being a Politician like Mr. Golden describes it, I am interested in bringing the voice of our citizens to directly to the halls of our capital, and unfortunately running for public office is the most effective way for me to accomplish this. However, I have no doubt, as he has demonstrated, Mr. Golden is extremely interested and quite seasoned at being a true so-called “Politician”.
***Also, I find his comments disrespectful and disingenuous to me in that he makes it seem as though I, on a whim, decided one day that I wanted to become an elected official. I have known since I was 12 years old that I wanted to better serve my community in the most effective way possible; now having learned since starting and graduating college that the most effective way is by running for an elected position. I not only have been wanting to better serve my community since the age of 12, but also have been attending my local community college for 2 years to obtain my political science degree, which I recently obtained with straight A’s and a 4.0 GPA.
This article was an explanation on behalf of the TNGOP, Scott Golden, in order to create the narrative that what the TNGOP did was not wrong, but in fact explainable to a “young unqualified and unknowledgable” candidate as he attempted to portray me to the Mountain Press. It was demeaning and extremely misleading to readers that are hoping to obtain the truth.
***This article also made sure to include the disrespectful comments made from Golden, which was obtained via phone call the final day in the last minutes before the article was meant to be submitted; in which Jeff Farrell, the staff writer from the Mountain Press, chose to revise his article after statements from Golden were given. I knew as soon as I received this phone call in which Jeff was extremely apologetic that the article was going to be one-sided in favor of the TNGOP and lacking truth and perspective from the candidates position.
The only comments from myself that were quoted in Farrells article made me out to be a clueless ditz who did not understand anything that was happening to her. The quote from myself that was included in the article states, “I’d already been on a ballot with an R next to my name for the school board. I don’t know what’s going on or why I was removed.” This was a quote that I gave to Farrell in response to the question he asked which was, “What was the reason for them removing you from the ballot?” This was a response to a question, not a blanket statement of my lack of understanding as I understand very well why the TNGOP targeted my candidacy. I simply stated that I did not know because I was never given an explanation directly from Scott Golden himself. Only that I was denied.
Funny enough Scott Golden never responded to my requests for an explanation as to why he would vote no, but jumped at the opportunity to paint the narrative in the Press via an explanatory article.
The TNGOP wanted me off the Primary ballot because I have made it very clear that I am an “America First” Candidate. They saw the video’s that I posted and clips that I made. Mr. Scott Golden targeted my candidacy with the intention of using the bylaws as a way to force me off via disqaulification, and then my candidacy would be at the mercy of his vote. The bylaw is a de facto age discrimination tool in that it literally requires a candidate to be at least 22 years old to be considered “Qualified”. If you are not 22 then your ability to run for office as a Republican is at the will of Scott Golden.
1. I am legally qualified to run for office at age 20 by state law.
2. I can NOT possibly provide a 3 out of 4 vote record. They know this as a fact.
3. I was born and raised right here in Tennessee.
4. I was already on a local ballot as a Republican Candidate.
Rather than support young candidates the TNGOP did this:
1. They did not offer any waiver at all, even after I made them aware of my age and qualifications.
2. They used a new Republican Party bylaw as a way to disqualify me via of requesting 3 of 4 votes that they know I could never have accomplished due to my age.
3. They then took a qualified Candidate, that should have been given a waiver, as Scott Golden stated in his own words, and subjected me to a process of having to fight to simply exercise my constitutional right to seek public office.
I, by our State laws on the issue of the required age for holding office, should have never been subjected to the appeal process. I should have received a waiver. However, the TNGOP used a 3 of 4 vote qualifier that requires candidates to be 22 years old to block my candidacy instead.
Since I never should have been subjected to such a process, simply for being 20, I have requested that they review the actions taken against me as a legally qualified Candidate, and reconsider their decision.
I will keep everyone up to date on any further responses or press on this issue.