McCarty, Guin face challenges before state GOP

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/22/18

Republican House District 13 Thomas McCarty is facing a challenge from the Walker County Republican Party concerning his candidacy, with a hearing Saturday probably determining that day if state Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, will essentially be re-elected without opposition.

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McCarty, Guin face challenges before state GOP

Posted

Republican House District 13 Thomas McCarty is facing a challenge from the Walker County Republican Party concerning his candidacy, with a hearing Saturday probably determining that day if state Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, will essentially be re-elected without opposition.

Meanwhile, Walker County Superintendent of Education candidate Tonya Guin is also facing a hearing on Saturday with the state party to determine if she will be a Republican candidate.

McCarty confirmed that he has an afternoon hearing before a candidate steering committee of the Alabama Republican Party on Saturday afternoon at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel. The Eagle has learned that the Walker County Republican Party voted in recent months to challenge McCarty if he qualified as a Republican. He signed up just before the end of the qualifying period on Feb. 9.

No Democrats qualified for the position, which would leave only write-ins and independent candidates for the General Election if McCarty is removed from the ballot.

Primaries will be held on June 5, with any runoffs on July 17 and the General Election on Nov. 6.

Legislative candidates qualify through the state party, meaning all challenges are initiated with the state party instead of the local party.

This is the third rejection of a GOP candidate that has involved the local party in recent months. Guin, who has had ongoing legal battles with Walker County Superintendent of Education Jason Adkins, was rejected from being a Republican by the local party. Adkins and Joel Hagood have qualified as Republicans for the post, although no Democrats qualified.

Mike Cole, who was rejected as a local GOP candidate for sheriff, did not file a challenge but is planning to run as an independent candidate for sheriff and feels he has enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Guin said her hearing will take place about a half hour before McCarty’s hearing, early in the afternoon.

Linda Ensor, the Walker County Republican chairwoman, has declined comment on the challenges.

McCarty confirmed the challenge Wednesday.

“I received a call that the chairwoman is challenging my candidates and I go before the state candidate committee on Saturday,” he said, noting state Republican Party Chief of Staff Harold Sachs called to notify him Monday.

“The basis for her challenge is because I originally collected petitions to run with the Alabama Constitution Party. Her basis is if I had been able to receive enough signatures that I would have ran with that party instead of the Republican Party,” McCarty said. “I had no worries I would be able to get enough signatures. I switched for completely different reasons than that.”

He said he changed after “some inter-party conflicts” with the Constitution Party and, “honestly, after talking with my family and friends, and things like that, it was just clear to me that the Republican Party was more in line with what my belief system is. In the one day I collected signatures, I got over half of what I needed of my required signatures. I would have still had 10 months to collect the other 200. I would have had no problem getting the rest of them.” 

McCarty said the day he made a real effort at collecting signatures was the day of the U.S. Senate primary and the 1-cent sales tax referendum on Aug. 15. A Daily Mountain Eagle editor witnessed him collecting signatures at the Jasper Mall that day. He said a handful of signatures were collected at other times.

The hearing, which will be closed in executive session style before the 21-man committee, will take place among dozens of other hearings to take place Saturday

“She will have seven minutes to make her case on why I shouldn’t be allowed on the ballot. Then I will have seven minutes to respond to that,” he said, adding that he will be asked questions from the committee. Guin said after each seven-minute presentation, the committee will have three minutes to ask questions.

The committee will then immediately deliberate. “(Sachs) said I should know within less than an hour after it has been concluded,” he said. Guin said Sachs told her she should hear within about 15 minutes or so.

Efforts to appeal to a higher 400-member executive committee within the party are not likely to happen, as that committee, which rarely meets, is expected to gather that morning and adjourn before the steering committee hears appeals, the Eagle has learned. Getting a called meeting of the executive committee would be difficult. Certification of the candidates on the ballot will take place by mid-March.

“It is disappointing that someone doesn’t believe my candidacy is legitimate as far as running as a Republican,” he said. “But I think that once the committee hear my case, and hears what my values are and what I stand for, I believe they will still allow me to run as a Republican,” McCarty said.

“I am running with the Alabama Constitution Party and because of that I am required to get 356 registered voters from District 13 to sign a petition to get on the ballot,” Thomas said in an Aug. 31 Facebook post whose image was captured by the party. “I have already collected about 200, but my goal is 450 signatures to make sure I have enough verified.”

He went on to say in another post that day, “So I believe it’s time to send someone to Montgomery who will stand up to Democrat AND Republican establishment tell them it’s time to start working on behalf of the citizens that sent you here and not just for the special interests that funded your campaign.” 

The party also had images of Alabama Constitution Party literature with McCarty’s name and phone number printed on it. It noted the party had to collect 35,238 signatures to run for statewide office this year. It noted the party’s website was cpalabama.org and that it was based in Montgomery.

McCarty’s Facebook pages indicates McCarty (thomasforrep.com), a security guard who lives at 242 Robbins St. in Sumiton, is a Hueytown native who was born on April 20, 1994, and is a libertarian conservative who studied political science at Faulkner University. He has been married for three years and the couple is expecting their first child.

His Facebook campaign page includes a post from the Walker County chapter of BamaCarry noting it has endorsed McCarty, Rowe “is no friend of BamaCarry” and that its efforts to contact her “have fallen on deaf ears over the years.” It noted McCarty has spoken to the group and supports constitutional carry.

McCarty also noted on his Facebook page he is endorsing Republican sheriff’s candidate Nick Smith.

As for Guin, she feels one of the key reasons she was rejected was the fact her husband, a former powerful legislator, Ken Guin, who is also an attorney, is a Democrat. She said she disagrees politically with him.

Guin, the former principal of Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School, has appealed the Walker County Board of Education’s decision last year to terminate her as principal. Adkins charged Guin performed financial misdeeds while working for the system.

It was noted at the time of the board’s vote that while Guin could no longer serve as principal of the school, she would still be allowed to teach in the county school system, if she chose. Shortly after the board’s decision, the Alabama Department of Education indicated its intent to revoke Guin’s educator certification. The department’s website recently showed Guin’s teaching license as active, however.

Guin said recently, “I don’t know that anyone ever made this really clear. I am still a tenured administrator in the Walker County School System. I don’t think that has been clearly communicated.” She said the only thing still being appealed “is my contract. I am tenured as an administrator. They voted for me to remain tenured. It was just my contract.” 

She said the appeal will likely come up for action soon.