MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – In a close vote, former State Senator Bill Armistead from Columbiana beat out Montgomery State Representative and Education Trust Fund Budget Chairman Jay Love to chair the Alabama GOP.
Armistead said fundraising will certainly be a priority as the party gears up for local court elections in 2012.
"We're going to continue to look for more support financially" said Armistead. "We're going to do more online solicitations and we're also going to look for folks that have not generally contributed to the party but we know them to be involved in conservative groups and therefore we want to bring them in."
The vote for chairman took place at the Alabama Republican Party's Executive Committee meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Montgomery. There were rows of tables where local, state, and national GOP committee members sat and cast their ballots for multiple state committee positions.
Back in January Democrats talked about how they were proud of their presence on the local level, but Armistead said that's exactly where the GOP will direct its resources.
"We've got to focus on taking the courthouse. And that in two years from now or next year I should say is going to be the probate judge and the circuit clerks because those are the only two offices that are up next year."
Republicans currently hold all of the state's constitutional offices. Only two Democrats remain in statewide elected positions and both hold a lot of influence. The state's Chief Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb is a Democrat and so too is Lucy Baxley, the President of the Public Service Commission of Alabama.
Armistead focused part of his remarks on Republicans who recently switched from the Democratic Party.
In the days following the Republican Party's historic sweep of all of the state's constitutional offices and control of both the State House of Representatives, four Democrats switched to the GOP, affording it super majorities in both chambers.
However, during the Special Session in December to address anti-corruption reforms, 3 of those four kept voting with their former Democratic colleagues.
The new GOP chairman said that behavior won't be tolerated.
"We're going to hold Republicans accountable to be Republicans. Whether they're the four that switched parties or whether they've been in the party a long time. Republicans must act like Republicans if they planned to be supported by the Republican Party" Armistead said.
Armistead took over for Mike Hubbard who is now the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. Armistead's term is at least two years.
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