The Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee voted Saturday against adopting a resolution that would’ve called for the party to push for closing primaries in Tennessee. .(Photo: File/The Tennessean)
The Tennessee Republican Party won’t advocate changing election laws in the state after party officials voted down a resolution Saturday that called for closed primary elections.
“I don’t think that we would be here today with the supermajorities in the legislature, with all of our statewide officials Republican if we did not have open primaries, ” said Devaney, who supports open primaries.
Although the resolution failed, committee members representing the most conservative wing of the party believe the vote total shows the GOP is moving toward a change. Mark Winslow, a member of the committee who supported the change, said that four years ago when the committee held a similar vote, 29 votes in support of closed primaries was “nearly impossible.”
Brentwood committee member Rebecca Burke voted in support of closing the primaries and said she thought there would be enough votes Saturday to pass the resolution.
“This is highly unusual for the SEC, and this is an extremely close vote on an issue of such gravity, so it may very well still provide a lot of energy to go forward, ” Burke said.
The resolution would have required the state party to push for a revision in state law that would change how people register to vote. Moving to a closed primary would require every voter in the state to register by party; then, the primary would be “closed” so that only registered Republicans could participate in the Republican primary, for example.
This is only the latest push for changing the primaries. Devaney said he expects more to come but believes a change could hurt Republicans’ chances at picking up more seats in the statehouse.
“We’re still working in places like Davidson to get more Republicans elected, and I think a closed primary system would hurt that, ” Devaney said.
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What is a closed primary?
A direct primary in which only persons meeting tests of party membership may vote.
What is a closed primary election?
A closed primary election is one in which voters choose from candidates only from the party in which they are registered. This differs from an open primary in that an open primary allows a voter to cast his/her vote within whichever contest (Democrat, Republican, Green, etc.) the voter chooses.