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Republicans mull party rift
Aug 09, 2004 12:00 am
Wilson County Republicans for the most part said their party will come back together after arguably the most contentious primary in its history in time for November's Presidential race.
Yet some in the party questioned whether the fall out from the 57th House GOP primary and the involvement by a sitting State Senator in the race may be long term.
The House primary in question saw incumbent State Rep. Susan Lynn win a second term by soundly beating challenger Tom Wood.
However, it was the presence of Beavers in the race after a public endorsement of Wood that dominated the political landscape in the weeks leading up to election day.
Beavers also publicly accused Lynn and her supporters of planning to run Lynn against Beavers in 2006, something that prompted Beavers to announceme her candidacy two years early.
Republican leaders reached Friday seemed to agree some level of damage had been done to the local party.
"I think Republicans in the county need to take a step back from this and see what our objectives are," Ward 6 Lebanon City Councilor Kathy Warmath said Friday. "You cannot promote a cause and an ideology and everything be about personalities. It needs to be principles before personalities. …The party has been shaken pretty badly."
Warmath knows of what she speaks. While defending her City Council seat last year – a non-partisan position – leading Republican activists in the community sided against her despite her status as one of the original GOP organizers in Wilson County.
Warmath said she personally supported Lynn.
"I supported the person that I saw working the hardest," Warmath said. "And so did everybody else. She was clearly the person for the job."
Seventeenth District Republican Committeeman Bob Ousley agreed there had been some level of damage to the local party but could not say how much.
"We're so close to the primary, that is hard to say," Ousley said Friday.
Ousley, a member of the state executive committee and a Mt. Juliet resident, said he was looking to Lynn to lead the party in the wake of the contentious rift with Beavers.
"The bright spot here may be that the victor in the 57th District wants to pull the party together and get things back on track," Ousley said. "Hopefully, she will be the light that guides us through."
Still other party leaders maintained the line many gave prior to the primary actually unfolding, that primaries were good for Republicans.
Lebanon real estate agent Phillip Warren organizes a monthly GOP lunch group known as the Patriot's Club. Warren, once a candidate for the state Senate himself, said the party was "stronger than ever" in the wake of the primary and flap between Lynn and Beavers.
"Primaries are good things," Warren said. "Democracy is ugly sometimes. All Republicans here will eventually get together and work on our common goals. This is like a trial by fire."
For her part, Lynn reiterated her statements on election night, saying she planned to work with Beavers in the future and on the re-election of President George W. Bush.
"The future of the Wilson County Republican Party immediately is to work toward the re-election of our leader, President George W. Bush," Lynn said. "That is a common goal we can come together and work on. If we do that and mend a lot of fences, things will be OK."
Beavers did not return calls to her Mt. Juliet home or Senate office Friday for this story.
Managing Editor Clint Brewer may be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.