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Wilson County GOP split continues
Sep 23, 2004 12:00 am
Wilson County Republicans are apparently still working on mending their fences after a tough primary season.
Though party leaders are downplaying its significance, the existence of two Bush-Cheney campaign offices in West Wilson County suggests a rift in the local Republican Party left over from a brutal primary season has not healed.
Party leaders from both sides of the county discount the existence of the two offices, one run by the official county re-election campaign for Bush-Cheney and the other by the West Wilson Republicans club.
However, sources close to both party factions said the second office came after hard feelings between party leaders from the primary season continued to circulate.
The GOP primary in the county turned into a statewide race when State Rep. Susan Lynn found herself up against not only upstart challenger Tom Wood of Mt. Juliet but against State Sen. Mae Beavers.
Beavers came out and publicly endorsed Wood, which in turn sparked a torrent of campaigning in the 57th District by State House Republicans, including members of the GOP House leadership from across Tennessee.
Lynn soundly beat Wood and pledged to work with Beavers. Lynn received vocal support from the West Wilson Republican group, though it is unclear how closely the two office system for the Bush campaign in West Wilson County is linked to the Lynn/Beavers falling out.
And while some GOP officials conceded the rift strained local party relations, all agreed Wilson County's Republican organizations are solely focused on re-electing President George W. Bush.
Maj. Bob Ousley, USA (Ret.), a member of the party's state executive committee, stressed a Bush-Cheney victory is the most immediate goal for local Republicans, many of whom have said "the more the merrier" when it comes to the number of Bush-Cheney campaign offices in Wilson County.
Ousley did concede there was an effort to down play the discord of the primary.
"It was a rough primary season," Ousley said of the 57th District primary. "The discord that was in the public forum during the primary – we really are trying to minimize that as we go forward to the General Election."
Last week, Lebanon realtor Phillip Warren, a prominent member of the Wilson County Republicans, expressed similar sentiments.
"That primary is over. That hasn't affected the (Bush-Cheney) campaign at all or the party, for that matter," he remarked.
Both Ousley and West Wilson Republicans President Mark Cygler noted the additional office in Mt. Juliet can only work to strengthen local efforts toward a Bush-Cheney win in November.
"West Wilson Republicans has always had their own headquarters, mainly because we are the most active group in the county and tend to get a lot more things done," Cygler said. " … Judging from the feedback we had on the first day we opened (the West Wilson office) two weeks ago, we could probably have a Bush headquarters on every corner and still not have enough materials to give out to people."
Having a reelection headquarters of their own also gives the West Wilson organization a greater degree of freedom, Ousley added.
"It gives them a little more freedom as far as local campaigns and other things that the county party may not actually have the manpower and resources to support or be a part of," Ousley explained. "So, it works well from that aspect also."
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