Jackson County GOP chairman TJ Dearman said he does not plan to appeal Sunday's district GOP decision to have the county political party re-do its recent convention election for the party's local leadership.
Dearman said that he won re-election to the county chairmanship on April 10 in a "landslide."
"We won in a landslide the first time and will win again," he said, declining to appeal the district's ruling to the state GOP leadership.
Challenger Adam Ledbetter, who was disqualified during the county's April 10 voting, said all he wanted was a chance to stand against Dearman for the chairmanship of the county party.
"Looks like I got it," Ledbetter said of the district's ruling.
Sunday, the 9th District GOP board held an emergency hearing on the matter. The April 10 county results had been contested by four Jackson County GOP members who claimed the process used by Dearman was wrong and not transparent.
The district board ruled in their favor, saying the county GOP needs to re-do its elections process.
Dearman blamed the situation on former county GOP chairman Ron Johnson.
"Ron Johnson has made a reputation of stirring the pot and thriving off the chaos," Dearman said. "The Jackson County Republican Party does not believe in that. We have outlined a clear set of goals that we will pursue.
"Let me be clear to everyone, myself and my team are not going to be pushed out like Katie Griffin (Dearman's predecessor as chairman) was. We have served with honor and integrity, and will continue to, and will not be intimidated by Ron Johnson."
CHALLENGERS BLAME DEARMAN
One of those who filed the challenge of the April 10 convention vote, Sam Thomas, said he was happy about the outcome of the appeal, but said Dearman's reaction was wrong.
"This is a huge victory for the grassroots Republicans of Jackson County," Thomas said. "As conservatives, we strongly believe that we must follow the rules in conducting our elections, and this decision ensures we get it right.
"While I'm happy about the 9th District GOP's commitment to fair and secure elections, I was very saddened by our county chairman's response. His profanity-laced outburst was an embarrassment to our party and our family-centered values."
The appeals complaint said no copy of the county GOP rules were made available on April 10 and that some candidates for a GOP office were wrongly disqualified based on those rules.
Ledbetter, a Hoschton city council member, was nominated by the GOP nominating committee for chairman of the local party against incumbent Dearman, but Ledbetter was disqualified by Dearman during the meeting.
Jeff Hughes, a member of the Jackson County Board of Elections, did challenge Dearman from the floor, but was defeated. That vote reportedly had to be held twice after the first vote showed more people voting than delegates who were present.
The disqualification of Ledbetter was based on a reference to a rule that GOP delegates and candidates have to volunteer for at least 10 hours during the year.
But the complaint appeal says the Jackson County GOP had broken ties with the Trump campaign in February 2020, making it impossible for local members to officially have volunteer campaign hours.
The appeal was filed by Thomas, Ross J. Harvin, Wesley Colley and Crystal L. Colley.
The local GOP organization has a long history of tumultuous leadership. Dearman's predecessor resigned as local chairman in protest over how the group was being run by shadow leaders who didn't support her.
Some years ago, a local chairman refused to release the names of those who had qualified to run for local office to the newspaper after qualifying had closed. He was later ousted from the job.