For Baldwin County Republican Party Chairman Michael Hoyt there’s no gray area between Republicans and Democrats in Baldwin County.
“If you’re a Republican elected official and you endorse Democrats and you’re in Baldwin County, then the party’s going to move forward and remove you from the party,” Hoyt said.
The Republican Party Executive Committee did just that in a vote on March 17 to remove current Baldwin County Board of Education member David Tarwater from the party.
Tarwater signed up and ran as a Republican for the District 2 seat on the board but is not seeking reelection. Hoyt said he and other Republicans heard Tarwater endorsed Democrat Clyde Jones who is seeking the District 2 seat.
On Feb. 10 Tarwater posted Jones’ picture and shared his announcement that he was running for the District 2 seat.
“He’s been seen and verified and it’s on Facebook and other sources,” Hoyt said. “You can see on his Facebook page where he has shared and endorsed Clyde Jones. He’s been to some Democrat events. He’s seen pictured there with Maurice Horsey and other Democratic candidates.”
Tarwater said he would rather leave politics out of school issues and will act in the best interest of the children for the remainder of his term and in supporting a candidate to replace him.
“I have always considered a school board member’s position as the ‘Children’s Seat’ and as such have put the children of Baldwin County over politics and will continue to do so as an elected official until my term ends in November,” he said. “I will choose candidates who have always chosen to support solutions that allow for the best educational opportunities for our students.”
Horsey of Daphne is running for the District 96 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives which is currently held by Rep. Randy Davis who is seeking election to Baldwin County Probate Judge. In that race, he’ll face fellow Democrat Richard Whiting of Spanish Fort. On the Republican side, Matt Simpson of Daphne is unopposed for the District 96 seat.
Hoyt said the censure is an unusual one but Tarwater’s activity with Democrats warranted the move.
“I’ve been on the executive committee for about a decade and it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this happen,” Hoyt said. “He’s a Republican official, he was elected as a Republican and he’s still in office. When you sign your qualification form to run as a Republican, you certify and swear to uphold Republican Party principles and ideals and candidates. You certainly can’t go out and actively endorse and fundraise for Democrats or you’re really no longer a Republican.”
According to Baldwin County Democrats, their candidates will appear on the ballot in county races for the Alabama House, the county commission and the board of education for the first time since 2007.
“We’re very pleased to see more concerned Baldwin residents stepping up to run as Democrats,” Heather Brown, Vice Chair of the Baldwin County Democratic Party Executive Committee, said. “I believe our core commitment to providing equal protection and equal opportunity for every citizen is a principle that is resonating more and more with the public.”
A total of nine Democrats will be one the ballot. Besides Jones, Horsey and Whiting, Jason Fisher of Orange Beach is running for the State Senate District 32 seat, Danielle Mashburn-Myrick of Fairhope is running for the House seat in District 94, Amber Selman-Lynn of Daphne is running for the House seat in District 64, Heather Brown of Summerdale is running for the District 3 seat on the county commission, Amber Smith of Daphne is running for the District 2 seat on the commission and Heather Karras of Bay Minette is running for the District 1 seat.
(This article was updated on March 29 at 11 a.m. to include comments from David Tarwater).
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