VOL. 126 | NO. 56 | Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Shelby GOP Names Joy New Chair
By Bill Dries
Attorney Justin Joy is the new chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party.
Joy, an associate at the law firm Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell PLLC, ran unopposed for the chairmanship at Sunday’s county party convention.
The convention capped a busy weekend for the local GOP including its largest annual fundraiser featuring new Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.
Joy succeeds Lang Wiseman as chairman. Wiseman served a two-year term during which the local GOP swept every countywide office in the 2010 county general election.
Joy earned his MBA from the University of Memphis in 2004, the same year he earned his law degree from the U of M’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Joy pledged to help build a stronger party going into the 2012 presidential election year and said he is committed to doing “whatever we can to make Barack Obama a one-term president.” He also said his philosophy is that “smaller government is better government.”
Joy’s first act as chairman was to preside over a challenge by party newcomers at the convention that drew a crowd of around 300 at Houston High School.
The group of newcomers, some with tea party roots and others who simply expressed a desire to become politically involved, put up a slate of challengers for all eight at-large positions on the local party’s steering committee.
They won two of the eight including unseating Bartlett Alderman David Parsons from his seat on the steering committee.
It’s common for both local parties to see waves of new political operatives at the county conventions and on the executive committees elected at those conventions. It’s also common for both parties to lose some of that new political blood over time as the newly involved are tested by the different political philosophies and levels of experience on the executive committees.
“There’s obviously a split here today,” said Mick Wright, one of the at-large committee members who was challenged. “And I’m encouraged by that.”
“Don’t let today be the high water mark of your involvement,” Wiseman said,
emphasizing that the local party’s fortunes weren’t bright in advance of the 2010 elections.
Democrats had a probable majority in voting age population countywide for the first time. Republicans knew that and expected mixed results at best. Instead, they went nine for nine in countywide races.
Wiseman credited the party’s attention to the basics.
“Big things in politics are little things,” he said.
Like Joy, Priebus emphasized the 2012 presidential election.
Priebus got a much different reception at the gala than Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele did a year ago at the same event.
Steele didn’t encounter any vocal hostility but a noticeable portion of the crowd stepped outside during his lengthy speech.
Priebus made only an indirect reference to Steele’s high-profile tenure, which included a regular spot on Fox News.
“It’s my job … not to dazzle you on Fox News or cable television, although I promise you I’ll try to be disciplined with my mouth, stay on message, speak to my convictions of who I am,” he said. “But it’s my job to make this party functional, operational.”
Priebus is the former Wisconsin state GOP chairman, a state he describes as “ground zero” for a coming national debate about government spending and in particular government employee unions.
Priebus said the debate can translate to Washington if Republicans can win the White House and a GOP majority in the Senate. He framed it as a debate about “whether we want to continue having a government that is on the verge of having more riders on the wagon than drivers of the wagon.”
And he described the unions as having “too much power.”
“This is about power. These government employee unions spend $700 billion on Democratic campaigns over the last two cycles,” Priebus said. “And what’s the result? Posh salary and benefits negotiated by who? The union bosses that got us in this fiscal crisis in the first place and the same unions that put in place the municipal leaders that are sitting at the table negotiating these benefits.”