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VOL. 128 | NO. 48 | Monday, March 11, 2013

Local GOP Chairman Seeks New Term

By Bill Dries

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The chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party will seek another term at the March 24 party convention.

Justin Joy was first elected chairman at the 2011 party convention where he ran unopposed.

Like Van Turner, the outgoing local Democratic Party chairman, Joy said he wants to see his party broaden its base and attract candidates in the 2014 countywide races who have crossover appeal.

“Really from the national level all the way down to the local county level, frankly the Republican Party needs to grow,” Joy said. “What I would like to see happen here in Shelby County is for the Republican Party to continue to grow not just for the purpose of winning elections, but for strengthening the party.”

Turner, who is not seeking another term as Democratic Party chairman, touted the victories of Democratic candidates Cheyenne Johnson and Ed Stanton in the 2012 races for assessor and General Sessions Court clerk respectively as well as President Barack Obama carrying Shelby County in the presidential general election as the state went to Republican challenge Mitt Romney.

But Democrats lost all nine countywide races in the 2010 county general elections.

Meanwhile, Joy touted the 2010 sweep by his party’s countywide ticket but tempered that with the 2012 victories over Republican contenders by Johnson and Stanton.

“People don’t always vote for the party label, especially locally,” Joy said of the 2012 losses for the GOP. “They are voting for candidates and the qualities of those candidates and who the best person is for the job. I think having a candidate with a broad appeal to people in both parties is how you win countywide here in Shelby County.”

The March and April local party conventions are the first significant political events in what is, so far, an off-election year for Memphis. That could change with a city referendum on a half-percent sales tax hike. Arlington and Lakeland have municipal elections in 2013.

But the 2014 “big ballot” of county primaries and general elections are already being planned for by prospective candidates of both parties.

“It’s not just the big ballot. It’s the jumbo ballot,” Joy said.

The ballot includes all of the races on the ballot in 2010. But it will also have races for half of the countywide school board seats and the once-every-eight-year judicial races and Shelby County district attorney general.

It is the longest ballot of any election cycle in Shelby County politics.

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