GOP gets ready for August primary

Thursday, January 19, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Marshall County's Republican Party chairman has resigned so he may run for the GOP nomination to campaign for the open seat representing Marshall and parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties in the state House.

"It is my intention to seek the office and I'm continuing to make the necessary preparations to be a candidate," said Billy Spivey, specifying selection of a campaign treasurer and gathering all the signatures required on candidate petitions to be named on ballots in all four counties.

Spivey of Lewisburg is the former county commission chairman who won a majority of Marshall County votes for the House seat held by state Rep. Eddie Bass (D-Prospect), the former sheriff of Giles County where his majority overcame Spivey's challenge.

Spivey's confirmation of his intention to run for the new 92nd District House seat is a plan that seemed obvious to close observers after the House Redistricting Committee released new maps to redraw lines since the 2010 Census revealed population shifts. All of Marshall County is in the district. None of Giles County is in the new district that also includes the southern portions of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties. There is no seated state representative living in the 92nd District.

To run for the reconfigured House seat, Spivey had to resign as county party chairman, a position that requires neutrality until after the primary, according to party rules as explained by Mike Sherrell who succeeds Spivey as county party chairman.

These developments were revealed this week. Tuesday night, the county party met in the second floor community room of First Commerce Bank on North Ellington Parkway where state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) was to be the featured speaker.

While redistricting does not actually change representation until after the general elections in November, it's clear that the new lines will put Marshall County in the reconfigured district now largely represented by Tracy. He has announced his intention to run for re-election to another four-year term in the Senate. His appeal to Marshall County voters for their support in August and November was anticipated during the Tuesday night party meeting.

"We did turn this meeting into a special-called meeting with the intent of passing the torch to Mike Sherrell who stepped aside because of his wife's illness and passing," Spivey said early this week about the county party business session.

Lynda Sherrill had been a member of the Marshall County Election Commission.

"My reason for doing so (stepping down from the county party chairmanship) will be to run for the House seat for the 92nd District," Spivey said.

The Lewisburg resident had indicated early this month that he was considering another bid for the House. While discussing party developments and his opportunities, Spivey praised Mike Sherrell.

"He's a super nice guy and will carry forth the tradition, better than I could," Spivey said, then turning to the guest speaker, the Shelbyville Republican.

"I'm still hoping that Sen. Tracy will have a few kind words for me," Spivey said in his typically cautious manner.

Sherrell confirmed party developments.

"Three years ago I was elected chairman of the party," the Verona Caney Road farmer said. "I served for one year and at that time I had to break that commitment because of Lynda's sickness."

Party chairs serve in two-year terms. As for how a party chairman is selected when there's a resignation, "It's the executive board's decision to select Billy's successor. It will be for one year.

"It is with great anticipation that I do this," Sherrell said, indicating his desire for a return to public service, knowing the position's limitations.

"As long as we're in the primary season - and because there may be other candidates - I can wish him luck, but I can't support Billy's campaign for the nomination to run for the state House," Sherrell said of the chairman's role.

"I'm not a complete novice. I had to step down. I appreciate the opportunity to complete the commitment that I took three years ago."