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Friday, November 19, 2010

Love, Armistead to run for GOP chair


State Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery and former state Sen. Bill Armistead of Columbiana said Friday they are running to be the next chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Current Chairman Mike Hubbard is expected to be the next speaker of the House and has said he will not run for another term as chairman.
The state executive committee will meet in Montgomery on Feb. 19 to vote on who will be the chairman for the next two years.
Love, a restaurant owner, and Armistead both told the Montgomery Advertiser on Friday that the party was very successful this election and that they wanted to ensure that work continued to not only keep a majority in the Legislature, but to elect more Republicans in courthouses throughout the state. They do not want the party to become too comfortable after its sweeping wins this month.
Armistead said there are two remaining statewide offices held by Democrats, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley.
"One of my goals would be making sure we win chief justice and president of the Public Service Commission," he said. " ... I just want to finish the job that has been started."
Baxley beat Armistead for lieutenant governor eight years ago.
Love and Armistead applauded the work of Hubbard and Sen. Del Marsh, who worked alongside the chairman on Campaign 2010, a plan to take control of the Legislature from Democrats for the first time in more than 130 years.
"I just want to continue (Hubbard's) work on the election side of things and try to do everything I can to elect as many Republicans as possible, not just the statewide offices, but the offices at the county courthouse level," Love said. "I think that is where we have a real opportunity in the future."
Armistead, one of several vice chairmen of the state party, said the party has a good future, but "I would not take anything for granted as party chairman." He said some Democrats thought this year was a fluke, but he would work through the next four years to be sure they understand it wasn't a fluke.
Love said he had been thinking about running for about a week and had several people approach him asking him to consider entering the race. He said he talked about it with his wife and they prayed and they decided Friday.
Love wants to help elect more Republican sheriffs, probate judges, local courthouse officials, and "different offices where really the Democrats have dominated over the years."
"Hopefully now we will have an opportunity where there were not any Republican elected officials to elect Republicans," he said.
Armistead and Love both said they want to maintain the conservative principles of the party.
"We saw the national Democrats lose their way once they got control of Congress," Love said. "I just want to make sure that doesn't happen (to Republicans) in Alabama."
Love said the state party chairman helps select the next national chairman.
"I have been very disappointed in Michael Steele's leadership in that position," he said. "I would do everything to ensure we get new leadership in that position."
Armistead, who has been involved in Republican politics since Barry Goldwater in 1964, said he has experience working in the legislative and executive branches, serving as chief economic adviser to Gov. Guy Hunt from 1986 until 1993. He said he knows how government functions and believes he can work with top Republican officials to lead the party.
Armistead works with Fidelity National Information Services, which provides technology to banks throughout the world.
Paul Reynolds, national committeeman for Alabama on the Republican National Committee, said he intended to run for state party chairman and even announced at a Tuesday meeting that he was entering the race, but said he has decided not to because of his business and because of his relationship with Armistead and Love.
Reynolds said he has worked with Armistead in politics for years and has an almost family-like relationship with Love. He said Love helped his wife when she ran against state Sen. Wendell Mitchell in 2006 and that they worked hard to help Love during his 2008 run for Congress. Love narrowly lost to then-Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.
Reynolds was chairman for the 2nd Congressional District at the time.
"Jay Love is a very well-liked guy for the people who know him," he said.
Reynolds, who lived in Greenville before moving to Birmingham, said the position is essentially a full-time job.
He said following up on the work of Hubbard and Marsh would be a "difficult task for somebody to trump."
"It is all going to be an uphill fight to supersede what they have done," Reynolds said.
While other people have discussed entering the competition for chairman, Reynolds said he expects Love or Armistead to win.
"I don't see anybody else being bold enough to step up to the plate against them," Reynolds said. "Whichever one it is, I will be right there pushing as much as I can with them."
As national committeeman, he said he did not need to announce his support for a candidate and would need to work with the eventual winner. Alabama has three members of the Republican National Committee: its committeeman, its committeewoman and the state chair.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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