The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) is the majority party in our state and has been for much of the last two decades. The party itself plays a large role in policy and grassroots campaign work. In May, I tried my hand at joining ALGOP’s governing body.
Our nation’s political parties have large national and state-level structures that allow for the distribution of resources, initiatives, and messaging in order to present a united front across the country. ALGOP is run by a State Executive Committee (SEC). The SEC has more than 400 members, which makes ALGOP one of the largest state parties in the nation. Members are elected in the Republican Primary once every four years, and each district gets two members, a man and a woman. Once the members are elected, the SEC is responsible for appointing a State Republican Party Chairman and all other officers who run the day-to-day operations of the party.
The SEC also elects the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman from Alabama to serve on the Republican National Committee (RNC), which governs the national party, sets the Republican platform, and helps decide who will lead the party in national elections. The RNC is responsible for growing the Republican base, sharing the platforms and principles of the Republican Party, and deciding the direction of the party and its state branches.
In late 2021, I began to mull over the idea of running for a seat on the ALGOP SEC. This was a direct way to make a difference in the Republican policies pushed in Montgomery and Washington.
Over 69% percent of all elected officials in Alabama are Republicans, and the party itself has some level of influence over these elected officials. This influence is part of what leads Republican politicians in our state to focus most of their attention on conservative fiscal policy, pro-life pushes, emphasis on traditional values, and small government–all ideas that are on the top of the RNC platform. Other important issues, like rural access to physical and mental health care and post-birth care for children (especially in the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision) are less of a priority for state politicians, and I ran because I saw a real opportunity to bring those issues further forward.
So, in January 2022, I began the adventure of running for office.
The first step was to qualify with the party to begin the process to get your name on the ballot. Setting guidelines for how candidates can qualify to run as Republicans is a big part of what SECs around the country do. In some states, SECs perform voting record checks on every candidate who applies. In Alabama, the only step is to pay a $50 fee.
Once the qualifying period passed, I had one other challenger in my race, and I knew that all there was left to do was begin campaigning. This office was nearly at the bottom of the ballot, and I knew that the only way I would be able to win is spread the message and gain name recognition.
I was running for an unpaid elected position. There was no way I could justify spending money on this race, so I tried the old-fashioned way of campaigning–having a friend of a friend tell a friend of a friend.
Campaigning in the Tuscaloosa community was such a great experience. I met outstanding, everyday people who shared experiences and stories with me that I’ll never forget. The connections I already had helped me get my name out in the beginning, but the most valuable part of the experience was building relationships with people I’d never met before. I demonstrated a commitment to the area and the Party and gained a greater sense of the passion, dedication and hard work required to be the candidate Republican T-Towners want to vote for.
After months of telling people all around Tuscaloosa County to vote for me, election day arrived. I was in Montgomery that night and had to watch online as the results rolled in. I had only lived in Tuscaloosa for three years, so I had no idea how I would perform among voters.
At the end of the night, I learned I fell short of winning. However, I rejoice in the victories I did have–namely earning the confidence of 37.15% of the Republican voters (that’s 5,193 people!). This experience was far more than I ever imagined. It has only stoked my desire to be in the public service sphere and reaffirmed my commitment to the Alabama and national Republican Party.