Alabama Republican Party
|Senate leader||Del Marsh|
|House leader||Mac McClendon|
|National affiliation||Republican Party|
|Seats in the Upper House||
26 / 35
|Seats in the Lower House||
72 / 105
The Alabama Republican Party is the state affiliate of the national Republican Party in Alabama. It is the dominant (or majority) political party in Alabama. The state party is governed by the Alabama Republican Executive Committee. The committee usually meets just twice a year. Composed of more than 400 members, it is easily the largest Executive Committee in the entire nation. Most of the committee's members are elected in district elections across Alabama. The district members are elected in the Republican Primary once every four years with the most recent election for the committee having been on June 3, 2014. In addition, all 67 County GOP Chairman have automatic seats as voting members. The State Chairman can appoint 10 members. Each County Committee can appoint bonus members (maximum of 5 per county) based on a formula that theoretically could add 312 seats, although that formula currently calls for only about 50 seats.
The Alabama Republican Executive Committee has several important functions. It is responsible for electing the State Chairman every two years as well as all other officers who run the day-to-day operations of the party. The committee sets election rules for the state party and has oversight responsibilities over all county parties. The Committee also elects The National Committeeman (Paul Reynolds since 2008) and National Committeewoman (Vicki A. Drummond since 2012) to serve on the Republican National Committee from Alabama. Once every four years the committee selects the GOP slate for U.S. Presidential Electors and chooses alternate delegates to the GOP National Convention.
The Party Chairman & Officers
The Chairperson of the Alabama Republican Party is Terry Lathan of Theodore. She became the second woman to serve as Chairman of the Alabama GOP upon her election on February 21, 2015. She has twenty-five years of active service to the Republican Party including a recent stint as Mobile County Republican Executive Committee Chair.
The Secretary of the Alabama Republican Party is Lynn Robinson of Winston County and the State Treasurer is David Wheeler of Jefferson County who were also both initially elected to their respective posts on February 21, 2015. The three most recent Chairman were former Alabama State Senator Bill Armistead (2011-2015) of Shelby County; State Representative Mike Hubbard (R–Auburn) (2007-2011); and Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (2005-2007) of Montgomery, who was the first female Chairman. The longest serving chairman in state party history was Claude O. Vardaman of Birmingham who held the post for twenty years from 1942-1962. The first Chairman of the Alabama GOP was John C. Keffer (1867) of Montgomery.
Current elected officials
Members of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
- AL-01: Bradley Byrne
- AL-02: Martha Roby
- AL-03: Mike D. Rogers
- AL-04: Robert Aderholt
- AL-05: Mo Brooks
- AL-06: Gary Palmer
- Governor: Robert Bentley
- Lieutenant Governor: Kay Ivey
- Attorney General: Luther Strange
- Secretary of State: John Merrill
- State Auditor: Jim Zeigler
- State Treasurer: Young Boozer
- Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries: John McMillan
Early history (1854-1890)
When the Republican Party was first organized in 1854, as an anti-slavery party it did not compete in southern states like Alabama. In fact, its 1860 nominee, Abraham Lincoln, was not even on the ballot in Alabama. Following The Civil War and Alabama's readmission to the union in 1868, Alabama was a Republican dominated state for much of the Reconstruction period due to a combination of factors including its support from unionists, poor white farmers, and newly enfranchised black voters. The Republican Party of Alabama was initially organized on June 4–5, 1867, when the party held its first State Convention in Montgomery.
In 1868, William Hugh Smith was elected to a single two-year term as the state's first Republican governor. That same year saw Republican Andrew Applegate elected as the first ever Lieutenant Governor of Alabama under the state's newly adopted constitution of 1867. That first post Civil War legislature under the new constitution was elected in February, 1868, with a 100-member House of Representatives (two year terms) composed of 97 Republicans and 3 Democrats. The State Senate (four year terms) was even more lopsided with a single Democrat to its 32 Republicans. The 1868 legislature also included 27 African-American Republicans, the first minority members in Alabama history. All but one were members of the House of Representatives. That same year Benjamin F. Royal became the first black State Senator in Alabama history. Governor Smith was defeated for re-election in 1870, garnering 49.5% of the vote and losing by a margin of just 1,439 votes. Although the Senate was not up for re-election that year, Democrats retook the House with 57 seats to the Republicans 38 seats of which 19 were African-American Republicans.
After Republicans spent a single term out of the Governor's office, David P. Lewis was elected as the state's second GOP governor, winning 89,020 to 78,524 over his Democratic opponent. He served from 1872 to 1874. His GOP Lieutenant Governor was Alexander McKinstry. During Governor Lewis' term, disputed election results produced two competing legislatures, one with a Democratic majority and the other a Republican majority. After this dispute was ultimately settled, Republicans had a 2-seat majority in the House and Democrats a 1-seat majority in the Senate. Again, this 1872 legislature included 24 African-American Republican members with 5 being in the Senate. The 1874 legislature would see only 13 Republican Senators and House membership at 40. However, this legislature would hit a high-water mark for minority representation with 33 African-American Republicans. The 1876 election would result in 18 members (7 of which were African-American) being elected to the House and only 4 Republicans to the Senate. Republicans would be reduced to just 8 members in the House in the 1878 election. Following the 1880 election Republicans held only a single seat in the Alabama House with the election of Benjamin M. Long from Walker County. In fact, Walker County had a strong Republican Party for much of the remainder of the 19th century.
Republican representation in the legislature and other public offices had declined rapidly after the 1875 Constitution was adopted. That document began the process of restricting black voter participation and expanding all forms of Jim Crow laws. Further orchestrated efforts at voter intimidation, lynchings, vote fraud, and the inability of differing Republican factions to work together all doomed the party to long-term failure. After the 1878 election no black, and few Republicans, would be elected to the legislature again until the 1970s.
During this same Reconstruction period three African-American Republicans were elected to the United States Congress from Alabama. They were Benjamin Turner (42nd Congress), James T. Rapier (43rd Congress) and Jeremiah Haralson (44th Congress). However, the first Republican Congressmen from Alabama were elected in 1868. They were Charles W. Buckley (40th and 41st Congress'), Francis W. Kellogg, Benjamin W. Norris, Charles W. Pierce, John B. Callis, and Thomas Haughey who would be assassinated in Alabama while giving a speech. The first Republican Senators from Alabama were Willard Warner (1868–1871) and George E. Spencer (1868–1879) who were both elected by the legislature before adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Alabama Republicans and the Populists (1890-1916)
By the late 1890s, a coalition between the Populist Party and the Republican Party often produced "fusion tickets", that combined forces in several subsequent elections to win control of several of Alabama hill counties in this era. They were most dominant in Marshall, St. Clair, Shelby, and Chilton Counties. Between 1892-1932 Shelby County was usually closely contested under the leadership of A. P. Longshore. Marshall County elected Republican Thomas Kennamer in 1896 to the Alabama House of Representatives. DeKalb County voted in 1896 for GOP Presidential candidate William McKinley. Chilton County was decidedly Republican between 1900–1912, including electing Lewis W. Reynolds as a Republican Probate Judge in 1904 and again in 1916. S. J. Petree was elected as a Republican Probate Judge in Franklin County in 1910; C. C. Scheuing was elected Cullman County Sheriff in 1910; J. B. Sloan was elected as a Republican to the State Senate from a district made up of Blount, Cullman, and Winston Counties. In 1910, J. J. Curtis of Winston County became the first Republican Circuit Judge (for Winston & Walker Counties) in Alabama since Reconstruction.
In this time period, in the 54th United States Congress, two brothers, Truman H. Aldrich (1896–1897) and William F. Aldrich (1896–1897), both served as Republicans. William Aldrich also served in the 55th Congress (1898–99) and the 56th Congress (1900–01) with the unusual distinction of having been seated all three times in disputed elections ultimately decided by Congress itself. After William Aldrich left Congress in 1901, no Republican would be elected again until 1964.
Post Office Republicans and the Goldwater landslide (1916-1972)
Following the end of the populist era, Republicans effectively competed in even fewer isolated hill counties, mostly in north Alabama. While the Reconstruction period saw their strongest voting base in the black belt counties, Republicans also relied on many north Alabama counties that had never been strong proponents of the institution of slavery. They garnered support from a coalition of small farmers, blacks, labor, prohibitionists, labor, etc. Again, these were often voters primarily from counties across the northern width of the state like Lawrence, Blount, Cullman, Walker, Winston, and DeKalb counties. Many of these counties elected Republicans to local office or occasionally to the state legislature even as late as the 1920s. However, only Winston County reliably elected Republicans to almost all offices as the county had attempted to secceed from Alabama during the Civil War and has always been considered ancestrally Republican. During this period the Republican Party relied heavily on federal patronage with federal appointments during Republican administration in Washington for such offices as local Postmasters.
The modern Republican Party in Alabama traces its roots back to the election of John Grenier as State Party Chairman in 1962. He played a leading role in re-organizing the party and moving beyond the "Post Office Republican era". His recruitment of serious candidates for Congress in 1964 would help Republicans sweep five of Alabama's eight congressional seats with victories by Jack Edwards, Glenn Andrews, James D. Martin, John Buchanan and Bill Dickinson. Martin would give up his congressional seat two years later in an unsuccessful run for Governor against Lurleen Wallace, but the GOP would hold three of the congressional seats for decades to come. That election, commonly referred to in Alabama as "The Goldwater Landslide" would see the GOP win several dozen local offices. It also included the election of Probate Judges in Cullman County named Guy Hunt and Perry O. Hooper, Sr., in Montgomery County. Both would later go on to greater electoral successes. The 1964 election is credited as partially laying the foundations for Alabama's modern Republican Party. Among the party's other prominent officeholders in the period were George G. Siebels, Jr. who served two terms as Mayor of Birmingham from 1967–1975, and Emory Folmar who served as Mayor of Montgomery from 1977-1999.
Recent GOP history (1972 to 2010)
In 1972, the state party made a historic change from a state convention nominating system for all candidates to having a statewide party primary where voters would directly choose all nominees for public and party offices. This change would only slowly have one of its desired goals to greatly increase support for the GOP. In 1978, the party would begin its long steady build-up to competing for seats in the legislature by winning a few seats in suburban Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery. In 1980, Jeremiah Denton became the first popularly elected Republican U. S. Senator in Alabama history.
In 1982, Emory Folmar would make the party's first serious run for Governor since Martin in 1966. Four years later in 1986, Guy Hunt in a very unusual election would defeat the Democrat with 57% of the vote in the Governor's race. Hunt's election is widely viewed as effectively making Alabama a two-party state. In 1994, Perry O. Hooper, Sr. would defeat the incumbent Chief Justice of Alabama. That same year Republicans increased there total in the Alabama House of Representatives from 24 to 31 seats. Legislative membership continued to modestly climb each cycle and Republicans began winning other statewide offices.
Today, Republicans hold both U.S. Senate seats and six of Alabama's seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. No Democrat has been elected to the U. S. Senate from the state since 1992 when Richard Shelby was elected to a second term. Shelby switched parties in 1994 and has since been re-elected easily. The Alabama Republican Party has also greatly helped GOP presidential candidates in the state. All Republican presidential nominees have won Alabama in nine straight elections; the last Democrats to carry Alabama were Jimmy Carter in 1976 and John F. Kennedy in 1960 although Carter only received a plurality of the vote. Republican Mitt Romney easily won Alabama in 2012 over Democrat Barack Obama in excess of 60%.
Republicans have won seven of the last eight governors races in Alabama dating back to 1986. The GOP has won six consecutive races for Attorney General dating back to 1994. Six of the eight seats on the State Board of Education have elected Republicans. The Alabama Supreme Court, State Appeals Courts, and the rest of the state judiciary are moving decisively to Republican dominance. All nine Supreme Court justices and the ten judges who sit on the two statewide appellate courts are all Republicans. Today even the lower courts are moving to the GOP. The line-up of Circuit Judges as of mid-March, 2016 consists of 80 Republicans, 65 Democrats and 1 vacancy. Also as of early 2016 the GOP has a majority on the district courts with 58 seats to the Democrats 46. In the last four years the GOP has achieved a net combined gain of 39 Circuit and District Judges through a combination of election wins, party switchers and the Governor filling vacancies with GOP appointees. It is all the more dramatic when one considers that there were less than one half dozen GOP judges in Alabama prior to 1986.
A Republican Majority State
The victory in the Governor's race in 1986 was the first Republican win in a state constitutional office since Reconstruction. Almost immediately the party became focused on winning all the other statewide races (Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture and the Public Service Commission). The move to GOP hegemony in these offices occurred fairly quickly with the last one being taken in 2012. But the real prize was always for a GOP majority in the State Legislature. In the November 2010 general election 136 years of Democratic control of the Alabama state legislature finally came to an end. That day, the GOP won large majorities in both chambers gaining 17 seats in the House and 11 in the State Senate. Within two weeks four additional House seats moved to the GOP as four self-styled conservatives bolted from the Democrats to the GOP. Over the four-year term another Democrat in the Senate would switch as well as two more House members.
In the 2014 general election, Republicans held on to every seat in their current majority and increased their numbers again in both chambers defeating incumbent Democrats and winning open seats. They added three more Senate seats and now hold 26 seats to just 8 for the Democrats and 1 Independent. In the House, they added five more seats taking their majority to 72 seats for the GOP and just 33 for the Democrats. Yet, as recently as 1977, there were no Republicans in either chamber of the Alabama Legislature until a lone seat was won that year in a special election.
Also, in the 2014 general election GOP Governor Robert Bentley received almost 64% of the vote, leading a sweep of all statewide offices that included the re-election of Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, the state's first female Republican Lt. Governor. Republican U. S. Senator Jeff Sessions was unopposed for a fourth term, the first time in state history that Democrats failed to produce a nominee.
Although Democrats often like to "claim" they still control the County Courthouses even that bastion has slipped away. As of March 1, 2016 of the 351 County Commissioners in Alabama's 67 counties, the partisan breakdown is 183 Republicans and 168 Democrats. Put another way 37 of those Courthouses have Republican majority County Commissions, 28 have Democratic majorities and 2 are evenly split. Of Alabama's 67 elected county school boards, the breakdown of seats heading into the 2016 General Election is 201 Republicans and 172 Democrats. However, the GOP has a majority on 33 of those boards and the Democrats also have a majority on 33 with one remaining board being evenly split in Pike County.
The Yellowhammer State can accurately be described as one of the more staunchly Republican states in the nation. According to The Gallup polling organization, Alabama is the eighth most Republican state in the nation As of November 6, 2012, every elected position at the statewide level in Alabama is held by a Republican.
- Wiggins, The Scalawag in Alabama Politics, page 39 (1977)
- Bailey, Neither Carpetbaggers nor Scalawags (1991)
- Wiggins, The Scalawag in Alabama Politics 1977
- Webb and Armbrester, Alabama Governors, A Political History of the State 2001
- Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography (1921)
- Wiggins, The Scalawag in Alabama Politics, (1977)
- Webb, Two-Party Politics in the One-Party South (1997)
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Alabama Association of County Commissions
- Mackenzie Weinger, Politico, 8/11/2011, Gallup Survey.
- Beyerle, Dana. "All statewide offices now held by GOP, 2008 turnout record is not surpassed, Lucy Baxley's political career ends". The Gasden Times. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
- Alabama Republican Party website
- Campaign 2010 website
- Alabama Federation of Republican Women
- Young Republican Federation of Alabama
- College Republican Federation of Alabama
- Alabama Minority GOP