Former Rutherford County Sheriff’s Detective Ralph Mayercik was removed from a list of Republican primary candidates Thursday after the Tennessee GOP notified him that he failed to pass a challenge as a “bona fide” Republican.
Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney sent a letter to Mayercik – and copied it to the Rutherford County Election Commission – stating that his Republican status was challenged at the Rutherford County level and that a special committee of five State Executive Committee members recommended he not be allowed to run in the May 6 GOP primary. Devaney stated that he upheld the challenge.
“It’s frustrating,” said said a shocked and surprised Mayercik, who recently resigned from the sheriff’s office and took a post with the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center. “It hurts. It hurts a lot if you’re a Republican.”
Mayercik cannot re-enter as a Democrat or independent because the qualifying deadlines for those positions passed last week, according to Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester. That leaves Republican Sheriff Robert Arnold opposed only by former Chief Deputy Bob Asbury in the primary.
An 18-year sheriff’s office veteran, Mayercik contended Thursday that this was a “political” move, a “technicality” to keep him from running against Arnold. Mayercik said he is a lifelong Republican raised with Republican values and that he votes Republican when he participates in elections. He did acknowledge that he voted for former Sheriff Truman Jones, a Democrat, in previous primaries and elections.
Sheriff Arnold said Thursday he did not challenge Mayercik’s Republican bona fides, nor did he ask anyone else to vet the former detective.
Rutherford County Republican Party Chairwoman Christy Sanford said this was no political move against Mayercik. She said all candidates for the GOP primary were reviewed by a local committee that used Tennessee Republican Party bylaws to determine their bona fide status.
Sanford said candidates could meet one of three standards: 1) vote in two of the last four Republican primaries; 2) participate in local Republican Party activities; or 3) be vouched for by an elected Republican office holder.
“It wasn’t any decision that we like or don’t like them,” she said. “They had to meet one of the three requirements.”
The local party sent the names of Mayercik and incumbent Public Defender Gerald Melton to the state GOP for review, according to Sanford, but Melton obtained a letter of recommendation from an elected GOP official and his review was dismissed by the state party.
Mayercik, on the other hand, failed to meet any of the three requirements, Sanford said.
Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, said Devaney made the ultimate decision to have Mayercik removed from the candidates’ list.
“He was not vouched for to the satisfaction of Chairman Devaney,” said Leatherwood, who added, “Ultimately, it was the totality of the information against him."
Mayercik’s name was removed Thursday from the list of qualifying Republican candidates after the Election Office received Devaney’s letter, according to Lester. However, Lester said she had “heard through the grapevine” that the local GOP was challenging Mayercik’s Republican status, so she had already contacted the State Election Office to find out the proper procedure for removing a candidate’s name.
A disappointed Mayercik, who was notified by Leatherwood early Thursday, said the only way he can get on the May 6 ballot is as a write-in candidate.
“If they had an issue with me, I wish they would have told me so I could run as an independent,” Mayercik said.
He stood by his word that he was removed to keep him from running against Arnold.
“It’s been clear since we started this it’s been politically motivated,” he said. “There’s no reason not to have me on the ballot.”