Tennessee’s Republican Party booted sheriff candidate Ralph Mayercik off the ballot – at the request of the local party – even though records show he voted Republican 66 percent of the time in primary elections.
From May 1998 to August 2010, Mayercik’s primary voting record on file at the Rutherford County Election Office shows he voted Republican six of nine times he participated in primaries. The other three times, Mayercik, a former sheriff’s detective, voted in Democratic primaries for his ex-boss, Sheriff Truman Jones.
In comparison, first-term Sheriff Robert Arnold voted mainly in Democratic primaries from 1996 through 2004 before switching to Republican primaries in 2006, according to his voting record.
Arnold, however, passed a vetting by the Rutherford County Republican Party because he participated in two of the last four GOP primaries. Mayercik, according to a local party official, didn’t make the cut for the May 6 primary, in part because he failed to vote in two of the last four Republican primaries. His record shows he voted in Republican primaries in August 2010 and August 2006 but not in any other recent ones, and he said he voted Republican in all other elections in which he cast a ballot.
In addition, a vetting process the local party undertook in February found Mayercik wasn’t active with the local party and could not get an elected Republican office holder to vouch for his bona fide Republican status. Using guidelines set up by the state Republican Party, the local group vetted all GOP candidates and challenged only Mayercik and Public Defender Gerald Melton, according to Chairman Christy Sanford.
Melton later obtained a recommendation from an elected Republican office holder and satisfied the state’s party leader, according to a party official.
Mayercik agreed that, based on the party’s bylaws, he didn’t qualify for bona fide Republican candidate status. “However, I’m still a Republican,” he said.
In fact, he has pictures of himself at a GOP Reagan Days event, walking with local Republicans in La Vergne Old-Timers Day parade and riding the Republican float in a local parade with his son holding a GOP banner.
Now working at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center after resigning from the sheriff’s office in February, Mayercik said he was unable to find an elected Republican office holder who would write him a letter of recommendation. All of those he spoke with wanted to “remain neutral,” he said.
Mayercik said he spoke with state Sen. Jim Tracy, who told him that he didn’t need a letter and that the matter would be addressed at the state party level.
“All I wanted them to do was look at my voting record and see I was a Republican,” Mayercik said. “It speaks for itself.”
Mayercik also said he spoke with Sanford, who told him not to worry because if his status were challenged it wouldn’t come from the local party.
Reached for comment last week, Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican who is running for Congress, said he told Mayercik only that the state party would be forming a committee to look at vetting challenges.
Sanford, when asked why Mayercik’s Republican voting record didn’t hold enough merit, said only that he failed to meet the requirement of voting in two of the last four GOP primaries. A local party committee reviewed all candidates’ qualifications, she said, then requested a letter of recommendation from those who didn’t meeting the voting criteria.
“He was not able to do that. Therefore, he didn’t have any of the three qualifications,” said Sanford, who previously said the decision to challenge his candidacy was not a political move against him.
Sheriff Arnold also told The Post he did not call for the challenge of Mayercik or ask anyone else to challenge his Republican status. With Mayercik out, Arnold is challenged only by former chief deputy Bob Asbury in the Republican primary. Mayercik cannot run as an independent because he failed to meet the qualifying deadline in that category.
Sanford said the local Republican committee that vetted candidates followed the process that was used four years ago to check the status of potential delegates in a Republican Party caucus. Arnold was nominated then and subsequently defeated Jones, the veteran sheriff.
Sanford pointed out that the state Republican Party reviewed other challenges and disallowed candidates in other counties.
Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state Republican Party, said Mayercik’s Republican status was turned down by party Chairman Chris Devaney because he couldn’t produce enough evidence showing he was a bona fide Republican, based on party bylaws.
“You have to take a wholistic approach to the evidence that was part of the challenge,” Leatherwood said. Ultimately, Devaney turned down Mayercik’s candidacy because no elected Republican would vouch for him, Leatherwood said. He noted that, technically, the challenge came from Sanford because she chairs the Rutherford County Republican Party.