Tennessee GOP says former Unicoi Co. Sheriff Harris can run

Brad Hicks • Apr 10, 2014 at 12:49 PM

One day after a complaint questioning his status as a Republican was filed, Kent Harris said he learned that he will appear on the ballot in August.

On Tuesday, Harris, who is running for the 3rd Senate District Republican state executive committeeman post, said he received an email from Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood stating that a man named Chip Boyd had challenged Harris’ status as a “bona fide Republican” and alleged Harris’ conduct has been detrimental to the Republican Party.

“Our bylaws require members of the SEC and those seeking seats on the State Executive Committee to support the Republican Party and Republican elected officials,” the email stated.

The email further stated that a committee of State Executive Committee members would review the complaint and make a recommendation to Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney, who made the ultimate decision on Harris’ status. The email also asked that Harris provide a letter detailing his support of Republican principles and help to party nominees, as well as letters of support from elected Republicans who could vouch for his status as a party member.

The former Unicoi County sheriff called Boyd’s complaint “frivolous.”

“The way I understood it, he was saying that I hadn’t supported Republican candidates, which is not true,” Harris said. “And I have the proof to show it.”

Harris said since he received the email on Tuesday, this proof has been submitted to the Tennessee Republican Party. Harris said he sent pictures of himself with Republican candidates, his voting record showing he has voted in each Republican primary since 1992, and proof that he chaired the Unicoi County Republican Party for two terms and served as vice chairman one term. He also said emails were submitted to the Tennessee Republican Party on his behalf by elected officials in the party.

Harris said he received a call from Devaney on Wednesday evening and was informed the SEC Subcommittee on Candidate Challenges had unanimously voted to dismiss the complaint. Devaney also certified the subcommittee’s recommendation, meaning Harris will be allowed to pursue the state executive committeeman post.

“They said there wasn’t any merit to that complaint that was filed, that they have to look into something like that,” Harris said.

Harris also said he is glad to hear everything has checked out and he can pursue the office.

“It was just a ridiculous complaint,” he said. “Anybody that knows me knows I’ve been a strong Republican, and anybody that ever came in my office down there saw all those elephants, there wasn’t much of a question. Everything’s good to go. I just want to run a good, clean race.”

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