Party faithful turn out for annual Cullman GOP dinner


State Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview addresses the audience at Thursday night’s Cullman County Republican Dinner on behalf of Gov. Kay Ivey, who could not attend. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – The Cullman County Republican Party on Thursday evening held its annual candidate dinner and fundraiser at the Cullman Civic Center, inviting those running for state office to address the crowd, presenting awards to noteworthy members, offering those present the opportunity to bid in a silent auction and giving a report on the state of the organization over the last year.  Local Republicans, party officials, and candidates filled every table set up in the center’s main hall, sending latecomers searching for seats.

Gubernatorial candidates Scott Dawson and Bill Hightower were present and addressed the audience. Gov. Kay Ivey was originally scheduled to attend but could not come; Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview spoke on her behalf.

Other state office candidates in attendance included (with office sought):

  • Rusty Glover – Lt. Governor
  • Will Ainsworth – Lt. Governor
  • John McMillan – State Treasurer
  • Lyn Stuart – (Incumbent) Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice
  • David Black – State Treasurer
  • Rick Pate – Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Stan Cook – State Auditor
  • Donna Beaulieu – Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Christy Edwards – Court of Civil Appeals, Place 1
  • Brad Mendheim – (Incumbent) Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1
  • John Bahakel – Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4
  • John Merrill – (Incumbent) Secretary of State
  • Jeremy Oden – (Incumbent) Public Service Commissioner
  • Chris McCool – Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Terry Willingham Thomas – (Incumbent) Court of Civil Appeals
  • Michelle Thomason – Court of Civil Appeals
  • Richard Minor – Court of Criminal Appeals

Local candidates in attendance included Circuit Judge Martha Williams and challenger Melvin Hastings, Probate Judge Tammy Brown and challenger Carol Berry, Rep. Corey Harbison and challenger Alex Chaney, County Commissioner Garry Marchman and challenger Andy Coffee, Sen. Paul Bussman and challenger Garlan Gudger, along with numerous unchallenged incumbents.

Alabama Republican Party Chairperson Terry Lathan said, “It is great to be a Republican any day, any hour, any month, any year, for the state of Alabama.  It is great to be here in Cullman tonight. You have to rent a civic center to put everybody in it, folks; that is wonderful news! . . . It is great to be an American.  It is great to get up in the morning and say, ‘Thank you, God, that I was blessed to be in the greatest nation on planet Earth.’ It is great to be an Alabamian. It is great to be in a place where we stand for the national anthem.  It is great to be in a place where we are not afraid to lift our hearts in praise to the Lord above. It is great to have Alabama values and principals in our hearts, and work hard for our families.”

Lathan went on the attack against conservative Democrats:

“Don’t tell me you can be a conservative Democrat in the great state of Alabama when you take a pen and you sign your name on a pledge to pledge the platform of the Democratic Party.  You know the people at their convention that had the floor fight because they wanted to take the word ‘God’ out of their platform?

“I am not going to sit by in this election as a state party chairman and let any Democrat say, ‘I am a conservative Democrat, so that makes it okay.’  It most certainly does not . . . This is a Republican state. We’re not blinking, we’re not backing off, and we’re going to cut the head off that wicked little ‘blue wave’ I keep hearing about in November with our great candidates.”

Lathan concluded by encouraging audience members to make sure their friends are registered to vote, and to get out when the time comes to vote.

Annual report

Outgoing county GOP chairman Waid Harbison reported on the organization’s activities over the last year, including:

  • 10 monthly breakfast meetings
  • achieving a 79 percent vote for Roy Moore in last year’s special Senate election
  • raising around $10,000 through fundraisers
  • working toward the purchase of a permanent party headquarters building
  • starting a voter education campaign for this year’s election
  • three local town hall meetings to get candidates out into communities
  • 14 candidates qualified for local offices and 12 candidates qualified for state offices
  • executive committee adopted several resolutions supporting conservative legislation
  • re-forming of the Teenage Republicans group
  • starting a College Republicans group at Wallace State
  • Republican Women’s “Get Your Butt Back to School” Boston butt fundraiser
  • Republican Women meetings outgrowing the regular county party breakfasts


Harbison also took time to recognize several county party members for particular service:

  • Patriot Award – Jane Humiston
  • Volunteer of the Year – Pam Willingham
  • Young Republican of the Year – Nicolette Kilgo
  • Republican Woman of the Year – Linda Schaffner
  • Legacy Award – Ken Brown
  • Elected Official of the Year – Sheriff Matt Gentry

Harbison also named three Teenage Republicans who received $1,000 scholarships for service activities: Alan Crisologo, Ian Messersmith and Jonathan Peyton, all students at Cullman High School.

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