Monday, February 19, 2018

On Eve of GOP's 'Lincoln Day' Celebration, Local Republican Chair Warns of Tight Race with Democrats

Says Mills: "If the Democrats turn out 20 percent, and we turn out 30, we still lose. We’ve got to turn people out. There’s no other way to win in Shelby County."

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Lee Mills, the acting chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, sounded a note of caution to his party members last week at a meeting of the Lunch Hour Republicans at Owen Brennan's Restaurant.. Obviously hoping to counter any sense of entitlement or over-confidence in the members of a party that has  dominated the outcome of countywide elections in recent years, Mills foresaw more contested circumstances at the polls this time around, in which — as two examples of a possible change afoot — Democrats are contesting every one of the 13 positions on the Shelby County Commission (often with multiple candidates in their primary) and seem certain to have nominees with substantial financial support and name recognition in this year's statewide races.

Coupling a compliment to the opposition with a clear warning to local Republicans, Mills had this to say:

"For years, we’ve been lucky. Since 2010 we’ve been lucky in Shelby County. Thanks to the leadership we’ve had in the past, we’ve had good organization, and we’ve had good candidates. The Democrats, on the other hand, have had just the opposite. They haven’t had good candidates, and they haven’t had good organization. But for the first time in a long time they have both of those things. OK? They have a good organization. They have a good leader. And they have decent candidates at the top that’ll drive all the way down to the bottom. So we have got to turn our voters out. There’s no getting around it."

The "good organization" referred to by Mills is the reorganized Shelby County Democratic Party, re-established last year after its previous "years of dysfunction" (the phrase was that of state Democratic chair Mary Mancini, who decertified the feuding local party in mid-2016. The "good leader" is presumably current Shelby County Democratic chair Corey Strong, elected in the climactic phase of the several forums that preceded the local party's rebirth.

Mills went on to suggest that the presumed demographic edge enjoyed by Democrats in Shelby County — no factor in every local election since 2010 — might play a significant role in the election cycle of 2018. Taking note of  the usual low turnouts characteristic of Shelby County, Mills said, " "If the Democrats turn out 20 percent, and we turn out 30, we still lose. We’ve got to turn people out. There’s no other way to win in Shelby County."

Mills' warning came virtually on the eve of the the biggest day in the calendar year for Shelby County's Republicans, who will  will be holding their Lincoln Day banquet on Saturday evening at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn,  featuring North Carolina's U.S. Senator Tim Scott as keynote speaker.

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