Guin denied on county GOP ballot, plans appeal

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/14/18

Walker County Superintendent of Education candidate Tanya Guin has been denied on the local ballot by local Republican leaders, but she intends to appeal through the state Republican Party — noting she and her husband, former House Majority Leader Ken Guin, “agree to disagree” politically.

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Guin denied on county GOP ballot, plans appeal

Posted

Walker County Superintendent of Education candidate Tanya Guin has been denied on the local ballot by local Republican leaders, but she intends to appeal through the state Republican Party — noting she and her husband, former House Majority Leader Ken Guin, “agree to disagree” politically.

“I was very disappointed,” Guin said Friday of the local party’s decision. “I’ve probably been a Republican longer than some of the county officials right now.” 

Former Democrat Mike Cole, who planned to run again for sheriff of Walker County as a Republican, was also turned down by the party. He is not challenging the decision but has criticized the party for “selective enforcement” of its rules, saying they favor incumbents who switch parties.

Walker County Republican Chairwoman Linda Ensor, who sent letters to both candidates saying the Walker County Executive Committee had voted to not allow them ballot access as Republican candidates, declined to comment Thursday on either case.

Party primaries will be held June 5 in Alabama, with runoffs July 17 and the General Election Nov. 6. Qualifying for positions goes through Feb. 9.

Guin said she had spoken to Ensor and asked how to do an appeal. She said Ensor recommended she go through the state party, which Guin said has been “very helpful” to her. She said she spoke Thursday to the chief of staff for the state GOP, Harold Sachs, who lives in Double Springs.

“I’m confident they are going to let me in,” she said.

She said as part of the process she plans to fill out paperwork on Monday afternoon with Ensor. Then, based on what Sachs told her, Guin will write a letter to the state party to argue why the Walker County committee was wrong not to accept her as a Republican candidate. That will be presented to a 21-member state party candidate committee. The committee would decide whether that panel will hear the appeal.

“If they deny the appeal, then it goes to the 400-member (state GOP executive) committee on Feb. 24. There are two levels of appeal,” although she felt confident the 21-member committee will accept her.

“I am probably more Republican than my opponents are,” Guin said. “I am also a member of the Capital Club. In order to be a member of the Republican state committee, you have to be a member of the Capital Club,” a state party fundraising foundation that allows access to some party events, costing $180 a year. “And I’ve contributed to Republican candidates. As far as I can tell, I’m the only candidate in my race who has done that.

“I have campaigned for over two years, and I have consistently said I am a Republican. I’m a fiscal conservative. That is the most important aspect for a superintendent. You must make every tax dollar count,” he said.

Guin said she has not been provided a reason why she was denied on the GOP ballot and Ensor also has not provided her with a list of the county party’s executive committee, which she requested before and after the vote. She said Ensor told her the local party had been advised by the state GOP not to tell candidates why they had been denied on the ballot.

She said Sachs asked her if she knew why she was denied access to the ballot, and she said she did not. He went though a list of reasons with her on why a candidate can be denied, and noted she gave rebuttals to items on the list. She said she had voted in the past three Republican primaries.

“This is a time when the Republican Party needs women candidates,” she said. “I’m rejected for no reason.” She later said that even though women have been able to vote for a century, “There are only four Republican women in the Statehouse, none in the state Senate and only three in the county.” 

Guin also said it feels like the right to choose is being taken away from voters. “It’s like we have a small group that is actually choosing for all of Walker County,” she said.

Also, she said that the vast majority of the elected officials in the county were once Democrats before they changed to Republicans, including five out of six judges first elected as Democrats.

“I don’t think I have been treated fairly at all,” she said, saying she would be glad to answer any questions or concerns the party leaders have.

She feels one of the key reasons she was rejected was the fact her husband, a former powerful legislator who is also an attorney, is a Democrat. She said she disagrees politically with him. “I don’t know many husbands and wives who don’t have differing opinions. If it is not on politics, it is on football teams in Alabama,” she said.

Her description harkened to the image of husband-and-wife political consultants and commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin, who are known nationally for holding strong opinions from different parties.

Guin agreed they have become something like that union.

“We just agree to disagree. Ken has actually thrown fits about me going to run as a Republican but, you know, we just have to part ways sometimes,” she said.

She said another reason may be the incumbent superintendent, Jason Adkins, whom she accused of taking multiple avenues to try to get her out of the race by “bringing baseless allegations” against her.

Adkins and the Guins faced off in a bitter Walker County Board of Education hearing concerning her employment status. Guin, the former principal of Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School, has appealed the Walker County Board of Education’s decision in August 2016 to terminate her as principal. Adkins charged Guin performed financial misdeeds while working for the system.

It was noted at the time of the board’s vote that while Guin could no longer serve as principal of the school, she would still be allowed to teach in the county school system, if she chose.

Shortly after the board’s decision, the Alabama Department of Education indicated its intent to revoke Guin’s educator certification. The department’s website recently showed Guin’s teaching license as active, however.

Guin said Friday, “I don’t know that anyone ever made this really clear. I am still a tenured administrator in the Walker County School System. I don’t think that has been clearly communicated.” She said the only thing still being appealed “is my contract. I am tenured as an administrator. They voted for me to remain tenured. It was just my contract.” 

She said the appeal will likely come up for action in the next couple of months.

Ken Guin also has represented a client that has sued to challenge whether an employment contract between the county school board and Adkins is constitutional. Adkins said the contract in question is legal and that Guin is on “a political witch-hunt.” 

Asked on Friday how she was treated during the local party’s screening process, which is closed to the media, Guin said she understood all the candidates are supposed to be asked the same questions.

“But they were very personal with me, I guess due to the circumstances Jason has created,” she said. “They asked me very personal questions. I really didn’t have a problem answering them, because I don’t have anything to hide. But I could tell they had received misinformation based on questions they were asking me. They were asking me about my hearing and when that might be completed. You can’t ask everyone those questions. There was no way I was not asked different questions.” 

Guin said she has probably been voting Republican for more than a decade. She said she really was never involved actively in the Democratic Party over the years.

“I’ve always voted for some Republicans,” she said. “I wasn’t one to just do a straight line vote, even when I was considered a Democrat.” 

She went on to say that she feels some party leaders are holding against her “are completely and totally out of my control. I can only control myself,” she said.