News » Local

Gay Candidate Barred from Running for Sheriff by Alabama GOP

Thursday Jan 25, 2018

A gay businessman and one-time police officer who is married to another man says GOP leaders in a north Alabama county refused to let him run for sheriff after a review that included questions about his sexual orientation.

Jason White told the News-Courier of Athens that members of the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee voted Tuesday to deny his bid for sheriff in a decision he believes is linked to the fact he is gay. "I think it is obvious," he said.

White, 40, said he now plans to run for sheriff as an independent, and Republicans must find another candidate if they want an opponent for longtime incumbent Mike Blakely, a Democrat.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm not deterred," said White, who spent 22 years in law enforcement and co-owns a private security company in Huntsville.

Noah Wahl, chairman of the county GOP executive committee, declined comment on the committee's reason for denying White's candidacy, the newspaper reported.

A former Athens police officer, White qualified to run for Limestone County sheriff in 2002 but lost in the primary. White said all he had to do to qualify as a candidate then was complete qualifying papers and pay a qualifying fee.

White, who was married to a woman at the time, has since divorced and married former Navy SEAL Brett Jones in Indiana; the two men live in the county and have a teenage son. Jones has published a book about coming out as gay and leaving the military.

In qualifying to run this year, White had to fill out a form that includes questions about whether candidates have ever voted for a Democrat; if they believe "in the traditional definition of marriage;" and if they were "committed to protecting life at all ages."

About two weeks before the vote, White said a county Republican steering committee asked for an interview in which he was asked him to name two weaknesses as a candidate.

"I said the fact I was fired and that I'm gay," White said. White said members then had a lengthy conversation that included remarks like, "We don't think we'd be able to raise any money for you," and "We're a small Southern town; how are we going to get around that?"

White said the committee spent more time talking about his sexual orientation than his dismissal by the Athens Police Department in 2012 over allegations he wrongly used a state crime database to look up information linked to his ex-wife.

Before the vote Tuesday, White said members of the county committee asked whether he voted for Donald Trump for president.

"I said, 'No, I voted for Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate),'" White said. "You'd think I had stabbed them."

Wahl called later to say about two-thirds of the 34-person committee had voted against letting him run, White said.

Republicans could still get someone in the race since prospective candidates have until Feb. 9 to file qualifying papers.


Information from: The News Courier,

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook