Background: The Court ordered redistricting in 2015 caused a realignment of Lee County into the 6th Congressional District with a primary scheduled for June 2016. Jim Womack was serving as Vice Chairman of the Lee County GOP during the election period and he spent time researching and discussing policy matters with both Republican candidates for Congress- Chris Hardin and (incumbent) Mark Walker.
The Allegation: During and immediately after the June 2016 primary election, candidate Chris Hardin complained that Jim Womack supported incumbent Mark Walker to be the Republican nominee for election in November, rather than supporting him or remaining neutral. Hardin claims Womack used his position in the Lee GOP to help Walker win, and that Womack manipulated poll workers into supporting Walker as well.
The Truth: Jim Womack performed comprehensive background research on both candidates and analyzed the voting record of Walker prior to deciding which candidate he would support. In his capacity of Vice Chairman, Womack afforded both candidates equal opportunity to address Lee County members.
Hardin received special assistance by showing up and being assisted by Womack and others at the “Broadway Our Way” festival in April 2016. His materials were distributed and he was introduced to prominent personalities all day. Walker did not participate in that event so he received no special assistance.
Both candidates participated in a point, counter-point session at the Lee GOP Headquarters at one official meeting. Neither candidate was given an advantage in that debate.
After closely assessing both candidates, Womack made the decision he would support Walker as the superior candidate for Congress. Principal reasons for his decision were: Walker had a strong conservative voting record in Congress; Walker was a very devout Christian and practiced his faith openly; Walker was easily going to win the primary in all 8 counties of the 6th District; and Walker demonstrated a more mature and statesmanlike demeanor, suitable for Congressional interaction. Additionally, Womack favored Walker over Hardin because Hardin had only recently become a Republican, had never held public office, and had actively voted in democrat primaries for years.
As a poll worker and electioneering volunteer, Womack coordinated the distribution of “conservative ballots” at all precincts showing a preference for Walker. These sample ballots had no markings suggesting they were official Republican Party sponsored ballots. The candidates recommended on these ballots were chosen by the Conservative Ballot Committee, an independent group not officially sanctioned by the Lee County GOP. Womack did not use his title or position in the party to favor Walker, fully complying with the state Plan of Organization.
Conclusion: Representative Mark Walker has proven himself to be a capable and effective legislator, now chairing the House’s largest and most influential caucus- the Republican Study Committee. Womack violated no party rules in his support for the more conservative and capable candidate in this race.
Learn more about Jim Womack here.