Devaney: Keeping Shelby red is no. 1 priority of ‘roots’ campaign

Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney says that keeping Shelby County government in GOP control is the top priority of the state party’s “red to the roots” campaign, according to the Commercial Appeal.

A majority of the county’s voters backed Democrat Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, but Republicans nonetheless hold such top local positions as county mayor and district attorney general.

(D)espite its Democratic strongholds, Shelby County figures prominently into the state party’s recently-launched Red to the Roots program, an effort to win local offices for Republicans throughout the state. To hear Devaney describe it, it’s something of a total eradication plan: Democrats are becoming increasingly scarce on Capitol Hill in Nashville, now it’s time to make them scarce in all 95 courthouses in the state.

The No. 1 priority in Red to the Roots? Shelby County, he said.

“Because we think it’s important to keep those Republican officeholders in office,” Devaney said. “If you go by the numbers, there probably are more Democrats here than Republicans, but we have done a good job of — and when I say we, I mean the local Republican party and the state — have done a good job of getting people out to vote.

“And also, to try to get conservative independents to vote Republican. And conservative Democrats, for that matter. Because I think that both Weirich and Luttrell have a lot of Democrat support. I think it’s a testament to the kind of jobs that they’re doing.”

Luttrell’s challenger in his Aug. 7 general election bid for a second term was determined Tuesday — Deidre Malone, the former County Commission member. Weirich’s challenger has been known for a while — Joe Brown, the former television judge whose unpredictable presence promises an interesting summer — and has helped Weirich raise about $165,000 this year alone, according to records.

Democrats have a different view of the 2010 GOP success. To them, the courthouse is painted red in large part because of the timing of that election, when the hotly contested Republican primary for governor on the same day drove significant Republican turnout.