WHAT HAPPENED: Shelby County GOP Chair Responds to Election Defeat

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CATASTROPHIC! Republicans Pummeled in Shelby County Election

GOP leadership is under fire after Republican candidates were defeated up and down the ballot on Election Day last Thursday.

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Cary Vaughn, chair of the Shelby County Republican Party, admitted the party must do better on “Wake Up Memphis” Tuesday.

“We have to do a better job of mobilizing and energizing the base,” Vaughn told morning show co-host Ben Deeter.


Read the rush transcript from Vaughn’s interview below:

Tim Van Horn: [00:00:31] Our top story from yesterday, the FBI raiding the home of President Trump. They were at Mar a Lago yesterday, 30 FBI agents, 15 boxes of materials. Joining us this morning, the head of the Shelby County GOP, Carrie Vaughn, joins us. Cary, thank you for joining us. How are you? [00:00:53][22.2]

Cary Vaughn: [00:00:55] Good morning to you. I’m doing well. How are you. [00:00:56][1.4]

Tim Van Horn: [00:00:57] Doing? Doing fine. And yesterday, the FBI raiding the home of President Trump as the head of the local GOP. Your thoughts on this? [00:01:05][8.6]

Cary Vaughn: [00:01:06] Well, it’s almost like a third world country. I mean, it’s a tactic. Right. And no search warrant. Nothing like this has ever happened to a president before. Why now? Why this timing when he’s building momentum around the country, when he endorses 14 candidates and all 14 win and he’s picking up speed as far as even more popularity. Very ironic the timing of all of this. [00:01:31][24.5]

Tim Van Horn: [00:01:32] Yeah. And we don’t know what’s in the boxes at this point, but we do know that the Democrats are doing a victory lap. They are celebrating the fact that Trump is under further persecution, which is which seems to be their game plan throughout the country. [00:01:45][13.2]

Cary Vaughn: [00:01:47] Well, you know, what about Hunter Biden? Why so lax? And why turn a blind eye to him and his situation, but then hone in on Trump and his personal files and no heads up unannounced? No. No communication, no conversation, no courtesy. It’s amazing. It’s amazing that we sit back and we watch this and really allow it to happen. [00:02:11][24.4]

Ben Deeter: [00:02:13] I want to pivot real quick. This is Ben, Carrie, to what happened locally just a couple days ago on Thursday. A lot of Republicans disappointed. They have that gut feeling waking up the next morning of really we called it a blue wave and it happened on that August 4th election. What happened? [00:02:33][20.0]

Cary Vaughn: [00:02:35] Well, I think first and foremost, you have to say a big thank you to the candidates, right? I mean, some of these candidates started to run a year ago, two years ago. They raised their own funding. They have their own strategy. They knock on doors, they make phone calls. They do all the mass communications that it takes to win elections. And so I think, first and foremost, we wanted to say thank you to the candidates and thank you for stepping in. You know, most people won’t run. You know, you always ask people to run and to step up and fill a gap. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they pull away. So I think a big thanks to all the candidates across the board. You know, as we look back, you know, I think it all comes down to we have to do a better job. And the biggest room is room for improvement. Correct. So we have to do a better job of mobilizing and energizing our base. And so when you look at the candidates and every candidate picks up 50,000 votes to 55,000 votes, roughly. We’ve got to do a better job. That’s probably 24 or 25% of those registered getting out the base. And, you know, we look back and you say, man, we sent 90,000 ballots. We sent 20,000 additional ballots to November voters to say, wake up, we don’t need you in November. We need you August 4th. You know, we do all of the texting and emailing, all the probably 120,000 impressions that we sent out through social media, door knocking, phone banking, all the above. And yet we don’t get the result we want. It’s all about getting out the base, I think, number one. And then number two, it’s also about trying to have the antenna up 24 seven, looking at different groups, looking at different pockets and saying, how can we recruit a more diverse group, a more mixed bag to come be a part of the Republican Party? [00:04:24][108.8]

Tim Van Horn: [00:04:25] Was the base ignored in a general sense? In this one, we got very little crossover vote, but also the voter turnout was around 23%. There were a lot of votes that were left on the table from people not showing up. Do you feel like the base was was ignored in this one? Was this was this a failure to get them out? [00:04:46][20.5]

Cary Vaughn: [00:04:47] I don’t think it was a failure to get them out. I think we’ve got to find ways, creative ways to do a better job of triggering that effort. And what I mean by that is, you know, four years ago. August of 18, we had a gubernatorial race and that that sparked some interest. We didn’t have that this time. You know, one of the great things about our municipal suburban areas is that we have a quality way of life. We have our own amenities, but we don’t go to the box anymore and vote on anything that’s educational. There’s no educational issues that we go vote on like we did 20 years ago. And so we’ve got to figure out something to get them excited, to get them out of the house, out of the office, to the polls to vote. And that falls back and all out. And we’ve got to figure out a way to do that. [00:05:34][47.2]

Tim Van Horn: [00:05:35] Do you do you think that a pro crime pro not get your car tags agenda that the Democrats were openly promoting, that that would that was not enough? [00:05:49][14.3]

Cary Vaughn: [00:05:51] You know, I think that’s exactly right. You know, we did the 20,000 ballots that we did specifically directly to the November only voters was a crime. Put it promoted the D.A., promoted the mayor, promoted Jeff Jacobs for the clerk’s office. It had a push directly to those voters and directly to crime and really the debacle of the clerk’s office to say, don’t wait. This is our opportunity in early voting and August 4th to make change. You make change at the at the box rate. You can pontificate. You can talk about it. You can plan. But where you move the needle is you vote. [00:06:31][39.8]

Ben Deeter: [00:06:32] Let’s talk about the future and going into November. But when you look at the two parties. One is a broad coalition of young people, old people, black people, white people, you name it. Some have referred to the GOP local party here as a country club. How do you brought in the coalition here for four GOP Republicans. [00:06:56][24.0]

Tim Van Horn: [00:06:57] And shake that perception? [00:06:58][0.5]

Cary Vaughn: [00:06:59] Right. I think I think a couple of ways. Number one, I think we have people across this county and across the mid-south that they line up with the core values of the Republican Party. I’ll give you an example. Pro-Life. Pro-business are pro-traditional marriage. Yeah, there’s people that line up with those core conservative values that may in the past have not been Republicans. And I think we have to extend the olive branch, so to speak, and say, look, come join us in this effort. There’s a place for you at the table. You can bring value. And we would love for you to have that opportunity. I also would say this why we’re trying to figure out Shelby County and then pivot and really turn towards November because, you know, 2022 is not over. We have some great races coming up, state and federal in November that we can capitalize on. We can have victory. We can put the flag in the ground. But I think as we do those type of things, we also have to remember that across the state, we’re strong. I mean, you only have two Democrat days across the state. You only have three Democrat County mayors across across the state. So, you know, we look at the western region and when we look at the state of Tennessee as a whole, we’re strong. And that’s going to hold people like Mulroy accountable. So if things get sideways here locally, he will come under the rule and he will have to be governed by the state. [00:08:24][84.7]

Tim Van Horn: [00:08:27] A couple of questions here for you before we go. Have enough lessons been learned from what happened last Thursday that there can be some gains come in November and specifically? A, the the the candidate Brown Dudley who had been trotted out to go against Charlotte Bergmann. He went down in flames last week. Will the local GOP, despite the fact that she’s run several times, will the GOP stand behind Charlotte Bachmann against Steve Cohen, and will they stand behind other minority candidates like Freddie Tappin and others? [00:09:01][34.1]

Cary Vaughn: [00:09:02] Oh, absolutely. Charlotte is our nominee, and so we will be behind her full force. Fred Tappin, the great friend. I had lunch with him last week. I think he’s got a real good shot to to win that seat. I mean, those are our candidates and we’ll be behind them 100% to push this through. [00:09:21][19.1]

Ben Deeter: [00:09:23] Does and this coming in from one of our audience members this morning, when it comes to candidates and question marks to who is actually on the ballot, Cary, does the GOP handpick these candidates? Who gets a say in this? [00:09:38][14.3]

Cary Vaughn: [00:09:40] We do not handpick the candidates. You know, people have a right to pull a petition. People have a right to say, hey, I want to run for this office. They need to be bona fide. They need to follow the rules of the of the state. And the state executive committee makes that call. But they can decide if they can raise the money, raise the awareness, raise the support. Anybody can run for office. And so, you know, we come alongside more in a supplemental way. You know, I look at the days raised and the Mariel’s raised. You know, we were there as a supplemental. Right. We don’t run those races. They hire firms. They raise a lot of money. They spend a ton of money. We come alongside that and tried to pitch it a little bit to help in that matter. But we don’t sit back and pick winners and losers. If we did, I would have picked some winners last Thursday and would have been more victorious. [00:10:34][54.1]

Ben Deeter: [00:10:36] Sure you would have. And you talk about those firms and it’s frustrating for a lot of those in the GOP, even the candidates themselves, who have told us that their firms told them not to go to the Lincoln Dinner, of course, because of Mark Meadows being there. And I mean, we saw you out there. We saw a lot of candidates. How can you take back some of that control and influence these candidates to align themselves with the party to get out the base like we just talked about? [00:11:04][27.7]

Cary Vaughn: [00:11:05] Well, that’s a great question. And things like Lincoln Day, you know, we do somebody asked me, are you trying to make Mark Meadows the face of the party? No, obviously not. But Mark was there to help us drive money. So when we raised $115,000 at Lincoln Day, we did that because we had a big draw. We had a big name and were able to do that to spend money on the ballots. You know, the ballots cost us anywhere from 60 to $70000. We raised that money at Lincoln Day. It’s a fundraiser. We are raising funds for the party. We have to have a headquarters location. We have to put, you know, a cash infusion and all of that. It’s to raise money. And if people say, well, I’m not going to participate, I’m not going to purchase a table, I’m not going to be there. You know, it hurts the party. And we have to walk that tightrope of saying, hey, we want to honor the candidate. But at the same time, we have a job to do as the local party. And that’s a tightrope that’s that’s hard to walk sometimes, right? Because you want to be a magnet to draw all people together. The power to convene is more effective than the power to legislate. And so you want to bring people together. But at the same time, you try to say, look, we have a we have a job to do. We have objectives to reach. And if you’re not with us 100%, we’re not going to get there. [00:12:20][75.2]

Tim Van Horn: [00:12:20] All right. Last question, Cary, as we look to the future, November and beyond what we have, a lot of the young Republicans that listen to the show, what would you say to the young Republicans out there that feel like that they have to air fingers, quote, wait their turn? What do they need to know about the Shelby County GOP? [00:12:37][16.9]

Cary Vaughn: [00:12:39] I would say several things. Join a club, you know, find fun. The Young Republicans club, one of the clubs in the suburban areas. A join a club. Pay $25. Right. That’s that’s coffee for a month. And just come and join one of the clubs. And number two, come to the CDC meetings the first Thursday every night of the month. Find a way to get behind a candidate like Fred Tappan. Charlotte Bergman put out signs phone bank. You know, do what you can to volunteer. Come and put some sweat equity in and be a part of what we’re trying to do and be a part of the process, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. But but here’s something else I would say. Vote. Right. Again, we move the needle by voting, not sitting behind a keyboard, not trying to deliver speeches. We get there by voting, voting in primaries, voting in general elections. That’s how we produce change. [00:13:37][57.9]

Tim Van Horn: [00:13:38] All right. Cary Vaughn, the head of the Shelby County GOP. Thank you for joining us this morning. Hope you have a great rest of your day. Carrie, thanks for joining us. [00:13:44][6.8]

Cary Vaughn: [00:13:45] Guys, see you soon. Thank you. [00:13:46][1.2]


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