County mayor drops Democratic affiliation after endorsing GOP’s Boyd for governor

Gibson County Mayor Tom Witherspoon, twice elected as a Democrat, is running for reelection as an independent after complaints about his public endorsement of Republican Randy Boyd in the governor’s race, reports Tennessee Star. He had initially filed a petition to run as a Democrat.

Witherspoon, who has received some statewide attention by successfully pushing to locate a Tyson Foods processing plant at Humboldt after it was rejected by a Kansas town, was included in a Boyd list of county mayors who are backing his candidacy back in July, 2017. He subsequently declared in a Facebook post that he would vote in the GOP primary because Boyd “votes people not parties” and was quoted in the Trenton Gazette as crediting Boyd for helping land the Tyson plant and declaring Boyd “kept his word with me and I’ll keep my word with him.”

Nine days after Witherspoon filed his petition to run for re-election as a Democrat (in February), Keith Cunningham, chair of the Gibson County Democratic Party announced that he would run for Mayor.

When asked by The Star about his decision to run against Tom Witherspoon and his view of Witherspoon’s public endorsement of Randy Boyd, Cunningham said, “Mr. Witherspoon has the right to vote for whomever he wants. But out of respect for the Democratic party of which he claimed to be a ‘lifelong member’ I believe he should have kept his endorsement for Randy Boyd private.”

Witherspoon’s public repudiation of the party that supported him in prior elections, apparently did not sit well with its members resulting in Witherspoon changing course and now running for mayor as an Independent.

… Having left the Democrats behind as a newly declared Independent, Witherspoon may be able to vote for Boyd without violating the state’s voting law. Returning to the Democrat party or even flipping to the Republican party may be a tougher move for Witherspoon who has discarded all allegiances to either political party.

Note: A March Tennessean story on the Tyson Foods move to Humboldt after being spurned by the company’s first choice, Tonganoxie, Kan., is HERE. And, since Politico has suggested Tennessee Star should not be credited “without acknowledgement of its obvious bias” (previous post HERE), let’s add this just for the heck of it: The Star is not a newspaper; it’s a website with a design similar to that of many newspapers and it has a strong right-wing orientation. Star has frequently bashed Boyd for not being sufficiently conservative while posting articles much more favorable to GOP gubernatorial candidates Diane Black and Bill Lee.

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