In a recent letter to the editor by Margery Abel, she criticized Senator Jim Davis supporters for wearing red T-shirts at the League of Women Voters Aug. 9 public candidate forum, calling it “red shirt tactics.” Abel also mischaracterized enthusiastic supporters as exhibiting “loud inappropriate bursts of applause and stomping” and “arriving early to grab strategic seats.” There were no inappropriate bursts of applause or stomping, and there was adequate seating for all as evidenced by photographs in The Franklin Press. In addition, Mrs. Abel even suggested that supporters were stealing lunches at the event. If there is compelling evidence of that, which I doubt, Senator Davis and the Republican Party will compensate the League. I’m sure that won’t be necessary.
The forum was a question and answer format between Republican and incumbent State Senator Jim Davis and former Democratic Senator John Snow. Snow is running against Davis in the General Election. While the forum is described by the League as a “non-partisan informational forum,” it’s hardly that considering it’s a modified debate between a Republican and Democrat, with attendees of both major political parties as well as independents in attendance.
A subsequent email to me from the League’s forum coordinator and moderator Susan Ervin read in part, “it was great to see such a good turnout for the forum ... We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming forums and hope you will become a member.”
The wearing of a red T-shirt with the words “Re-Elect Senator Jim Davis,” “Responsible Governing” is one of those basic examples of (free) political speech that makes us the free people we are. Individual citizens entering a forum wearing a T-shirt in support of their candidate honors the political process that makes us such a great nation. We do support a policy of not bringing signs into the forum as it may distract and visually impair attendee’s ability to see the candidates.
If Mrs. Abel is to describe one candidate’s great numbers of supporters as “high jacking” an event just because the other candidate had a poor showing of his supporters, than she is doing the process itself an injustice. Senator Davis’ supporters are not responsible for the poor turnout Mr. Snow had.
We will continue to show support for our candidates by wearing T-shirts (of any color) and other appropriate and legal means and will applaud supporters of other candidates who do so as well. We appreciate League Coordinator Susan Ervin’s well run forum and look forward to participating in future ones.
Chris Murray, Chairman
Macon County Republican Party