The outgoing chair of the Louisville Young Republicans says he lost his seat to a Tea Party activist due to publicly supporting Senator Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign.
James Young had served as the group’s leader since last year, but lost re-election to Louisville Tea Party Vice President Andrew Schachtner this week.
The chair position was the only contested seat in the group’s elections Monday.
Young says he didn’t begin to receiving threats of opposition until he began defending McConnell on this station.
“I’m very confident my appearance fueled some ideas in the minds of people looking for opportunities,” he says. “There was an instance where I was specifically told through other individuals that ‘hey there are some people very upset within Tea Party organization that view you using your position to support Senator McConnell’ and influencing others to do so.”
Much has been written about the gulf between McConnell and Tea Party groups throughout the state. In several news stories, Young pushed back against talk of a primary challenge against Kentucky’s senior senator.
Schachtner admits hearing rumors about displeasure with Young’s leadership over those comments, but McConnell had little to do with the young Republicans decision to elect a new chairman.
“That might have been the timing,” he says. “I think I have a lot of to bring to the table for the Louisville Young Republicans. I want to focus on precinct organization, getting young people into positions in the Republican Party and getting them in places where they can effect change in the future. And to work on fundraising.”
Asked if he supports McConnell’s re-election bid, Schachtner told WFPL he does “on default” because the Seante GOP leader is the only one running. The 24-year-old conservative adds he would have to reevaluate any decision if a primary challenger entered the race.
“I am a Tea Party guy, and that’s my philosophical background. I am still waiting to see what the race is going to look like before I make any final decision on who I support or who I oppose,” says Schactner.
Local Tea Party leaders dismiss Young’s assertion that McConnell was the chief reason for his loss and argue the ouster was more about an attempt to change the group’s by-laws.
“I don’t think anybody should believe there is some weird Tea Party conspiracy to overthrow the young Republicans. If it were that I’d be aware,” says Louisville Tea Party President Sarah Durand, who voted for Schactner in Monday’s election. “What (James Young) took heat for was I think him wanting to change the rules to endorse in a primary, and they’ve never done that before.”
Young denies any attempt to make those changes, but did argue the group should officially support McConnell until a primary opponent emerged. Both Young and Durand agreed “quite a few” Tea Party activists who are registered Republicans showed up to vote, however.
“I do believe if I were to have kept quite about Senator McConnell, if I would not have appeared on WFPL, if I wouldn’t have answered questions from reporters about the importance of young Republicans getting involved for Senator McConnell, I do believe I would have went unopposed and I would have been re-elected,” says Young.