Geneva County GOP Group Decides on Senator Smith's Membership

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Republican State Senator Harri Anne Smith surprised many in the Wiregrass when she endorsed Democratic Congressional candidate Bobby Bright earlier this week

That's months after Senator Smith lost a heated primary runoff with Republican Jay Love.

By endorsing Bright, Smith violated a bylaw of the executive committee for the Geneva County GOP.

Chairman of the group Riley Seibenhener says the move also violates state executive committee bylaws.

"If you endorse a Republican's opponent, you cannot seek office as a Republican if you are elected official," Seibenhener said Thursday. "Senator Smith is an elected public official. And the state row says if you fall in that category, you cannot do anything but vote for the candidate."

Seibenhener says he still supports Smith, but says she made a mistake endorsing Bright.

The committee went into executive session to decide on Senator Smith's membership. Reportedly, the vote ended 19-11 in favor of letting her stay aboard. Then she defended her endorsement.

"Integrity is the entire basis behind my decision to endorse Bobby Bright," Senator Smith said. "You have got to stand up as an elected official, and stand up for what’s right."

Not everyone agreed with the decision. Vice Chairman of the Geneva County GOP executive committee John Kolkman says bylaws should be enforced in these situations.

"I will be leaving as vice president effective tonight," Kolkman said. "Because nothing was done. We have a state senator that violated our own county bylaws and no action was taken against her."

Senator Smith is looking to run for re-election in two years. It will be up to the state executive committee for the Republican Party to vote on allowing her to run as a republican.

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