My Exile From “Bona Fide” GOP Status

In the August 2022 primary, I ran unopposed as a write-in candidate for a seat on District 2 of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, and won, with 302 write-in votes. The Tennessee Secretary of State certified me as the winner. Based on behind-the-scenes machinations by the local political establishment (who pose as Republicans but fail to govern as such), the TRP nullified my election in a farcical show trial (conducted via Zoom call) and subsequently appointed a crony to fill my seat. The basis for my nullification was that I–a lifelong GOP voter and activist–am purportedly not a “bona fide” Republican. I was exiled. Invalidated as a Republican. Banished to persona non grata status. But I continue to receive fundraising solicitations from the TRP! Here is my response to the latest one.

Thanks to the Tennessee Conservative News (here)!

Re: 2023 Sustaining Membership Appeal

Brittany Montgomery

Finance Director

Dear Ms. Montgomery:

I received in yesterday’s mail a fundraising solicitation from the TRP signed by Chairman Scott Golden, urging me to renew my Sustaining Membership in the TRP. The letter informs me that “you are an indispensable member of our winning team.”

Unfortunately, there must be a mistake. I wish I could be part of the team, but I have been cut.  Sadly, the TRP has determined that I am not a “bona fide Republican.”  As Scott Golden knows, the TRP team has very exacting standards that—to my eternal shame– I do not meet.  Mr. Golden himself led the inquisition, ratified by a bare quorum of the SEC, officially declaring me to be  whatever the opposite of “bona fide” is—illegitimate? An imposter?  Who am I to question that verdict?

I don’t want to donate money under false pretenses, so I will decline the solicitation.

I must admit, as a lifelong GOP voter (since 1976) who was active in GOP politics in Texas (when it was still a Democratic state!), California (where I was an ally of state party chair Shawn Steel), and even in Blount County, it hurt me to learn that I was mistaken in believing that I was a Republican. My whole life has been a lie, I suppose. Having my picture taken with President Ronald Reagan at a GOP fundraiser was apparently a ruse!

Voting in every GOP primary for nearly the past 50 years doesn’t cut it. Donating thousands of dollars to GOP candidates, the RNC, College Republicans, and Republican elected officials doesn’t cut it. Serving as a precinct chair in Travis County, Texas, and as a delegate to the GOP state convention in Texas doesn’t cut it. Serving as an officer in Republican groups and receiving a “Man of the Year” award from Congressman Darrell Issa doesn’t cut it. Forming a conservative group (in the absence of a functioning local Republican Party) that has hosted Congressman Tim Burchett, State Reps. Jerome Moon and Bryan Richey, and other GOP officials doesn’t cut it. Appearing on Life, Liberty & Levin and Fox & Friends doesn’t cut it. Speaking at a meeting of the Blount County Republican Women (where I was an associate member) doesn’t cut it.  Walking precincts, watching polls, phone banking for Ted Cruz’s initial Senate run, running finance committees—all for naught. Well, I tried.

If Tennessee has higher standards than Texas and California, so be it. (I guess that’s why Tennessee lets Democrats vote in the Republican primary–to make the GOP stronger?) I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be. Sorry.

Also, the TRP surely doesn’t want to receive donations from someone that Tyler Burns, your Political Director, has (according to Scott Golden) called a liar. I know that Mr. Burns told me that the $100 candidate registration fee for the SEC did not apply to write-in candidates whose name would not appear on the ballot. Scott Golden informs me that Mr. Burns denies making that statement—and silly me did not insist on getting Mr. Burns’ response in writing.  (Getting things “in writing” must be an element of “bona fide” status and I just didn’t get the memo. My bad.)  So my election was nullified—along with the write-in votes of 302 Republicans in District 2. But at least the TRP supports “election integrity”!

Under the circumstances, it would be unbecoming of me to send you a check. So I will mail a check instead to my GOP Congressman, Tim Burchett, whose standards are apparently less rigorous than yours.

So, Ms. Montgomery, I will spare you the indignity of taking money from someone so unworthy to contribute to your efforts. I thought I should explain myself “in writing” because that is how the TRP seems to roll.

Have a good day.


Mark Pulliam

Scott Golden
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