HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -Recent turmoil in Madison County's Republican Party is now the focus of a high-profile race for one of its Executive Committee seats.
State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) will challenge long-time Republican Executive Committee Member Hugh McInnish in the GOP primary later this year, with both candidates taking very different stands on how the local party should operate.
McInnish has served on the Executive Committee for several years and said he makes no apologies for his outspoken views, which he describes as "staunchly conservative".
"Some people say I'm a radical, and I don't mind being called that," said McInnish. "Radicals can be good or bad, I'm a good radical...He [Ball] already has a seat by virtue of his membership in the state legislature. He's now running for my seat, and I don't know how that works. In fact, I think it's a legitimate question. Is he a legitimate candidate?"
McInnish is one of the stalwarts of the Madison County GOP, which recently censured State Board of Education Member Mary Scott Hunter. The committee also rebuked state legislators for "dereliction of duty" after they didn't pass bills the local party wanted. Ball said that and an effort to block candidates from competing in primaries show signs of a leadership structure that's out of touch.
"It's not even about political philosophy that I think our party needs to change so much, I think it's about tone," said Ball. "You can be strong and still be kind."
What role the Executive Committee should play is a clear dividing point between both candidates.
"The role of the party is not to make policy decisions for elected officials," said Ball. "Elected officials are responsible to, I believe, the electorate that elects them."
"Mike is vexed because we have some things to say about what he does, and we don't always like what good 'ol Mike does," said McInnish. "He's a good guitar picker and singer, but some of his melodies don't ring true to us."
The Republican primary is in June.