Republicans May Take Another Run at Democratic Election Administrator Mackay

Look for Republicans to take another run at Democratic election administrator Greg Mackay.

When Republicans took control of the state House of Representatives, they got a majority to control county election commissions across the state, replacing decades of control by the Democrats. But Mackay survived the purge when Republican appointee Paul Crilly joined two Democrats on the five-person Knox County election commission to keep Mackay on the job. Thus, Democrat Mackay kept his job in a county where the majority of officeholders are Republicans.

But this session the Knox County Republican delegation will likely replace Crilly on the election commission with a more reliable vote. With three Republicans and two Democrats, a new election administrator would seem to be assured.

During the last tussle over the job, the Republicans added Scott Frith, a Republican, as the assistant election commissioner. Thus the local office has two administrators, a Democrat and a Republican. Some local Republicans think that is one administrator too many.

Knox delegation Democrats state Rep. Joe Armstrong and state Rep. Harry Tindell are expected to retain their two Democrat appointees, Cassandra McGee Stuart and Cameron Brooks.

The other two Republicans on the commission are Bob Bowman and chair Chris Heagerty. Heagerty is close to County Mayor Tim Burchett and will likely have some influence with Burchett over picking the next commissioner. The Republican delegation is likely to listen to Burchett, their former colleague, in making the appointment. So Heagerty will likely make the choice to replace Crilly and give him a three-vote majority should they wish to fire Mackay.

Mackay is popular with some local officeholders and the media, he has run good efficient elections after some years of disastrous messes come election night. The Republicans will have the votes; Mackay's staying will likely depend on whether they are willing to suffer the outcry to get rid of him.