Republican Unexpectedly Nominated In Challenge To Unseat Putney

Jerry Johnson

by Valerie Garner

The Republican Party leadership tried to convince him not to run, claims the newly chosen nominee.

Monday evening a Roanoke Tea Party member won the nomination at the Republican mass meeting for the 19th District House of Delegates, according to Christine Broughton, Botetourt County Republican Chair. The vote was 26 –18.

It came as a surprise even to the only nominee, Jerry Johnson. “I didn’t think I’d get the nomination,” said Johnson in a phone call.

“That’s how our Democracy works,” said Broughton. Jim Crosby, 19th House of Delegates District Chair coordinated the committee meeting. The 19th HOD district covers Botetourt, Alleghany and portions of Bedford County.

Del. Lacy Putney, though an Independent, caucuses with the Republicans and Chairs the Appropriations Committee. He has held the seat since 1962.

Johnson, 72, is technically retired but still works as an electrical contractor and is a licensed real estate agent. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, he lives in Botetourt County with his wife of 50 years. He has two children and six grandchildren. He has lived in Virginia since 1988 – part of that time in Franklin County and eleven years at his current residence in Botetourt County.

Johnson is running for one reason only, he said in a phone interview Monday evening. He wants to “change our system of government,” by repealing the 17th amendment. The Seventeenth Amendment established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes the part of the original Constitution, under which Senators were elected by state legislatures.

His goal is to have any state on its own “propose a constitutional amendment without going through Congress.” The other “49 states” would do the same, he said. Once ratified by 75 percent of the states, the 17th amendment of the U.S. Constitution would be repealed.

He proposes in section two of a revised 17th amendment that there be “one U.S. Senator per State who serves at the pleasure of the State Legislature.” A section three would have all federal judges serving three-year terms. This would prevent what Johnson calls “judicial activism.” If they “overstep their authority” they will not be reaffirmed when their term expires, Johnson explained.

Johnson says he told the 44 gathered at the mass meeting that he “will be elected [and] will accomplish that goal.” All of the Virginia state legislators that he has marketed his proposal to have said “You can’t do that.”

“They’ve never given it a thought … show me in the Constitution where it says a state can’t do that,” demanded Johnson. “They are all wrong and I am right,” he said.

Johnson said “his nomination Monday night was the only Republican mass meeting in the State of Virginia where a vote was taken on an unopposed candidate.” It was a vote to give the nomination to him or to nobody, he claimed. Johnson believes that the 18 votes against him were Putney supporters.

He had just enough personal friends and supporters from his church to grab the nomination.

Once certified, Johnson joins Democrat nominee Lewis Medlin in an attempt to unseat Delegate Putney in November.

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