Complaint to state GOP heats up sheriff race

Jan. 28, 2014 @ 06:43 PM

The Republican Party race for sheriff is heating up as the main challenger to incumbent David Grice accuses the outgoing county GOP chairman of improperly endorsing Grice in the primary election.

GOP sheriff candidate Hal Triplett earlier this month filed a complaint with the N.C. Republican Party state office in Raleigh about Lance Barrett, the county GOP chairman, using a Facebook message to support Grice. Barrett, who will leave his post as party chairman in early March to run for the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, endorsed the sheriff on a Facebook page for supporters of Grice.
Triplett, a former officer in the sheriff’s department, said Barrett’s endorsement violates a Republican Party rule that county chairmen shouldn’t endorse a GOP candidate within a party primary. A spokesman for the state Republican Party, Daniel Keylin, told The High Point Enterprise that “under the N.C. GOP’s plan of organization, county chairmen are barred from endorsing candidates in Republican primaries.”
Triplett said it’s wrong for a county chairman, even if he’s preparing to depart his post, to endorse a candidate for primary voters.
“It was improper. You’re not supposed to endorse any candidate until after the primary. Then we’re supposed to get behind that candidate and get him through to the election in November,” Triplett said.
Barrett said he didn’t intend to offend any party rules by endorsing Grice, who has served as sheriff for the past 10 years. Barrett said he’s known Grice for 30 years and believes he’s done an outstanding job as the county’s top law enforcement officer.
“Was it appropriate? I’ll let other people decide that,” Barrett said. “Why Hal would choose a post on a Facebook fan page to get excited about is just beyond me.”
Grice told the Enterprise that Barrett is in the process of stepping down as party chairman to run for the Board of Commissioners and that “it’s a little bit trivial” for Triplett to bring up Barrett’s endorsement as an issue before the state party.
Davidson County voters will go to the polls May 6 to decide the Republican nominee for sheriff. The GOP winner would take on any Democratic challenger in the Nov. 4 general election.
Winning the Republican primary is crucial in Davidson County, since no Democrat has been elected to a partisan office in the county for the past four years.
pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528