“This is a terrible time for people in the same party to be pointing fingers at members of their own party,” the chairman of the Surry County Republican Party said Wednesday, responding to allegations that he is improperly vying for the North Carolina Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Don East.
Kiger vehemently denied the charges, saying rumors of his bid for the seat all began with a “casual” statement offered during an earlier meeting designed to schedule a time and place to vote on East’s replacement.
“When the three chairmen of the counties (in East’s 30th District seat) met last Sunday to discuss the logistics of the process, we began mentioning people in each county who had indicated their intent,” he said. “Several names were mentioned and I casually said that I might have intentions of running also.”
Which led to a firestorm of rumors flying around the county, ultimately ending with a story charging him with having a hidden agenda in Wednesday’s Mount Airy News, Kiger said.
“That got blown all out of proportion,” he said. “After considering it and talking to several people, I felt like I just need to be the party chairman and ensure that this process goes the way it should.”
Kiger said he moved quickly to quell the rumors of his intent to run.
“I have already mentioned to several people that I’m not a candidate for this, and I thought I’d made it clear to them,” he said.
Allegations from Rep. Sarah Stevens that he isn’t available to members of the party and isn’t looking for viable candidates also are unfounded, Kiger said emphatically.
“(Stevens) said she’s approached me and I’ve not responded?” he asked. “She’d never approached me about this matter or even indicated to me that she wants she wants to be a candidate!
“That’s just not true,” he said. “She ultimately sent me an email (Tuesday) that said she intends to be a candidate.”
The real issue, according to Kiger, is his intent on following the letter of the law during the replacement process.
“(Stevens) said she felt like elected officials should be allowed to vote on the election committee,” Kiger said. “I told her that according to the general statutes of the state and our Plan of Organization elected officials aren’t voting members.”
Kiger: We’re Going To Do This The Right Way
“All of this is incorrect,” Kiger said of allegations made in Wednesday’s Mount Airy News.
Emphasizing that he is not seeking to be appointed to East’s seat, Kiger speculated that old-boy politics could be playing a role in the issues raised by Stevens.
“I think the biggest thing is this is political posturing in its worst form,” he said. “I’m not going to be involved in any backdoor or backroom politics. We’re going to do this thing the right way.”
Kiger said simple confusion on the date and time of the nomination meeting led to he said-she said.
“I think Sarah is upset because she’s been trying to contact people for support of her appointment and apparently some of the commissioners and other elected officials felt like they should be involved in the voting process. That’s upset them because according to the rules only the four Republican Party officers and the elected members at large can vote on this.”
The party will conduct the appointment process “the right way,” Kiger said.
“Only the people who are eligible to vote will be eligible to nominate,” he said. “I think that’s where some of these people are upset because they won’t have the influence they thought they would.”
The GOP chairman said he’s worked tirelessly over the past year and a half or so to improve the way the party operates.
“We took over from the old guard who ran it for years, and I have a great respect for them,” he said. “But we have new people in leadership now. We’ve organized the precincts for the first time in history. We’re progressing in this party, and anytime you have something like that you’re going to have someone in the background who wants to supplant them.
“I’m not out for any agenda but to grow the party, elect conservative candidates and do the best job for the people. I want to be as honest and as transparent as we can be.
“I’m not getting involved in hidden agendas and backroom politics,” he said again.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.