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Marshall Co. judge-exec accuses primary candidates of trying to ‘sabotage’ Republican Party

Kevin Neal Campaign Fund

This story has been updated to correct an error.

Republican Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal accused his primary opponent and a candidate for county commissioner of attempting to “sabotage the Republican Party” in a letter distributed at a recent candidate forum and later sent to constituents.

In the letter – which Neal titled “Elections were never created to be stolen” – the judge-executive accuses his opponent, Kevin Spraggs, and a candidate for county commissioner, Eddie McGuire, of “recruiting Democrats to register as Republicans so they can vote for them in the Republican Party primary.”

“I think the most important question to ask is, ‘is it ethical for Kevin Spraggs and Eddie Mcguire to sabotage the Republican Primary?’” Neal said in the letter. “It is absolutely unethical. Call is cheating. Call it a scam. Call it an attempted steal. Truthfully, they all fit.”

McGuire – the current Marshall County Sheriff and local Republican Party chair – says the letter was disheartening. In his role, he recruits Republicans to take part in political functions and encourages them to vote. He says there’s been a split between Neal and the rest of the Marshall County Republican Party for nearly six years, starting when Neal rejected a proposal that would have helped increase protective measures for Marshall County schools. The proposal was rejected two years before the 2018 Marshall County High School shooting.

According to the Kentucky State Board of Elections, there were more than 8,000 Republican voters in Marshall County in 2017. That number has risen to roughly 11,000 voters over the last five years. During that time, the total number of registered Democrats fell by about the same amount – a little over 3,000 – with the county’s overall voting base growing by about 700.

“Nearly 3,000 people have switched over to the Republican Party since the 2018 midterm election (in Marshall),” McGuire says. “Now we have an incumbent judge-executive that wants to say that somehow there is something wrong with trying to grow that party. There are just as many conservative Democrats as there are Republicans in Marshall County.”

Spraggs – who currently sits on the Marshall County Fiscal Court as a commissioner – says the accusations in the letter are false. He says local Democrats have switched parties over the years for a multitude of reasons.

“The party has constantly been in the recruiting process of getting people to register and change parties,” Spraggs said. “There were more than 300 voters that joined the Republican party just in December. That’s what a political party is about, trying to grow their party membership.”

Spraggs says Neal has made repeated political attacks on several other county officials.

“I’m not going to be bullied,” Spraggs said. “I will not take it and I will not let the county take it. I anticipated a mudslinging campaign because that's how it's been since I have been in office.”

When reached for comment, Neal echoed his stance in the letter regarding his primary opponents.

“Constitutionally speaking, the issue might fall under the right of ‘association,’” Neal said in the letter. “Part of that right, surely, is the right for people to choose to associate to make their own decision on what path to take as an organized group.”

The primary election is set for May 17.

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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