Tennessee GOP stirs pot with call for closed primary elections

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, talks on a phone with a Tennessee flag cover during a Senate session Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Republican Party's call for state lawmakers to require voters register by party affiliation and then restrict GOP and Democratic primary elections just to party voters has stirred the political pot.

State GOP Chairman Scott Golden says it's one of several requests the Republican State Executive Committee approved Saturday, arguing it "will help maintain the integrity of our elections and elect the best-qualified Republican candidates to federal, state, and local offices."

Proponents argue that it's necessary to stop crossover voting by Democrats in Republican primaries. But critics say it threatens to undermine Republican process in a state where the GOP has benefited from the support of a number of Democrats and become the dominant party in Tennessee.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam panned the idea Monday, saying he is strongly opposed it.