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Rowan Republicans go with Andrews to fill Butner’s spot on board of elections

When the Rowan County Republican Party needed a replacement for Mac Butner, it turned to one of his former political competitors.

Butner, no longer the Rowan County Board of Elections chairman, will likely be replaced by Gus Andrews, a former Rowan County Board of Commissioners chairman who ran against Butner in the 2002 34th Senate District race.

Rowan Republican Chairman Stephen Kidd on Monday submitted Andrews’ name to the state party as the top pick to fill Butner’s spot. Butner served as chairman for less than three months before being removed by the State Board of Elections last week for controversial social media activity.

An official order for Butner’s removal cites Facebook “likes” of pages for North Carolina elected officials and disparaging social media comments about race and sex. The order states Butner’s presence on the Rowan County Board of Elections “significantly and substantially impedes the efficacy of the … Board of Elections in the performance of its mission in Rowan County.”

Kidd said he initially contacted Nancy Holshouser about filling the vacancy after Butner’s removal. Kidd said Holshouser declined to be considered as the top selection because she didn’t want to be part of any controversy surrounding the Rowan County Board of Elections. Kidd submitted Nancy Holshouser with a No. 2 priority. Before a clerical error resulted in Butner’s appointment, Holshouser was one of the initial names submitted for appointment to the Rowan County Board of Elections.

The Rowan Republican Party was required to submit three people for appointment earlier this summer. This time, they only have to submit two.

In an email to the North Carolina Republican Party with the selections, Kidd wrote: “Gus Andrews has served the party well over the years and I feel confident that he will serve on the County Board of Elections with honor and integrity.”

Kidd’s recommendations were forwarded to the State Board of Elections Tuesday by the N.C. Republican Party.

Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce, a Republican, said he was contacted about Andrews’ nomination and supports Kidd’s selection. Andrews deserves the honor typically associated a local board of elections appointment, Pierce said.

Pierce and Andrews ran against each other for commissioner in 2012. In the 2012 primary, Andrews received the most votes of any county commissioner candidate. In a runoff, however, Pierce and Commissioner Mike Caskey narrowly defeated Andrews and Gene Miller.

Andrews also has a political connection to Butner. The pair faced off in the 2002 Republican primary for the 34th Senate District. At the time, Andrews was a county commissioner.

During the primary, Butner challenged Andrews about a statement that Andrews had endorsements from all members of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, according to a 2002 Salisbury Post article. Andrews brushed any criticism about endorsements aside.

“I’m not into that game,” Andrews told the Post in the 2002 article. “The biggest endorsement will be from the citizens who know the job I’m doing in the county.”

Andrew Brock, the current 34th District senator, won the 2002 primary and the general election race. Andrews ran for the same seat in 2004 and was again defeated by Brock.

Andrews was elected to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in 2000 and served until 2004. He served as chairman and vice-chairman while on the board.

Prior to joining the political world, Andrews was the head football coach at Salisbury High School, where he was also a teacher, and a real estate developer. In 1990, Andrews coached Salisbury to its best regular season, 9-1, since 1933. Andrews was also executive director of the East Carolina University Education Foundation and assistant athletic director in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Andrews, a Tarboro native, has a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State and a master’s degree from Gardner Webb.

State Board of Elections Chairman Josh Howard has said he intends to fill Butner’s spot as quickly as possible. N.C. GOP Press Secretary Kara Carter said Chairman Hasan Harnett submitted Rowan County’s nominations on Tuesday afternoon, but an exact date for Andrews’ expected appointment isn’t clear.

Typically, the N.C. Republican Party must approve county selections before the State Board of Elections give its final approval.

Josh Lawson, general counsel for the state board, said the N.C. Republican Party has received a copy of the order finalizing Butner’s removal. Lawson also provided a copy of the order, which includes Butner, Rowan Elections Director Nancy Evans and N.C. Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett as the recipients.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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