A battle for control of the Jefferson County Republican Party turned physical last weekend, after an argument that one GOP delegate said left him with a bruised arm.
Now John Lawlor has sworn out a warrant against Peter Hayes, charging him with assault. He says Hayes punched him in the arm hard enough to cause a bruise.
Hayes says he tried to grab Lawlor's arm only to get his attention. The case is scheduled to go to mediation.
Meanwhile, Hayes alleges that Lawlor kept him from being a delegate to the state Republican Convention for religious reasons.
The brouhaha at the convention was over the party's decision to exclude seven slates of delegates to the convention, claiming some of the slates contained Democrats, people who live outside the state, or too few or too many delegates.
Hayes, a staunchly conservative Republican who has run for mayor several times, was among those disqualified.
Both said they had words in the auditorium at Eastern High School after the convention.
Lawlor said Hayes approached him and asked whether he was having a sexual relationship with another male Republican. "He knew my history and he was trying to provoke me," Lawlor said.
Lawlor said he "was gay at one time and he (Hayes) knew that." Lawlor said he is no longer gay.
Hayes said he merely asked why Lawlor had opposed Hayes as a delegate and sided with another faction of the Republican Party. He said he made no sexual references.
Lawlor said the two then began talking about Hayes' religion.
Hayes belongs to the Unification Church, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Both men said Lawlor then called Hayes a "Moonie."
They agree that Hayes then objected.
"I said, `You don't call people Moonies,'" Hayes recalled. "`Just like you don't call a black person a nigger or a Jewish person a Kike.'"
Both men said Lawlor used the term "Moonie" several more times.
Lawlor said that is when Hayes "bopped me" in his left arm. It caused a bruise and left his arm sore for several days, Lawlor said.
Hayes, however, said he only tried to grab Lawlor's arm to get his attention.
Hayes said: "I asked him how come you didn't do the right thing, and he said, `It's because you're a Moonie and I don't want to work with you.' Then, he started saying, `Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.'"
Lawlor recalled saying only "Moonie, Moonie, Moonie."
Hayes said he believes Lawlor, who serves on the party's nominations committee, blocked his candidacy because of his religion. That violates his constitutional rights, Hayes said.