Haslam and the Hardliners: Too Passive or Smoothing the Waters?

Some quoted commentary in an Action Andy Sher rundown on the conflict between Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican “hardliners,” notably including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer said Ramsey has been “clearly out there with a harder line.”
A number of Senate Republicans are backing Ramsey and pushing on legislation ranging from increased opportunities to carry handguns in public to crackdowns on illegal immigrants, he noted.
“That’s probably not where Haslam wants to go,” Oppenheimer said.
But Haslam may be creating his own problems by consistently refusing to take firm public stances on a number of bills, Oppenheimer suggested.
“I think that inadvertently he’s looked more passive than he might want to be and that invites people who have agendas to push them through the Legislature, to test that,” Oppenheimer said.
..Though “moderate” is practically a fighting word in the GOP, former House Speaker Kent Williams, a Republican who became an independent after letting Democrats elect him speaker in 2009, says it applies to both Haslam and Harwell.
“I believe Haslam is trying to smooth the waters. I think he’s trying to keep the Republican Party united, and I don’t think it is united,” Williams said.
The Tennessee Conservative Union’s Lloyd Daugherty said Republican legislative conservatives were excited when they completed their takeover the House, Senate and governor’s office last year.
“I know there’s been some talk that, you know, ‘We can show the rest of the country what Republicans being in charge can really be like.’ But I think with Haslam as governor, they’re going to be kind of hard put to make a huge contrast with the rest of the country.”
…..Ramsey said there is no element of sour grapes involved regarding his third place finish in last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary. Haslam, who outspent his rivals, won the GOP primary with 47 percent of the vote. Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp had 29 percent and Ramsey had 22 percent.
“Let’s be honest,” Ramsey said, “when you get outspent $15 million to $3 million you lost the race. That doesn’t bother me the slightest bit.”
Williams, the former Speaker, said Haslam should be ready for a continuing challenge from the right.
He won’t be surprised if Haslam faces a hard-right GOP challenger in 2014.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that opponent’s Ron Ramsey to be honest with you.”

One thought on “Haslam and the Hardliners: Too Passive or Smoothing the Waters?

  1. Wintermute

    Who cares what Haslam thinks? His veto power is toothless anyway under the TN Constitution.
    ONce the Republican majorities get used to overriding him, he’ll be even weaker in that context, and they’ll just start ignoring him.
    You can’t cut hard wood with a soft axe.

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