Gov. Bill Haslam will be supporting state Sen. Doug Overbey in his re-election bid against Republican primary challenger, Scottie Hughes, according to the Mountain Press.
Overbey’s Senate district includes Blount and Sevier counties. The governor had previously said he would back House Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery, who also faces a challenger in the Republican primary.
A spokesman for the governor said Haslam is offering his “full support” for fellow Republicans Rep. Richard Montgomery and Sen. Doug Overbey in both their August primary contests and the November general election. (Note: No Democrat is running for either seat.)
Haslam told reporters recently he would be working for incumbents including Montgomery, with Press Secretary David Smith explaining Overbey will also receive that assistance. While the governor’s office is being careful to point out he’s not offering any full endorsements, Smith was willing to say Haslam “fully supports” both men in their campaigns. (Note: Say what, Dave??)
Meanwhile, a political action committee declaring ties to Tea Party groups has endorsed Hughes and declared Overbey too liberal and too tied to special interests. The news release is below.
News release from Tennessee Conservatives Fund:
The Tea Party has been credited with helping Republicans achieve large electoral gains in 2010 and they hope to do so again in 2012, but before November is the Republican primary in August where Tea Partiers are looking to clean house on incumbents they believe are unresponsive, big spending and taxing, political insiders.
Leaders of several Tea Parties, 9.12 and similar groups across the state have formed a political action committee called the Tennessee Conservatives Fund (TCF) to focus the money and efforts of the liberty movement on what they say are the best races to replace a liberal incumbent with a constitutional conservative.
The first candidate they have endorsed is Scott Hughes, who is running in the Republican primary for State Senate against incumbent Doug Overbey. TCF Executive Director Eric Stamper says, “Most races we’ll support will be in the general election, but some primary races have widespread appeal amongst liberty activists and offer a real opportunity to replace a badly behaving Republican with a great conservative. Scott Hughes challenging Overbey is one such race.”
In an email to TCF supporters Stamper called this race “Tennessee’s Dick Lugar moment,” comparing Hughes to the Tea Party-backed candidate who recently unseated incumbent U.S. Senator Dick Lugar in the Indiana Republican primaries.
Scott Hughes is the sole challenger to Overbey, and since no Democrat is running, the winner of the Republican primary is essentially guaranteed the State Senate seat.
Hughes, the CFO for Fuse Church in Knoxville and former director of East Tennessee’s largest crisis pregnancy center, is seeking his first term in office. Overbey is an attorney who has served one term in the State Senate and was previously a State Representative for four terms and County Commissioner for two terms.
According to David Nance, president of the Gibson County Patriots and the 8th District Tea Party Coalition, “What has attracted attention from Tea Parties all over the state is Doug Overbey’s voting record, which would make Nancy Pelosi proud. This year Overbey voted against several conservative bills, including one designed to prevent the teaching of homosexuality and gateway sexual activities in public schools and one to allow parents to monitor their children’s online activity. He also walked out of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting seconds before the vote on the Constitutional Sheriff’s bill, assisting in its failure. Last year Overbey sided with liberal labor unions over collective bargaining and joined with trial lawyers to oppose tort reform. Overbey’s voting record is the most liberal of any Republican legislator I’ve seen.”
Stamper also accuses Overbey of being a “special interest politician” and says, “campaign finance reports show that Overbey accepted 83 separate donations from special interest PACs in the last half of 2011 alone plus dozens more donations from people in industries seeking his favor.”
Stamper says the TCF hopes to raise funds to offset that financial advantage. When asked about his own role as director of a PAC, Stamper responds, “The TCF and Tea Parties are like the lobbyists and PACs for the Constitution. Most PACs just exist to benefit their own self-interests, but our PAC is to benefit the state and the nation.”
Other members of the TCF Board of Directors include founders of the Tennessee 9.12 Project and the Tea Parties of Memphis, Chattanooga, Fayette County, Sumner County and Gibson County. The group’s chairman is former State Representative Susan Lynn, who is herself currently running for State Representative in District 57. More information about the Tennessee Conservatives Fund can be found at www.TNConservativesFund.com.
Note: The Registry of Election Finance website shows the PAC was set up in 2010 and made one donation, $1,000 to Republican Jerome Cochran in his unsuccessful race against Rep. Kent Williams, an independent. As of March 31, the PAC reported a cash-on-hand balance of $26.39.