Legislature’s Only Independent Targeted By State GOP

In a radio ad, state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney is declaring the party’s backing for Elizabethton attorney Thomas Gray, who is opposing re-election of former House Speaker Kent Williams, the only independent member of the Tennessee Legislature.
Devaney earlier this year wrote election officials to declare Williams is not a “bona fide Republican” after the 4th House District incumbent picked up qualifying papers to run as a Republican. Williams was initially elected as a Republican, but joined with Democrats in 2009 to elect himself to a two-year term as House speaker and was subsequently booted from the GOP by former Republican Chairman Robin Smith.
The 30-second radio ad, sponsored by the Republican Party, is scheduled to run on two stations in the area, according to Adam Nickas, executive director of the state GOP. It doesn’t mention Williams.
“The election this November is the most important in our nation’s history,” says Devaney in the ad. “In Tennessee, we have a true conservative Republican running for state representative, and his name is Tom Gray.
“For the record, Tom Gray is the only Republican on the ballot in Carter County’s District 4. We need someone who can effectively work in Nashville to create more jobs for East Tennessee. Vote Republican. Vote Tom Gray this November.”
Williams, first elected in 2006, is rated a “probable” winner in the contest by the Tennessee Journal and enjoys a substantial financial advantage.
Gary has reported spending of about $5,700 so far in the campaign and had a cash balance of $3,304 on Oct. 1. He has guaranteed a $5,000 bank loan to the campaign and got $1,400 from Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.
Williams’ reports show spending of more than $36,000 this year and an Oct. 1 cash balance of $47,242.

Leave a Reply