Gov. Bill Haslam says he had nothing to do with picking who his key supporters would target in this year’s Republican legislative primaries through Advance Tennessee, a political action committee that spent at least $140,000 trying to unseat five incumbent lawmakers, reports Andrea Zelinski. But he stopped short of denying any involvement with the group.
Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, called the governor a “traitor” this week in light of revelations a group of the governor’s key supporters teamed up to contribute thousands of dollars to unseat Republican legislators who butt heads with the governor.
Asked whether he denies Womick’s assertion that the governor had a direct hand in targeting lawmakers, Haslam said, “Again, I have folks who have supported us who are concerned about who gets elected to the legislature, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Haslam said, “I didn’t select one opponent, I can assure you that.” He added he didn’t encourage anyone to run against targeted legislators.
“As you know, contests get very personal. And so you start to hear lots of conversation back and forth about who’s doing this or that, and you know, it’s not always accurate,” he said.
Womick penned a letter earlier this month calling out what he called the administration’s “treasonous targeting, in this month’s primary.”
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