Former state Rep. Joe Carr has announced he will seek to unseat Chris Devaney as Tennessee Republican party chair.
From The Tennessean’s report:
“I’m running not to be chairman and a dictator. I’m running to be chairman and a facilitator for the state executive committee,” said Carr, R-Lascassas, in a phone interview Tuesday.
While Carr said “the state executive committee is nothing more than a rubber stamp for the wishes or agenda of a handful of people in the Republican party,” he added that he believes his leadership could help give the committee more power and represent the entire state GOP.
Carr turned heads earlier this year with his aggressive campaign to oust fellow Republican and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.
After receiving 41 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, Carr said several people asked him to consider running for the chairmanship. At the time, he said he “wasn’t in the mood” to consider another election. But he said people have continued to call, and that helped convince him to seek the leadership position.
He mentioned several ideas that he thinks need to dictate any TNGOP platform: the sanctity of life, free and fair markets, an emphasis on personal freedoms and state sovereignty. Not only is that not clear now, he believes the state GOP lacks any platform at all.
“As Republicans, our devotion is to principles, not personalities. It’s not the men and women we elect to office that define our party, it’s the principles and values that we have as a party that define who we are,” Carr said.
Current state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney recently announced he would seek his fourth term as state party chairman. While Carr acknowledged there is a divide in the party, he thinks he can unite Republicans around his push for a clear platform.
Devaney thinks it’s disingenuous for Carr to run against Alexander, not endorse him in the general, then say he wants to unite the Republican party.
“Let me be very clear about this: The only person that’s being divisive is the person who’s running for state chair, Joe Carr,” Devaney said Tuesday afternoon, saying the move is a “disqualifier” for Carr.
In an emailed statement, Alexander voiced support for Devaney’s re-election effort.
Devaney argued the state GOP follows the Republican National Committee platform, which includes all of the components Carr listed. He pointed to the GOP’s continued success in local and state elections — they have supermajorities in the state House and Senate, both U.S. Senate seats, seven of nine U.S. House seats and the governor — arguing it shows some of his success as party chairman.
Note: The Carr announcement press release is below.
News release from Joe Carr:
Lascassas, TN – Former State Representative Joe Carr is announcing his intention to seek the chairman’s seat of the Tennessee Republican Party. Carr believes it’s time for change within the Party to create an environment where more participation is encouraged by Republicans throughout the state to bridge a growing divide. The election for the new Chairman is scheduled for Saturday, December 6th in Nashville. The sixty-six members of the State Executive Committee, 33 men and 33 women, will decide how the state party will be led for the next two years.
“I’ve been a Tennessee Republican since 1978, run several successful small businesses, represented the 48th District for 6 years and received over 271,000 votes in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. Now, I want to help bring the Republican Party back together by ensuring that the State Executive Committee is not just a rubber stamp for a few but actually fulfills its obligation as the governing body of the Republican Party”, stated Joe Carr.
Carr is well known for crafting and passing some of the toughest immigration legislation in the nation as well as introducing multiple, much-needed reforms on Capitol Hill. As the Chairman of the Republican Party Carr would lead the Party by empowering the State Executive Committee to fulfill it’s role as the governing body of the Republican Party. Joe Carr also believes the role of the Chairman is not just to get Republicans elected, but to support those foundational principles that are reflected in the issues that illustrate core Republican values. Carr believes that:
• There is a growing divide within the Tennessee Republican Party illustrated by a clandestine attack on those who have served and are willing to serve on the SEC. The Chairman should lead in determining who is responsible.
• The State Executive Committee according to the state by-laws is the governing body of the Tennessee Republican Party, not the Chairman. As Chairman, I will return to the SEC their authority to be that governing authority for the Republican Party of Tennessee.
• The Tennessee Republican Party Chairman should be limited to two terms just as the county chairman are. There should be no difference.
Carr added, “During my primary run for the U.S. Senate, I met and spoke to thousands of Republicans and conservatives across the state, who are frustrated that their Republican Party does not listen to them. They want the same accountability, transparency and integrity out of their Party that they demand from their local, state and federal government. My primary goal is to unify the Tennessee Republican Party around those shared principles that define who we are.”