The Tennessean’s Dave Boucher has penned a review of the candidates — declared and potential — to succeed Chris Devaney as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.
The article also lists three people mentioned earlier as prospective candidates who now say they’re not running – former state Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, current state GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood and former Executive Director Adam Nickas, now a lobbyist.
Excerpts on the three who say they are running in a race to be decided at an April 11 meeting:
State Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville:
When Devaney resigned he surprised quite a few members of the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee. He didn’t surprise Haynes, who released a two-page candidacy announcement within about 30 minutes of Devaney telling the SEC and before the party released Devaney’s official statement.
The University of Tennessee and Nashville School of Law graduate irked a few Republicans with that rollout. Regardless of whether the 29-year-old is qualified, SEC member Oscar Brock said there’s a problem if Haynes is perceived as the anointed candidate.
“We think of ourselves of having the authority to hire our own chairman. And if it looks like it was staged to set up one person at the exclusion of potentially other great candidates, that would leave us feeling somewhat disempowered,” Brock said.
Haynes is a successful campaigner with clear name recognition and relationships with members of the SEC. He’s already well into the vital process of calling SEC members and others to shore up his candidacy, several SEC members told The Tennessean.
State Rep. Mary Littleton of Dickson
Although Littleton did not return a request for comment, a half-dozen Republicans told The Tennessean she is working the phones to help her campaign.
The 57-year-old was first elected to the House in 2013, is vice-chairwoman of the House State Government Committee and previously served as vice-chairwoman of the state Republican party under Devaney.
Like Haynes, she has the advantage of relationships with members of the SEC. But she’s a little too quiet, in Gay’s opinion. “Very sweet. I don’t see her as chairman of the party,” Gay said.
SEC member Rebecca Burke
A Williamson County native, Burke is new to the SEC: she started serving in December after winning a four-person race. A veteran of Republican politics, she told The Tennessean the new post with the SEC hasn’t stopped colleagues from asking her to run.
“While we control leadership roles at all levels of government, this is the time when complacency can take root and cause the rate of growth to stall. My devotion would be to defending GOP seats in county, state and federal elected offices, and increasing our presence where vulnerable seats are identified,” Burke wrote in a letter to fellow SEC members.
The 60-year-old former hospital executive and staffer for ex-U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson is considered another non-establishment candidate; of the 66 SEC members, she was one of 29 to recently vote in support of a closed primary system.
Also mentioned are two people thinking about seeking the post: Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt University law professor, and Scottie Nell Hughes, a frequent contributor to Fox News who works as the “news director of the Tea Party News Network.”