The Tennessee Republican Party again has Nathan Vaughn in its political crosshairs, this time in an election traditionally viewed as non-partisan., according to the Kingsport Times-News.
Last weekend, in a TNGOP sponsored direct mail piece and reported robocalls, Vaughn was accused of being a “career politician” who will say anything to win an election.
Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat who served as a state representative from 2003 to 2009, and is also a former city alderman, is one of five candidates running for mayor. The final days of early voting are underway this week in the city election, with Election Day being held on May 19.
TNGOP alleged that as a state legislator, Vaughn made raising taxes and giving convicted felons the right to vote some of his top priorities.
“Democrat Nathan Vaughn is the last thing Kingsport needs,” the TNGOP direct mail piece charged. “Vote early now and stop him.”
Vaughn, who was at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium on Monday asking people for their support, said he doesn’t recall any political party “jumping into” a non-partisan Kingsport municipal election.
“I believe this is being done on behalf of somebody who is running. … It just doesn’t make any sense,” Vaughn said of the TNGOP attacks.
…New TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes said it’s important the voters of Kingsport understand there is a “liberal Democrat” in the mayoral race, but added TNGOP will not be endorsing any Kingsport mayoral candidate.
“We want them to be aware there are other options out there for them,” Haynes said in a phone interview.
Haynes also claimed TNGOP has been getting involved in local elections across the state for the past two years as part of its “Red To The Roots” campaign to help Republicans dominate their political campaigns.
…“That’s helped us elected Republicans at the county and judicial level in a way we’ve never really been able to do before,” Haynes noted. ” … I believe the next logical step is identifying Democrats and, unfortunately, some individuals try to hide from their record when they run in non-partisan races.”
…Vaughn, Northeast Tennessee’s first African-American state lawmaker, faced political attacks from Tennessee Republicans in 2008 when he lost a close re-election campaign to Republican Tony Shipley.
TNGOP distributed a so-called “Blackbird” direct mail piece — showing Vaughn’s head electronically pasted on a black bird — as “part of the liberal big government flock.”
There was also an effort from former Tennessee House GOP legislative aide Scott Gilmer to use Vaughn’s name in fake political websites distributing false campaign information, including a claim that Vaughn was a union sympathizer.