Category Archives: Republican Party

Unicoi GOP won’t replace deceased nominee, leaves race to write-in candidates

The Unicoi County Republican party has decided against selecting a party nominee for the position of Assessor of Property oin the Aug. 4 election, reports the Erwin Record. The nominee would have replaced General Election ballot.

A nominee would have replaced Margaret Seward, who won the March 1 primary election but died on election day. Another candidate, Wayne Peterson, who was holding the position on an interim basis, died during early voting.

The party’s Executive Committee met at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, at the Unicoi County Courthouse and unanimously voted not to place a candidate on the ballot; instead, allowing individuals interested in the office run as write-in candidates.

Debbie Tittle, the county’s register of deeds and the county party’s vice-chairman, motioned not to place a candidate on the ballot, saying, “… I think that this is still America; it is still a democracy and this ought to be in the hands of the people.”

Tittle’s motion was seconded by Terry Haynes, the county’s road superintendent and vice-president of the county party.

Both Tittle and Haynes voted in favor of her motion. Also voting yes were Executive Committee members Mitzi Bowen, Lynn Woodruff, Kent Harris, Sarah Sellars and Jim Buchanan, who chairs the committee.

From the Johnson City Press: Peterson’s assistant, Teresa Kinsler, now holds the interim property assessor title after being named by the commission on March 28. Commissioner John Moseley was the only opposing vote and Walter Garland was absent.

“She had been helping Peterson run the office for some time and she is now conducting a write-in campaign before we even made (this decision),” Buchanan said of Kinsler.

Wilson County Republicans push firing of TNGOP chairman, two other party officials

Wilson County Republicans Monday approved a resolution calls for the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party to consider holding a special session in an effort to fire Tennessee GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes and two other state party officials, reports The Tennessean.

In the resolution, the 11-member Wilson County Republican Executive Committee called for the termination of Haynes; Brent Leatherwood, the state party’s executive director; and Walker Ferrell, the party’s political director. The vote was based on the state party leaders’ decisions surrounding a political consulting firm, led by Ferrell’s wife, that was working with candidates challenging GOP incumbents in this year’s primary.

The move comes one month after 27 House Republicans called for Ferrell to be fired after it was revealed that his wife, Taylor Ferrell, the founder of Southland Advantage, a Hendersonville-based political consulting firm, had been working for two challengers of incumbent Republicans.

…Days after the letter was sent to Haynes, Taylor Ferrell said she ended her contracts with two clients but said the accusations against her were false and based on “wrong information.” Leatherwood also pointed to several lawmakers who had originally signed the letter but walked back their opposition to the Ferrells.

Despite Taylor Ferrell’s decision, Wilson County Republicans decided to pass the resolution Monday morning, noting that Taylor Ferrell “offered her services” to Republicans running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, and state Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville.

According to the resolution, Haynes and Leatherwood “chose to do nothing to correct this injustice against Elected Republicans.”

“Therefore, as the Executive Committee of the Wilson County Republican Party, we immediately demand that the State Executive Committee call a special session to consider the immediate termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman, Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director, Walker Ferrell as Political Director and to terminate all contracts with Taylor Ferrell and to issue public apologies on behalf of the Tennessee Republican Party to all Republican Incumbents affected by their actions,” the resolution states.

“We want them all fired because it destroys faith in the process,” Jeff Hartline, vice-secretary of the Wilson County Republican Party Executive Committee, said on Monday.

The process he was referring to is a provision in the state GOP bylaws that prohibits the Wilson County Republican Party and similar entities throughout the state from being involved in primary elections.

Note: See also a news release from Jeff Hartline, GOP operative serving on the Wilson County executive committee, as reported on the Disgruntled Republican blog.

TNGOP is part of Trump fundraising deal allowing $450K per donor

The Tennessee Republican Party is part of a joint fundraising agreement with Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee and 10 other state GOP organizations, reports Politico. The arrangement would allow allow donors to contribute nearly $450,000 each.

The agreement, which was finalized Tuesday evening, enables Trump to directly raise money for the RNC and for nearly a dozen state parties. It designates two fundraising committees, the Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

Trump Victory is a fundraising agreement between the Trump campaign, the RNC, and the state Republican Parties in Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, meanwhile, is an agreement between the Trump campaign and the RNC.

The deal was hammered out over the last week by RNC finance chair Lew Eisenberg and Trump campaign finance chair Steven Mnuchin. Eisenberg is slated to chair Trump Victory.

Whether Trump succeeds in raising big checks remains to be seen: He has repeatedly attacked the GOP donor class, saying they have too much influence in politics. Yet as he gears up for a likely showdown with Hillary Clinton, Trump now finds himself cultivating those same financiers.

…The statements of organization for the two Trump joint committees had yet to be posted publicly on the Federal Election Commission’s website, so it could not be immediately determined how the money would be divided between the component party committees and Trump’s campaign.

TNGOP Statesmen’s Dinner draws 1,200 people; $630K in funding

Around 1,200 Republicans flocked to the Music City Center in Nashville Saturday evening for the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner, reports The Tennessean. Keynote speaker was South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. but she and other were generally silent about the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

In her speech, which covered a variety of topics ranging from education and employment to last year’s shooting in Charleston that left nine dead, Haley urged the importance of listening to all citizens. Haley, who was born to Indian Sikh parents, stressed the need for tackling difficult issues such as racial discrimination to help the “new South” move forward and to invite new people into the Republican Party.

…Highlighting several controversial issues she has faced in just the last year, Haley discussed how South Carolina lawmakers passed a law requiring body cameras on police after authorities killed Walter Scott in 2015. She also focused heavily on the tragic shooting in Charleston and her decision to order the removal of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina Capitol grounds. Admitting that the decision to remove the flag was difficult, Haley said she knew it had to be done because not everyone could be comfortable with calling the statehouse their own if the flag remained.

“One of the lessons of the flag controversy is if we stop shouting and start listening, we get more accomplished,” she said. “We should all listen to each other. We will benefit from walking in someone else’s shoes.”

Although the Republican fundraiser came just over a week after Donald Trump became the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, few of the speakers at the event, which also featured addresses from Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, mentioned the real estate mogul by name.

The only real reference to Trump came when state party chairman Ryan Haynes, who kicked off the event, said he was confident the billionaire would “fire Hillary Clinton once and for all”

…While introducing Haley, Haslam took several jabs at the state’s Democrats. “About a week ago the Democrats had a dinner that was just like this; it just had a lot fewer people,” Haslam said, taking issue with claims from Democrats who have said the state is not accomplishing anything for Tennessee. He noted that the next year’s budget includes significant investments in education, while pointing out that Tennessee has the lowest debt per person in the country.

Last week’s Democratic Jackson Day Dinner reportedly had 750 in attendance. About 1,200 Republicans were part of Friday’s gathering, Haynes said.

Notes: The TNGOP press release on the event is HERE. It says the party raised $630,000 at the dinner.

And this from the Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, TENN. (May 13, 2016) – Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini released the following statement regarding the TNGOP Statesmen’s Dinner:

“As Tennessee Republicans corral major donors and constituents for their 2016 Statesmen’s Dinner, they will pat each other on the back for what they call a job well done. The reality is, the Republican Party is crumbling right before our eyes.

Because of their failed policies and practices, hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans are still without health care, the state is losing millions of dollars due to a newly passed discriminatory law, and they fought hard to give tax breaks to the top wage earners while doing nothing to address the fact that Tennessee has the highest percent of low-wage workers in the nation.

At every critical moment when they could have shown leadership and worked to make the lives of ordinary Tennesseans better, they said, ‘there’s nothing we can do.’

Meanwhile, their Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is the most dangerous in modern history.

Note II: Alternative perspectives: See The Nashville Scene, HERE, and WPLN, HERE.

Haslam still hesitates to back Trump

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam still isn’t ready yet to throw his support behind presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The governor had been on a trade mission to Asia for most of the past two weeks, and his comments about the campaign before the state GOP’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner on Friday were his first since Trump’s last rivals for the nomination dropped out of the race.

“This is a very winnable race for our party that we need to win,” Haslam said. “I’ve said before that I have a few questions I want to talk about with Donald Trump.”

Haslam said he plans to join a group of governors meeting with Trump in the next couple weeks. The governor endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before Tennessee’s primary in March and has raised concerns in the past about Trump’s rhetoric. But Haslam said he wants to specifically discuss issues important to states, like health care and education.
Continue reading

Black-Green-Carr spat cancels county GOP fundraiser

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Reagan Day fundraisers have been a staple of GOP politics ever since the Great Communicator made a point of promoting the 11th Commandment — thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But in the conservative suburbs east of Nashville, the event has become too poisonous to be held this year.

According to party emails obtained by The Associated Press, three leading Tennessee Republicans refused to speak at the June fundraiser if their rivals were given the same opportunity, forcing the Wilson County Republicans to call off the event altogether.

The flap suggests just how fractured the GOP has become this election year, as Donald Trump and tea party supporters continue shaking up what’s left of the Republican establishment. It also suggests what hardball tactics may come in the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in 2018.

The head of the county party has no comment on why the party canceled the event. But a flurry of correspondence obtained by the AP suggests that organizers couldn’t get the three candidates to share a stage.

The event was to be held on June 7 in the district of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who faces a tea-party rival, former state Rep. Joe Carr, in Tennessee’s congressional primary this August. Black also is a top contender for governor, and will likely face state Sen. Mark Green, an Army veteran who has been speaking at other Reagan Day events around the state.
Continue reading

TNGOP political director’s wife quits some consulting contracts

Citing “false allegations” that had become a distraction, the head of a Tennessee Republican consulting firm said Monday she has ended two contracts that recently attracted the ire of more than two dozen state GOP lawmakers, reports The Tennessean.

But that’s not enough for Rep. Judd Matheny, who still wants Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes to “clean house” and fire Walker Ferrell, party political director, and end all contracts with his wife, Taylor Ferrell.

In an email Monday, Taylor Ferrell said she had ended two contracts after calls from Matheny and others about alleged inappropriate conduct.

“Due to some wrong information and false allegations, I decided to withdraw my contracts with two clients where distractions were increasing. It is of the utmost importance that our firm protect our clients and that is why I made this decision,” Taylor Ferrell said in an email Monday.

Taylor Ferrell, head of Southland Advantage, didn’t say in an email Monday which contracts she had ended. The move comes after Matheny and 26 other GOP lawmakers signed a letter asking Haynes to to fire Walker and Taylor Ferrell. The couple allegedly skirted party bylaws with Taylor Ferrell helping GOP candidates challenging Republican incumbents.

On Monday, Matheny said he sent another letter to Haynes. In this letter, he says he recently received a text message from Haynes on Monday morning in which the party chairman says he “got Taylor to stop working with your opponent.” Matheny, R-Tullahoma, faces a contested primary in August.

“We both know that your response to the very serious issues raised in the original letter signed by myself and other legislators is, at best, a benign bandaid that continues to let the artery bleed out,” Matheny says in the letter.

Note: Besides Mathney’s primary challenger, Ferrell had also contracted to represent the primary challenger of Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville. She also has a contract with the state party for handling logistics for the Tennessee delegation to the Republican National Convention at Cleveland in July and with Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), who has no primary challenge but faces a Democratic challenge in November. Other clients include Michael Curcio, seeking the House seat being vacated by Rep. David Shepard (D-Dickson), and Grant Starrett, who is running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary.

Previous post HERE.

Republican legislators seek firing of TNGOP political director

Twenty-seven Republicans state representatives have called for the firing of the state GOP’s political director, whose wife heads a consulting firm working for challengers to incumbents in the August Republican primary, reports The Tennessean.

Lawmakers also want any GOP party superiors who knew about or condoned the “engagement” of the consultant to resign.

They say trust with the party has been violated. And until action is taken, the lawmakers believe there is “widespread concern that the future integrity of the Tennessee GOP hangs in the balance.”

The group, which includes House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, sent a letter dated Monday to Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes demanding the immediate termination of the party’s political director, Walker Ferrell.

Ferrell’s wife is Taylor Ferrell, founder of Southland Advantage, a Hendersonville-based political consulting and fundraising firm that works with Republicans.

Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, said he wrote the letter in consultation with others.

“I signed the letter because the Republican Party is destroying the trust between candidates, incumbents and the party apparatus by allowing its employees and subcontractors (in this case the political director and his spouse) to work against incumbent office holders,” Matheny said in a text to The Tennessean.

Matheny is one of 21 House Republicans facing primary challenges this August. It’s an unusually large number of primary challengers, reflecting the ongoing divide among Republicans nationally and locally.

The letter alleges that Taylor Ferrell is working for two of the challengers, but it does not identify which candidates or races. This arrangement, the letter says, represents a “gross conflict of interest” for Walker Ferrell, who they contend stands to gain financially from the defeat of Republicans in office because of his wife’s role.

… GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood said the party wouldn’t be terminating Walker Ferrell, who he called a valuable member of the party’s staff. Leatherwood said neither Walker Ferrell nor any Tennessee GOP staffer is involved in any legislative primaries.

“Chairman Haynes considers all these individuals good friends and would in no way allow his staff be involved in their primaries,” Leatherwood said. “TN GOP bylaws prohibit staff members from being involved in primaries, so it has never happened and it never will. Voters are the ones who decide who nominees are and then we work with those individuals to go beat Democrats.”

…The state party recently contracted Southland Advantage to help with the travel, organization and other arrangements for Tennessee’s delegates at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Note: A copy of the letter (not a good one, but legible) is below, along with a list of legislators signing it. Continue reading

Criticized TN Trump delegate now welcomed

Knox County Republican activist Ken Gross, whose appointment as a Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention drew criticism from some Trump backers, says he has now been welcomed into the fold by the front-runner’s state campaign director.

Gross, who represents Knox County on the GOP’s State Executive Committee, was appointed to represent Trump as a Tennessee delegate at an April 3 meeting of the panel to select 14 “at-large” delegates not chosen by name in statewide voting that was part of the March 1 presidential primary.

The appointment of Gross was cited in complaints from Trump supporters, including state campaign director Darren Morris, that state party officials were trying to “steal” delegates from the New York real estate mogul who won Tennessee’s presidential primary. The slate of appointed delegates was selected by state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes and his staff. It excluded some delegates that Trump supporters requested be appointed.
Continue reading

Sunday column: Trump’s TN triumph undermined?

Donald Trump backers rightly saw last weekend’s party maneuvering on Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention as undercutting their candidate’s prospects for winning the presidential nomination, but they may have undercut those prospects further with their reaction.

Consider the case of Ken Gross, a member of the GOP’s State Executive Committee representing Knox County who was appointed a Trump delegate — one on a slate put together by state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes and his staff after much negotiating and approved by the executive committee on a 40-25 vote.

If you’re not familiar with the arcane rules for delegate selection — and very few people are — most of Tennessee’s 58 delegates to the GOP convention were chosen by voting on individual delegate candidates in the March 1 presidential preference primary. But some are appointed by the executive committee and assigned to represent a designated candidate based on the presidential preference primary results. That was the focus of last weekend’s meeting.
Continue reading