Tag Archives: Chris Devaney

Rep. Ryan Haynes elected TNGOP chairman (33-27 over Rep. Littleton)

State Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville was elected chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Saturday by the party’s State Executive Committee, reports The News Sentinel.

Haynes replaces Chris Devaney, who announced March 23 he was resigning only two months into his new two-year term, effective Saturday.

Haynes won on the first ballot, defeating executive committee member Rebecca Burke, fellow state Rep. Mary Littleton of Dickson, and Vanderbilt University Professor Carol Swain.

Haynes, who turns 30 in May, plans to resign from his state House seat when the current legislative session adjourns for the year, probably later this month.

State GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood said Haynes plans to consult with Gov. Bill Haslam on the timing of his resignation to see if the special election to replace him can occur on the same ballot with other elections in Knox County this year.

He represents House District 14, which includes Farragut and the entire southwestern corner of Knox County.
Haynes won re-election to his fourth term in the legislature last November.
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Rep. Littleton’s announcement as TNGOP chair candidate

News release from Rep. Mary Littleton:
Nashville, Tennessee – Former Tennessee GOP Vice-Chair and current State Representative Mary Littleton (Dickson County ) announced today her candidacy to succeed Chris Devaney as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. Devaney announced last week that he would be stepping down from the position in April.

Littleton has been an active leader in the Republican Party since 1994. She has served in several elected positions within her local party organization, including as chair of the Dickson County GOP. Littleton was first elected to the Republican State Executive Committee in 2002, where she served for twelve years. As a member of the SEC, Littleton was twice elected as the state party’s vice-chair under outgoing Chairman Devaney, serving in that role from 2010 through 2014.

“I believe that our next chairman should be someone who has actual experience serving as a member of the state executive committee and who knows and shares their concerns,” said Littleton . “The members of the SEC are elected by Republicans in their districts to guide and set the direction of the state party, and they truly are the heart and soul of the Republican Party in Tennessee. As chairman, I will empower the SEC to make decisions and set policy for the party and will work to ensure that each member’s voice is heard. The party is greater than any one individual; if we are to continue to succeed, we can only do it by working together.”
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On the campaign to succeed Chris Devaney as TNGOP chairman

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.”

AP story on Devaney departure: ‘Everybody’s rhetoric needs to be toned down’

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney announced Monday that he will step down just months into his fourth term in charge of the state GOP.

Devaney, who oversaw vast Republican gains under his chairmanship, said he would leave his position on April 11 to become executive director of the Chattanooga-based Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti.

“We have had quite a ride,” Devaney said in his announcement. “I have been honored and humbled to be a part of this remarkable history, but it is time for my family and me to embark on a new journey.”

Under Devaney’s chairmanship, Republicans gained supermajorities in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction and took seven of nine of the state’s U.S. House seats. Still, he has faced criticism from tea party-styled members of the GOP’s executive committee over contentious issues such as the effort to require party registration to vote in GOP primaries. Devaney opposed closed primaries.

“I look at it as if we’re a Republican family and we’re going to have disagreements in the family from time to time,” Devaney said in a telephone interview. “You have the very conservative, the mainstream and the moderate. And on 80 percent you’re going to have agreement.”

In areas of disagreement, Devaney urged for a calm debate.

“I don’t want to pick on anybody, but everybody’s rhetoric needs to be toned down,” he said. “Everything should not be taken personally.”
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Rep. Haynes seeks to replace Devaney as GOP chair; Carr undecided

State Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville has declared himself a candidate to succeed Chris Devaney as Tennessee Republican chairman today, shortly after Devaney announced his resignation effective next month.

Former state Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, who lost a bid to replace Devaney in a December vote by the state Republican Executive Committee after losing a challenge for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in August, says he’s not decided whether to try again at the committee’s April 11 vote.

Carr said he expects “two, three or four” members of the executive committee may be interested in succeeding Devaney. And he says Haynes may have an initial advantage because “establishment Republican bloodlines” run to the East Tennessee area that the Knoxville lawmaker represents. He noted that Gov. Bill Haslam is from Knoxville, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander from nearby Maryville and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker – a longtime friend of the Haslam family – is from Chattanooga.

The Times-Free Press reports that Rebecca Ann Burke, a sitting state executive committee member, is also being mentioned as a potential candidate.

Here’s the letter that Haynes, who is chairman of the Knox County delegation at the state Legislature, sent to members of the GOP Executive Committee shortly after Devaney sent members his resignation notice:
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Chris Devaney resigning as TN GOP chair (news release)

State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney, just reelected to a new two-year term in December, has announced he is resigning the postition next month to become executive director of the Chattanooga-based Children’s Nutrition Group of Haiti.

Devaney informed members of the GOP’s State Executive Committee of his plans in a Monday afternoon conference call. He has previously done church mission work in Haiti. He says the new position opened up after his re-election to the chairmanship. He defeated former state Rep. Joe Carr in that vote before the executive committee, 47-17.

The party executive committee will decide his successor at an April 11 meeting.

Here’s the TNGOP news release on Devaney’s resignation:
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Roy Herron on religion and politics: Republicans read the Bible and ignore it; Democrats don’t even read it

Roy Herron, soon to be departing as chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, talks on one of his favorite topics – religion and politics – in an interview with Marc Perrusquia. (He wrote a book on the subject back in 2005.)

Some excerpts:

A licensed attorney, he plans to rejuvenate his law practice in his hometown of Dresden, Tennessee, when he steps down as the state’s top Democrat on Jan. 10, and he’s considering other business options as well.

He’s also weighing a possible return to the pulpit as a part-time Methodist preacher, a role that tapered off years ago as he concentrated on law and politics.
…“In too many churches, pastors have preached from the pulpit and Sunday school teachers have taught in their classrooms that if you’re a Democrat you can’t be a Christian. And if you’re a Christian, you can’t be a Democrat,” Herron told CNN in 2006 after co-founding FaithfulDemocrats.com, a new media venture with a slogan — “Because Jesus Wasn’t Kidding About Loving Your Neighbor” — and a mission: to close the “God gap” the religious right claims in politics.

“Too many are trying to say that God is spelled G.O.P.”

…“There was a Republican senator who once spelled out the difference between the two parties this way,” said Herron in his Will Rogers-like way, an uncanny ability to deftly sum up a complex issue in a pithy story or two. “A Republican sees a man drowning 50 feet off shore and he throws him 25 feet of rope and encourages him to swim for it. It will be good for him. The Democrat sees the same man and throws him a hundred feet of rope. But instead of pulling him in, he walks off to do other good deeds. Either way, the fellow drowns.”

If you don’t like that one, try this:

“I often say the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the Bible is this: Republicans are biblically ignorant and Democrats are biblically illiterate. Republicans read the Bible and ignore it. Democrats too often don’t even read it. It’s an overstatement, to be sure. But I think too many people in both parties don’t apply scriptural lessons to today’s issues.”

A key scriptural lesson government should heed, Herron said, is the “Judgment of the Nations,” Jesus’ mandate in the Book of Matthew to care for the sick, the poor and the needy. Too often, tea party Republicans ignore that, he said — by resisting raising the minimum wage; by failing to expand TennCare, the state Medicaid program for the needy and uninsured; by failing to adequately support, even “attacking,” public schools.

…Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, said he believes Herron is misguided. Republicans care about the poor, too, he said; they just have a different approach “in terms of getting there to help them.” He called Herron’s position on abortion “hypocritical.”

“Look, Roy is a nice man and has certainly served the state for a long time. And I don’t want to kick him when he’s down,” Devaney said in an interview in November. “But he is wrong about a lot of issues. And I do feel like sometimes that he does hide behind the pulpit. But I think it’s a little disingenuous when you hide behind the pulpit but yet you are advocating issues against pro-life, for example.”

Devaney wins new term as TN GOP chairman

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney on Saturday turned back a tea party-styled challenge to win a fourth term in charge of the state GOP.

Devaney defeated former state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro in a 47-17 vote by the party’s executive committee meeting on the floor of the state House.

“We’re not always going to agree on every tactical issue,” Devaney told the panel after the vote. “But I think we can agree on a lot of the core principles of the Republican Party, which are traditional values, personal responsibility, free markets, individual liberty.”

Carr, who came up 9 percentage points short in his primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in August, had said he was challenging Devaney because of “division within our party.”

“For us to ignore it or to deny it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that it still exists,” Carr said. “And that division needs unity.”

Devaney in the weeks before the chairman’s vote had decried Carr’s refusal to endorse Alexander following the primary, saying it should be a disqualifying factor in the race to lead the party.

Devaney on Saturday cited the role of the party under his leadership in helping 600 Republican nominees get elected this year, ranging from candidates to state office to those standing for judge, prosecutor and local races. He added that Tennessee was one of two states where Republicans added to their supermajorities in the state Legislature.
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Haslam on becoming RGA attack dog: ‘Not my style’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was known as an attack dog during his tenure as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, observes the Chattanooga TFP, while new RGA Chairman Bill Haslam “is known to friends and critics as the ever-optimistic Mr. Nice Guy.

So how does an amiable guy who often shuns direct confrontation work out as Mr. Attack Dog?

Haslam chuckled this week when reporters asked that question.

“I think anybody knows that’s probably not my style,” Haslam said. “But I do think it matters who we elect across the country.”

He quickly turned the topic to GOP gains in 2014 and how Republicans showed they are not solely a regional, Southern-based party with victories in Democratic states such as Massachusetts and Maryland. (Note: A typical Haslam tactic in avoiding potential confrontational questions, of course, is to change the subject slightly and offering an innocuous comment.)

…Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney predicted Haslam will do a fine job as chairman.

“I think that Gov. Haslam certainly has the experience. He’s a great campaigner and fundraiser. He knows how to win,” Devaney said.

As for Haslam’s nice-guy image, Devaney said, “everybody brings different styles to any position.”

“I don’t think you necessarily have to have the style Chris Christie has,” he added.

…”I just think his kind of message, a very positive message talking about all the great things Republicans can do under conservative leadership … is going to resonate very well,” Devaney said.

Mike Turner, the former state House Democratic Caucus chairman who does have a reputation as an attack dog, said he generally got along with Haslam with some major exceptions, such as expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

“He can be tough when he needs to be tough. He’s shown that to me,” Turner said. “There were times when things were going on and I made some statements or things were sent to him and he stood his ground.”

But he said he hopes Haslam will prove a “good influence” on Republicans at the national level.

“They’ve gone too far to the right. … I think he can be a moderating force on that group,” Turner said.

Complaint against PAC in intra-Republican fight dismissed, controversy continutes

State campaign regulators on Wednesday dismissed one of two complaints against a controversial political action committee that spent $27,467 helping candidates in 29 contested August races for the state Republican State Executive Committee, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

But Republican critics later denounced the Registry of Election Finance’s action as a “cover up” of activities by the Strong and Free Tennessee PAC and an affiliated group, Strong & Free Tennessee Inc., which provided the PAC with $35,000.

State Executive Committee member Mark Winslow charged both groups’ activities were part of an effort to help Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney of Lookout Mountain win reelection to his post by the 66-member executive committee next month.

“The people involved in this — it is my contention — have very close ties to the Tennessee Republican Party, the chairman of the [party] and this was an effort to remove people who were not supportive,” Winslow told reporters following the hearing.

Devaney, who is seeking his third, full two-year term, has disavowed any connection with the Strong & Free groups.

But Winslow, a former state party executive director, said paperwork shows the party’s comptroller, Troy Brewer, was involved.

Winslow said Devaney has “been exceptionally disinterested in getting to the bottom of this. He repeatedly claims he doesn’t know anyting about this. But the fellow who’s filing the form [Brewer] has an office down the hall from him.

…Devaney later said in a statement that the “Tennessee Republican Party was not involved with this organization. Troy Brewer is not an employee of the TNGOP. He is a contracted consultant who works for a variety of political clients in Tennessee. As an accounting consultant, he is not required to divulge his other clients to us.”

…The PAC and corporation’s activities are already serving as fuel by the two challengers to Devaney in the chairman’s race. Joe Carr, who ran unsuccessfully from the right against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in the Aug. 7 GOP primary and executive committee member Karen Bennett have both cited concerns about Strong & Free Tennessee. Bennett attended Wednesday’s Registry hearing.

Registry members dismissed one complaint against the Strong & Free Tennessee PAC on paperwork it filed after complaints this summer from at least one executive committee candidate, Ruth Fennell of Gallatin, that it was not properly registered.

The dismissal came came after the group’s attorney, Gif Thornton, said proper paperwork was later filed with the state and two county election commissions.

Thornton said there was no intent to hide or mislead the public on the PAC’s late registration..

The filing shows Strong & Free Tennessee Inc., which does not have to disclose its funders, contributed $35,000 to the PAC on July 25. It was the PAC’s sole source of funding listed in its pre-election report, which is dated July 31 on the Registry’s webiste.

Yet, Strong & Free Inc. did not receive coporate status from the Tennessee Secretary of State until until Aug. 2, records show.