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.