SMYRNA, Tenn. — While Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney acted as master of ceremonies at an event hosted by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s reelection campaign Saturday, tea party activists held an event nearby to denounce the incumbent lawmaker’s voting record.
The contrast may illustrate the split within state Republican ranks now that the party holds a supermajority in the state Legislature, the governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and seven of nine U.S. House seats.
“We’re just sick and tired of the Republican establishment telling us we can’t have an open debate on Lamar Alexander’s record,” said Ben Cunningham, founder of Nashville Tea Party and Tennessee Tax Revolt, who served as master of ceremonies at the “counter-rally” attended by perhaps 200 persons from around the state — including a small group from Alexander’s native Blount County.
He said Devaney “is not supposed to endorse in a primary” but is effectively doing so by boosting Alexander’s re-election campaign toward a “coronation” by “trying to intimidate” prospective opponents.
“There is no primary now,” said Devaney when asked about the comments of Cunningham and others at the tea party gathering.
See also The Tennessean, which includes this paragraph: Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Alexander, on Saturday night said that more than 500 people showed up for the Alexander campaign event at the Smyrna Air Center to honor Middle Tennessee Republican Party chairmen.
News release from Tennessee Republican party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The General Assembly today adjourned the first session of the 108th General Assembly. The conclusion of the session comes in a mere 33 legislative days–the earliest adjournment since 1990.
A number of Tennessee’s top priorities are on their way to becoming law thanks to the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (R–Blountville) and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R–Nashville). They include:
•Cutting taxes for all Tennesseans with reductions to the grocery tax, death tax, and Hall tax.
•Adding $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund for future emergencies.
•Placing a permanent ban on the state income tax before voters.
•Reforming the state’s antiquated worker’s compensation laws to provide certainty for businesses while protecting the rights of workers.
•Rejection of federal takeover of Tennessee’s health care system.
•New laws addressing gang violence, prescription drug abuse, repeat domestic violence offenders, and synthetic drugs
•Reducing government by placing a limit on the number of bills each Member of the House can file.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney congratulated the GOP Members of the General Assembly and remarked, “Tennesseans expect their elected officials to meet, conduct business in an orderly and efficient manner, and then return home instead of wasting valuable taxpayer dollars. That is exactly what Lieutenant Governor Ramsey, Speaker Harwell, and all the legislative Republicans have done. Tennessee is cementing its reputation as a land of opportunity for every citizen to succeed and prosper because of their hard work.”
State Sen. Janice Bowling of Tullahoma will not be removed as a member of the Republican State Executive Committee after all.
She had been more or less automatically removed earlier for missing three consecutive meetings of the Executive Committee, according to state GOP Chairman Chris Devaney. But Bowling disputed the contention (Previous post HERE) and party officials have accepted her point.
Devaney’s letter to Executive Committee members explaining the situation is below.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – The TNGOP State Executive Committee today (Saturday) re-elected by acclamation Chris Devaney to a second full term as Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. The election was held during the committee’s December meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Nashville.
“It is an honor the State Executive Committee has elected me to serve another term,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “I look forward to working with Republicans across the state to strengthen our Party by effectively communicating our message to as many Tennesseans possible and want to thank committee members for this opportunity to help move our party forward for another two years.
“The Tennessee Republican Party has experienced great success, but it is critical we begin efforts now to build on that success in coming elections,” continued Devaney.
“Moving forward, it is important that we continue to expand the base that the Republican Party has had over the years in Tennessee. It is important to continue to recruit qualified men and women to serve, to continue building our county parties and to reach out to minority groups in our state and let them know they have a home in the Republican Party.”
Chris Devaney was first elected Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party on May 30, 2009. He led the State Party’s efforts to elect Republicans in the historic 2010 Midterm Elections which resulted in Republicans taking the governorship, gaining a Congressional majority, and increasing majorities in the General Assembly. This year, history was made again when Republicans gained supermajorities in the State House and State Senate. Prior to serving as TRP Chairman, Chris worked as State Director for U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), was an aide to U.S. Senators Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Phil Gramm (R-TX), served as Executive Director at the TRP and assisted with other campaigns across the country.
Chris and his wife Heather live in Chattanooga with their four children and attend Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church.
State Republican party officials never responded to George Korda’s request for a party spokesman to appear on his radio talk show, prompting him to quote scripture in a column. Here’s a suggestion to the Tennessee Republican Party: it should brush up on Proverbs 16:18 as a reminder of what pride goeth before.
Here’s the verse: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.’
This message isn’t directed at Republican voters, officeholders, but at the party apparatus located on Nashville’s 21st Avenue.
…The Tennessee GOP is on top. As the old saying goes, getting there is hard. Staying there is harder. Staying humble and responsive are helpful attributes in this effort.
A check of the state party’s website contains a message from the chairman, Chris Devaney. Its content is not untypical. What’s noteworthy are that the words ‘I’ or ‘my’ appear eight times in five paragraphs.
…The GOP party staff is another issue.
Several weeks ago this columnist contacted both the state Democratic and Republican parties to request guests to appear on my Sunday afternoon radio show on WNOX-FM, 100.3. The Democrats responded with a spokesman in about 15 minutes. The Republicans, not so fast.
The first call to the Tennessee Republican Party went days without being answered.
Then a follow-up call came from a young man seeking information about the show. The conversation ended with a promise to confirm or refuse the request. It never came. An e-mail sent through the party’s website went unanswered. A call to the party office was taken by a very nice young lady who said the message would be passed on to the right person. No response.
That’s either wretched staff work or it’s an attitude of we’re the tall hogs at the trough and we’ll get back to people when we want, or if we want. Then again, it could be just me (note to detractors: you’ve been thrown a softball to hit).
Republican state House candidate Lauri Day suffered collateral damage in an attack sent by her own party against a Democratic candidate in Sumner County, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said in an Oct. 2 news release that Steve Glaser, a Democratic candidate for state House District 44, should drop out of the race because of unpaid taxes. Devaney wrote that Glaser’s tax liens exhibited “a pattern of just refusing to pay his fair share.”
Glaser owes nearly $88,000 to the IRS, and at least 15 liens by federal and state tax collectors have been filed between 1988 and August of this year against him, according to the release.
“What arrogance for him to think he could run for office and actually serve in the Legislature. Instead of campaigning to have Tennesseans pay his salary, he should be working a second job to pay his bills,” Devaney said in the release. “Steve Glaser should do what’s right and suspend his campaign until his taxes are paid in full.”
The Tennessee Democratic Party pointed out Monday morning that Devaney’s attack should also apply to Day.
“There’s just one problem – in his zeal to attack a Democrat, Devaney has effectively said that candidate for state House Lauri Day should resign from her race in order to get a second job,” spokesman Sean Braisted wrote in a news release.
Day, who is running against Democratic Rep. John Tidwell in District 74, has a $46,000 lien against her home for unpaid federal income taxes.
“This is just blatant hypocrisy on the part of the Tennessee Republican Party,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester in the news release. “Either Devaney needs to call on his candidate, Lauri Day, to drop out of her race and get another job, or he needs to come clean and admit that he doesn’t actually mean what he says.”
…Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Adam Nickas said the cases were different because Glaser had not been up front with voters.
“He came out with desperate and meritless attacks against his Republican opponent while ignoring his excessive amount of unpaid taxes, which is well-documented, even while his campaign touts more government spending just like John Tidwell,” Nickas wrote in an e-mail.
“Lauri Day, on the other hand, has been up-front with the voters and, unlike the Democrats, has been running a campaign based on the important issues facing our state.”
Day said on Monday that she may have mentioned her tax issues on a radio show prior to the Republican primary. The liens first received widespread attention following a Sept. 10 article in The Leaf-Chronicle.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney demanded an apology from House Democrat Caucus Chairman Mike Turner for echoing an identical claim he made two years ago, saying racism is the reason for Tennessee voters’ opposition to President Obama.
Turner’s comments came at the Tennessee Democrats’ state executive committee meeting on Saturday.
Turner said, “We’ve got a president up here whose color is not the right shade according to a lot of people, and they just hate him for that reason…I was talking to a guy this morning at a filling station and it didn’t matter what Obama did, he’s not going to like it because Obama’s an African-American. I told him, I said, ‘Look, he’s half white. You ought to like half of him anyway.’ These people are dead set against him for that reason, and that’s unfortunate. That’s very unfortunate.”
According to the Nashville Scene’s Jeff Woods, the “half white” comment drew nervous laughter among the Democrats’ committee.
“This is not the first time that Mike Turner has said something absurd, but this crosses the line,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
Turner made similar allegations of racism against Tennessee voters back in March of 2010, saying, “All of a sudden, we have a black man elected president and everybody wants to start acting like something’s wrong with our country.”
Turner’s comments two years ago prompted Devaney to send a letter to Tennessee Democrat Party Chairman Chip Forrester, asking him to condemn Turner’s comments at the time. A response was never received.
“Aside from his own racially-insensitive joke about President Obama, for Mike Turner to once again accuse Tennessee voters for not embracing the President’s failed economic policies because of racism is nothing short of outrageous,” said Devaney.
“Tennesseans overwhelmingly reject this President based solely on his failed policies that have led us to more spending, higher debt, and 23 million Americans still struggling to find work. Saying that Tennesseans’ objection to the President is because of racism is a slap in the face to the integrity and morality of voters, and Mike Turner should be ashamed.
“As I did two years ago, I, once again, demand that Mike Turner immediately apologize for his irresponsible joke and outrageous claim about Tennessee voters. And I, once again, also call on the Democrat Party to publicly condemn Mike Turner’s comments,” concluded Devaney.
— Note: Previous post HERE. The Jeff Woods’ post on Turner’s remarks, including the prediction that they would trigger a Republican attack, went up at 10:23 a.m. CDT; the Republican attack arrived in my email at 11:30 a.m. CDT.
Tennessee is being ignored, as usual, in the presidential campaign this year – except, of course, for fundraising – and that is prompting a new round of talk about abolishing the electoral college system. Andy Sher rounds up some commentary on the topic. You can count former Democratic Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, among the critics.
Both say the situation should end in which campaigns are forced to follow Electoral College strategies where the outcome trumps the national popular vote.
…But defenders of the Electoral College say no changes are needed. They argue mega-states like California and New York would dominate the popular vote and leave states like Tennessee an afterthought.
“The presidential election would basically be concentrated in the coastal cities, Los Angeles and New York,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “And everyone else would be left behind. It would open it up more to fraud and electoral abuse.”
…Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican state Senate speaker, likewise voiced support for the current system.
“We have a long-standing, time-tested mechanism for choosing our president,” Ramsey said. “This process in rooted in a tradition that protects the interests of both small as well as large states. A National Popular Vote process that would either abolish or neuter the electoral college would eviscerate that delicate balance our founders strove to achieve.”
Devaney Cheers Release from Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney:
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement on the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate:
“Paul Ryan is the right choice to serve as Governor Romney’s running mate. Ryan has immense experience, including a knowledge and grounding on fiscal issues and the economy, something we are sorely lacking at Pennsylvania Avenue currently. Romney and Ryan will make a great team for the USA.” Forrester Jeers Release from Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester:
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued a statement following Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate.
“There’s no doubt what Romney-Ryan politics would mean for Tennessee – budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthy, greater burdens for working families, fewer health care options for women, and less security for seniors who’ve worked their whole lives for some peace of mind.
“Tennesseans wholly reject the Romney-Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it and shift millions of dollars in health care costs to Tennessee seniors through a paltry voucher scheme.
“Our children and our economy simply cannot afford the deep cuts Romney and Ryan want to make education — from Head Start to college aid. These are investments that are critical to a safe and secure future for all Tennesseans.
“The Romney-Ryan ticket would also giveaway a $250,000 tax cut to millionaires and billionaires at a time we should be working together to balance our budget.
“The Romney-Ryan plan is irresponsible and outrageous. Moreover, it’s just plain wrong for Tennessee.”
Tennessee’s Republican establishment is striving to move past last week’s sometimes bitter legislative primary and its potential impact on officeholder leadership. The aim now for fall campaigns: Slimming even more the ranks of the minority party Democrats.
The prospects look fairly bright for Republicans on both fronts, despite the losses of seven incumbent House members Thursday.
The defeat of those veterans — and close calls for a couple of others — are seen by some as an indication of growing division within the state’s majority party and as, possibly, a threat to House Speaker Beth Harwell remaining in her position.
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney, however, says that’s not likely. And he sees the GOP goal of a achieving a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate as “attainable,” given the party’s advantages through redistricting, fundraising superiority and voter distaste for President Obama.
Democrats say they can overcome their acknowledged disadvantages in money and redrawn district lines to make 2012 the start of a Democratic rebuilding process.