Tag Archives: ryan haynes

Matheny speech on TNGOP ‘crisis’ spurned

The Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee took a vote Saturday on whether to let state Rep. Judd Matheny address the body on his belief the party faces a “crisis,” in part over leadership ties to a consulting firm that helped challengers attack him and other incumbents in this year’s primary elections.

The result, according to The Tennessean: 24 voted to let Matheny talk; 35 voted no.

In recent months, Matheny has taken issue with the fact that Southland Advantage – a company founded by Taylor Ferrell, who is the wife of the party’s political director, Walker Ferrell – was once hired by candidates running against Matheny, Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

All three lawmakers beat their challengers in the state’s Aug. 4 primary election.

Several party members, including Wilson County Republicans, have called for the firing of Walker Ferrell, as well as party chairman Ryan Haynes and Brent Leatherwood, the state party’s executive director, arguing that they have condoned activity that undermines the work of incumbent Republicans.

…Matheny later told The Tennessean that he hoped to provide SEC members with a packet of information that included a two-page speech, his April letter and other notes about Southland Advantage’s involvement in primary election races.

…“We are here today because we know and the public knows that our party is in crisis,” Matheny wrote in his prepared remarks. “We are at a point where we have to make a choice. We either work to restore our party to one that conducts its business with integrity and based on principles, or we stand by and watch it decline into Obama-like lawlessness.”

… Matheny said the party cannot continue to “buddy up with people of questionable ethical behavior who for their own personal benefit and ambition are willing to lie, cheat and bend the rules until they become unrecognizable.”

Haynes has previously said that no party staff members have been involved in any Republican primaries. In an email sent to SEC members in May, Haynes said the party has a long-standing policy of staying out of primary elections but the bylaws do not prevent “vendors or spouses of staffers from engaging in primaries.”

…Matheny also said Haynes originally told him he could address the SEC but was removed from the agenda during a last minute administrative meeting held Friday night.

Haynes confirmed that the party’s administrative committee voted against Matheny speaking but added that he supported the lawmaker.

“I think it would’ve been in the best interest of the party to allow him to have an opportunity to speak,” he said, adding that he and Matheny disagree on the facts.

Matheny said Haynes has been “very disingenuous” with him, adding that the chairman told him Saturday morning that he would “lobby” for the lawmaker to address the audience. Matheny also said he would only talk to Haynes via email or in public because “I can’t trust him.”

Haynes said he was sorry Matheny felt that way about him and that he believes the lawmaker is “an outstanding conservative legislator.”

Windup TN notes on GOP national convention

Press release from TNGOP
CLEVELAND, Ohio-July 21, 2016–The Tennessee Republican Party released the following statement from Chairman Ryan Haynes regarding the conclusion of the 2016 Republican National Convention:

“While 2016 has showcased the passions within our Party, it only serves as evidence of how ready we are to get to work. Congressman Marsha Blackburn clearly and concisely laid out what’s at stake. With delegates voting to name Donald Trump and Mike Pence the Republican nominees for President and Vice President, all of us are ready to get to work and do everything possible to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.”

“This has been an incredibly successful week for the Republican Party. For Tennessee, our delegation came together with the objective of uniting—and we did. One thing that struck me is how all of us want to believe this nation can continue its exceptional run of the last 240 years as a beacon of opportunity, hope, and stability in an uncertain world. We’re the Party that can turn that belief into a reality. That’s the message the Tennessee Republican Party will be engaging voters with this fall.”

TN talk on Trump and NATO
By the Associated Press
Tennessee Republican National Convention delegate Victor Ashe, a former ambassador to Poland, says he hopes Donald Trump clarifies a suggestion that the U.S. might abandon its NATO military commitments if he were elected president.

Trump told The New York Times that he would review allies’ financial contributions before acting under NATO’s mutual defense clause, if any of the countries were attacked by Russia.

Ashe says he hopes Trump will reiterate strong support for the nation’s NATO treaty obligations. He says they are “an important component of our European alliance” and as binding on a president as a law.

Sen. Bob Corker, a Trump supporter and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, says Trump was only expressing exasperation that the U.S. plays an outsized role in the protection of NATO allies. Continue reading

Winslow quits TNGOP: ‘Our soul rotted away some time ago’

Mark Winslow, former chief of staff for the Tennessee Republican Party, resigned Thursday as a member of the state GOP Executive Committee in a letter posted on Twitter, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“As it’s currently constituted, TNGOP is really nothing more than a small corrupt core group who view our party as their private club and personal piggy bank,” wrote Winslow. “Our soul rotted away some time ago.”

Winslow confirmed that his timing was no coincidence: After losing his job and suing the party and surviving several attempts to kick him off the SEC, he wanted declare his independence in concordance with the national holiday.

“I’ve actually wanted to quit for three years,” Winslow says. “It’s a relief. It’s time for someone else to step in.”

Winslow said his resignation had nothing to do with the battle over delegates for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, nor over a bylaw likely to come before the SEC at its next meeting in August that would automatically remove SEC members from the committee if they have ever worked for a Democrat running for office, which Winslow did.

“They’ve tried to change the bylaws a few times regarding me, and it’s never worked,” Winslow said. “It wouldn’t have worked this time, either.”

But other SEC members — all of whom were surprised by the sudden resignation, though most declined to comment on record — said Winslow would not have kept his position past August, nor were they upset to see him go.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish!” SEC secretary Christi Cross said. “My hope is that a bona fide Republican, with a commitment to the party and its platform, will be appointed to fill his term.”

The state GOP office declined comment, saying they still hadn’t officially received notice of Winslow’s resignation. Winslow said this was intentional on his part, because the party “stopped communicating” with him “long ago.”

“Really, this is a very happy time for me,” Winslow said. “It was the right time for me to do something other than dealing with the bickering of the state executive committee.”

With or without Winslow, the “bickering” on the SEC seems likely to continue throughout the primary and at least until the August board meeting.

Note: TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes notified SEC members that he had accept the resignation, but had no comments on Winslow’s remarks. Says Haynes letter to the committee:

As many of you are aware, Mark Winslow has publicly communicated his resignation from the State Executive Committee. I am accepting that resignation effective immediately. We wish him well with his important work with veterans for Judge Blackburn.

Per the Bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party, I will appoint a special subcommittee to make a recommendation to the full SEC for a new male representative of the 19th District.

I hope each of you has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Text of Winslow’s resignation letter is below. Continue reading

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.

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

More national media reporting on TN Trump delegate flap

Excerpt from NBC News:

Haynes said he made no such promise to the Trump campaign (to appoint Trump-selected delegates) — “I’m not in the business of cutting deals.”

He said the Tennessee GOP bylaws only require that the executive committee take into consideration the campaigns’ proposed delegates, but ultimately they have final say over the 14 at-large delegates.

“What we try and do is we also try and recognize individuals that have done exemplary work for candidates, or dedicated a lot of their time and energy to pushing back on liberal policies. We try to make sure they get an opportunity to go to Cleveland and participate in the party process,” he said.

Haynes noted that the delegates proposed by the executive committee are voted on as a full slate, and so the committee must take into account whether the slate can pass. He pointed to one of Trump’s proposed delegates — Mark Winslow, who sued the Tennessee Republican Party three years ago — as an example of a delegate who wouldn’t pass muster with the full committee.

But  (Trump senior advisor Dan) Scavino’s tweet, and a warning sent out by  (Darren) Morris (Trump Tennessee campaign manager) on Friday night, activated an impassioned network of Trump supporters in Tennessee, many of whom showed up to the meeting bearing signs pledging their support for Trump. Videos tweeted from inside the gathering showed an at times contentious meeting, with members shouting over one another.

The Tennessee GOP hired extra security for the meeting because of a number of threats sent by Trump supporters on social media. And Haynes said his cell phone was flooded with calls from angry Trump supporters, to the point that he now has to get a new phone.

He suggested the act was one of “intimidation.”

“That’s not something we would do to any of our campaigns. We’re not in the business of trying to harass or intimidate anyone here at the Tennessee Republican Party — we’re in the process of putting forward solutions to our nation’s problems,” Haynes said.

The Trump campaign dismissed those charges, with Trump Senior Adviser Barry Bennett saying the backlash should come as no surprise.

“They changed the slate last-minute — they shouldn’t be surprised that the public’s angry,” he said.

But Trump himself indicated he was happy with at least one of the delegates he was appointed at the state executive committee meeting on Saturday, tweeting out his satisfaction.

“Great honor to have @GOP General Counsel, #JohnRyder as a Trump delegate in TN. RNC meeting well worth it! Unifying the party.” Ryder, of Memphis, is Tennessee’s National Republican committeman as well as general counsel to the RNC.

From CNN:

Haynes previously told CNN he received a letter from Rubio’s campaign stating that his decision to suspend his campaign was “not intended to release any national convention delegates bound to me as a result of the 2016 delegate selection process that took place in your state.”
“It is my desire at this time that the delegates allocated to me by your rules remain bound to vote for me on at least the first nominating ballot at the national convention,” said the letter, which was signed in Rubio’s name.


Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been a bit critical of Trump, was designated as a Rubio delegate.

From RedState blog:

You would think, under these circumstances, that the Trump Tennessee organization would find it in their best interest to maintain at least a healthy working relationship with the Tennessee GOP. But then, if you thought that, you would be unfamiliar with Trump supporters in general. Instead, they have been publicly insulting Tennessee GOP members and basically taunting them over Trump’s victory.

Haynes accused of anti-Trump engineering in delegate picks

Tennessee Republican Party leaders approved a delegate slate on Saturday over the heated objections of Donald Trump’s campaign, which is accusing the state’s insiders of supplanting several supporters with anti-Trump forces, reports Politico.

At a tense meeting of the state party’s executive committee, police removed pro-Trump protesters, and an already heightened sense of confrontation was exacerbated when Trump’s national director of social media tweeted out the personal cell phone of the state party chairman, Ryan Haynes.

“It was a bad day for the Republican Party in this state,” said Trump supporter Mark Winslow, who said he had been removed from a list of delegates agreed upon by Trump’s state director and Haynes on Wednesday, reclassified as an alternate and then removed altogether.

Trump’s backers maintain Haynes engineered the removal of several Trump supporters from a list of at-large Tennessee delegates and replaced with Republicans likely to support Trump’s rivals at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — if the nomination fight takes more than two ballots to resolve. Tennessee’s delegates to the convention are bound to the results of the state primary — which Trump won — for the first two ballots.

Haynes rejected claims he had done anything improper and insisted there had been no agreement with the Trump campaign on an initial list of delegates. Rather, he noted, Tennessee’s GOP rules give the party the ultimate authority to name delegates, and any guidance from the campaigns is purely advisory.

…Trump may not take the defeat quietly. He recently reacted angrily to similar maneuvering by Ted Cruz’s campaign that allowed it peel off some of his delegates in Louisiana – and his campaign filed a formal challenge to the results there. Trump has previously linked his support for the GOP to whether he considers himself being treated fairly by the party establishment. GOP leaders are worried that efforts to outmaneuver him in the delegate hunt could feed his supporters’ grievances.

“It’s the events of today in Tennessee which justify Mr. Trump saying he has not been treated fair by the Republican Party,” said conservative commentator Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump campaign surrogate whose husband, Chris Hughes, is among the Trump Tennessee delegates elected directly by voters.


GOP chief , Harwell call for Durham to resign House seat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes is calling on state Rep. Jeremy Durham to resign from his seat in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell on Monday agreed that it would be in Durham’s “best interest” to step down following reports that the lawmaker sent inappropriate text messages to women working at the Legislature.

Durham announced Sunday he would resign from his position as House majority whip, but that he would keep his seat and aggressively seek re-election this fall. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday.

Durham has been in the spotlight since it was revealed that prosecutors in 2014 sought prescription fraud charges against the lawmaker, though a grand jury declined to indict him.

Note: See also the Times-Free Press, quoting House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick:

Speaking with the Times Free Press later Monday, McCormick said he had heard “rumors and accusations.”

“No proof. I actually had had two people come to me and say they had problems with him,” he said. “I encouraged them to immediately go to Legal [division] and to begin a process to complain about it. And neither wanted to do it.”

He said he later followed up and told both women “they would be surprised at how many members would stand up with them if they did make a formal complaint. But they didn’t want to do a formal complaint.”

McCormick said while they didn’t say it outright, he believes they feared the information would become public.

TN GOP chairman criticizes Trump

Tennessee Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes took the unusual step today of criticizing a Republican presidential nominee. A spokesman says Haynes comment came in response to questions from media about Donald Trump’s call for blocking immigration by Muslims.

Here’s the statement:

“Donald Trump’s comments have no place in the Republican Party or in American politics. As Americans we should embrace our unique heritage of welcoming immigrants. Demanding that our borders be secure or raising legitimate questions about our screening process is one thing, but a wholesale ban on a religious basis is just wrong. This isn’t a conservative proposal; it’s an outlandish idea that goes against American exceptionalism. Donald Trump is running for the highest office in the United States. This comment doesn’t reflect someone who is serious about that endeavor.”

Haynes attends debate, lauds GOP presidential candidates

Tennessee Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes was on hand for the Wednesday Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colo., and, not surprisingly, had high praise for the GOP field and harsh words for the Democratic contenders, reports Georgiana Vines.

Haynes said he believes the 10 top candidates, plus the four lower-polling candidates, provide a diverse field, including minorities and one woman, who have had success either inside or outside government.

“It’s the best set of candidates that the Republican party has offered in many years,” he said.

Haynes cautioned about any candidate leading in the polls or being a frontrunner among the current candidates. In 2008, the early leaders in the polls among Republicans were former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, he said. U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona eventually was the nominee and was defeated by Obama.

“We’re very likely to see numbers continue to shift around,” Haynes said.

He also said he felt the Republicans were being more open than Democrats with their debates.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida has tried to restrict the number of debates, he said.

“They’ve tried to control that. Ours is a process more open and accessible to the public,” he said.

Prior to the debate, Haynes spent time with about 15-20 other state chairmen, “swapping best practices,” he said. Haynes at 30 is the youngest state Republican chairman in the U.S. and was the only one from the South at Wednesday’s event, he said.

Other party chairs look upon Tennessee for ideas considered successful, such as recruiting candidates who can articulate their positions well, utilizing election data and fundraising, Haynes said. He said he also picked up some ideas but declined to elaborate.

“I wouldn’t want to reveal my playbook this early,” he said.