We owe a debt of gratitude to Randy Boyd for spending $21 million to ensure that Diane Black will not become governor. Unfortunately for Boyd, while his campaign was defeating Black, Bill Lee was running for governor.
Boyd got a clue toward the end. In his concession speech he said his biggest regret was not talking about Tennessee’s outstanding governor, his friend, Bill Haslam. Think about it. Boyd served as education adviser and as economic development commissioner, ostensibly in preparation for his run for governor. He was seen as Haslam’s choice to succeed him. He could have built on improved education, tax cuts, balanced budgets and an unemployment rate under four percent. Then the campaign started and all that was ignored.
Boyd said he was “advised” to be his own man and not ride Haslam’s coattails. What kind of high- powered business executive is Boyd supposed to be when he turns his campaign and $21 million over to his handlers?
To this day I don’t understand how experienced political operatives think the way to win in Tennessee is to go hard right and go negative. When has it ever worked? Must I remind you again: Howard Baker, Lamar Alexander, Haslam, et al?
A regular reader emailed me when the gubernatorial campaign started to say that Republican conservatives would finally be able to elect a well-funded conservative in Black. To which I replied that I will believe it when I see it.
That’s the danger sign for Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn in her race against former Gov. Phil Bredesen for the U.S. Senate. Is she going to go after the Diane Black voters? Slam into a ceiling while Bredesen gets the Democrats, independents and center right Republicans? Blackburn is conservative, there is no doubt about that. But you can be conservative without going totally negative.
Bredesen, politically, is closer to Baker, Alexander and Haslam than Blackburn. Are there any lessons from the gubernatorial primary that can be applied to the senate race? I think so.
Blackburn can offer contrast ads without using photos of Bredesen that look like mugshots. She can hammer the idea that he will be a vote for Chuck Schumer. She can raise the possibility that a delay in appointing a Supreme Court justice really needs her there instead of Bredesen. In other words, there are fair shots to take, but there is no reason the hit below the belt. Tennessee voters watched Bredesen in the governor’s office for eight years. They won’t believe wild charges. Look at the 2nd District Congressional race. Voters knew Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and liked him. They simply didn’t believe state Rep. Jimmy Matlock’s attacks.
Here’s a look at the top two contributors for the top four 2nd District Congressional candidates:
- Ashley Nickloes seems to have been a fave of Betsy DeVoss, President Trump’s education secretary. Amway, which she owns, contributed $10,800. Nickloes also got $15,800 from Winning for Women, an organization started by DeVoss and Linda McMahon, of WWE fame.
- Jimmy Matlock’s top contributors? Matlock Tire, $24,000 and Massey Electric, $10,800
- Tim Burchett’s two top contributors were Pilot Corp. $10,800 and Phillips & Jordan, $10,800.
- Jason Emert got $8,000 from Medtronic and $5,400 from Jewelry Television.
The increase in the gas tax didn’t become a big issue this legislative election season, though there was one veteran legislator who paid a price. State Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma got hammered on the issue. As chair of a Transportation Committee he pushed Gov. Bill Haslam’s tax package through his committee and sent it to the floor. Opponents were trying to kill it in committee. Doss lost to a political newcomer 55 percent to 44 percent. Doss drew heavy criticism from Middle Tennessee conservatives allowing Clay Doggett to win the Republican primary.