Roving Patriots talk ‘flipping’ districts

Sandra ClarkFeature, Gossip and Lies

Updated: We erred in reporting the results from District 70 (thanks for the catch, Bill Young). The race was a runaway in Giles County (numbers below), but Doss carried Lawrence County 60/40. The totals were 5,362 or 51.46 percent for Doggett and 5,057 or 48.54 percent for Doss.


They’re not exactly Republicans and they’re from Gallatin by way of Connecticut, but when they spoke Monday to the West Knox Republican Club, Kevin and Laura Baigert sounded like down-the-road neighbors.

Kevin is executive director and Laura is treasurer of a political action committee called Roving Patriots. “We’ve got no life,” Kevin explained. “We spend about three days a week in Nashville (when the Legislature is in session).”

Both took early retirement (Kevin was in engineering and management, Laura in technical sales and customer support) and moved to Tennessee for the climate and the people. Almost immediately they got involved with the Tea Party and then in efforts to deny U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander renomination in 2014. Their support of Michael Patrick Leahy led to their involvement with the Tennessee Star, a conservative opinion blog based in Franklin. Leahy is editor-in-chief, while Nashville radio talk show host Steve Gill is political editor.

The Roving Patriots PAC targeted one incumbent state legislator, Rep. Barry Doss, who lost his 2018 primary to Clay Doggett, who makes a living in pressure washing. It was a runaway with Doss polling just 36 percent (1,871 votes) to Doggett’s 64 percent (3,293).

The Baigerts exposed Doss’s contracting company getting $400,000 as a subcontractor on a $2 million road project after Doss had sponsored the IMPROVE Act which increased the gasoline tax and thus funding to TDOT.

Laura Baigert identified four districts to watch in November:

District 13 in Knox County where Republican Eddie Smith is challenged by former Rep. Gloria Johnson. “It’s a 50/50 district” that Republicans could lose, she said.

District 41 has more Republicans than Democrats, but a Democratic representative, conservative John Mark Windle, who could lose to Ed Butler.

District 67 where incumbent Democrat Rep. Joe Pitts retired. “We could elect (Republican) Tommy Vallejos,” she said.

District 82 in rural West Tennessee where Democratic Rep. Craig Fitzhugh didn’t seek re-election. With no incumbent, that district could flip to Republicans.

State Rep. Martin Daniel listens to activist Kevin Baigert following the Aug. 13 meeting of the West Knox Republican Club at Red Lobster.

The Baigerts acknowledged state Rep. Martin Daniel in the room, and criticized his vote in support of the IMPROVE Act, which they called unnecessary. Daniel sat quietly without punching or pushing. In fact, it’s hard not to like the Baigerts.

The Republican club meets at Red Lobster on Kingston Pike. When they realized there was no screen for their PowerPoint, Kevin dashed over to Target and bought a white sheet. He mounted it under a sign that read “rest rooms” and pointed down the hall.

Kevin said he and his wife take no income from the PAC. “We’re not doing this to ding anyone. Our goal is to advance the conservative cause.”

You go, Ray!
  • Anyone think it was a fluke that Ray Fisher had Fisher Tire ads on Inside Tennessee this past Sunday? Nope. The Matlock ads are gone (Jimmy for Congress and the tire store to emphasize the name). Fisher Tire is local, all about tires and cars, and you won’t catch them running negative ads.
  • Patti Bounds says to expect a new school board chair when the BOE reorganizes in September. Bounds has done a great job as chair, visiting (almost) every school and really listening to teachers.
  • Bill Dunn is bringing the governor to Powell for his campaign kickoff – a breakfast at Aubrey’s on Emory Road. Stay tuned.

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