Brooks, Herrera offer choice for GOP chair

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Knox County Republicans will gather to elect new leaders at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 6, at The Crown College, 2307 W. Beaver Creek Drive, Powell.

The rules have changed. Let’s walk through them. But first, the candidates for chair.

Harry Brooks, 74, Ritta area resident, is retired after 16 years as a state representative and prior service on the Knox County Board of Education. In Nashville, he chaired the House Education Committee and sponsored the bill that established the Tennessee Virtual Academy, which operates as a part of Union County Schools.

Daniel A. Herrera, 28, Karns area resident, is a practicing attorney after obtaining a law degree from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law. Herrera has considerable political experience, having worked on campaigns for U.S. Reps. Tim Burchett (TN-02) and Robert Pittenger (NC-09). He has served on the Capitol Hill staff for former Rep. Bob Turner (NY-09) and Matt Salmon (AZ-05).

Knox County Clerk Sherry Witt says she can work with either Brooks or Herrera. And she’s not heard of anyone else running. “It’s an unpaid job and is sometimes unappreciated.” Asked her top requirement for an effective party chair, Witt said, “Someone not brain-damaged.”

Brooks would be considered the establishment candidate. He advocates the “big tent” philosophy, used by young Republicans who pushed across the state, capturing one legislative, one congressional district at a time. It was a big deal when Bill Brock was elected to Congress from Chattanooga. It was a really big deal when Memphis dentist Winfield Dunn was elected governor. The Republican Party grew by being inclusive, Brooks says, and that is the party’s future.

Herrera could be considered an upstart. “Look, I’m young and Hispanic,” he says. And those are two groups he wants to attract to the Republican Party – not by compromising principles, but by showing how GOP principles will benefit them. He wants better fundraising and increased use of technology. And then the bombshell. Herrera wants the local GOP to capture Knoxville city government – to “save the city from the socialists,” he says here.

Now that you’ve picked your favorite candidate, let’s see how easy or hard it will be to vote for him.

Current chair Randy Pace (along with vice chair Suzanne Dewar and treasurer Judd Davis) is not standing for reelection. Herrera has aligned with vice chair candidate Elaine Davis, who served briefly on Knox County Commission and unsuccessfully challenged state Rep. Gloria Johnson in 2020.

In an email, Pace outlines the process for the March 6 election. “The Contest and Credentials Committee will have to check the voting record of participants prior to admitting them to the floor of the Convention and allowing voting to begin,” it reads.

Say what? We found the names of the certifiers: Roger Kane, Christine Cruz, James Crain, James Corcoran and Wayne Sellars. How will these folks access voting records on a Saturday? Stay tuned.

“We will vote in Mass (sic). There is no need to convene precinct meetings or elect delegates.”

This is a fundamental change in procedure.

“Any Knox County Republican wishing to run for the position of chair must contact the Contest and Credentials Committee at least seven days prior to the convention. There will be no nominations for chair from the floor of the convention.”

Great shades of Fred McPeake and Warren Webster. Somebody’s got a huge need to control this process. Heck, next thing you know, they’ll try to make us wear a mask!

Sandra Clark, editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc., is pinch-hitting for Frank Cagle, as he tends to medical treatments.

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