Loe down and mean

Betty BeanOpinion

I knew Lloyd Daugherty. Lloyd Daugherty was a friend of mine.

And Gary Loe, you are no Lloyd Daugherty.

Lloyd died in 2014, and Loe is his successor as chair of the Tennessee Conservative Union. He also presides over the West Knox Republican Club. We haven’t heard much out of the post-Daugherty TCU, but the West Knox Republicans have morphed into a snarling, snapping bunch of elderly conspiracy theorists and homophobes.

Daugherty was a co-founder of the TCU and was its primary voice. He adored Ronald Reagan and Robert E. Lee, supported home-grown small businesses over corporate giants and, like former state Rep. Bill Dunn, believed that protecting the environment was a foundational conservative principle. His mountaintop removal opposition is here.

Critics called the TCU “two guys and a fax,” which, though sometimes not far from the truth, was also a tribute to the force of Lloyd’s personality. He knew how to disagree without being disagreeable and he didn’t toe anybody’s party line. He believed that the words Republican and conservative were not automatically interchangeable, although his beliefs usually coincided with those of the GOP.

He had important successes, like the “Axe the Tax” campaign opposing a state income tax and the push to deny state Supreme Court Justice Penny White a second term. Booting a judge from the state’s highest court was literally unheard of in those days, but they did it primarily with a rather distorted attack on her death penalty stance. (Note: Not saying I agreed with Lloyd’s goals; just acknowledging the effectiveness of his methods.)

He built lasting relationships with national media, becoming their favorite Tennessee conservative source after he spent a month in New Hampshire bursting Lamar Alexander’s presidential balloon. He didn’t consider reporters his enemies and knew how to separate issues from personalities. He also had a great sense of humor and was quick to spot a phony. Fanatics on the far extremes of any issue gave him the willies (except when it came to the Confederacy – there was no budging him on that one, so I, as the proud great-granddaughter of a combat-wounded Union veteran and life member of the Grand Army of the Republic, steered clear of that topic entirely).

Humor is in short supply at the West Knoxville Republican Club these days. It used to be the largest, most active and best respected Republican club in Knox County and may still be the biggest, enrollment-wise, but now they’re a grim bunch pre-occupied with re-installing Donald Trump as POTUS and beating up on Eddie Mannis.

They say they want to deny Mannis a second term as state House District 18 representative, primarily because he doesn’t support the Republicans’ most-recent ex-president and also because he refused to sign onto bills like the one that makes it legal to discriminate against transgender kids. These, in Loe’s crew’s view, are meat-and-potato issues and reason enough to give Mannis the boot.

Not, they say, because he is gay.

Who believes that?


Certainly not this WKRC member, who clearly didn’t get the anti-homophobia memo before posting this on the club’s Facebook page. He got zero pushback:

“I don’t trust any gay candidates – period. Prompting the gay agenda seems to be a major agenda for them.”

Loe’s club’s hard-edged philosophy will face a major test next month when a slate of right-wing candidates will vie for seats on the Knoxville City Council. Although a couple of them might make it into runoff races in November, they’ll probably claim the election was stolen when they lose.

And if he were still with us, Lloyd Daugherty would be laughing his butt off.

Betty Bean writes a Thursday opinion column for KnoxTNToday.com.

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