Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Tennessee Crisis

I do not often like to use the thoughts of other bloggers as the basis for my own entry, but Rob Huddleston's post-election thoughts mirror what a lot of us are thinking right now, in the wake of a Primary that hurt and scarred conservatives and everything we believe in and hold dear. Was the nomination of Bob Corker a slap in the face to conservatives from the voters of Tennessee? No-it was not, because Corker and his people (Haslams) bought name recognition, and then they bought TV time months ahead of the other two candidates. This was not done because Corker's election strategy was superior to Ed Bryant, it was done because Corker had more money than Hilleary and Bryant combined.

When this race began, not many knew who Bob Corker was north of Chattanooga. Mr. Haslam put up huge signs outside Pilot stores, and Corker's campaign bought huge bulk mailings to increase name recognition-then came the TV and radio ads. Corker spent his money convincing people who didn't hear from the other candidates for months that he was a conservative. If something is pounded into your head long enough, you will believe it.

Rob Huddleston said:

Finally, there is conservatism in Tennessee. Where does it go from here? It certainly is an ideology in trouble.

It is so much in trouble that Bob Corker spent the better part of his campaign trying to convince people that he is a conservative. Conservatism is so horribly in trouble in Tennessee that every election cycle, gubernatorial candidates from both parties try to act like they are one, and Senators and Senate candidates magically become one overnight. That isn't an ideology in trouble, that is an ideology that is a majority view that politicians feel obliged to begrudgingly acknowledge.

The problem is not that the ideology is in trouble, it is that people assume that because people say "I am a conservative," that they are as they say. The trouble is that most people are not as we are-most people are simply uninformed.

When we lose elections because of the lies and fraudulent behavior of the phony "conservatives," or worse, lose to open leftists, it is easy to give up the fight and to lose hope. It would not be a stretch for any of us to say "we can never compete with Haslam oil money and the Baker/Frist wing of the Party." We cannot give up the fight, however, we must keep on fighting for the conservative cause for no other logical reason but that it is the right thing to do.

In the winter of 1777-1778, George Washington encamped his Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It had not been a good year for the Patriot cause. The British had won victory after victory, and had by that point taken most of the major cities in America for the Crown. In addition, the Brits were quite successful in cutting off Continental supply lines, starving the American Army of food and keeping warm clothes from them. The Valley Forge encampment was a sesspool of disease and starvation, and dissertion was occuring at such a high rate that Washington wondered whether he would have enough men to mount a spring campaign-and considering conditions, you could scarcely blame the men who left.

It was into this setting that a man who was often known for fits of mental incompetence, Thomas Paine, wrote a little pamphlet called The Crisis. Despite Paine's often irratic behavior, his little pamphlet so clearly laid out the choice between fighting on or surrender that Washington read it to his troops aloud, ordering that they assemble in the snow in the freezing weather to hear it. After hearing The Crisis, the vast majority of soldiers stayed and fought on, and it would still take six long years for the war to formally come to an end-but the end was victory and independence.

Perhaps a few words from The Crisis apply to Tennessee conservatives after Thursday's Primary:

THESE are the times that try men's souls.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

If we fight on, one day we will win the battle and the war. Our children and our children's children will remember that we were thinking of them and the kind of Tennessee and America we would give them. If we fight on, they will remember that we refused to give up the fight, and if we are not called "heroes," we shall all be worthy of the name.

We will know who is committed in the end because these will be the dear ones who fight on for the sake of justice in the face of defeat.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Call in the First District House race-and a few election thoughts

U.S. House District 1 GOP
100% of 245 Precincts Reporting
David DavisX 16,570 22%
Richard S. Venable 16,049 22%
Richard S. Roberts 13,525 18%
Phil Roe 12,852 17%
Larry Waters 7,777 10%
Vance W. Cheek Jr. 3,330 4%
Peggy Parker Barnett 1,699 2%
Dan Smith 1,098 1%
Bill F. Breeding Jr. 816 1%
Claude Cox 292 1%
Colquitt Brackett 246 1%
Douglas Heinsohn 191 1%
John Grose 170 1%

None of the mainstream press has officially called this race yet, but The World is prepared to declare that David Davis has won an extremely narrow victory in the crowded field to replace the retiring Bill Jenkins. I don't think there is any question this race was going to be close. I was surprised that Richard Roberts did not fare better for the money he invested, and I am sorry Vance Cheek didn't do as well as I thought he might, as he did a lot of raw man-to-man campaigning. Nonetheless, I think David Davis will make a fine U.S. Congressman, and I will be proud to support him in November.

A number of congratulations are in order, not least of which is to Knox County Commissioner-elect Lumpy Lambert, who won a come-from-behind victory against Margaret Massey-Cox. I put in a call to personally congratulate Lumpy last night. I also personally congratulated my friend Stacey Campfield on his vast victory over the Establishment.

Obviously, to say that I am disappointed in the outcome of the Senate Primary would be an understatement-when I finally decided to call the race for Corker, I would have then proceeded to have several stiff drinks to dull the pain were it not for the fact that I was too tired and I needed to retire for the night. Unfortunately for those of us who are not presently running for office (though I hope to be one day very soon), our "ordinary" life goes on without interruption. There is little room in modern American life for an election to change the daily grind.

A lot of good people are going to turn their attention to helping Mr. Corker since he is now the Republican nominee. I believe he and the Haslams bought the nomination, and in addition to buying it, Mr. Corker proceeded to run advertisements on Statewide television that used statements that didn't just stretch the truth, they told outright lies. I have never supported any candidate that I did not believe acted in good faith, and I cannot start now-my conscience will not allow it.

I am a conservative, and hence a Republican. I have always voted Republican, and I can say honestly that I don't know what it feels like to vote for a Democrat-I've never done it, nor have I been in a position where I thought that I could. I will continue to vote Republican, but I will not support Bob Corker. That is going to put me on the outs with a lot of good people I suppose, but I must do the right thing. I am the Party's good servant-but God's first.

I will continue to remain involved.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

GOP U.S. Senate Primary

Ladies and gentlemen, this is by far the most painful call I feel compelled to make tonight:

U.S. Senate Republican
81% of 2432 Precincts Reporting
Bob CorkerX 188,308 48%
Ed Bryant 136,122 35%
Van Hilleary 62,692 16%
Tate Harrison 4,065 1%

Ed Bryant has yet to concede, and I can understand why-I am sure that he feels that Van Hilleary stood between him and the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. However, it is pretty clear that this one is in the books, and Corker has bought the nomination.

I will not be supporting him-or his opponent.

1st District House update

U.S. House District 1 GOP
35% of 245 Precincts Reporting
David Davis 7,183 22%
Richard S. Venable 6,570 20%
Phil Roe 6,151 19%
Larry Waters 5,027 15%
Richard S. Roberts 4,891 15%
Vance W. Cheek Jr. 1,297 4%
Peggy Parker Barnett 897 3%
Dan Smith 417 1%
Bill F. Breeding Jr. 268 1%
Colquitt Brackett 118 1%
Claude Cox 93 1%
Douglas Heinsohn 86 1%
John Grose 66 1%

I will not call this race until sometime tomorrow, largely because so many precincts have yet to report, but if the trend continues and the percentages remain static through the night, it would appear that David Davis may be my next United States Congressman. Davis enjoyed the advantage of an endorsement from Tennessee Right to Life. I had expected Vance Cheek would fare better than he is apparently faring. I am also stunned that the well-funded Richard Roberts is running fifth.

Knox County Sheriff

Tim Hutchison (R)X
25777 53%

Randy Tyree (D)
23134 47%

Greg Cox
76 0%
100% of precincts reporting.

Hitchison won a hard-fought race in which Tyree made a better-than-expected showing

Campfield wins GOP Primary in 18th House District in huge landslide

Stacey Campfield X

3772 70%
Gary Drinnen
1330 25%
George Dodson
275 5%

100% of precincts reporting

State Representative Stacey Campfield didn't just beat Gary Drinnen, he crushed him. Rumor abounds that Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale is to be found somewhere at the Crowne Plaza in Knoxville with a very bad case of indigestion.

Prediction: Campfield whips Pettigrew in the November vote by ten points or more.

Bryson wins GOP Governor Primary

Governor Republican
17% of 2432 Precincts Reporting
Jim Bryson X 60,341 52%
David Farmer 16,609 14%
Mark Albertini 11,836 10%
Joe Kirkpatrick 11,569 10%
Wayne Bailey 8,169 7%
Wayne Young 4,081 4%
Timothy Thomas 2,925 3%

We feel safe in calling the crowded Republican gubernatorial Primary for Senator Jim Bryson. Although I had thought Mark Albertini would make a very strong showing, events in Knoxville over the last several days sealed Albertini's fate.

First call

We are prepared to make our first call of the night:

U.S. House District 2 GOP
0% of 198 Precincts Reporting
John Duncan Jr X 4,715 90%
Ralph McGill 547 10%
I am prepared to call the Second District GOP Primary an overwhelming landslide victory for John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr.

Live Election blog

Tonight on this State Primary and local election night, The World will try and liveblog the election results with commentary as much as possible. As we do this, let me thank in advance the website managers of WKRN in Nashville and WBIR in Knoxville, their speed in reporting returns seems to be greater than various county election commission sites in East Tennessee.

State Primary Day

Today is State Primary Day in the State of Tennessee. If you are reading this and you live in Tennessee, let this serve as a reminder that you have a State Primary for U.S. Senate and for Governor today. Many counties throughout the State have contested elections for county mayor, county commissioner, and other countywide offices. Those of you who whine about the state of dishonesty and corruption in public affairs have no room to talk or gripe if you do not cast your vote at your local polling place today, or if you haven't already done so at an early voting location.

Now let me get my plugs in: If you do nothing else of import today, you will do Tennessee a great service if you cast your vote for Ed Bryant for United States Senate. If you live in the 18th Tennessee House District in Knox County, help defend your property and gun rights by voting to nominate and re-elect State Representative Stacey Campfield. Finally, regardless of the outcome tonight, we can all rejoice that there will be no more oversized Corker signs stuck at Pilot stores.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More coffee politics

Yesterday I posted about Vance Cheek Jr.'s visit to the Sanitary Drug Store in White Pine during morning coffee time. This morning I went to coffee and there was a visit of another kind. This visit was also from a candidate for the First District Congressional seat. Much like Vance Cheek, this candidate thought that it was prudent to stop by the drug store in White Pine in the waning hours of his election campaign.

Larry Waters had an entirely different demeanor than Cheek however. Waters was extremely nice, I found him to be quite congenial, and everyone found him easy to talk to. The biggest difference between Vance Cheek's visit yesterday and Larry Waters' visit today was that Cheek's visit seemed more like having coffee with the locals. Waters on the other hand engaged in the stereotypical ten-minute campaign stop. He did not go over to the coffee pot and help himself. He did listen to what a few of us had to say about issues and he did ask for our votes in a very non-assuming manner. I don't think that he was in any way rude, presuming, or pretentious. The primary difference between Cheek's style and Waters' style is a question of method.

Larry Waters came to the drug store because he wanted and needed our votes. He didn't know that I had already voted in my final Knox County election and several of the regular coffee participants had already voted early for Vance Cheek. Cheek, on the other hand, came yesterday knowing that he had gained many votes among that group and had a very successful stop there in the past, but he just wanted to meet with supporters and shore up any undecided support. Vance Cheek stayed for an hour and twenty minutes. Larry Waters stayed for a much shorter length of time. To be fair, I'm sure that both men had better places that they could have been on either day. If personality plays a role in elections however, Vance Cheek would win in a two-man race hands down.

Both strike me as good and decent men, just men with different styles. I do think that one of them has a style much better suited to the United States Congress than the other.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Coffee with Vance Cheek Jr.

It isn't often that a political candidate comes into a small-town drugstore and has coffee with the people there and makes conversation like he is one of them. Sure, candidates stop in drugstores and restaurants and libraries and coffee shops all the time, but those encounters are just that-they are campaign stops, the natural extension of a lengthy and often tiresome campaign process.

It can safely be said of Vance Cheek Jr. that his visit to the Sanitary Drug Store was in fact a campaign stop, but it wasn’t a necessary one for two reasons: The first is because White Pine is on the very edge of the First District, on its western periphery, and many more votes are to be had elsewhere. The second is because Vance Cheek had made a swing through White Pine before and made it a point to stop off at the Sanitary. It says quite a lot about the man that he managed to win the hearts and minds of nearly all the morning coffee regulars in the old pharmacy in a vast Republican Primary field in the First District.

Vance Cheek did not need to be in White Pine, Tennessee this morning, but he came anyway. Granted, Cheek not only posted to this blog proposing a morning coffee meeting, but he e-mailed me proposing the same thing. Nonetheless, I could think of a million good reasons why he would want to be elsewhere, but he came here, and I was glad that he came. Yes, Cheek spoke seriously about issues that matter to many of us who live here, like his commitment to the pro-life cause and to the idea of serious tax reform. He also talked quite a bit about being in public life generally, about his experiences as Mayor of Johnson City, and about life in general. It is also worth noting that he takes the time to make a person-to-person connection with nearly every person that he comes in contact with. I was impressed that Cheek stayed for over an hour to talk with me and the other regulars in detail, it wasn’t just a quick howdy for him.

In a normal race, Cheek might trail his opponents somewhat heavily because he has chosen to concentrate on direct campaign stops, signs, and stickers rather than rely on modern television advertising. In some races, that might be a mistake, but the field in this race is so large, Cheek has a legitimate shot to win with his whistle-stop and radio strategy.

Not only is Cheek personable, but I do think that if he is elected he will do an outstanding job at constituent service. He is not the only man in this race (by far) that this could be said about, but I was impressed that Cheek had a plan about how he would go about providing services to his constituents-that can’t be said about many first-time Congressional candidates.

We had a good coffee this morning-perhaps after the Primary Mr. Cheek will blog for us about what may come next.

Coffee quote from yesterday

"We know Bob Corker is lying-his lips are moving..."

More a bit later this morning-I may have something "big" to write about, and not much big happens in White Pine, so it ought to be good.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bob Corker does the work of his Father

I may be a bit late to write on this story, but I wanted to give it a few days to simmer down and see if any of the papers backed up their words with action. Sadly, they have not. I do not expect the Knoxville News-Sentinel to take back its endorsement of Bob Corker, especially since its editorial board often seems to be in bed with the Haslam clan. However, KNS editor-in-chief Jack McElroy was bold enough to call Corker's ad saying that Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary voted themselves a pay raise "a lie." Hilleary has already jumped on McElroy's statement, running a commercial that highlights McElroy's statement. What Van Hilleary does not spotlight in his ad is something else McElroy said in his commentary:

Why would the Corker campaign include something like this in a political ad? He is a strong candidate, well ahead in the polls and with far more money to spend than his opponents.

Besides, there are so many substantive issues to argue about. Why slip in a fib?

My guess is that the campaign just overreached. In the heat of the closing days, it overstated its case.

In other words, Corker may have told a major lie that the uninformed voter will believe and may make a decision based on that outright falsehood. Yes, many people in politics manipulate the facts to prove a point. Yes, many people twist the truth into something that it doesn't really mean-when that happens, it seems like a lie and causes many people in public life to be labeled-perhaps unjustly- as "all a bunch of liars." Corker has gone way beyond that, however. He didn't just manipulate the facts or twist the truth, as politicians often do in the heat of a campaign, he has told a bold-faced lie. He has made a habit in this campaign of twisting the truth and manipulating the facts, and now he wishes to win this race based on an outright falsehood.

For McElroy to simply dismiss this as Corker's campaign having "just overreached" shows just how low the KNS is willing to go to endorse "their man," and that the paper's sence of ethics is apparently non-existent.

The Tennessean was far less kind:

Corker should pull the ad and admit it is misleading. Otherwise, all the assertions in his campaign, regardless of how long it lasts, could draw not just scrutiny but skepticism.

Indeed Corker should pull the ad, not least because it is the right thing to do. Because it is the right thing to do, however, that is precisely why Corker will not do it. He has shown that when it comes to doing the right thing, he is at least ambivalent and at most deliberately chooses the wrong.

Corker's reasons for running a deliberately false advertisement involve one of two things: Either Corker is not doing as well as his cronies in the establishment press would have all of us believe, or a major scandal will be uncovered after the election involving Chattanooga city government and Corker is already running for cover, trying to protect his "clean" image.

As Christians know, Satan is the Father of Lies. The words of Christ in John 8:44 could rightly be applied to Mr. Corker:

You are of your father the devil: and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning: and he stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

Bob Corker has apparently chosen his means of winning and his lord. He is doing the work of his Father.

(Partly cross-posted from Where I Stand)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Convo with Campfield

This past week I had a lengthy telephone conversation with my friend and (dare I say) political ally State Representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville. We discussed a number of matters, many of which must remain confidential at this time. One of the things we discussed however, was some polling data that is not being widely reported because it shows the underdog Campfield with a narrow lead over his nearest competitor, establishment-endorsed Gary Drinnen.

We also discussed the fact that Tennessee Waltz is not over yet. More on that in the coming days and weeks.

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