The Question of the GrassrootsIn comments on A.C. Kleinheider's link to my post expressing my strong displeasure at Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey's change of position on elected judges, a commenter expresses the worry that criticism of Ramsey for flip-flopping on this important issue will mean that Bill Ha$lam or some other less-than-conservative prospect is likely to be elected:
And if people like Oatney, Donna Locke, et al., throw a hissy fit, Bill Haslam will become governor. Other than Ramsey, who else represents the conservative wing of the Republican Party? Zach Wamp? Yeah, right…
First of all, I know that folks read this space pretty regularly, because so many of you tell me that you do. When I was in Nashville for the beginning of the legislative session, so many others who were visiting the Capitol and were staying for the post-session festivities stopped me with a "hey, aren't you David Oatney...? However, I had no idea that this blog was such a powerful medium that my criticism of Governor Ramsey could single-handedly guarantee the election of Bill Ha$lam. I suppose by 2012, presidential candidates will just be beating down my door for an endorsement.
Strong criticism of Ron Ramsey does not necessarily equate to revoking an endorsement. Others have rightly pointed out that the notion that any other candidate qualifies as the conservative standard bearer considering their respective records is more than a bit ridiculous. However, Ramsey flip-flopping on such an important issue as the election of judges when the Tennessee Constitution requires doing so raises legitimate questions about Ron Ramsey's other positions and whether he holds them out of a sincere and strong belief in them, or as a matter of political expediency. Ramsey knows, for example, that a majority of Tennesseans hold a pro-life position. He holds this position himself, yet now says that he opposes the election of judges in this State that would be most likely to actualize that position from the bench.
Election of judges and Supreme Court justices has been a goal of Republican and conservative activists in Tennessee for years, and was one of the things Republicans routinely said they would institute if they got a majority. The seeming abandonment of that promise by the Republican Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate does not send a message of trust to grassroots activists.
I'd like to ask Ron Ramsey how he would build trust among the grassroots in his agenda when he made such a radical shift on such a major issue. It is an important question for the future of his gubernatorial campaign.