The New ChairmanWhile I was away this weekend at the 106th annual Tennessee Knights of Columbus State Convention in Franklin, the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee was meeting just up the road to elect a new Tennessee GOP Chairman to replace the departing Robin Smith. They chose Senator Bob Corker's State Director, Chris Devaney.
Rob Huddleston had this to say the day before the vote:
I know both Chris Devaney and Oscar Brock well. Chris and I share the bond of having both worked for Senator Fred Thompson while he was in Tennessee, and I had many dealings with him when he served as Executive Director of the TN GOP. I know Oscar through his work with the State Executive Committee (including my time serving as a proxy on the Finance Committee of the SEC, of which Oscar is a member), and we had many memorable experiences in Minnesota as part of the Republican National Convention in September of 2008.
Both Chris and Oscar are fine men whose ideas about where the TN GOP needs
to go from here strongly overlap. I will admit that while their ideas are similar, their styles do not appear to be.
Rob made no endorsement, nor should he have done so considering Angela's position on the Executive Committee-but I know Rob well enough to know that he had an opinion Friday and still has one today, likely the same or similar.
I really want to believe in Chris Devaney the way that I believed in Robin Smith. He certainly has the experience to be a great Chairman, having previously served as State GOP Executive Director. Devaney's latest position placed him as Senator Bob Corker's State Director, and that is really my primary concern. I am very proud of Senator Corker's stand on the auto industry bailouts, but Corker and a lot of the folks who support him still fail to impress me as principled conservatives who care as deeply as some of us do about expanding the reach of conservatism.
It is one thing to say "I am a Republican," there are lots of people who can rightly make that claim. There is something else entirely, however, to being a conservative Republican. Robin Smith wasn't just trying to sell the Tennessee Republican Party, but to sell a series of ideas and candidates who represented them.
If Chris Devaney can sell conservative ideas with the same zeal and verve that Robin Smith did, Republicans will likely experience an extremely successful election cycle in Tennessee in 2010.