published Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Tennessee: Brock, Devaney, Swafford to seek Smith’s GOP post

The race to succeed Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Robin Smith has barely started, officially speaking, but things are already looking pretty crowded.

Lookout Mountain businessman Oscar Brock; Chris Devaney, who is a top aide to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; and state Rep. Eric Swafford, R-Pikeville, all officially declared Saturday they are running for the post.

Ms. Smith announced earlier in the day she expects to quit her post effective May 30 in order to explore a race for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. The move had been expected by GOP insiders and a post-succession battle has been shaping up for weeks.

In a news release, Mr. Brock, the state party’s treasurer and the son of former U.S. Sen. Bill Brock, R-Tenn., said “over the past two years, our party has defied the national trend by staying true to our conservative principles. I intend to carry our party’s winning message to every corner of Tennessee with a pledge to build on the victories of 2008.”

In an interview, Mr. Brock said he has an “excellent” chance of winning and later noted he has “more than” 25 commitments of the 34 votes needed.

Mr. Devaney, a one-time state GOP executive director who now serves as U.S. Sen. Corker’s state director, said in a letter to executive committee members that the 2010 election cycle is “the most important in a generation and this is no time for on-the-job training in the post of chairman.”

Rep. Swafford said by telephone that the party needs a “strong leader to pick up where Robin Smith is leaving.” He said in addition to executive committee members, he has sounded out legislative Republicans.

“We feel very confident, and we feel very strong,” he said of his chances for winning the chairmanship.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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