Davidson GOP ousts Wamp, Haslam critic

Davidson GOP ousts Wamp, Haslam critic

October 31st, 2009 by Matt Wilson in Politics Regional

The Davidson County Republican Party voted Tuesday to remove First Vice Chairman Matt Collins, a vocal critic of gubernatorial candidates U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, from his position on the party's executive committee.

The reason for the removal, according to a news release from the party, was "conduct unfit for a member of this body." The committee voted 14-5 for the ouster.

The party cited Mr. Collins for using his party title when expressing personal opinions that were "derogatory and disrespectful of Republican candidates or elected officials." They also said his positions undermined the local and state GOP.

In posts on the Web site of Campaign for Liberty, a libertarian-leaning group, Mr. Collins has written several posts criticizing Rep. Wamp and Mr. Haslam for not being conservative enough. He referred to Rep. Wamp regularly as "ZigZag Zach."

candidates aim at health care bill

Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., who's running for governor, and former Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith and attorney Chuck Fleischmann, both of whom are seeking Rep. Wamp's seat in Congress, all issued news releases this week slamming the health care bill that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled Thursday.

"The 1,990-page bill released today actually increases the cost of health insurance," Rep. Wamp said in a statement. "It raises taxes on middle-class families, cuts Medicare benefits for seniors and imposes an additional tax burden on small businesses, among other things, on the way to a government takeover of health care."

Ms. Smith said the Pelosi bill "drew a clear bright line between the liberal leadership of the House and the American people."

"I am disappointed that calls for common sense reform have been ignored in the House bill. It's clear the liberals in Congress have no interest in listening to the voices of Americans on this issue," she said.

Mr. Fleischmann said the bill "represents everything that is wrong with Washington."

"It creates 13 new taxes on individuals and employers, its estimated cost is over $1 trillion and it creates a public option -- something the American people are adamantly against," he said.

Democrats estimate the cost of the House version of the bil at $894 billion over 10 years. It would be paid for by new income taxes on individuals who make more than $500,000 per year and couples who make more than $1 million.

Park bill splits state senators

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker has frequently hiked trails in Smoky Mountain National Park.

But the Tennessee Republican lawmakers split last week in their support for a measure that funds the federal park for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Sen. Alexander said the Department of Interior appropriations bill, which he co-authored, will provide $20.4 million in base operations funding for the Smokies, an increase of $1 million over last year.

"This legislation includes important funding to improve aging infrastructure across our state and help preserve our pristine landscapes for future generations to enjoy -- including our national parks, which some have appropriately called 'America's best idea,'" Sen. Alexander said.

But Sen. Corker said the spending measure was excessive.

"I'm from the home of the Great Smoky Mountains, so I obviously understand the importance of funding our national parks and other interior projects, but I just can't support increasing spending levels by such a large percentage when our country is facing such serious fiscal issues," Sen. Corker said.

Commanding presence

At a groundbreaking last week for an $8 million operations facility at the Tennessee Air National Guard base at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa, Tenn., U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander stood between two GOP gubernatorial candidates wishing to command the state's Guard starting in 2011.

Sen. Alexander, R-Tenn., who commanded the Guard himself when he was Tennessee's governor from 1979 to 1987, noted the presence of both U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam at the ceremony. Rep. Wamp and Mr. Haslam are running in the GOP primary for governor.

The state's top-ranking Republican, Sen. Alexander tried to stay out of the primary contest, saying only that, as governor, he was proud to command the state's Guard units.

U.S. Rep. John Duncan, R-Knoxville, one of the only elected officials at the groundbreaking who hadn't or wasn't trying to command the Guard unit as Tennessee governor, joked that he apparently didn't have the commanding presence of some of the others at the ceremony.

He noted that the last time he appeared with Col. Timothy T. Dearin, the commander of the Guard unit, Col. Dearin inadvertently mispronounced his name.

"He's still doing a great job though," Rep. Duncan said.

herron holding fundraiser

Tennessee state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, a candidate for governor, will hold a reception at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Sen. Herron said he would "seek ideas and counsel from friends gathered there" in an e-mail to supporters.

Hosts include former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Lloyd, D-Tenn.; Lee Davis; and John Brooks.

twitter updates

Twitter is a social networking tool politicians often use to send updates to supporters. Here's what some local and state officials and candidates were saying this week:

* Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble, GOP candidate for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Monday: "People want health care reform that cost less, not more. The current Democrat version doesn't pass the test."

* Former Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Paula Flowers, Democratic candidate for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Tuesday: "'Opt Out' for Public Option in Senate Health Care Bill is Cop Out -- Insurance Lobby will bully states where they already control the market."

* Art Rhodes, GOP candidate for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Friday: "Priming the pump is only helpful if the water starts flowing afterwards, a la government stimulus. Where is the flow or even trickle?"