Yesterday, we delivered our Losers List from the recently departed General Assembly. Today, we stir up even more trouble with a Winners list. And just because we selected someone as a winner, doesn’t mean they want to be on the list. Read on to see why that may be….
1. Ron Ramsey — Why be governor and hamper your ability to run the state? Ramsey ran against Bill Haslam in 2010 with the idea he wanted to be in charge of state government. Despite losing that race, he now seems on the verge of achieving that power from his current position. With the feckless Haslam administration fumbling about and Harwell losing control over her caucus, Ramsey has emerged as possibly the most powerful person in state government. In stark contrast to the House, the Ramsey Senate was a modicum of efficiency, passing bills with minimal rancor. Look for Ramsey to further spread his wings and increase his influence, especially now that the governor is officially a lame duck. We don’t always agree with Ramsey, but you gotta like the way he has positioned himself to be much more than the “Lieutenant” Governor.
2. Americans For Prosperity — In a very short time, AFP has made itself a key player in conservative/libertarian circles, driving issues (and politicians) in directions the administration and leadership don’t always like (to put it mildly). The AFP, led by Andy Ogles, won a few and lost a few but their presence was undeniable. RTP believes they are an effective and welcome party to the mix.
3. The Conservatives in the House GOP Caucus — for some time, there has been the sneaking suspicion that conservatives in the House GOP (as opposed to establishment and RINO types) actually possess the majority of the caucus membership. But through the use of pleas to “not embarrass the governor” and through the abuse of House rules (such as fiscal notes), the leadership has been able to keep a lid on the rabble. That lid was blown completely off on March 13th, when conservatives finally, FINALLY realized they had the votes to move their agenda. Now that they have had a sniff of power, look for them to press further, even as leadership tries to mollify them and put the genie back in the bottle.
4. Craig Fitzhugh — At some point this session, the light bulb went off over Fitzhugh’s head: “Hey,” said the light bulb. “If you can hold your idealogical nose long enough to join with the conservatives on targeted issues (like Common Core), you might get be able to excercise a little power.” Actually, all the light bulb really said was “John Wilder,” but you get the point. Of course, this is all limited to Fitzhugh’s ability to keep the fractious Dems together long enough to vote in a block.
5. Kathleen Airhart — Kathleen Who? With approximately 98% of the adult population of the state (and 100% of the teachers), Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman is in the crosshairs. It seems calling for Huffman’s head has become a daily occurence, with only the governor immune to the calls for Kevin “IVFO” Huffman to resign or be fired. Airhart has cleverly worked behind the scenes to maneuver herself into position to take Huffman’s slot if and when the axe falls. The fact that she is one of the few long-time Tennesseans in the leadership of the department in charge of educating Tennessee school children should help as well. This is all assuming, of course, the liberal Democrats Haslam has put in charge of Tennessee’s public schools (more on that later) will allow a mere provincial to assume the reigns. Watch your back, Dr. Airhart.