The Nashville Business Journal did the fluffiest of fluff-piece interviews a few days ago with the governor’s paid-under-the-table lobbyist, Tom Ingram. There was precious little new information to come out of the article, with most commenters focused on Ingram’s depiction of his two clients, Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam. For the uninitiated, RTP offers the following interpretation of Ingram’s pronouncements:
Lamar: Smart, conniving. Uses lots of “strategery.”
Bill: Stubborn. Not as smart as Lamar.
But one important tidbit that Ingram did let slip was how he views the Republican legislative caucus:
“He [Haslam] has to stay on his toes just as much sorting out between moderate and conservative Republicans as you would between Republicans and Democrats of years ago.
“The differences within his own party are sometimes even greater than the differences between Republicans and Democrats.”
So there you have it. Ingram has now defined the Haslam administration’s ideological construct of the Republican legislative caucuses. In his mind, the Republicans of yesteryear are now the “conservative” Republicans, and “moderate” Republicans are what used to be called Democrats and/or liberal Republicans (yes, youngsters, there really was something called “liberal Republicans” back in the day. Somewhere around the Pleistocene Era).
And whadaya want to bet the governor’s office has a list of legislators marked “friend” or “foe” based on Ingram’s assessment? They will need it. According to RTP’s sources, the conservative Republicans have an exhaustive, very detailed caucus list of their own. The first time they used it was in the Common Core vote in the House that shook the governor and leadership to their core (pun intended).
Only 11 more steps to go Tom. Hang in there.