Chris Devaney is resigning as Republican state party chair less than four months after he asked the state executive committee to vote for him. He promised to serve out his term, but on second thought has decided to chuck it and move to Haiti for mission work. To this, we say:
Hasn’t Haiti suffered enough?
We kid, of course. Everyone at RTP, including a couple of us who have done volunteer mission work, wish Devaney and his family the very best in their new endeavors. Godspeed.
Now for his replacement. It was fairly obvious to anyone paying attention that Rep. Ryan Haynes was informed beforehand that Devaney was resigning, because mere minutes after the resignation became public, Haynes conveniently had a statement announcing his candidacy. No attempts at false pretense on his part. It may also be assumed that his candidacy has the approval of fellow Knoxvillian Bill Haslam and that this was all set up in advance to put the governor’s boy in the slot. We’ll see if anyone emerges to challenge Haynes, but with the election apparently set for April 11th, time is short.
A couple of huge glaring questions Haynes did not address in his announcement letter:
RTP has become known as those annoying little pissants who rudely ask difficult questions of those in power. Today is no exception.
Having a sitting state representative serve as party chairman is not without precedent. Jim Henry did it back in the 80’s, when there were not nearly as many Republicans in the legislature as there are now. More recently, Beth Harwell did the job, with mediocre results. In that instance, the de facto chairman was Bob Davis, who served as Deputy Chairman and ran the day-to-day operations while Beth did here legislative duties and toured the state giving speeches and building her bona fides for a possible statewide tun in the future (which will probably happen in 2018).
But now tough questions are being asked of Haynes, and here are just a few of them:
- Will Haynes resign his seat and allow a special election? After all. The chairmanship is a full-time job, and during the legislative session, so is serving in the General Assembly. Get ready for the complaints from constituents and party activists that Haynes is slacking off one position at the expense of the other. Also, what job is Haynes giving up to do this? Does he have income outside the legislature? If he does, he didn’t mention it in his letter. Inquiring minds want to know.
- How will he segregate his activities? Will he withhold or offer contributions and/or use the
communication team of the state party to push his agenda in the legislature? It is not an unreasonable question. If the governor or the Speaker tells Haynes to withhold contributions to recalcitrant conservatives, he will undoubtedly do their bidding.
- What are the rules on raising money during session? Under current law, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the rules that prevent Haynes from soliciting and accepting contributions during session would also apply to soliciting contributions for the party, some of which would go to legislators for their campaigns, possibly including Haynes. Is it illegal? Maybe. Does it look sleazy? Definitely.
We think Haynes should be asked to choose one job or the other. But what do we know? We also think it reasonable to ask Bill Haslam govern like the conservative he said he was when he ran, instead of the ObamaCare-loving, Common Core champion and left-of-center politician he has proven to be.