Were SEC members “played”?
Establishment leaders desperate to keep control of chairmanship.
Littleton entry a major threat.
The evidence is beginning to pile up. Aside from Chris Devaney’s genuine desire to do humanitarian work in Haiti, it appears the circumstances surrounding his re-election and sudden resignation were a carefully orchestrated attempt by allies of the governor and other establishment types to insure the chairmanship does not fall into the hands of a – gasp! – conservative.
There is a growing suspicion that Devaney was asked by the powers-that-be to run for re-election with full knowledge that he was planning a move to Haiti after the first of the year and would resign just a few weeks into his 2-year term. That action would prevent conservatives (in this case, Joe Carr) or anyone else not to their liking from attaining the chairmanship. It would give establishment types time to recruit and set up a transition for the candidate of their choosing.
After Devaney’s re-election, the next clue was the curious case of Ryan Haynes and his House committee chairmanship. Haynes did not retain his chairmanship this year. Astute observers of the process thought this was a highly unusual, since a renewal of his position was considered automatic. Tellingly, news reports detailed those who lost their chairman positions, along with reasons as to why they had fallen into disfavor with Harwell and House leadership. But there was nary a negative word about Haynes’ non-reappointment coming from Haynes, the Speaker or anyone else in leadership positions. In fact, Haynes told colleagues that he “didn’t have time” to be chairman again and that he had other things planned. It now looks as though the fix was already in and the “other plans” for the 29-year-old representative included leaving the state hous seat he had just been elected to in November for a better-paying political gig.
Then came Devaney’s resignation announcement. Literally within minutes, Haynes issued a press release entering the race and obtained an excuse slip from Speaker Harwell to abandoned his desk last week during the middle of the legislative session. Haynes immediately left Nashville and began a desperate dash to secure support among the state executive committee members before anyone else knew what was happening. The incredibly short two-week period between Devaney’s resignation and the SEC meeting to elect a new chairman fit right into the plan.
Late last week it looked like it was all coming together for Haynes and his handlers. It took precious days for possible candidates to assess their chances and begin making the moves to challenge Haynes. Those candidates ranged from FOX News personalities to Vanderbilt professors, with Haynes trying to position himself as some sort of consensus candidate.
But the powerbrokers did not see the entry of Rep. Mary Littleton coming.
Littleton is arguably head and shoulders above Haynes in state party experience. She is a (twice) former vice chairman of the state party and a former member of the state executive committee. Haynes was still in elementary school when Littleton was already working in the trenches to help pave the way to elect people like Haynes.
In just the last 72 hours, Littleton has begun the tedious task of calling the 66 people who will make the decision on April 11th. These are the very same people who were hoodwinked back in December when the last election for chairman took place.
Will they be fooled again? Will they compliantly line up like sheep to vote for Haynes or will they ask hard questions and vote with their eyes wide open?
We’ll see. More on this later.