As part of RTP’s continuing analysis of the recently completed legislative session we focus today on four Freshman legislators who decided to go against the grain of traditional advice that new legislators should be seen and not heard. These four decided to make a name for themselves in ways that usually lead to the new title of “former” legislator.


Rep. David Byrd (TEA- Waynesboro) – Although he ran as a Republican, Byrd immediately became a dependable ally and consistent vote for the TEA, the teachers’ union that has spent decades doing everything they can to defeat Republicans. They rewarded him by highlighting him as a hero in their statewide newsletter. As a legislator he was not nearly as successful, introducing 16 bills of which only two passed, and one of those was a tax increase. He also introduced and failed on three bills to inflate graduation rates so that principals, like him, could claim credit for bogus “graduates.”

If he keeps this up, the former basketball coach may find himself bounced in his next primary.



Rep. Kevin Dunlap (D – Rock Island) – Though he ran as a “different” kind of Democrat in a district that elected Romney over Obama by double digits, he has quickly shown himself to be a lockstep Democrat. Like Byrd his first move as a freshman legislator was to align himself with the far-left TEA, a chapter of the NEA which happily takes credit for passing Obamacare, yet he continues to hide on the issue of expanding Obamacare in Tennessee as herefuses to say whether he supports or opposes Insure Tennessee.

Meet the New Democrat – same as the Old Democrat.



Sen. Ed Jackson (H – Jackson) – Voters in Madison Co. probably thought they were electing a conservative who would speak his mind. What they got was a sycophant for anything Bill Haslam wanted him to do. Jackson has “distinguished” himself as a solid Haslam vote who jumps whenever the administration tells him to jump — even on issues that have already been decided.

As the votes were cast on Haslam’s disastrous Haslam Insure Tennessee gambit during the Special Session, Jackson cast a controversial “yes” vote after it was clear that the measure was dead. Going into the committee vote it appeared the votes were split 5-5 with Sen. Janice Bowling being the swing vote. When Bowling voted “no”, early in the roll call, Chairman Rusty “The Rock” Crowe (who had been supporting Insure Tennessee yet knew the result was already clear) and, as is his habit, went with the winning side and voted “no” as well. Jackson ignored the previous votes and cast an irrelevant “yes” vote (sort of like confessing to a crime that no one had accused you of committing). By so doing, Jackson put a huge primary target on his back.


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Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D – Yarbro). There has perhaps never been a more smug, condescending, self-righteous Freshman to enter Legislative Plaza than Yarbro. He believes himself to be a superstar by virtue of being elected Democratic Caucus Chair as a mere Freshman. Since there are only 5 Democrat senators, there was a slot for every Democrat senator.   Way to go, Jeff –– everyone gets a trophy!  More reviled than revered by his fellow legislators, his theatrics and games are not playing as well as he thinks. But in JeffWorld, what HE thinks is all that matters.

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