Biggest Losers of the August Primary.
The election was only two weeks ago today, but haven’t we all enjoyed the numerous MSM in-depth analyses of the election results? (And yes, that was a rhetorical question).
There were some rather significant outcomes, but how about those forceful pronouncements of victory by people such as Beth Harwell, Bill Haslam, Mark Cate, Grant Starrett and Stand for Children? (And yes, that was another rhetorical question.) If you missed all the non-existent analysis, let us help you out with a condensed version of what happened.
Despite spending millions of dollars against conservative Republican candidates, the combined power of the establishment and their special interest partners wound up not only losing practically every race they were involved in — they actually moved the needle a bit towards the emerging conservative majority.
Although the massively outspent conservatives held their own and, by our reckoning, conservatives in the House GOP caucus may have actually picked up a net seat or two. In the Senate, there was no ideological change whatsoever.
So without further adieu, here is RTP’s patented List of Losers from the election:
Loser #1: Grant Starrett.
It is hard to describe just how humiliating and thorough was the defeat of the young Californian by Cong. Scott Des Jarlais. Starrett parachuted into the Volunteer state, spent over a million of his parent’s money, raised another million from outside the state, hired over 30 “volunteers” to go door to-door and proceeded to hand Des Jarlais one of his biggest victories to date.
Starrett lined up several of the national Chattering Class (Hugh Hewitt, Mark Levin, Eric Erickson, etc.) to endorse his candidacy, apparently not realizing that most voters in the 4thdistrict of Tennessee could give a rat’s ass about the endorsements of Hugh, Mark and Eric. For young political animals and wannabees (like Mark Braden, Taylor Ferrell and others), who sucked on the Starrett campaign teet for every dollar they could grab, the defeat was particularly embarrassing. A lot of political capital was squandered by those who thought they were ready for prime time, but instead discovered they couldn’t even win a race against “the most vulnerable incumbent in Congress” even by outspending him more than 5-to-1. Good job, guys! Remind us not to recommend your services or your candidates to anyone who is interesting in, well – winning.
Loser #2: Stand for Children
Coming in a close second as the Biggest Losers was the Portland, Oregon based left-wing organization run by a gaggle of former Obama campaign and administration operatives. This group, which had never been involved in Tennessee legislative campaigns until just a few weeks before the August primary, spent oodles of cash (when the next campaign reports come in it will likely total over $1 million) trying to defeat about 5 candidates in contested House races. They lost 4 of the 5. And the one they won was never in doubt, regardless of how much money they did or didn’t spend.
One of their candidates in a three-way open House seat race (Christy Sigler) spent more than double what her political opponents spent combined, and came in third. That’s hard to do, even on purpose.
So why did Stand for Children suddenly get involved in Tennessee legislative politics? Why indeed. Some of their affiliations and coordination and tactics are quite revealing. We will explore this group in greater detail in future posts.
Loser #3: The Establishment Wing of the Republican Party.
These guys really took it in the chops. Haslam, Harwell, Cate & Co. openly or surreptitiously involved themselves in 13 races in the House and Senate. At the end of the day, they moved the political equation for a net gain of ZERO over the conservatives. There are a couple of people who they grudgingly supported (Michael Curcio, for example) who will likely side with the conservatives on important issues, which would mean a net loss of one or two in the ideological makeup of the House.
Their favored candidate, Steve Hall, even lost his race against Rep. Martin “Golden Gloves” Daniel, who won despite having Hall file an assault complaint against him and the Haslam family funding most of Hall’s campaign.
All of this means that after two elections (remember Advance TN PAC in 2014?) and millions of dollars spent, the establishment is worse off than when they began this exercise. Sorry, Governor, but voters are proving there are still a few things that your and your cronies’ money cannot buy.
Loser #4: Taylor Ferrell
When Little Miss Priss decided she was going to “go big time” in the political consulting business, she thought she couldn’t lose. Her husband Walker after all is the political director of the state GOP, who even gave her an office in the state HQs and a nice fat contract to get her set up in business. They even made sure she got at least three contracts working against incumbent GOP elected officials (which was a blatant violation of state party by-laws, which party chair Ryan Haynes blatantly ignored and blatantly tried to cover up). But Taylor got caught when over two dozen legislators wrote a letter to Haynes demanding she stop her anti-Republican activity. She selectively gave up two clients (we think), but stubbornly held on to a third (Grant Starrett) because she was making so much money off the Fresh Dilettante of Bel Air (she ultimately made nearly $30,000 from just the Starrett campaign).
By the end of the campaign she was reduced to lying about how many legislators signed the letter demanding she be fired (she has claimed there were “six or eight” legislators who she said were “tricked” into signing the letter. RTP sources say that 25 of the 27 who signed the letter stand by their demands and the other 2 have yet to ask their name be removed from the letter).
Not an auspicious start on the road to becoming a respected consultant.
Loser #5: Curry Todd —
And who would we be if we did not include the Snidely Whiplash of campaign skullduggery? After years of a controversial legislative career, Todd finally shot himself in both feet as he skulked up and down the streets of Shelby County stealing his opponent’s campaign signs. This picture says it all:
Steve Gill – Through his independent expenditure committee, Power of Liberty, Gill involve himself in three high-profile races. He lost them all.
AFP – after a couple of years of resounding election success, AFP delivered a lackluster effort. They primarily played defense and in two races where they made a significant offensive effort (Rep. Jimmy Eldridge and Sen. Doug Overby) they lost by wide margins. Better luck next time.
If you have your own List of Losers we encourage you to keep it to yourself. RTP has worked hard to make sure everyone recognizes us as virtual Gods of Tennessee Politics and we don’t want some upstart offering up an alternative.