Tennessee Republican Party: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tennessee Republican Party is the affiliate of the Republican Party in Tennessee. It is often called the Tennessee Grand Old Party or the TN GOP. On December 11, 2004, the State Executive Committee unanimously elected Bob Davis Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and on January 19, 2005, he was also appointed to the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

The current Chairman of the Republican Party of Tennessee is Robin Smith since 2007, and the state party's communications director is Bill Hobbs since late 2007.[1] On May 30, 2009, Smith announced that she would be running for Tennessee's 3rd congressional district in the 2010 Republican primaries.[2]

Contents

Presidential campaign attack ads under Robin Smith

"Anti-Semites for Obama"

In 2008, the Tennessee Republican Party launched two particularly virulent ads against then Senator Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama. The first ad titled "Anti-Semites for Obama" was placed on the TN GOP website. The news release claimed Obama was anti-Semitic based solely on a TN GOP claim that Louis Farrakhan "essentially endorsed" Obama. The piece featured a photo of Senator Obama dressed in traditional Kenya clothing that the TN GOP called "Muslim attire" and used Obama's middle name "Hussein" in criticism of the candidate.[3][4]

Attacking a candidate's spouse

The second ad, launched as an internet advertisement in early 2008, attacked Barack Obama's wife, Michelle Obama. The ad uses footage from a speech given by Michelle Obama in which she mentions that for the first time in her adult life she was proud to be an American. The ad splices various staged patriotic comments from Tennesseans to contrast with Michelle Obama's comment. Barack Obama referred to the ad as "low class" and his campaign released the following statement in response: “This is a shameful attempt to attack a woman who has repeatedly said that she wouldn‘t be here without the opportunities and blessings of this nation. And if the Tennessee Republican Party has a problem with Senator Obama, maybe next time they‘ll have the courage to address him directly instead of attacking his family.”[5][6]

Controversies involving race

Grindstaff claims Kurds repay hospitality with crime

In 2008, Williamson County Republican chairman, Doug Grindstaff, placed the following statement on the party website: “Two members of the notorious Kurdish Pride Gang were given felony convictions in Davidson County courts this week. They were convicted of conspiring to rob and murder a local drug dealer, and when interrupted by a uniformed officer, they tried to kill the policemen. …There are 8,000 Kurdish immigrants living here in Nashville trying to repay our hospitality by robbing us and dealing drugs. The outrage ... did anyone see any coverage of this on any mainstream media??? Why not???”

Grindstaff's attack was directed at the media but also stereotyped the Nashville Kurdish community of 10,000 as being robbers and drug dealers. Isa Tayib, director of the Tennessee Kurdish Community Council claimed he was shocked by the statement and said, "This is absolutely racist...This is really not something that we expect from a political party to post something like this on their website. It should be removed as soon as possible." Tennessee Kurdish Community Council member Kovan Murat agreed that the comment was racially motivated.[7][8]

"Barack the Magic Negro" controversy

Former Tennessee Republican Party chairman and RNC hopeful Chip Saltsman at Christmas in 2008 sent members of the Republican National Committee a music CD of songs claiming them to be political satire. The CD of 41 songs included one entitled "David Ehrenstein's 'Barack the Magic Negro' " set to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon". Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column, written by Ehrenstein, who is partly of African-American descent,[9] that suggested President Barack Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation's history of mistreatment of African-Americans.[10] Saltsman claimed the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, a white conservative parodist songwriter, was satire.[11]

On December 27, 2008, incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan publicly criticized Saltsman for using the song, saying "I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us (the RNC) in the right direction."[12] Saltsman in turn defended Shanklin, and said that party leaders should stand up to criticism of the song since it was a parody of an L.A. Times opinion column.[13] Ken Blackwell, also running for Republican Party chair, defended Saltsman. [14]

Other conservatives and Republicans have criticized Saltsman for distribution of Shanklin's work. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stated regarding the issue: "This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it." [15] Ada M. Fisher, MD, one of the RNC's three black members, wrote an open letter to Saltsman in response to the controversy condemning the presence of "racist actions and deeds" and "lack of sensitivity."[16]

Saltsman, who was at the time campaign manager for Huckabee's presidential campaign, withdrew his bid for the RNC chair. The position was filled by Michael Steele, the first African-American chairman of the Republican Party.

Racial and offensive email controversies

In June 2009, two Tennessee Republican staffers were exposed for sending racial and constituent offensive emails while working in State House and Senate offices. In the most recent case, House Speaker Kent Williams asked for and received the resignation of Blake Graves, a member of the College Republicans, who worked for Rep. Karen Camper in Memphis.[17] Graves had emailed insensitive jokes ridiculing victims of Alzheimer's disease and Asians.[18]

A few weeks earlier in May 2009, a similar case, that combined with other GOP racial incidents, gained international attention.[19] Sherri Goforth, a legislative aide in Senator Diane Black's office, circulated a racially charged email depicting a collection of portraits of United States Presidents showing current President, Barack Obama as a black frame with only eyeballs visible. The email was denounced by both Republicans and Democrats for its blatant racism.[20] Senator Black's limited response of reprimanding her employee, Goforth, gained international attention and condemnation. [21][22] This drew heated criticism from local[23] and national[24] blogs, as well as Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester, who called on Black to denounce the email and fire the staffer who had sent the group-email from Senator Black's office.[25]

Former TRP Chairman

  • Jim Burnett, from 1995 to 1999.
  • Chip Saltsman, from 1999 to 2001.
  • Beth Harwell, from 2001 through 2004.
  • Bob Davis, from 2005 to August 2007.[26]
  • Robin Smith, from 2007 to May 30, 2009.[27]
  • Chris Devaney, 2009–present[28]

References

  1. ^ Locker, Rick (July 24, 2008). "GOP chair won't say whether Rove ordered media ban". Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/24/gop-chair-wont-say-whether-rove-ordered-ban/. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  2. ^ Sher, Andy (May 16, 2009). "Tennessee GOP chief Smith to resign, study 3rd District race". Chattanooga Times Free Press. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2009/may/16/tennessee-gop-chairman-robin-smith-resign/?breakingnews.  
  3. ^ Humphrey, Tom (February 27, 2008). "Tenn. GOP stands by "Anti-Semites for Obama" piece". Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/feb/27/tenn-gop-stands-anti-semites-obama-piece/. Retrieved 2009-05-23.  
  4. ^ Sher, Andy (January 20, 2009). "Tennessee: Democrats say Obama will be fair to state". Chattanooga Times Free Press. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2009/jan/20/tennessee-democats-say-obama-will-be-fair-state/. Retrieved 2009-06-17.  
  5. ^ Suzanne Goldenberg and Ewen MacAskill (May 20, 2008). "Obama warns Republicans: 'lay off my wife'". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/20/barackobama.uselections2008. Retrieved 2009-05-23.  
  6. ^ "'Race for the White House with David Gregory' for Friday, May 16". MSNBC. May 19, 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24710449. Retrieved 2009-05-23.  
  7. ^ "Williamson GOP should apologize to Kurds". The City Paper. September 15, 2008. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-voices/williamson-gop-should-apologize-kurds. Retrieved 2009-05-23.  
  8. ^ "Williamson GOP should apologize to Kurds". WKRN.com. September 10, 2008. http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=8989235. Retrieved 2009-05-23.  
  9. ^ David Ehrenstein, Meet David Ehrenstein, L.A. Weekly, April 21, 2005
  10. ^ Ehrenstein, David, "Obama the 'Magic Negro' ", The Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2007.
  11. ^ Sinderbrand, Rebecca, "RNC chairman candidate defends 'Barack the Magic Negro' song", CNN, December 26, 2008.
  12. ^ http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16876.html
  13. ^ http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story
  14. ^ http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1208/Blackell_defends_Saltsman.html
  15. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/us/politics/28rnc.html?hp
  16. ^ http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/fisher_again_in_the_spotlight
  17. ^ "State Worker Resigns Following Offensive E-Mail". NewsChannel5.com. http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=10552787. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  18. ^ "Republican Temp Worker Resigns After Sending Inappropriate E-mail". NewsChannel9.com. http://www.newschannel9.com/news/tennessee-979297-republican-house.html. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  19. ^ Matt Spence and, Tom Baldwin (June 17, 2009). "Racist e-mails reveal ugly side of Republicanism". TimesOnline. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6515145.ece. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  20. ^ "Tennessee GOP Senate Aide Reprimanded for Offensive Obama E-Mail". FoxNews.com. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/06/17/gop-state-senate-aide-reprimanded-racist-obama-e-mail/. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  21. ^ The GOP's Minority Outreach?
  22. ^ Matt Spence and, Tom Baldwin (June 17, 2009). "Racist e-mails reveal ugly side of Republicanism". TimesOnline. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6515145.ece. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  23. ^ Racist and Ridiculous
  24. ^ Latest Republican Racist Email Features Hilarious Summary of 44 American Presidents
  25. ^ Forrester Demands Sen. Diane Black Fire Staffer Who Sent Racist Email
  26. ^ Locker, Rick (July 24, 2008). "GOP chair won't say whether Rove ordered media ban". Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/24/gop-chair-wont-say-whether-rove-ordered-ban/. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  27. ^ Sher, Andy (May 16, 2009). "Tennessee GOP chief Smith to resign, study 3rd District race". Chattanooga Times Free Press. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2009/may/16/tennessee-gop-chairman-robin-smith-resign/?breakingnews.  
  28. ^ "GOP elects Devaney state party chairman". Associated Press (WAAY-TV). May 30, 2009. http://www.waaytv.com/Global/story.asp?S=10449816.  

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