Haynes confirms departure as TNGOP chair

Ryan Haynes has confirmed that he will not seek another term as Tennessee Republican Party chairman but isn’t talking about any future plans, reports the Nashville Post.

“It was an awesome challenge and I am honored we have taken the party to a place where we have more Republicans elected in Tennessee than ever,” Haynes commented via text. “I am looking forward to returning home to Knoxville.”

After less than two years at the helm of the party, the former state legislator has further consolidated Republican supermajority gains in the General Assembly and bolstered party wins across the state, despite often bitter internal fighting within the State Executive Committee this past primary season.

Haynes declined to go into details as to what’s next for him. He laughed off as ridiculous the idea that Gov. Bill Haslam could appoint him to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s seat if Corker takes a job in the Trump administration. There have been longstanding rumors that Haynes could be interested in Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s job, which comes open in 2018, but Haynes wouldn’t say if he’s running.

“There are lots of people that would make a great county mayor before me. I hope they are forward,” Haynes said.

…Definitely in the running to replace Haynes in December are Bill Giannini, the deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance who worked on Haslam’s first gubernatorial campaign, and Scott Golden, the Jackson-based deputy chief and district director for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher.

Two other possible contenders, SEC member Rebecca Burke and state Sen. Jim Tracy, have said they will not be running. TNGOP executive director Brent Leatherwood is also likely to run, although he declined to comment this morning one way or the other.

Further from The Tennessean:

In April, Haynes and his staff were accused by Trump’s campaign of “doing the bidding” of the GOP establishment in an effort to steal pro-Trump delegates headed to the Republican National Convention. Haynes denied the allegations, but the issue led to mistrust among some Trump supporters in Tennessee.

Later that month, 27 state lawmakers sent a letter to Haynes calling for the firing of Walker Ferrell, the party’s political director, accusing him of working with his wife to oustcertain GOP statehouse members in the August primary. The party rebuked that criticism, and some lawmakers wavered in their critique of the team. But it made for a tenuous relationship between an outspoken minority in the party and Haynes, party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood and others.

Haynes downplayed fractions, saying all members agreed in their repudiation of Democrats, but acknowledged there were some “distractions” ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

“We were faced with a lot of distractions by individuals who were not keeping their eye on the prize, and that was picking up those seats,” Haynes said in an interview Wednesday.

He congratulated his team on their efforts: Republicans defended all of their 28 seats in the 33-seat state Senate and picked up two seats in the 99-member House, bolstering their supermajority to 75 members. The GOP lost only one race, with incumbent Rep. Steve McManus of Cordova falling to Dwayne Thompson.  Haynes said “that shocked everybody” but overall the party enjoyed marked success.

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