GOP guber candidate White: Haslam is a RINO

Robert Houk’s Sunday column follows up on a speech to the Washington County Republican Women by Kay White, who has gotten far less media attention so far than the five other GOP candidates for governor. She denounced Gov. Bill Haslam as a RINO.

Excerpt from the Johnson City Press report on the speech:

White said Haslam “bought his way into” his position, and said he “was not in it for the people of this state. He was in it for power and money.”

“I think I am the only candidate — I know it — that I am the only candidate that has not been a part of the establishment. I have not been on the board of our present governor,” White said. “I have not been appointed to any board by him, and I have not been a part of his cabinet. I am real proud to say that, because I have not been very fond of Governor Haslam and the debt that he has caused Tennesseans to come under.”

…“The gas (tax) was the big thing, and the budget. Under Haslam, our budget has been increased $8 billion in less than eight years. Where did all that money go? What was it for? Somewhere down the line, that tax is going to be put on the backs of the people,” she said. “I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I did ask one of the state representatives who was very defensive for his vote on the gas tax, and he said to me, ‘I’m not sure what that $8 billion went for.’ I said, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ ”

…White went on the condemn Republicans who have not shown the same measure of support for the president, again referring to them as “RINOs.”

“I’m much like the guy on my shirt,” she said, pointing to the Trump campaign button on her shirt. “One of the reasons I wore this was to show my pride in our president.”

Excerpt from the Houk column (which is perhaps tongue-in-cheek in places):

I am bit confused as to just what debt she is referring to since the Tennessee Constitution requires officials in Nashville to adopt a balanced annual state budget. Even so there is no excuse for Haslam’s RINO ways. Just look at what he’s done in the past seven years…. Such nonsense could be the downfall of the Republican Party as we know it.

It is interesting to note that White, who made two unsuccessful runs for Congress in the mid-1990s as a Democrat, was one of the first candidates in the crowded GOP field for governor to start calling people RINOs. I guess she’s like the former cigarette smoker who is the most adamant against tobacco use.

…I asked several local Republican officeholders last week what they think about the term RINO. Most said it is a label based on narrow personal interpretation, and one that isn’t helpful in growing their party or its brand…. Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe…  said “legacy Republicans,” like those here in Northeast Tennessee whose families have supported the GOP for many generations, find the term offensive.

Likewise, Johnson City Mayor David Tomita believes the RINO label is intended to be an insult to Republicans who try to reach across partisan lines. “If you refuse to work with those who you might not agree with on everything, you will never get anything done,” Tomita said.

Hmm. That sounds pretty close to what’s happening in Washington, D.C. today.

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