GOP joshing: When Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black broke heaven’s rules…

Excerpt from Jackson Baker’s report on “some interesting deviations in party harmony” at the Shelby County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day event Saturday:

A couple of them came from the event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who told an odd joke that was probably meant affectionately but came off, no doubt inadvertently, as seeming to be at the expense of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who had introduced him and whom Scott had acknowledged to be a friend.

The joke’s beginning was itself inauspicious. Scott began to describe a “dream” in which U.S. Senator Bob Corker, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and Black had all died the same day. As “big shots,” they were all instructed by St. Peter about the special rules of Heaven. Corker, caught trying to turn a real estate deal, was the first to be charged with a transgression.

The Senator ended up being chained to Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer as a punishment, while “a voice that sounded like thunder” proclaimed: “Bob Corker,you have broken the rules of Heaven, and this is your punishment, for all eternity!”

Next, Blackburn was chained to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for some obsure misprision, and the same voice thundered, “Marsha Blackburn,you have broken the rules of Heaven, and this is your punishment, for all eternity!”

Then the clincher. In the dream Scott saw Rep. Black chained to Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, and, inevitably, the thunderous voice began to sound again: “Tom Brady, you have broken the rules of Heaven….” Etc., etc.

That quirky knee-snapper was followed immediately with a sentimental recollection by Scott, an African-American and the first Republican of his race to be elected to the Senate from South Carolina, of his grandfather’s being enabled to cast a vote for Barack Obama as the first African American to be elected President. The fact that Obama was a Democra apparently compelled the Senator to tell the Republican audience, “Of course, I canceled his vote out.”

All of that was the fun stuff. But there was some intra-party dissension for real, in the course of the evening — some of it stemming from the fact of Black, one of several Republican candidates for Governor, being asked to introduce Scott, whose presence she had been helpful in arranging.

That didn’t sit well with the camp of at least one other candidate, former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd. According to several accounts, Chip Saltsman, Boyd’d campaign manager, confronted County Republican chair Lee Mills, impresario for this year’s Lincoln Day affair, and upbraided him for what the Boyd people saw as giving Black an unfair advantage. Saltsman allegedly used the ‘p’ word.

UPDATE/Note: Saltsman’s objections to Black introducing Scott are also noted in a Cari Wade Gervin piece, which otherwise suggests that Boyd needs a history lesson after saying one of ancestors as a “seventh-generation Tennessean,” Margret Boyd, voted for Davy Crockett in 1832 — when women could not vote. Excerpt from the portion on the Shelby County event spat:

Despite a longstanding policy of allowing no active candidates to speak at the dinner, county party chair Lee Mills permitted Rep. Diane Black to introduce Scott. (Her campaign claims he would not have spoken at the dinner without her persuasion. For what it’s worth, Corker’s staff says the same.) The previous night, all four Republican gubernatorial candidates had spoken during a short forum at the Williamson County GOP dinner (where Blackburn keynoted), and the fact that only Black would be onstage in Memphis did not sit well with Randy Boyd’s campaign manager, Chip Saltsman.

According to several people who told the Scene right as it happened, Saltsman publicly lashed out at Mills in the lobby of the hotel several hours before the event, calling him a “pussy” for letting Black appear onstage.

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