TNGOP

TNGOP names new executive director and finance director

News release from Tennessee Republican Party

Nashville, Tenn. – May 1, 2017 Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden announced two new hires today, naming Michael Sullivan as Executive Director and Ashley Hesseldahl-Harbin as Finance Director.

“Republicans in Tennessee have had tremendous success in recent years, but we must remain focused on maintaining and growing a strong and robust Republican Party. Michael and Ashley are excellent additions to our team and I am excited to work with them.”

Michael Sullivan has previous experience working for the Tennessee Republican Party as the Political Director and Deputy Executive Director from 2011-2015. More recently he worked for the Republican National Committee in Iowa. His political resume spans four states and campaigns at every level over the last ten years. “I am excited to have Michael back in Tennessee helping our state and county parties grow and prepare for 2018,” said Chairman Golden.

Ashely Hesseldahl-Harbin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Charleston School of Law. She joins the Tennessee Republican Party after serving as a Bill Clerk for the Tennessee General Assembly. “The addition of Ashley to our team is positive step forward in ensuring that we have a healthy and organized fundraising apparatus at the Tennessee Republican Party,” said Chairman Golden.

Former TNGOP leader takes Baptist ethics position

Veteran Tennessee Republican Party leader Brent Leatherwood, who recently lost a bid to become state party chairman, has a new job.

News release from Baptist Press
NASHVILLE (BP) — Former Tennessee GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood has been appointed as the new director of strategic partnerships for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

In this role, Leatherwood will work to further the organization’s reach in the public square through coalition building and mobilizing, and by serving as an advisor on both state-level and national policy goals.”Brent Leatherwood is the perfect fit to serve as our director of strategic partnerships,” said ERLC President Russell Moore.

“He comes to this role with far-reaching political and organizing experience, deep concern for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a unique ability to join these together on issues in the public square. I can’t wait to unleash his skill on our task of equipping churches and advancing issues critical to Southern Baptists around the country.”

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Scott Golden elected new TNGOP chairman

The Tennessee Republican Party’s Executive Committee Saturday elected Scott Golden, a former staffer to U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher, as the new state party chairman, reports The Tennessean. Golden, of Jackson, is a member of the executive committee and succeeds Ryan Haynes as chairman.

The final vote was 33 for Golden, 26 for (current TNGOP Executive Director Brent) Leatherwood and one undecided. Golden and Leatherwood advanced the runoff by edging out Bill Giannini, deputy commissioner for the Department of Commerce, in the initial round of voting by the executive committee.

“I started this campaign pretty simply, which was can this committee come together and move us forward,” Golden said in his address prior to the votes. “Obviously this was a contentious election, probably the most contentious I’ve seen in my two decades in politics. But with the election of Donald J. Trump, we can come together, create a fresh start, reboot our party and begin looking forward to 2018. And that’s it. That’s the whole goal.”

…Leatherwood addressed some internal strife that arose within the GOP this year when the wife of the state executive committee’s political director worked on the campaigns of candidates challenging incumbent office holders. Leatherwood and outgoing chairman Ryan Haynes backed Walker Ferrell after 27 state lawmakers called for his ouster. In his prepared remarks prior to Saturday’s vote, Leatherwood apologized if his actions alienated committee members. He also touted his role in the GOP’s historic winning streak, pointing to 800 wins by Republicans during his time with the party.

“I will admit some of our actions have caused considerable consternation,” Leatherwood said. “If at any point, that has caused you to doubt my abilities, or to doubt my commitment to the party, or to doubt we would respect the decision of voters, I apologize for that.”

Leatherwood seeks election as TNGOP chair

Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party since 2012, is taking a leave of absence from the position while seeking election as state GOP chairman.

Leatherwood announced his bid to replace Ryan Haynes, who has announced he won’t seek a second term at TNGOP, in a letter sent Monday to members of the GOP State Executive Committee, which will pick the new chair, and becomes the third candidate to announce his candidacy, reports the Times-Free Press. The others are Bill Giannini, a deputy commissioner in the state’s Economic and Community Development Department, and SEC member Scott Golden of Jackson (also an aide to retiring U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher).

In the letter, Leatherwood said the state party is “primed to continue the success we all want and expect in the 2018 election cycle.

“That said, success is not going to happen on its own. As the stewards of our Party, you understand that it takes a strong vision and a commitment to turn it into reality to be victorious in the political realm.”

He noted that since becoming executive director, state Republicans have elected nearly 800 Republicans across the state, including statewide nominees, legislative delegates and “our unprecedented Red to the Roots” campaign directed at county-level offices.

“I believe my record shows that, even in the midst of turbulent moments, I was able to keep our focus on winning the races we engaged in,” Leatherwood said.

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.

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On potential successors to Ryan Haynes as TNGOP chair

Bill Giannini, a former Shelby County Republican chairman who serves as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance, sent members of the state Republican Executive Committee an email Wednesday evening declaring himself a candidate to succeed Ryan Haynes as Tennessee Republican Party chairman.

Giannini, who also once served as Shelby County Election Commission chairman, is the first person to declare himself a candidate since reports of Haynes’ pending resignation became public. (Previous post HERE.)

Indeed, The Tennessean quotes Haynes as saying Wednesday “I haven’t made any kind of final decisions and will not until after Election Day.”

When asked why he thought the speculation about his pending departure was happening now, Haynes said he frequently gets job offers and he wouldn’t be surprised if “one of those has just broken loose.”

“As we move closer to the December meeting I just think interest in who is the chairman and who will be the next one starts to perk up,” Haynes said. “That’s why it’s circulating.”

Haynes, who was elected party chairman in April 2015, said he’d make a decision immediately after Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing “party insiders,” also mentions two potential candidates to succeed Haynes in the GOP chair — Republican Party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood and Scott Golden, a Jackson-based executive committee member who served as a field director for retiring GOP U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher. (Leatherwood said such speculation “is neither helpful for our candidates nor our cause” with an election pending; no comment from Golden.)

Cari Wade Gervin has more names (HERE) in a review of the situation: Williamson County Executive Committee member Rebecca Burke and even state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

Giannini’s email is reproduced  below.

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Roundup of recent TNGOP turmoil over Trump

Since Gov. Bill Haslam said last Sunday that he won’t vote for Donald Trump and the state Republican Party subsequently issued a statement saying Tennesseans should “vote their conscience,” there’s been a substantial amount of Tennessee reaction – much of it negative from Republicans.

A sampler:

First, there’s this clarifying (?) statement sent from TNGOP:

“Feelings are strong in this election and interest is high. The focus of the Tennessee Republican Party remains on advancing the conservative cause in our state over the remaining 30 days.  At the same time, the media spotlight has revealed major flaws in both candidates. There is justifiable concern about the repugnant words of one and the appalling record of deception of the other. Every voter has a choice to make. At the end of the day, everyone should follow their convictions and no one should be criticized for doing so.”

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