This is not a story I normally write.
In 2005, I was elected Knox County Republican Party Chairman and from the very beginning many of my distractors were former Party Chairs. During my term in 2006, we had the TN Supreme Court ruling that many of our elected officials were term limited, the filing deadline for the 2006 election had passed, when the Supreme Court order came down.
As a Party we faced write-in candidates in the Primary and then in the General Election the challengers to our Republican officeholders all teamed up as a ticket calling themselves “the orange ballot”. But as a Party we held the line.
In 2010, many of those former Chairs teamed up to publicly criticize me in a contest where I spent ZERO dollars against an opponent with thousands of dollars and billboards, I still achieved more than 37% of the Republican vote. Of course, the “good ole boys” left out former Chair ladies Sue Methvin, Irene McCrary, the. Chairman Ray Jenkins along with former Chair Lynn Tarpy.
So, I have refrained from writing negatively about a party chair with the exception of the 2013-2015 Chair and that one is memorialized in a court action in which Summary Judgement was awarded to me.
Earlier this year, Daniel Herrera became Chairman in a contest with former State Rep. Harry Brooks. Herrera has set out on a mission to take back the City of Knoxville to Republican representation. He is using a shotgun approach which may better to take a rifle approach, taking it one or two seats at a time. The same way the Republicans lost Council. But time will tell on that one.
It is Herrera’s approach and his terminology that are generating the most negative attention. I have met with several business people in our community who are concerned about Herrera’s approach. I listen and encourage them to talk to the elected officials and with Herrera himself. But, I understand both sides position.
It was a conversation with Knox County Property Assessor John Whitehead today that has caused me to write this story. Herrera continues to write things like “this is not your grandfather’s party anymore.” Whitehead takes exception with that statement and feels it is directly targeted at him.
I reminded Whitehead that it could be many of us. I started in the party at the age of 16, 10 years before Herrera was born. Most Republican elected officials and former Party Chairs are eligible to be Grandparents. Even Congressman Tim Burchett had he married sooner with his two marriages, he could be a Grandfather.
Myself having been married 33 years (to the same woman) and three adult children 30, 27 and 25 I could be the Grandfather that Herrera is talking about.
When I began my Republican involvement, Democrats had many positions in Knox County and the State of Tennessee. The way Democrat Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh ran the state house was similar to the Republican Super Majority. In the 1980’s there were more than 2 Democrats on Knox County Commission. In fact, I recall former Democrat Commissioner Chris Wade leaving his Democrat Party, becoming a Republican and endorsing Republican Wanda Moody, when she ran for Superintendent of Schools against Democrat Earl Hoffmeister.
In 1990, six of the nineteen Commissioners were Democrat, two in District 1 and 2, one in District 6 and 9 as I can instantly recall.
The Republican Party in Knox County and Tennessee would NOT be what it is without the successful work of today’s Grandfathers and Grandmothers work to create the party that exist today.
Herrera needs to embrace the past and work to build it. Having an elected official that has won countywide overwhelmingly in four elections to become Property Assessor feeling targeted is not good. Also, no one in TN is more qualified to be Property Assessor than John Whitehead by the way.