Lloyd Daugherty, as one of the founders of the Tennessee Conservative Union, could be considered the father of the hard-right movement in Tennessee. We asked him whether he could explain why right-wingers keep losing, and he fell back on the old excuse: Those damn moderates have all the money. You’ve heard of silk-stocking, country club Republicans, right? All the financial disclosures aren’t in yet but, at last report, Haslam had spent nearly $9 million—double the combined expenditures of his two rivals.
In early returns, Haslam was winning a majority of the votes. If that holds up, can movement conservatives even claim to represent most Republicans in this state? Daugherty basically admitted conservatives are gullible and easily tricked by fuzzy TV ads like Haslam’s.
“I’ve had a theory for a long time. In Tennessee politics, we have an unnatural unbalance as far as the Republican Party goes. The money is moderate, liberal Republican money. And the grassroots is conservative. Up until now, the money seems to always win. The grassroots Republicans just naturally assume that if you’ve got an R by your name that you’re a conservative. That’s not necessarily so.”