Gov. Bill Haslam will not be engaging attacks from county chapters of his own party, who have apparently formalized their discontent with the Republican governor.
Earlier today, the Tennessean's Chas Sisk reported that several county chapters of the state Republican Party are circulating resolutions condemning Haslam for hiring a Muslim woman and allowing openly gay staffers to work in the Department of Children's Services. Haslam's refusal to sign the legislature's resolution condemning Agenda 21 — a United Nations sustainability proposal that House Republicans condemned as an "insidious" communist plot — is also listed as a grievance in the resolution, which Sisk reports has been adopted by the Williamson County Republican Party.
If cantankerous party members at the county level were hoping the governor would engage their displeasure, they'll be disappointed. In a statement to Pith, Haslam spokesman Dave Smith essentially sidestepped the matter.
“The governor continues to focus on attracting and growing Tennessee jobs, improving education and making Tennessee the best managed state in the country," Smith said. "As he visits with people in districts across Tennessee to discuss these issues, he appreciates the broad support he’s receiving from Tennesseans, and a recent poll shows that 79 percent of conservative Republicans approve of the job he’s doing.”
The news provoked a more direct response from the Tennessee Equality Project, which attributed the resolutions to fear, ignorance, and hatred.
"The Tennessee Equality Project condemns the resolutions passed by the Williamson County, Stewart County, and Carroll County Republican Parties that, among other things, attacked Governor Bill Haslam for retaining gay and Muslim employees," said TEP president Chris Sanders in a statement to the media. "These attacks are based on fear, ignorance, and hatred. They poison the political discourse in our state and they do not represent the best of Tennessee."
With apparent concern for the soul of the GOP, the Tennessee Democratic Party responded as well, in a post titled "The Inmates are Running the Asylum":
This is the inevitable result of the Republicans increasingly backing the worst elements of American politics. People who are filled with hate and scorn have now taken over the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and turned it into something your parents and grandparents wouldn’t recognize.
People who seek to serve their state, Republican or Democrat, should not have to fear retribution from an angry, out of control Republican Party. TNGOP Chairman Devaney and Speakers Harwell and Ramsey should condemn these disgusting resolutions that attack civil servants and undermine Tennessee’s credibility to the nation.