NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester rebutted claims that the Tennessee Republican Party was a role model for the national Republican Party, saying state Republicans pandered to extremists and betrayed Tennesseans by choosing not to address Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ patient-sex scandal.
In a recent interview with TNReport.com, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said that Tennessee was a “shining light” for Republicans nationally.
“The biggest win for Tennessee Republicans on Election Day was re-electing a doctor who had sex with his patients, lied to Tennesseans, and is now a pariah on Capitol Hill,” Forrester said. “When Tennessee Republicans refused to hold Scott DesJarlais accountable for his reckless behavior and web of deceit, they showed their only priority is to amass power at any cost.
“Tennessee’s unaccountable and extreme Republican Party is not a solution — they are part of the G.O.P.’s national problem,” Forrester said.
In his interview, Devaney said “Tennessee is a shining light” and “people are gravitating to the message, and they are gravitating to what is going on in the legislature.”
“The results on Election Day showed that with a combination of redistricting power and a flood of special interest money, Republicans were able to ram into the legislature a group of right-wing extremists and criminals,” Forrester said. “By spending a small fortune to protect politicians like Scott DesJarlais and David Hawk, the Tennessee Republican Party showed the only jobs they care about are their own.”
Republicans were successful in delaying the release of a transcript from the DesJarlais divorce proceedings that showed DesJarlais lied to the media and voters about having sex with his patients and pressuring women to have abortions. Additionally, the Republicans spent tens of thousands of dollars to protect incumbent state Rep. David Hawk, who had been arrested on charges of hitting his wife.
“Political pandering and extremism may have won a few races, but it is not a recipe for an effective government that protects working families and small business owners. The Republican supermajority is already starting to fracture over issues such as the state-based health insurance exchange in Tennessee,” Forrester said. “These divisions will only continue to grow as legislators are faced with the tough choice of catering to fringe extremists in the Tea Party or actually governing in a competent manner.”