It is no secret that the hottest primary race in Tennessee is the campaign to elect Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers in the August 2 primary in Sumner County (District 45) and the intended defeat of incumbent Debra Maggart.
The NRA has already invested as of June 30 $75,000 in support of Rogers and the defeat of Maggart in a state House primary which by all accounts is unheard of.
In addition to the NRA’s investment in the race, TFA has invested $10,600 as of June 30, and other statewide and local grassroots organizations including Tea Party groups, the Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA), are waging similar battles to support Courtney Rogers as a true grassroots steward and to defeat a self-perceived “ruler” such as Debra Maggart.
The issues driving the work to defeat Maggart are much broader than just the 2nd Amendment. They include her condescending attitude in general towards grassroots and constitutional interests, her work to disregard the constitutional sheriffs’ bill, her position on the Health Care Compact, her acceptance of “ghost voting” which is a violation of written House Rules and even the outrageous fact that she gladly takes and retains per diem payments that are intended as reimbursements to legislators who must actually travel to be in Nashville to cover their hotel accommodations. TRA’s mailer does not even reference the 2nd Amendment:
In response to the outrage being expressed by so many groups of voters and grassroots interests, Debra Maggart appears to be getting desperate. She claims in a mailer released this week that she has a 100% pro 2nd Amendment voting record despite the fact that the National Rifle Association and TFA – the two most knowledgeable grassroots organizations on 2nd Amendment issues in Tennessee over the last several decades both specifically identify Maggart’s votes on the two Safe Commute bills this year as clear evidence to the contrary. In an apparent delusional moment – or because truthfully stating that she has a less than 100% voting record would not be good enough – Maggart herself writes in her mailer:
“I also have a 100% voting record on the Second Amendment, despite my critics from the Washington DC area.”
Setting aside that the NRA’s offices are in Virginia, the fact is that the NRA is advocating for the interests of its members who are residents of Tennessee and that the other organizations opposing her also almost exclusively comprised of Tennesseans. While she might try an Obama tactic of denying the truth (or she may sadly actually believe what she says) the facts are clearly otherwise. Her race has the attention of 100’s of thousands of Tennesseans and their collective grassroots voices.
Maggart cannot accept the fact that she has, like Japan did in World War II, awaken a proverbial “sleeping giant” comprised of Tennessean voters with her own outrageous and condescending conduct.
In addition to her delusional assertions, it appears that either Maggart has herself solicited or otherwise obtained the support of her incumbent leadership peers or they have simply chosen to fall on their own 2nd Amendment swords to come to her aid. For example, another member of House Republican leadership, Gerald McCormick claims that he did more to kill the Safe Commute bill than Maggart did. In response to a statement from NRA’s Chris Cox that Maggart was the lead dog, McCormick claims he was (apparently not realizing that he might be the next top primary race in 2014….) more involved with stopping the Safe Commute act’s progress than Maggart was. Part of the news report reflects:
The NRA promised there would be political repercussions if the so-called “Guns in Parking Lots” bill failed, and now a billboard shows the group is willing to put its money where its mouth is.
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Maggart is engaged in a hotly contested primary race with Tea Party candidate Courtney Rogers.
The NRA has put in an unprecedented $75,000 into the race, with the hopes of defeating Maggart.
“The message we’re trying to send is that, despite what Debra Maggart says as a politician, actions speak louder than words,” said Chris Cox, with the NRA.
The billboard compares Maggart’s gun record to Obama’s, even though just a year ago, Maggart had an “A+” rating from the NRA.
“Debra Maggart almost single-handedly killed a piece of self-defense legislation by refusing to allow an up or down vote,” Cox said.
However, that claim is being disputed by other Republican leaders.
“That’s just an inaccurate statement. I had a lot more to do with killing that bill than she did,” said State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga.
Well, at least the observation that other Republican leaders are trying to confuse the facts is true. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey himself has also weighed in on the matter this week. Indeed, it is the underlying message from Ron Ramsey that should be the most troubling to citizens all across this state and which should give pause to legislators as they consider whether to restore him this fall to the office of Lt. Governor.
WPLN quotes just a portion of the Ramsey comments to TNReport in a video interview (you really need to watch this).
The measure to allow gun permit holders to keep firearms in their cars at work, regardless of the workplace’s policies, pitted business lobbyists against gun rights advocates during this year’s legislative session. The state legislature attempted to hammer out a compromise, but ultimately pushed the matter off until next year.
That upset the TFA, which is the state chapter of the National Rifle Association. The group is actively campaigning against one GOP legislator, Representative Debra Maggart, and the NRA sent a survey to candidates, trying to pin them down on the issue.
In video from TN Report, Speaker Ramsey, a Republican, says there’s a good chance the compromise bill will be revived, but he says it’s hard to predict how it will be received in light of the divisive campaigning.
“I don’t know what the mood of the general assembly will be when we come back in, whether it will be a mood to pass a bill or a mood that you don’t negotiate with people who threaten you. I don’t know what it will be.”
When asked by a reporter about the idea that gun rights groups are trying to bully Republicans, Ramsey said –quote- “it isn’t just a perception, that’s reality.”
What does Ron Ramsey mean when he talks about the “mood” of the General Assembly? That is what should scare the allegiance out of many citizens in this state and give good conservative Senators pause when its time to select the next Lt. Governor.
Realize that these grassroots organizations which are lining up against Maggart – NRA, TFA, TEA Party, TRA, and others, are predominately organizations that stand on the Constitution and are comprised of Tennessee citizens and voters. They are not business lobbyists representing commercial interests or truly out of state concerns. NRA alone reports that it has 100,000+ members in Tennessee – perhaps 1 in 15 of the statewide likely voters.
What Ramsey is saying and other legislators have been heard to say is that if or when citizen groups – grassroots groups – demand accountability from legislators, that is when they demand constitutional soundness, when they demand allegiance to the legislative oath to uphold first the Constitution and when legislators put business, private or commercial interests first ahead of the Constitutions or the individual rights of citizens … the legislators do get “moody” and can simply refuse to abide by the Constitution, their oaths or the rights of the citizens! Moody simply because the citizens demanded what the legislators should have done without prodding or demands in the first place!
What Ramsey is saying and other legislators have said is that these Republican leaders and caucuses are willing to retaliate against all of the citizens in this state – and their constitutional and individual rights – by blocking or delaying constitutionally sound and appropriate legislation if grassroots groups stand “too” firm on the constitution or the rights of citizens. That Republican legislators can and will retaliate against the citizens if advocacy groups honestly tell legislators that they will seek out primary challengers if the legislators fail to do their jobs and honor their oaths. Apparently, Republican legislators – at least some of them – are offended that anyone would question the soundness of the judgment or motives and are willing to retaliate against the people that they were elected to serve. That sounds more like Emperor Nero than a constitutionally conservative steward.
Do we need or can we even tolerate legislators who have to be “in the mood” to uphold the constitution? Can we place the citizens at risk by expecting grassroots advocate groups of citizens to “back off” if a moody legislator feels that the demands of constitutional accountability make them, as Phil Valentine would say, “uncomfortable” when held against the conflicting demands of business lobbyists like Federal Express, Bridgestone, Volkswagen, and the Chamber of Commerce?
The sad fact is that the controversy over the Safe Commute law failed this year but it will be resolved in the future just as ultimately other abdications by prior legislators have been resolved involving prior stonewalling over things like carry permits, reciprocity, carry in state parks, carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, and other mindless and needless restrictions on your fundamental rights. Time and changes in the composition of the Legislature will cure this issue.
But, the thing that should really drive every citizen in this state to action now is the unintended admissions by people like Ron Ramsey that the Republican legislative leaders are willing to trash your constitutional rights when the “mood” strikes them. They are willing to retaliate against all citizens and their rights if they conclude that the NRA, the TFA, the Tea Party, Right to Life, the Eagle Forum, Homeschoolers, Immigration advocates, 10th Amendment advocates, 1st Amendment advocates or any other grassroots advocacy groups are not “playing” they way the legislators want the game played which is really nothing more than “we will give you what we want to allow you to have if and when we want to give it to you….”
2012 may be about making an example of Debra Maggart but the fact is that some of the other incumbents may be too moody to get the message. 2014 may be where the real work lies and that work must start now with a close examination of a lot of other incumbents.