Thursday, June 10, 2021

Drama at the Tennessee Republican Assembly. Michelle Foreman vs Dan Meredith for Chairman.

Dan Meredith
by Rod Williams-  There is a lot of drama going on at the Tennessee  Republican Assembly and on Saturday of this week there will be an election to choose new officers.  The office of Chairman (or maybe it is President) for the coming year is contested.  This in itself I think is rare.  Even the Davidson County Republic Party had no contested elections for officers.  In a small group like TRA one usually has to beg people to serve. There are probably no more than a dozen active members.  However, the election to choose the leader of TRA is going to be a real election.  Two candidates are seeking to lead the organization: Michelle Foreman, the current chairman, and challenger Dan Meredith. 

I know both of the candidates. Both are active Republicans and both ran but lost races for the Metro Council.  I, in fact, contributed to both of their campaigns when they ran and I like both of them.  Michelle Foreman took over as chirman after Sharon Ford, who ran the organization for many years, stepped down due to family and personal obligations and asked Michelle to take over.  Since then Michelle and Sharon have had a falling out, over what I am not exactly sure.  Dan Meredith is challenging Michelle Foreman and he has the support of Sharon Ford. 

Michelle Foreman
I don't know the truth of what is going on at TRA, but a lot of rumors are flying and charges are being made of malfeasance and abuse of office. I am not attesting to the accuracy of any of these charges, but am just repeating the rumors that I have heard from several sources. Here is some of what is being said:

  • Sharon Ford would not pass on to Michelle Forman a list of members or former members or other records.
  • After Sharon Ford was no longer chairman, she continued to write checks out of the TRA account.
  • Michelle Foreman changed the organization's bank account to a new bank and made herself and the new treasure the authorized party to write checks.
  • Michelle retained a lawyer to demand Sharron turn over records.
  • When Sharon Ford at a meeting of TRA raised an issue as to what authority or authorization Michelle had to change banks, Michelle ruled her out of order and would not recognize her to raise the issue.
  • TRA has for years been operating without the required number of dues-paying members necessary to maintain their status as a state auxiliary of the Republican Assembly.
  • A faction is using the TRA logo and representing themselves as TRA when they are not. 
There is more, that I just don't feel comfortable repeating.  It is getting pretty nasty.

For those who are active in Republican circle, you probably know the players mentioned above and are probably familiar with TRA. Some of my readers may not be. The Tennessee Republican Assembly is a state auxiliary of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.  Their motto is, "the Republican wing of the Republican Party."  While in the past there were Republican parties that were dominated by "liberal," or "Eisenhower" or chamber of commerce type Republicans, I don't think that exists anymore.  Certainly, not in Tennessee.  The Tennesee Republican Party is solidly conservative.  Maybe there was a need for the Republican Assembly back when Reagan was challenging the status quo in California, but I simply do not see the need for such an organization now.  Of course, some Republicans think of Lee, Haslam, and Corker as "liberal."  They want bombastic, angry, Republicans and I guess that is what TRA is seeking.  Now, I think they are all in for Trump, but then so are most Republicans.  I just do not see much that makes TRA different from what today is "mainstream," Republican. 

Even if one wants a more angry dogmatic Republican Party, I do not see how TRA helps achieve that goal.  They amount to no more than another Republican breakfast club, not that different from the Bellevue Breakfast Club or the Southeast Davidson County Conservative breakfast club, or any number of other such clubs that have existed over the years. In fact, they often have the same speakers as other Republican breakfast groups. They meet, hear from a speaker, socialize and leave.  They are not doing more than similar groups.

I will not be attending the meeting on Saturday.  I am not a member of TRA.  I was.  I joined when Owen Morrell was chairman. It must have been about 2010, or it could have been as early as 2008 or as late as 2012.  I just can't recall.  I was a member for several years.  However, when Glenn Hughes was chairman, (I think the last name was "Hughes," but I am not certain.) I was kicked out.  I was kicked out for one of my "liberal" positions. It may have been because I believed the first amendment applied to Muslims, or maybe because I believed Barrack Obama really was an American, or maybe something else. When I had my membership revoked, I told Glen, not to worry about it, I had been kicked out of better places.

If I were a member, I would vote for Michelle Foreman on Saturday. Not that my endorsement helps her; in fact, that may hurt her with that group.  Not that I have anything against Dan Meredith except he has the support of Sharron Ford.  I am just very impressed by Michelle Foreman.  She is solidly conservative without the chip-on-the-shoulder anger. 

What I do not understand is why Michelle would even want the position.  It is thankless. Michelle is a member of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party.  Michelle made a decent showing in her run for council. She has great credentials for a run for higher office should the district boundaries and stars align to make that an option.  She is smart and articulate, personable and attractive.  Having served as Chair of the TRA is not likely to enhance her political prospects.  Plus, she works full-time as a registered nurse, serves on the Executive Committe of the Tennessee Republican Party, just graduated law school and I would assume needs to be studying for the bar, not trying to organized speakers and manage a contentious organization. My advice to Michelle is to let Sharon keep the TRA and put her energies elsewhere. 

Below are a few snippets of Facebook post that gives one a flavor of what is happening in the organization. Also, you may want to visit these links for more: linklink, link and link

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