The Truth Behind the Tennessee
2022 Gubernatorial Primary

Chase Matheson - May 11, 2023
STATEWIDE, TN -- Lockdowns, Toll Roads, and now Red Flag Laws--Governor Bill Lee's 5 years as governor have been anything but boring. Many of the decisions made by Governor Lee have been met with extreme criticism from the core supporters of his own party, but none of that mattered in 2022 when everyone in Tennessee decided to throw their support behind Ole Bill and he was allowed to run unopposed in the GOP Primary-at least that's what the corrupt TN GOP wants you to think. 
What actually happened was a small group of 3 of well-connected individuals wrote emails to the GOP challenging the Bona Fides of all 3 challengers Bullshittin' Bill had. Then the State Executive Committee, comparable to a Board of Directors for the GOP, voted to accept these challenges PRIOR to the deadline for candidates to respond.

If you had been given another option in the TN GOP Gubernatorial Primary, would you have voted for someone other than Bill Lee?

How it should have worked:

The way things work during a gubernatorial primary are as follows:
-Candidates pick up a petition which requires a specific number of signatures.
-Candidate turns in petition by Noon on the day of the deadline. (April 7, 2022)
-Candidates are then given a withdrawal deadline, (April 14, 2022) and members of the party are allowed to challenge the Republican status of any candidate. 
-For the challenges to be effective in a gubernatorial race, 3 challengers minimum are required. 
-These challenges must be made by noon at least 5 days prior to the withdrawal deadline. (April 9, 2022) 
-In the event a challenge is initiated the candidate is notified and given 7 days to respond.
-After the 7 business days the State Executive Committee for the GOP will vote based on the evidence presented by both the candidate and the challengers.

What Happened:

3 individuals pulled petitions to run against Incumbent Governor Bill Lee. Tyler Hagerman, Curtis Carney, and Patricia Morrison. All 3 candidates received challenge emails from the same 3 people. As you can see by viewing the emails below, some immediate similarities stand out.
For one, all 3 emails list the candidates in the same order. Another obvious similarity is that the prospective candidates' names are all in bold, but the addresses are not. There are other similarities with these letters that have lead some to believe they were sent by a coordinated group of people--a form letter if you will. Even the times the emails were sent have drawn ire. This wouldn't be illegal, but would certainly weigh in the decision-making process if I were voting on whether to accept the challenges or not. For clarity, it is not even unethical, as a private citizen, to coordinate your challenges of a candidate. Most politics is done this way. Many people even attribute President Barack Obama's success to his ability to organize grassroots movements. However, this is not where this issue is laid to rest.

At least one candidate, Curtis Carney, decided he would rebut the challenges. The letter sent to him by the TN GOP gave him until April 21, 2022 to respond to his challengers. His response could include numerous things, but most importantly would be a voucher. A voucher is when a County Republican Party, or some individual equally as "Bona Fide", is willing to vouch for the candidate's Republican status. Curtis had two of these vouchers, and turned them in on April 21, 2022--before the deadline.
However, on April 20, 2022 Mr. Carney was notified that the SEC had already voted to keep him off the Primary Ballot--prior to his deadline to respond. This meant his vouchers were not considered or even known about, and the State Executive Committee made their decision without seeing all the evidence. Was the SEC in on the effort to oust him? It's unknown, and no one from the organization will return my requests for comment. 
I looked into the individuals who challenged the 3 prospective candidates and found that all 3 are heavily involved in Republican Party politics, as is to be expected.  Matthew Tuttle, Chairman of the Overton County GOP was kind enough to return our request for comment.
     "A person not being bonafide isn't anything personal, it's simply a belief that Republicans should be running as Republicans. And though we rejoice at new people joining the party, I feel like they should at least vote in our primary a few times to qualify to serve as leaders under our banner. I feel the same way about rejoicing over a new believer joining the church, but not necessarily hiring him as the next pastor before he even knows were the gospel of John is in the Bible." Tuttle said.
Photo Taken from a 2-16 Tweet. Click the photo to see original tweet.
When asked why the challenge emails were so similar, Tuttle explained by saying,
     "It was brought to my attention by David Topping that neither of the candidates had the required voting records to run as Republicans. I reviewed their voting records and drafted the email...The similarity between the emails is because I forwarded my email to be used as a template, that way the other person who was challenging wouldn't have to worry about citing the bylaw section numbers correctly.
David Topping, the individual Tuttle claims gave him the heads up, used to work for the TNGOP during Governor Bill Haslam's time in office. His wife, Lauren Topping, currently works as the General Counsel for the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. 
Lauren Topping also works with a 501(c)4 organization called The Adoption Project which states its mission is "To identify and advocate for policies that make it easy to build families through adoption and foster care, and in the best interests of children, adoptive parents, and birth parents." The founders committee for the Adoption Project includes an Honorary Chair, previous Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and the policy committee Honorary Chair is his wife, Crissy Haslam. The organization started in 2022 and was immediately at the forefront of policy discussions. Small world, huh? No matter what anyone says, there is absolutely NO good ole boy politics happening here. *rolls eyes in sarcasm*

The Result:

Tyler Hagerman, Curtis Carney, and Patricia Morrison were not allowed to run for the chance to get the Republican nomination, and "We the People" are now set to get some fancy new Red Flag laws and toll roads from our "Republican" Governor. Great job Tennessee GOP--once again you've proven some of you are no better than the Democrats. Oh, by the way, Curtis Carney would like his $5,000 filing fee back too. It's been over a year since you promised him it wouldn't be a "ha ha we got you" moment.

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