Judson Phillips Commentary: It is Time for a Conservative Convention in Tennessee

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by Judson Phillips


The announcement by Senator Lamar Alexander, that he will not seek reelection in 2020, has thrown open the doors for conservatives to change the face of Tennessee politics.

In 2019, the first installment of that change will happen. Marsha Blackburn will replace Bob Corker in the Senate.  That can only be described as a tremendous improvement. Bill Lee will replace Bill Haslam as governor. While the jury is still out on Governor-elect Lee, by default he has to be an improvement over Governor Haslam.

Rumors have long swept Nashville about Governor Haslam’s interest in a Senate seat.  He would be a disaster for conservative and for Tennessee.

He must be stopped.

But how?

The cards are stacked against conservatives.  Governor Haslam is a billionaire who can outspend almost any potential opponent.  In addition, Tennessee is not a run off state. Whoever wins the most votes, even if it is only a plurality, wins the races.  Conservatives well remember the 2006 election where conservatives Van Hillary and Ed Bryant fought it out with Bob Corker.  Corker won with the conservative base split.

We cannot allow the conservative base to be split again. Conservatives must unite in a way we have never done. The conservative movement must unify around one single candidate for Senator in 2020.

But how?

The answer is, conservatives must plan and then come together next fall for a convention.

The main purpose for the conservative convention is for Tennessee’s conservatives to select a single candidate to support.

Uniting conservatives is a tough thing to do.  By our nature, we are not collectivists. We do not want to agree or submit.  But this is one time when we must put our differences aside and choose one candidate, we can all get behind to defeat Bill Haslam and the other establishment hacks.

How would this work?

Conservatives who want to be a part of this convention must agree they will support the candidate the convention agrees on, even if it is not their candidate.  Candidates must agree, if they want to seek the nomination from the conservative convention, they will drop out if they are not the candidate the convention chooses.

The convention need not be limited just to the Senate race. It can also help focus and unite conservatives to help take out some of the tax and spend politicians in Nashville.

For too long, the Tennessee Republican Party has been dominated by wealthy moderates from East Tennessee. They promise conservatism, yet increase spending, taxes and assault our liberties.

Bill Haslam will be the hardest candidate conservatives have ever fought. He can outspend any other candidate and he will have the fawning attention of the media, helping him at every turn.  The only way a conservative wins the Senate race in 2020 is if the conservative movement is united.

The only way conservatives will be united is if we meet in a convention and decide on a consensus candidate to support.

Otherwise, look forward to six years of saying, “Senator Haslam.”

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2 Thoughts to “Judson Phillips Commentary: It is Time for a Conservative Convention in Tennessee”

  1. linda wilson

    I agree with the desire but I don’t think it would work to keep Haslam from winning and here is why. No manner how many people join the convention or even just agree with the conventions determination of the right candidate to support, most TN voters don’t follow conservative leadership because they are mushy moderates who don’t even pay attention. I’m sorry if that offends anyone but that is my opinion or who the average TN voter is. I do think if you can get Trump to support your candidate you then would have a good chance of defeating Haslam. Tennessee voters do seem to listen to Trump’s preference. So two steps and it might work.

  2. Dan Meredith

    Judson, EXCELLENT thoughts. Profound statement: “By our nature, we are not collectivists. We do not want to agree or submit.” Not only Conservative, but SOUTHERN Conservatives have Celtic ancestry. Just watch the movie “Braveheart” again to see how “we” refuse to cooperate, and would prefer to die fighting with the clan in the nex vally than live uniting with them. William Wallace could have freed his people from oppression (at least in the movie) but they refused to unite. Similar things occurred during the War Between The States. Conservatives must heed the words of Jesus “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”