Conservative Tilman Goins, who served as a Republican State Representative from Morristown for three terms ending in 2018, has been named as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for the State Department of Veterans Affairs. Goins will report to another former legislator, Courtney Rogers from Sumner County, who was appointed as Commissioner of Veterans Affairs by Governor Bill Lee late last year.
Rogers was one of only a couple of grassroots-connected conservatives who was selected to serve in Governor Lee’s Cabinet. Her appointment was cheered by conservative Republicans at the time as an indication that Lee was perhaps responding to criticism of his early appointment of moderate Republicans, anti-Trumpers, and Democrats to top spots in his Administration. Nevertheless, those who saw Rogers’ selection as a positive sign were disappointed when there were no other solid and consistent conservatives who “made the cut” as Lee rounded out his Cabinet-level appointments.
Goins announced that he would not seek reelection in February of 2018. Goins has a long history of public service, having served on active duty in both the US Marine Corps and the US Army, and as a Hamblen County Commissioner before being elected to the State Legislature. Goins was first elected in 2012 after defeating incumbent Rep. Don Miller in the Republican primary by 228 votes.
As a legislator, Goins was a strong Second Amendment supporter, and was among those who voted against Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s tax-raising Improve Act. The initiative included a 6-cent increase in the state tax on each gallon of gasoline along with increasing the tax on diesel fuel, an overall increase of over $300 million. The measure passed 60-37 in the House.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill noted that the hiring of Goins underlines the fact that Commissioner Rogers understands that “personnel is policy.” “If you want to advance conservative policies, you start by hiring conservatives,” Gill said. “Lee has focused on hiring anybody BUT conservatives, and we will see that flow through the departments where he has put Democrats and anti-Trump moderates in charge of filling out the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner slots they oversee.”
“Without an aggressive effort to fill the slots in various departments with conservatives, we will see Haslam-era moderates and Democrats retained and more new appointments like long-time Democrat political operative Terry Ashe,” Gill added. “Sadly, a good selection like Tilman Goins is likely an aberration under Governor Lee rather than an actual change in direction.”
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Photo “Tilman Goins” by Tilman Goins.