State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, was in South Carolina Saturday night helping Newt Gingrich celebrate his victory over Mitt Romney in the Republican primary. Campfield is the co-chair of Gingrich’s efforts in Tennessee while the Republican establishment has lined up solidly behind Romney. Gov. Bill Haslam, his big-contributor family members, House Speaker Beth Harwell, and a long list of state legislators have endorsed Romney, including state Reps. Harry Brooks and Ryan Haynes, and state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey locally. State Rep. Bill Dunn has endorsed Rick Santorum.
Tennessee’s primary is March 6 but we are not likely to get much attention from the candidates as other larger states are having a primary on the same date. But Gingrich’s rise in the polls and his win in South Carolina have cast the election in a different light. Given the success of Tea Party conservatives of late, Romney may find the going tough in the Volunteer state. It will be fun to see whether Campfield’s candidate out-polls the Republican establishment.
Of course, Gingrich may crash and burn by then. Stay tuned.