A Circular Firing Squad in the House GOP

The election last week was full of good news for Democrats hoping to recapture the state House of Representatives.

The fratricide in the Republican House Caucus continues. House Caucus Chair Glen Casada and other House Republican PACs and various allies spent almost $30,000 in a failed bid to defeat Republican House candidate Scott Campbell in Johnson/Sullivan counties. Campbell's sin is to be an aide to House Speaker Kent Williams, who was thrown out of the state Republican Party because he voted with Democrats to make himself speaker. That's $30,000 the caucus forces spent in a Republican primary that they won't have available to use against a Democrat in the fall. Someone also spent money attacking Campbell in anonymous mailers, sent from Nashville, linking him to Harold Ford Jr. when Campbell was a college intern.

In 2008 there was an internal struggle within the House Democrats on whether House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh should be replaced, and many blame the division within the leadership for the loss to the Republicans—giving the Republicans control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction. Outgoing Republican Leader Jason Mumpower told the Republican caucus in a farewell speech that if they do not present a united front in November they might suffer the same fate.

As Ear predicted last week, House Republican incumbents Chad Faulkner, a Knox County Sheriff's Deputy who represents Union and Campbell County, and Eric Swafford, from Cumberland County, both lost their primaries and give Democrats a chance to pick up two House seats. Dennis Powers, who beat Faulkner, has lost to Democrats in the past. And he is from Campbell County, where the Democrats are strong, and he is unlikely to get much support from the Republicans in Faulkner's Union County home.