GOP Legislators Blow Last-Minute Party Horn for Newt

Three Republican legislators weighed in today on the presidential primary, declaring Newt Gingrich should be the winner in Tennessee.

Mt. Juliet Senator Mae Beavers, along with Representatives Joe Carr of Murfreesboro and Terry Lynn Weaver of Smith County cited weekend polls, saying Gingrich is gaining in the now tight race in Tennessee.

Carr then dismissed what he called the managerial strengths of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

“We’re at the point right now where we don’t need a two-degree course correction to the right through some administration or managerial principles. We need somebody with the vision that understands the problems that we’re in, to get their foot on the brake so they can turn this country around.”

It was very much last-minute politicking. It wasn’t exactly news – Representatives Carr and Weaver are on the ballot as potential delegates for Gingrich. And while Senator Mae Beavers had not publicly announced her support, she was lined up behind Gingrich on his visit to the state Capitol last week.

The public showing by the three legislators came after a defection by one of their colleagues. Knoxville Senator Stacey Campfield, who had been a state co-chair for Gingrich, made a surprise announcement over the weekend that he was endorsing Rick Santorum instead.

According to the latest polls, Santorum has a single digit lead in Tennessee over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Under Republican Party rules, Tennessee is a delegate-rich state. Santorum and Gingrich are hoping to get enough electors to keep Romney from locking up the nomination in tomorrow’s Super Tuesday elections.

The three legislators say there are three more state lawmakers who have come out for Gingrich. Carr says the count is “six and growing.”

Senator Campfield made the announcement on a Channel 6 (WATE TV) political segment, taped Friday and aired Sunday.

There has been political bad blood between Campfield and Beavers. Beavers has sued a newspaper publisher in her home district over an investment/loan, and Campfield made a comment in a committee meeting last week about a newspaper Beavers was citing, asking if that was the newspaper she had an interest in.

Under the unofficial rules of the upper chamber, senators aren’t supposed to snipe at each other in public.

The three cited endorsements for Gingrich by Representatives Rick Womick, of Rutherford County, Kevin Brooks of Bradley County and Tony Shipley of Sullivan County. Shipley was no surprise. He warmed up the crowd for Gingrich’s visit last week.

Representative Terry Lynn Weaver cited Gingrich’s understanding of the country as a historian. And she said…

“And just the fact that he’s got that ‘Won’t back down’ attitude. I like that about him. We need someone who’s feisty for such a time as this in our nation.”

Santorum and Romney continue to compete in the tightened Tennessee race:
Santorum Plays Well with Tennessee Church Crowd, Romney Closing Gap

The Knoxville News-Sentinel’s Tom Humphrey blogged the Public Policy Polling release that shows Santorum 34 percent, Romney 29 percent and Gingrich 27 percent. And he lists how Tennessee’s 58 delegates to the Republican National Convention will be parceled out – proportionally, most likely:

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