Alexander's Column

Republican Primary Pretenders: Caveat Emptor

A Conservative Pretender Case Study: Boyd v Black

Mark Alexander · Jul. 18, 2018
“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” —George Washington (1796)

Across our nation, there are a few hotly contested federal and state Republican primaries in which genuine conservative candidates are facing wealthy pretenders who are recasting themselves as “conservative.” These imitators can fund unlimited advertising and social media buys for their makeovers.

Some “conservative” candidates are, at best, moderates.

A case study of how such pretenders operate is the primary campaign between those seeking to become Tennessee’s 50th governor. One candidate, Randy Boyd, hails from a well-heeled family and is a likable candidate. He is a husband and father, and he has supported some initiatives that have helped his community of Knoxville, Tennessee.

But he is not a “conservative Republican,” despite the facade that he and his handlers have erected for their campaign to defeat an unpretentious and unapologetic conservative, Rep. Diane Black.

Let me be clear: My objection is not that Boyd is a moderate. I am a pragmatist and sometimes a moderate is the best a primary has to offer. But not this primary, and others like it.

My objection is that Boyd is a pretender who is endeavoring to dupe millions of conservative Tennessee voters into believing he’s one of them. He self-identified as a “moderate” when he was exploring his candidacy, but he now insists he’s a “lifelong conservative” and his brand is “Conservative for Governor.” The political campaign deceptions he condones demonstrate a serious underlying character flaw.

This example of re-fabrication is being repeated in other Republican primaries across the nation. Perhaps this opinion/analysis of one such campaign will inspire the exposure of other pretenders.

Attempting to ride the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Boyd, a quintessential “Never Trumper,” claims, “I’m not a professional politician. I’m a businessman.” He portrays himself as a “political outsider,” but in fact he’s the most insidious variety of political insiders — those who are not elected but use their wealth to buy into political circles and influence government policies.

In fact, Boyd has spent much of his career hobnobbing around with rich politicos like Tennessee’s current governor, Bill Haslam — another establishment Republican. Boyd was appointed to a couple of administrative roles by Haslam, grooming his own run for governor. Like Haslam, he’s a wealthy jet-setter who is disconnected from grassroots Americans, and he uses his affluence to live as if recreation were his occupation, spending extravagantly on himself and his family. Of his personal pursuits, he says, “I’ve been a little selfish in that I pick the things I’m most passionate about and go for those things.” Like his estate in Argentina…

Boyd amassed most of his estimated $800 million fortune by marketing products made in China and other countries, while sheltering some of his wealth overseas. As for the jobs he claims to have created, many have not been in the U.S. and others have been outsourced to foreign producers.

In 2016, Boyd supported the establishment Republican presidential primary candidate, Jeb Bush, and refused to raise money for Trump after he won the primary. Bush has, in turn, endorsed Boyd.

Boyd is a strong supporter of Barack Obama’s statist Common Core “education initiative.”

He claims ubiquitously that “freedom should carry forward to social issues.” Like abortion and so-called “gay marriage,” which is supported by Boyd and his liberal church. His companies support LGBT activist groups. His campaign is also supported by wealthy donors who back Planned Parenthood.

He says he supports the Second Amendment and claims to be an avid hunter, and he recently purchased an NRA membership to support that pretense. In fact, he supports “animal rights” groups that oppose hunters, and Boyd has organizational ties to anti-2A leftist billionaires Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His largest single donation was $5 million to the Knoxville zoo.

He supports “corporate welfare” and is a strong supporter of Obama’s unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty, which was opposed by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but would boost Boyd’s net worth.

Boyd is a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy, backed by leftist Michael Bloomberg, and which advocates for illegal immigrants. Boyd’s group partnered with Welcoming America to support sanctuary cities. Welcoming America is backed by leftist George Soros, the godfather of the archenemies of Liberty.

Boyd supported and donated to the campaign of Knoxville’s Democrat Mayor Madeline Rogero, who promotes open borders, opposes cooperation with immigration officials, and has turned Knoxville into a sanctuary city — the only one in Tennessee. Rogero was a Clinton delegate.

He supports free tax-funded tuition for illegal immigrants, and he remains on the board of Obama’s College Promise Campaign, a project of the leftist Civic Nation started by Obama activists. Among other things, CPC promises education for “undocumented students.”

He donated $250,000 to La Raza affiliate Conexion Americas, a leftist Democrat Party front group that supports sanctuary cities and open borders and opposes President Trump’s border security and immigration reform policies.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? It’s a pattern repeated by pretenders in other Republican primaries.

All of this notwithstanding, Boyd is flooding the media markets with campaign ads insisting that he and Donald Trump are “a lot alike.” But seasoned political commentator Jackson Baker offered this assessment of the stark contrast between Boyd’s campaign facade and reality:

If all you saw of Boyd were his TV ads, which are loaded with hard-edged innuendo about the Second Amendment, potential welfare cheats, illegal immigrants, and Democrats’ alleged indifference to the porousness of our southern border, you would think: This guy is the right-winger of the race, more Trumpian than arch-conservative gubernatorial rival Diane Black. … But listen to [Boyd’s] ideas in forums and at stump speeches and fundraisers, and all of that is turned on its head. What Boyd talks about instead is the kind of ameliorist, problem-solving approach you would expect to hear from a centrist Democrat.

Regarding the disconnect between the facade he has created — pretending to be a “principled conservative” — and his record, Boyd said, “If I’m running to be the Republican nominee in Tennessee, I want Republican voters to see that I’m one of them.”

Or at least to think he’s one of them…

To protect that facade, Boyd abruptly dropped out of the last gubernatorial debate, claiming, “We just have a scheduling conflict. I don’t do the schedule so I can’t tell you when it came up. But we’ve had a scheduling conflict.”

Fact is, Boyd has been polling behind Tennessee’s genuine conservative Republican candidate, Diane Black. Consequently, he and his campaign CEO, Chip Saltsman, a onetime RNC chair wannabe and 2008 Mike Huckabee campaign operative, have unleashed a torrent of fallacious negative ads against Black. (Saltsman’s RNC bid was canned after news of his promotion and distribution of a racially-derogatory parody, “Barack the Magic Negro” to his political Christmas card list.)

Saltsman has perfected the art of violating what Ronald Reagan’s California Republican chairman labeled “The Eleventh Commandment” — that Republicans in primaries should not engage in fratricidal infighting. His modus operandi is to sandbag Republican primary candidates in the final weeks of campaigns, when there is no time to counter mendacious accusations. Negative campaigning leads to a downward spiral as opposing campaigns then have to engage in a negatives poll number game.

So duplicitous and hypocritical is Boyd’s campaign, that they are now targeting negative attacks against a third placing candidate, another conservative, Bill Lee, insisting (get this) that he “lobbied for amnesty for illegals.” Saltsman’s trademark is attacking from his client’s weak points, in this case suggesting his opponents are weak on defending American jobs from cheap illegal immigrant labor, which is in fact Boyd’s “Achilles’ heel.”

This is why every ad Saltsman creates for Boyd features his weakest point – that he is a moderate pretending to be a conservative – thus the word “conservative” appears before his name in every advertisement in any medium, as they try to rebrand him as something he is not.

It would seem that Saltsman suffers from the pathological affliction which plagued Obama, some degree of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which drives his aversion to the truth – maybe Boyd’s blindness to that pathology means it is a shared affliction.

A lesson for anyone in a primary where there is a pretender – they target opponents with negative advertising which, most often, is an attempt to cover up their own record.

Boyd and Saltsman are now attempting to defeat Rep. Black with what can only be charitably described as abject lies – the most recent of these declaring that “DC Diane” (asserting falsely that she’s a career politician) was a “Never Trumper.” They are using multimillion-dollar PACs to advance racist and sexist deceits about Black’s conservative legislative record. They shrewdly enlisted Saltsman’s old boss, Mike Huckabee, to endorse Boyd, knowing that would then create a Sarah Huckabee Sanders gauntlet against President Trump endorsing Diane Black. If not for these sleazy Saltsman/Boyd tactics, I would not have written this this column.

Why would Trump endorse Rep. Black? For the same reasons I endorse and support her candidacy. (In fact, attesting to their conservative pedigree, Diane’s husband, a decorated USMC Vietnam veteran, was a Patriot Post reader and supporter long before she first went to Congress.)

Black is the authentic conservative in this primary, who was swept into congressional office in the Republican Wave of 2010, and her gubernatorial candidacy has the endorsement of Tennessee’s most conservative constituent groups.

She also has strong endorsements from the nation’s leading conservative organizations, including the American Conservative Union, National Right to Life and the Family Research Council. In the NRA’s endorsement of Black, Chairman Chris Cox declared: “For over two decades Diane Black has been a steadfast supporter of our constitutional right to self-defense. She has never wavered in the fight to expand and protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Diane Black has a perfect record on Second Amendment issues and we enthusiastically endorse her candidacy.”

Those of you who follow national legislation and policy would know Black’s name in connection with the House Budget Committee. She was the first woman to chair that powerful committee and last year she shepherded Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 through her committee and through Congress. That legislation has since unleashed incredible economic growth to Make America Great Again.

It was the fist time in almost a decade that the House and Senate passed a budget. As Donald Trump noted, “Diane Black, the highly respected House Budget Committee Chairwoman, did a GREAT job in passing [the] Budget, setting up big Tax Cuts.” And he has repeatedly recognized her legislative record. In fact, Rep. Black was at Trump’s side this week, leading the discussion on the next phase of his economic plans.

But the establishment Republican crowd is pulling out all the stops to persuade Trump to refrain from endorsing Black’s gubernatorial run.

However, they were not able to stop Mike Pence from both supporting Black’s campaign financially and reminding Tennessee voters this week of her “great leadership”

Also this week, National Immigration and Customs Enforcement President Chris Crane, who represents all ICE officers across the nation, endorsed Black: “Diane Black stood tough on immigration enforcement and border security, even when it was hard. When the Obama Administration undermined ICE officers, Diane Black stepped up. She backed law enforcement when others were afraid. Noting the ads of her opponents "are full of misrepresentations and lies,” Crane insists, “make your decisions on the facts. And the fact is, Diane Black is as tough on immigration enforcement as they come.”

Notably, one of Black’s most recent legislative bills would make illegal entry into the U.S. a felony, which would most assuredly put a damper on Boyd’s advocacy for illegal immigration.

Bottom line: Conservatives across the country should take a close look at the background of those primary candidates marketing themselves as “conservatives,” because the pretenders are propagating. Caveat emptor!

(P.S. No doubt that in response to this opinion/analysis, Boyd and Saltsman will turn their guns on The Patriot Post. That’s their black-bag MO.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776


Update: Regarding the poll that matters most, the one on Election Day, it turns out that the relentless Boyd/Saltsman attacks against Diane Black worked – in that she did not win this primary. But after Saltsman spent an estimated $20 million of Boyds personal wealth for their overwhelmingly negative campaign against Black and Bill Lee, there was a painful lesson for Boyd and Saltsman – the negative campaigning corroded their own campaign support. The most positive takeaway from this primary campaign is that fratricidal attacks actually lifted the candidate who did not go negative, Bill Lee, to victory. Lee, who spent the least amount of money in this campaign, has stronger grassroots ties than the current Republican governor, and will be a better leader. You can view his acceptance remarks here.

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