KNOXVILLE, Tennessee: More than sixty tea party political activists from the across the state of Tennessee met earlier this month in Knoxville to formulate strategies for the next two years. Top priorities among organizers included challenging the federal health care reform measure and pushing for the State Legislature to make the State Attorney General’s Office a publicly elected statewide position.  Unlike other states, the State Attorney General is an officer of the judicial branch and is appointed by the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court, not by the governor or the voters of the state.
The demand among state tea party leaders to allow the public to select the state’s chief law enforcement officer stems from Democratic Robert E. Cooper, Jr., who was sworn into office in late-2006, has refused to join twenty-plus other state attorney generals in filing suit challenging the constitutionality of the wide reaching federal reform bill.  Despite a vote from the State Senate urging him to join the case seeking to block national health care reform, Cooper cited the Supremacy Clause from Article VI of the United States Constitution as the basis for his refusal abide by the Senate’s vote.  
While state tea party members were quite active this past year, their successes were rather limited compared to those nationally. In the state’s gubernatorial contest, tea party groups backed Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey in the Republican primary; Ramsey went on to lose to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, who, in turn, won in the general election months later. Additionally, while some tea party organizers made attempts to win election to the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee this past summer, a considerable number of them were defeated by long-standing party members.