I published the rough draft of this article yesterday, but I had no idea Rep. Clem would have the final draft to me so quickly. We’re now up to 20 years and 20 reasons – from the 12 years and 12 reasons of before. The more I read, the more terrified I am of Corker winning this primary.

Although I hear former Chattanoogans saying, “I’m going to vote for Corker because he did so much good for the city,” I don’t think that’s enough to outweigh the bad he’s done to conservative Republicans over the years. I’m sure there are many former mayors who were “good” at being mayors, but who didn’t run their cities as conservatives. Rudy Giuliani was a “good” mayor, but I certainly don’t want him in Federal office. That being said, here is the final draft of Rep. Chris Clem’s article on Corker.

20 Years and 20 Reasons Why Many Republicans May Boycott Corker in a General Election:

And What Corker Can Do to Fix It.

What happens when a republican such as Gerald Ford or Bob Dole offend their conservative base then run against a southern democrat? The results can be disastrous for republicans. Tennessee Right to Life has already announced that it will not support Bob Corker if he wins the republican primary. Privately many elected republicans and conservative leaders are telling me the same thing. Under no circumstances will they ever support Bob Corker. What is causing this ground swell of negative feelings about Bob Corker?

It all began 20 years ago according to Bob Corker’s web page, “…over 20 years ago. After traveling with his church on a mission trip to Haiti…” http://www.bobcorkerforsenate.com/About.aspx Corker would go on to say that this trip to Haiti turned him into a pro-life, conservative republican.

From 1984 until 1994 there was no public professions by Bob Corker as to what he stood for. Corker didn’t even vote much less take political stands. Then in 1994 Corker announced he was entering the Republican Primary for the US Senate. Corker promptly announced that he was pro-choice and that he didn’t believe the government should impose any restrictions on abortion.

Corker’s pro-choice comments of 12 years ago were only the beginning. From 1994 on most every time Corker took a stand it was either for a liberal idea such as abortion or taxes. Most every time Corker became involved in back room deals and fundraising it was for moderate republicans over conservative republicans or worse he helped democrats over republicans.

From 1994 to 2005 Corker was involved. And, his involvement shows a clear and unmistakable pattern.

1. 1994: Corker repeatedly told many people including me, that he did not believe that government should have any restrictions on abortion in 1994.

2. 1995: When Corker became Gov. Sundquist’s Finance Commissioner Corker made several comments that led many republican state legislators to believe that Corker supported an income tax and was quite possibly the motivation behind Sundquist’s eventual move for an income tax.

3. 1996: When Corker Was Finance Commissioner several republicans attempted to amend the Governor’s budget with what is known at the Hyde-Amendment to prohibit any state dollars for paying for abortions. Corker was harsh and powerful in his condemnation of these republicans. This was never public. But, republican legislators clearly remember the back room negotiating when Corker as Commissioner of Finance came down fast, hard and harsh on republicans for attempting to put such a pro-life amendment on “his budget.” Corker now claims that he opposed this pro-life amendment because it was last minute. The truth is that Corker was still militantly pro-choice.

4. 2001: In 2001 when Bob Corker was first elected Mayor the first thing he did was raise taxes. He was smart enough to realize that if he raised taxes early then he could run for re-election as Mayor or for US Senate in subsequent years long after the memory of him raising taxes had faded. Corker learned this from Sundquist whose attempt to raise taxes just before leaving office proved disastrous.

5. 2002: In 2002 Corker refused to do any fundraising for the republican nominee for governor. Corker did write a $5,000 check. But, Corker would not hold one of his famous $100,000 fundraisers. The $5,000 check was political cover if anyone became angry that he wouldn’t actually do any fundraising. He described himself as a non-partisan Mayor who would not risk offending anyone by identifying himself with any particular political party.

6. 2002: In 2002 I was personally involved in helping set up a meeting between the state Republican Party and Bob Corker. We knew that Corker didn’t like the republican nominee for governor. So, we decided not to ask Corker to help the republican nominee for governor. Instead, the state republican party asked Corker to assist them in raising money for the state party and/or legislative races. Corker refused. Corker said, (and I paraphrase), “I am not a partisan or a republican mayor. I am neutral and will not assist the Republican Party in raising money for legislative races.”

7. 2002: Two weeks later in 2002 Bob Corker invited 40 of the wealthiest business leaders to his Mayor’s office for a “meet and greet” for democrat candidate for governor, Phil Bredesen. Corker denies this was a fundraiser. The state republican party approached me several times (I was Corker’s state representative) to confirm this because they couldn’t believe their ears. It is widely believed that Bredesen raised 3 to 4 times as much as Van Hilleary in Chattanooga due to Corker’s back room introductions.

8. 2002: Later in 2002, Bob Corker expressed his displeasure that the Hamilton County Republican Delegation was so conservative. Corker attempted to replace his conservative republican legislator with a moderate republican. Corker, his wife, his mother, his father, his chief of staff, his chief of staff’s wife and the list goes on all maxed out at $1,000 each donations to unseat the conservative legislator. That legislator was me. I barely won that primary. Corker warned me after my primary victory that he and his immediate family merely gave $10,000 to unseat me. He merely raised a total of $40,000 to unseat me. He warned me not to go public with my displeasure because he was capable of raising over $100,000 to unseat me the next time if I publicly complained.

9. Bob Corker has a long record of helping big candidates such as George Bush raise money. But, Bob Corker has a reputation of rarely supporting local republicans and never, ever supporting conservative republicans. In other words, if his efforts will help him rub shoulders with those above him then Corker will help. But, Corker rarely helps republicans that hold offices lower than him.

10. 2004: In 2004 many republicans in Nashville approached Bob Corker yet again to ask for his help in fundraising. Corker refused. Instead of helping raise money from his vast array of financial supporters Corker simply gave $3,000 to the republican party and said he would do no more. He certainly wouldn’t hold any fundraisers or make any phone calls. The $3,000 (like the $5,000 2 years earlier) was used by Corker to defend against any hard feeling for his refusal to actually do any real fundraising.

11. 2004: During 2004 many republican legislative candidates asked Corker for contributions and/or fundraising help. Corker always responded that he was Mayor of Chattanooga and did not want to offend his base. He suggested that such republican candidates go to the state party. He had just given the state party $3,000. Corker hoped that his contribution to the state party would somehow come back to help local republicans. He did not want to contribute directly to most republicans for fear of offending his left leaning political base.

12. 2004: Republican legislators in Nashville were shocked in 2004 to discover that Corker was not totally opposed to raising money for state legislators. Bob Corker was only opposed to raising money for republicans. In 2004 Corker was approached by liberal democrats Rep. Lois Deberry, Sen. Roscoe Dixon, Rep. Katherine Bowers and Sen. John Ford. These were the leaders of the “Black Caucus” which is made up of very liberal democrats. Corker was more than happy to help these democrat legislators. Corker raised over $50,000 for the liberal “Black Caucus.” The $50,000 Corker raised for the Black Caucus was placed in a slush fund. It was discovered that this money was not properly reported to the IRS as charitable or to the Election Commission as political. This $50,000 that was raised by Corker was slush fund money for a liberal political group. No one has ever accounted for how it was spent. Dixon, Ford and Bowers would be indicted in the Tennessee Waltz scandal. Corker still defends this fundraising as necessary in order to help his friends in Nashville. This was the incident that awakened most of the republicans in Nashville. Bob Corker was a team player. He just wasn’t on our team.

13. 2005: As recently as 2005, the Corker machine became involved in the local Chattanooga mayor’s race to replace Bob Corker as mayor. There was a republican candidate, Dan Johnson, who raised $100,000. There was a moderate democrat, Ron Littlefield, who raised about $150,000. Then there was an agnostic left wing liberal, Ann Coulter, who raised over $600,000 with the help of the Corker machine. Corker never publicly endorsed anyone. But, a brief review of Coulter’s campaign disclosure statement will show that Corker’s financial machine was clearly behind the most liberal of the three candidates. Fortunately, she lost.

14. 2006: Even as recently as 2006, when Corker visits Nashville Corker has few relationships with republican state legislators, but he is warmly greeted by Democrat Speaker Naifeh. Naifeh once said, “Bob Corker is a democrat deep down.” Naifeh will stop a House Floor Session to recognize and honor Bob Corker if Naifeh sees Corker in the gallery or sitting in the back of the chamber.

15. 2006: Many republican leaders in Nashville express deep concern about a possible Senator Corker. When back room arm twisting starts this December for control of the state senate who do you think Corker will help? Will he help his close friend Phil Bredesen get some republican state senators to vote for a democrat Senate Leader? Or, will Corker help Van Hilleary’s best friend, Ron Ramsey (the current Senate Republican Leader)?

16. 2006: Many republican leaders in Nashville express deep concern about Bob Corker’s close friendship with Democrat Speaker Naifeh. When the back room arm twisting starts this December of 2006 for the next Speaker of the Tennessee House will Republican Leader Bill Dunn have the support of the US Senator? Or, will the US Senator help his close friend Jimmy Naifeh cut some back room deals to keep democrats in control of the Tennessee House. Note, that current House Republican Leader Bill Dunn was the lowly republican legislator who sponsored the Hyde-Amendment 10 years ago and suffered the wrath of Bob Corker.

17. 2006: Consider the long list of republican state legislators who have endorsed Ed Bryant or Van Hilleary. Compare that to the legislators who have endorsed Bob Corker. You would think the front runner and 800 pound guerrilla would have the most endorsements. It is not even close. Those that have worked with all three in been in back rooms with all three overwhelmingly do not prefer Corker.

18. 2006: Apparently, concerns about Corker’s left leaning history has spread to Washington. Will the next US Senator from Tennessee support pro-choice and liberal senators such as John McCain or Arlen Spector to be the next U.S. Senate Republican Leader? Who are the conservative republican senators supporting? Hint, they all appear to be supporting Ed Bryant. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sam Brownback (R-KS), John Ensign (R-NV), Trent Lott (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS) have all publicly endorsed Ed Bryant to join them in the US Senate. These conservative US Senators know that Corker will not support them for leadership in the US Senate.

19. 2007: The state republican party has some good conservative chairman and executive director. Many republican leaders are privately concerned that a Senator Corker would use his influence to replace the current state party leadership with people friendly to Bredesen and Naifeh.

20. 2008: There will be many republican primaries for the State Senate, the State House and Congress over the next 6 years. The next US Senator will be able to quietly and behind the scenes influence those primaries. Will the next US Senator use his influence to move the Republican Party to the left?

How does Bob Corker respond to most of these challenges? Corker has only admitted that his 1994 pro-choice stand was a mistake. Corker still defends his killing of the Hyde Amendment to prohibit tax payer funding of abortion. Corker still defends his funding of the Black Caucus as necessary for his job as Mayor.

Corker dismisses the rest of the charges by running a commercial which claims that Corker went on a mission trip to Haiti and became a conservative republican. The T.V. commercial fails to mention when this mission trip occurred. The commercial implies that Corker’s conversion was recent. Corker is milking that mission trip to Haiti from 1984 for all its worth in the hopes that republican primary voters will skip from 1984 until 2006.

Bob Corker may have changed his mind on abortion just before entering this republican primary in 2006. But, Bob Corker has a 12 year history of frequently supporting democrats over republicans. He has a 12 year history of opposing conservative republicans and attempting to replace them with moderates. Bob Corker has a history of opposing pro-life amendments to prevent public funding of abortion.

Corker has consistently used his influence in the past to oppose the conservative positions and the conservative candidates. If you don’t believe this article then ask the nearest republican state legislator about Bob Corker. The few items I mentioned are only a few of the hundreds of stories that republicans in Nashville tell about Bob Corker’s last 12 years of political involvement.

In order for Bob Corker to mend fences with conservatives Bob will need to do more than promise to vote right on abortion. Bob Corker needs to stop systematically and consistently opposing conservatives at every turn. Bob Corker needs to explain a lot more than his recent republican primary conversion. Bob Corker needs to become a team player.

Even after documenting all the above problems with Bob Corker I would still discourage the growing chorus of Tennessee Right to Life and others who are refusing to support Bob Corker if he becomes the republican nominee. I would encourage all republicans to vote for the primary candidate they trust the most. But, if a good republican does not win the primary then I hope conservatives vote for the republican nominee. If I can agree to support Corker after what he has done to the Republicans in Nashville and to myself then anyone else can vote for Corker. Corker is better than Harold Ford.

-State Representative Chris Clem (R-Signal Mountain)