As viewers of the Daily Show’s occasional “Thank you, South Carolina!” features know, the Palmetto State has continued to burnish its reputation for exceptionally wacky politics this year.
But after writing up a preview of today’s Tennessee primary for FiveThirtyEight yesterday, I’d have to say the Volunteer State is making its own bid for dubious fame:
[Tennessee features] the nation’s most expensive House primary (GOP TN-8), a primary where the Club for Growth accidentally directed readers of a mailer to a phone sex line (GOP TN-3), a primary where a white Jewish incumbent has earned the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus in a campaign against the African-American former mayor of Memphis (Dem TN-9), and a primary where Sarah Palin delved into a crowded GOP field in a staunch Democratic district to endorse her latest “Mama Grizzly” (GOP TN-5). And all that fun doesn’t even include America’s latest viral video sensation, Republican gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux.
And that’s just scratching the surface, since Tennessee’s primary field also includes one major Republican gubernatorial candidate (a resident, BTW, of the famous C Street complex run by the secretive theocratic group The Family) who’s been threatening secession, and another who wondered out loud if Islam was not an actual religion but a “cult.” There’s one House candidate under attack because the radio station he owns plays hip-hop music, and another who is battling to protect the citizens of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from the awful specter of Sharia law.
The sheer nastiness of the Tennessee primaries led one congressional candidate to put out a press release observing: “We’re not picking someone to represent us at the next World Wrestling Federation SummerSlam.”
That’s debatable, I guess. But aficionados of the absurd (and for that matter, Democrats, since most of the fireworks are in GOP primaries) can only regret that Tennessee is the rare southern state without a majority-vote requirement, which means we won’t have the spectacle of runoffs to continue the craziness for another few weeks.