Tea Party, Haslam At Odds

The Tennessee Tea Party is drawing sharp rebukes from Republicans for claiming Gov. Bill Haslam showed “socialistic” tendencies in his previous role as mayor of Knoxville.

The group is angry at Haslam for failing to support a Senate bill that would do away with teachers’ collective bargaining rights. But Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville called the group’s statement about the governor “absolutely ridiculous.”

Haslam, who laughed off the description in news conferences on Wednesday, has endorsed the House version exempting several areas like merit pay and evaluations from negotiations, but stopping short of eliminating all union bargaining.

Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin, the sponsor of the Senate version, considers himself a member of the tea party but said the comments about Haslam went “overboard.”