Social media turns nasty in Tennessee's gubernatorial campaign

Hank Hayes • Jan 29, 2018 at 7:30 PM

Who are you TNPoliticos?

And who are you Lance is Frazzled?

Those two Twitter accounts with possible connections to Tennessee GOP gubernatorial campaigns were active this past weekend.

On Saturday, Lance Is Frazzled tagged me and other journalists, pointing out an “amazingly disrespectful” TNPoliticos posting making fun of Williamson County businessman Bill Lee’s first TV gubernatorial campaign ad where he talks about a defining moment in his life: the death of his wife in a horse riding accident. Lance Frizzell, former chief of staff for retired Blountville Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, has been working with the GOP gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

“I'm really freaked out Diane might not win, so I'm passive aggressively trolling all of our opponents,” says Lance is Frazzled’s Twitter home page.

TNPoliticos then followed up with a posting of a March 2009 story I did on Scott Gilmer, who entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge for unlawfully creating fake political web sites in 2008 in the name of former state Rep. Nathan Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat.

“A flashback to the last time @scottwgilmer was involved in a campaign. Should be a fun 2018 for him,” TNPoliticos Tweeted with the link to my story.

Gilmer is now listed as the chief of staff for House Speaker Beth Harwell, who’s also running for governor. I remember after the no contest plea, Gilmer ran from me when I tried to ask him questions. He used Vaughn’s name in Internet domain names. One website depicted Vaughn as a union sympathizer. Vaughn, Northeast Tennessee’s first African-American lawmaker, ended up losing his 2nd House District re-election bid to Republican Tony Shipley by fewer than 500 votes.

Why does state government employ a person who has entered a no contest plea to a political crime?

All of this tells me the political dirty tricksters are at work — attacking their fellow Republicans — while hiding behind fake names on social media. And probably getting paid for it.

Yes, despicable happens in political campaigns. Social media takes it to another level.

In text and voice messages sent to me after this blog initially was published, Frizzell said he is not associated with either Twitter account.

He did not immediately respond when asked if anyone with the Black campaign was associated with either Twitter account.

Hank Hayes covers business and politics for the Times News. You can reach him at: hhayes@timesnews.net.