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Ryder Ousts Hilleary as Republican National Committeeman; GOP Takes No Action on Bill Hobbs

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Memphis lawyer John Ryder has regained the post of Republican national committeeman which he lost to former 4th District congressman Van Hilleary four years ago on the eve of Hilleary’s unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate.

In balloting by the Tennessee Republican Party executive committee, meeting at Legislative Plaza at the State Capitol in Nashville on Saturday, Ryder eked out a 31-30 second-ballot victory over Hilleary.

The two contenders had tied 31-31 on the first ballot, after which state committee member Scott Golden, an aide to 7th District congressman Marsha Blackburn, had to depart on a mission for Blackburn. Golden’s absence turned out to be the difference for Ryder.

In other action, the GOP executive committee engaged in no discussion and took no public action on the standing of party spokesperson Bill Hobbs, a controversial figure because of his party press releases – especially one last week which imputed anti-Semitism to the supporters of “Barack Hussein Obama.”

That release, which originally was accompanied by a photograph of Democratic presidential candidate Obama in Kenya wearing tribal African clothes that the release misidentified as “Muslim garb,” got national attention and was roundly denounced in political and media circles.

Among those explicitly repudiating it were numerous Republican leaders. They included both of Tennessee’s Republican senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; Rep. Blackburn; Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan; and the GOP’s likely presidential standard-bearer, John McCain.

While advance word had been that Hobbs’ head might be on the chopping block,and his ultimate fate remains uncertain, party chair Robin Smith received a vote of confidence and a standing ovation from committee members.

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