George Flinn, the wealthy radiologist/broadcast magnate who is well known to his Shelby Countians — and to the state at large — as a political candidate ever willing to put his energy and assets on the line as a candidate for office or as a backer of causes, has a new goal.
Flinn wants to be chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, to succeed Chris Devaney of Chattanooga, who made a surprise announcement recently that he would be resigning to become head of a home-town non-profit.
“I think our party has become dominant in Tennessee because of its conservative principles, and I believe we should stick to those principles, but we need to guard against having too narrow a focus,” Flinn told the Flyer
. He said that would strive as chairman to be as inclusive as possible in incorporating new people and elements within the party.
In a letter to members of the GOP’s state executive committee this week, Flinn wished the recipients a “Happy Easter” and indicated he was “looking forward to talking with you in the next few days.”
He posed the question, “Now that we Republicans are at the top of the political game, how do we stay there?” He answered his own question this way: “Internal dissension is the only thing that can ruin us. Being in leadership requires us to be organized and united if we want to advance our ideals and receive another overwhelming mandate from the people.”
Another part of the letter makes indirect reference to the fact that Flinn’s own resources would enable him to carry out the duties of chairman without being dependent on a salary or on party members’ contributions:
“If you believe that a full-time, highly paid Chairman is best, then I am probably not your man. If, however, you believe that somebody who still has his foot in the real world of running a business and is willing to volunteer half his time for the good of the state is the way to go (like the county chairs), then please consider me as your candidate of choice.”
Flinn told the Flyer
that he would be willing to consider matching the contributions of donors in order to expand the party’s capability.
His pursuit of the state party chairmanship is but the latest indication of Flinn’s continued interest in playing a role in party affairs. At last weekend’s convention of the Shelby County Republican Party at Bartlett Municipal Center, Flinn sought a position on the local party’s Primary Board and was the only member elected who had not been previously pledged to what turned out to be the winning slate.
Flinn, a former Shelby County Commissionr, has been a major contributor to GOP candidates (as well as to his Democratic son, Shea Flinn, an outgoing member of the Memphis City Council), and has conducted numerous campaigns for public office, most recently as Republican nominee for the state Senate position vacated last year by Democrat Jim Kyle, now a Chancellor, and ultimately won by Sara Kyle, the former incumbent’s wife.