The End of a Click-Friendly, Anti-Gay, Holocaust-Trolling Republican State Legislator

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 8 2014 11:16 AM

The End of a Click-Friendly, Anti-Gay, Holocaust-Trolling Republican State Legislator

He made it into my story about Tennessee's primaries, and he was covered in my tweets about the results, but state Sen. Stacey Campfield deserves another moment. In 2012, Campfield became Internet-famous for the legislation quickly termed the "don't say gay bill." If successful—and it was introduced right after the GOP's surge of 2010 wins—it would have prevented any teaching of homosexuality to students younger than eighth grade. And just a few months ago, Campfield wrote a post that compared Obamacare signups to willfull participation in the Holocaust. "Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s," he said. (Misspelling in the original, for once.)

The day before the election, I met Campfield's chief opponent Richard Briggs, most famous for being part of the medical team that worked on ABC's Bob Woodruff in Iraq. He was given a shout-out from the stage of Sen. Lamar Alexander's final rally in Knoxville. After the rally, he got a little catch-up time with Gov. Bill Haslam. From that and from a conversation with Briggs—where he stressed that "on the issues," he was not more liberal than Campfield—I got the impression that the establishment wanted Campfield out. Briggs was sore that Campfield had been attacking him for not taking a stance on "amnesty," as if that meant he was for it, as opposed to just aware that a state senator could not change immigration policy.

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Briggs won by a landslide. He won 13,977 votes to Campfield's 5,824, with a third candidate taking 1,201 votes. Campfield was banished for, basically, being a local Todd Akin—a conservative who said dumb things and distracted voters from the need to beat Democrats.

He responded to the election result with a blog post consisting of four words—"Well, that was fun"—and a video of Frank Sinatra singing "My Way."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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