Fledgling TFP Editorial Page Editor Hired To Be A “Flame Thrower,” He Tells Republican Group

Friday, August 24, 2012 - by Judy Frank
Pictured, left to right, are County Clerk Bill Knowles, Drew Johnson, Daphene Kirksey and Tommy Crangle, club president
Pictured, left to right, are County Clerk Bill Knowles, Drew Johnson, Daphene Kirksey and Tommy Crangle, club president
- photo by John Shackleford

Less than two months into his stint as one of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press’ two editorial page editors, Drew Johnson is already catching flak from some members of the conservative political groups he is openly courting. Thursday evening, for example, he was roundly criticized by Nightside Pachyderm Club members for withdrawing his endorsement of Republican state Senate candidate Greg Vital on the eve of the recent primary election – and writing a scathing column explaining his reasons for doing so.

Mr. Johnson stood his ground. “Greg went around and basically threatened people with his money . . . I don’t think that he is fiscally principled,” he told the club members.

Likewise, he said, he has the same complaint about Todd Gardenhire – who managed to squeak out a victory over Mr. Vital.

“I spoke with Todd and with Greg,” he said. “I like them both personally . . .  (but) I was displeased at both of them as a fiscal conservative.”

He sees similar flaws in many so-called conservatives, Mr. Johnson told the group. For example, “(apparent Republican nominee for vice president) Paul Ryan’s voting record is horrible . . . very liberal. He voted for auto bailouts, Medicare B . . . things no fiscally conservative person would support.”

Born in 1979 in Johnson City , Jason Andrew “Drew” Johnson has built his career on attack politics and he’s proud of it.

Thursday night, for example, he listed a litany of accomplishments he said he made during his tenure as head of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a think tank he founded to promote free market principles in the Volunteer State. He has also worked as a senior fellow for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.  

Thursday evening, addressing the Pachyderms, he was more circumspect than in some earlier pronouncements.

When he was brought in to replace longtime New-Free Press editorial page editor Lee Anderson, his new bosses were looking for a “flame-thrower,” he said.

“I see my role as making liberals really mad . . . and calling out Republicans who aren’t acting conservatively,” he told the group.


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