Zach Wamp Terms UAW "A Wild, Operative, Democratic Organization" In Wide-Ranging Talk

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2024
  • Hannah Campbell
Zach Wamp
Zach Wamp

Former Congressman Zach Wamp, in an address to the Pachyderm Club, warned local Republicans about the Volkswagen vote April 17-19 to join the United Auto Workers union, “a wild, operative, Democratic organization,” he said.

“We ought to say no,” he said.

Though Mr. Wamp coached local Republicans to be more inclusive and work with one another and with moderates for the party, he cautioned Hamilton County Commissioners against getting too close to a Democrat in their midst.

“There’s a Democrat down there on the County Commission that probably would like to be the county mayor,” he said.

He said commissioners are bickering because “people don’t have anything to do.”

“You’ve got to resist some of the temptation to take some of your energy and use it against your fellow Republicans,” he said.

Mr. Wamp said he ran against state Senator Todd Gardenhire in the Republican primary in 1992.

“If your nose gets bloody, that’s because he’s a fighter like you are,” he said. “We’re best of friends today.”

The speaker told the group that when he got involved in local politics in 1982, there were fewer Republicans than ever in local office: Bill Bennett, Claude Ramsey and Harold Coker, but the Pachyderm Club was bipartisan.

“In politics, you want to add, not subtract,” he said, linking himself to the universal personal dignity of Lincoln Reagan Conservatism, and distancing himself from populism, which strays into “anything goes,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, Democrats have become mostly progressive; almost no moderates are left, he said.

“Just because it’s popular in our culture doesn’t make it right,” he said, grieving interest-only payments on the national debt.

He said if the country adopts a popular vote for President, conservatives will never win again.

Mr. Wamp touched on several political hot topics.


“I fear greatly... no matter who wins, we are at risk,” Mr. Wamp worries that voters will not accept November’s presidential election results and cause widespread violence.

He encouraged all parties to unite to protect election workers and volunteers, and to oppose all violent demonstrations.

“That is imperative and fundamental,” he said.

“We accept the results and we peacefully transfer power. We put the rest of the world to shame when we do that,” he said.

“Al Gore did that in the year 2000, so maybe we ought to do that,” he said.

Election Integrity:

Mr. Wamp said states should carry out their own transparent elections, which should be conducted by friends and neighbors who volunteer and count the votes themselves.

Mr. Wamp sides with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to support “robust early voting,” and counting those votes before election day.

“Be wary of opposing that,” he said. “That’s just wrong-headed,” he said.

He said this state legislature will not bring to Tennessee the top-two primary reform adopted by California, and that it will keep open primaries, which do not require voters to declare a party to vote.

Mr. Wamp said he adopted Bill Brock’s “saints, sinners and savables” method in 1988 while carrying the local campaign for the Bush-Quayle election. He said identifying groups of people who could be swayed produced a wide winning margin in Hamilton County.

“We were hungry back then,” he said. The team met at Wally’s Restaurant on McCallie Avenue every Friday morning. “We worked,” he said. “We wanted to win the majority in this party.”

Though longtime county commissioner and active Republican Harold Coker pushed having a candidate in every local race, Mr. Wamp said the group later changed tactics. They would recruit only the best candidates and run only when they can win.

2028 Presidential Campaign:

Mr. Wamp said he’s a fan of Ron DeSantis.

“I was excited about him, until I couldn’t be,” he said. He said Governor DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race because winning in 2024 would have been hard, but noted his belief that “in four years, I can win.”

“He’s a young patriot,” Mr. Wamp said.

Mr. Wamp favors state governors, including Governor Youngkin, as presidential candidates over members of Congress.

“At the federal level it is so broken and dysfunctional. Congress is AWOL,” he said. Its members don’t bother with the future of the country but focus on fundraising and campaigning, he said.

Congress needs a generational shift in leadership, he said.

Mr. Wamp said the best members of Congress are the young ones who get “squeezed out,” so frustrated that they leave, such as Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher, who announced last week his resignation effective April 19, and Dan Crenshaw of Texas. Both men turned 40 in March.

He said Republicans should be “the party that looks down and grabs the young people and pulls them along.”

“We have got to let go of the people who just cling to power for so long,” Mr. Wamp said, citing two 90-year-old Senators along with Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, who are in their 80s.

Expanding Congress

“We’ll never be in the majority,” Mr. Wamp said, if Congress is expanded using census tallies that don’t differentiate between citizens and non-citizens.


“What happened on Oct. 7 was so unacceptable that the world needs to rally around Israel,” he said.

An audience member asked if Congress is afraid of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby, but Mr. Wamp cautioned against “siding with the perpetrators.”

“This is not the time for that,” he said, but that the lobby group may be too influential.

“There are two sides to the story,” he said. “You think God didn’t kick their (Israel’s’) butt a time or two in the Bible?”


Mr. Wamp reminisced about voting for Reagan-Bush and then driving all night to attend the victory party.

He met Jack Lupton during John Davies’s failed campaign for the state House in 1984.

“He was a command and control kind of guy,” he said.

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