By Emma Green. The Atlantic
Bill Haslam, the former governor of Tennessee, is trying to figure out how religious Republicans got so extreme.
Bill Haslam is not a natural fit for the Donald Trump–era Republican Party. The former Tennessee governor checks certain GOP boxes: He favors low taxes and opposes abortion rights; his background is in business, including an executive role in his family’s highly successful truck-stop chain. But during his time in office, Haslam also got in trouble with his base for vetoing a bill that would have declared the Bible Tennessee’s official state book. He successfully championed Tennessee Promise, the kind of free-college program you’d normally expect to hear about in a Bernie Sanders stump speech. And his temperament is a poor fit for Trump-style culture wars. When Haslam was elected during the 2010 Tea Party wave, a local commentator complained that “these other states have superhero action figures for their new governor, and we are stuck with Mr. Rogers.”