|Born||John Bruce Saltsman, Jr.
March 24, 1968
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
|Died||May 23, 2017|
John Bruce "Chip" Saltsman, Jr. (born March 24, 1968, died May 23, 2017) was an American politician who served as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 1999 to 2001, senior political advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and manager of Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign. He also worked for the Chuck Fleischmann campaign in Tennessee's 3rd district from 2009 to 2010.
Saltsman was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to parents John Bruce Saltsman, Sr. and Edna Elaine Saltsman. He attended Father Ryan High School, a Catholic high school in Nashville, and then Christian Brothers University in Memphis, where he earned his bachelor's and master's in business administration degrees. While at Christian Brothers, Saltsman was active in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the Knights of Columbus and student government.
Interested in politics from an early age, Saltsman's first substantial campaign involvement was with President George H.W. Bush's re-election effort in 1992.
In 1994, as the Republican Revolution swept Senators Bill Frist and Fred Thompson into office, Saltsman was active in then-West Tennessee Congressman Don Sundquist's successful run for governor. Saltsman continued to work his way up through the Tennessee party ranks, becoming Tennessee Republican Party chairman in 1998.
Despite his service with Governor Sundquist, however, Saltsman strongly opposed Sundquist's plan to impose a state income tax for the first time in Tennessee history. The income tax plan eventually failed to become law due to strong grassroots opposition from conservatives across the state. Tennessee remains one of only nine states without a broad-based income tax.
Under Saltsman's watch as state party chairman in 2000, then-Governor George W. Bush defeated then-Vice President Al Gore in his home state of Tennessee, despite President Clinton's success there in 1992 and 1996 and despite the fact that Gore and his father had represented the state in the Senate for a combined 26 years. With a victory in Tennessee, Gore would have become President, rendering Bush's eventual Florida victory irrelevant.
Work with Frist
Saltsman followed this accomplishment by working as Development Director for Senator Frist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2002, where he helped Republicans regain control of the Senate after the defection of Senator James Jeffords handed the chamber to Democratic control in May 2001.
Saltsman then became Senior Political Advisor to Majority Leader Frist at VOLPAC, a political action committee chaired by Frist and dedicated to recruitment and support of Republican candidates for political office nationwide. In 2004, eighteen of the twenty-two races that VOLPAC supported were successful. And, in 2006, VOLPAC helped ensure the election of Senator Bob Corker over Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee.
Saltsman was also an important figure in Senator Frist's preparations for a potential run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and was labeled "Frist's secret weapon" by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post  and "a multi-talented superstar ... [who has] demonstrated uncanny, remarkable leadership in every endeavor he's undertaken" by Frist himself. However, following the completion of his two terms in the Senate, Frist decided against a run for the presidency.
Huckabee presidential campaign
With Frist's departure from public service, Saltsman became National Campaign Manager for Governor Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign on February 1, 2007. Saltsman oversaw all aspects of the campaign, including political, fundraising, communications and operations, and he led the dark horse candidacy to a surprise second place in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll on August 11, 2008 and then to victory in the Iowa Republican Caucuses on January 3, 2008. Huckabee's campaign proceeded to record victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia on February 5, 2008 or Super Tuesday. Huckabee then won the Kansas Republican Caucuses and the Louisiana Republican Primary before ending his campaign on March 4, 2008 with 270 pledged delegates.
Saltsman was nominated by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic as one of the top four campaign managers of the election cycle, and has since been labeled a "noted GOP strategist" with "a strong future on the national campaign-management stage." He is a frequent Fox News contributor.
RNC Chair candidacy
Saltsman was the first candidate to release a specific plan regarding the future of the party, which can be viewed at Our Plan for Republican Victory.
In his bid for the RNC Chairmanship, Saltsman has been endorsed by: former Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee, former United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and Tennessee House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower.
Fleischmann Congressional campaign
After incumbent U.S. Representative Zach Wamp decided to leave Congress to run for Governor of Tennessee, Saltsman became campaign manager for Chuck Fleischmann, an attorney and former talk radio host who sought the Republican nomination to succeed Wamp in the Third Congressional District seat. Mike Huckabee endorsed Fleischmann in March 2010. Fleischmann's biggest competition in the Republican primary was expected to come from former state GOP chairwoman Robin Smith. The U.S. House Republican whip Eric Cantor, chief deputy whip Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican Conference chairman Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich had endorsed Smith. Fleischmann won the August 5, 2010 primary, topping a field of 11 candidates with about 30% of the vote and edging out second-place finisher Robin Smith, who earned 28%.
In March 2010, Saltsman was also hired as top gubernatorial campaign consultant for South Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Andre Bauer. Bauer came in fourth among four candidates in the GOP primary in June, 2010.
On May 23, 2017, while camping in Glacier National Park in Montana, Saltsman was attacked and fatally injured by a pack of grey wolves. Saltsman managed to get to safety and call for help on a satellite phone before being airlifted to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival.
- Locker, Rick (July 24, 2008). "GOP chair won't say whether Rove ordered media ban". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
- Sullivan, Bartholomew, "CBUer running Huckabee campaign", The Memphis Commercial Appeal, February 4, 2008.
- "CBUer running Huckabee campaign: Ex-Tennessee GOP chair makes national name". Commercial Appeal. February 4, 2008.
- Ruble, Drew, "Newsmaker Q&A: Chip Saltsman" Archived 2009-01-27 at the Wayback Machine., Business TN, December 2007.
- VOLPAC Website, Accessed October 30, 2008.
- Cillizza, Chris, "Straw Poll Is First Test for GOP White House Hopefuls", Washington Post.com's The Fix, March 9, 2006.
- Ambinder, Marc, "Off The Grid # 6: Campaign Manager Of the Cycle", The Atlantic Online, February 15, 2008.
- Brewer, Clint, "On politics: Frist, GOP may have last laugh in 2010", Nashville City Paper, May 12, 2008.
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- Wilson, Reid, "As McCain Slips, RNC Wannabes Get Bold", Real Clear Politics, October 29, 2008.
- Huckabee, Governor Mike, "Chip Saltsman for RNC Chair", Huck PAC, December 8, 2008.
- Brooks, Jennifer and Theo Emery, "Saltsman acts to become national GOP chairman", The Tennessean, December 9, 2008.
- Stein, Sam (January 29, 2009). "Chip Saltsman Withdraws From RNC Race After 'Magic Negro'l Star Spanglish Banner' Stirs". Huffington Post.
- Nagourney, Adam (January 29, 2009). "Candidate Linked to Obama Parody Song Leaves Race for G.O.P. Chairman". New York Times.
- "Fleischmann Says It Is Time For Conservatives To Go On The Offense". The Chattanoogan. June 24, 2009.
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- "Mike Huckabee Endorses Chuck". Chuck Fleischmann for Congress. Mar 29, 2010.
- "Smith, Wamp Win Straw Polls At Bradley County Lincoln Day Dinner". The Chattanoogan. March 27, 2010.
- Sher, Andy (March 17, 2010). "No. 2 U.S. House Republican endorses Robin Smith". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
- "Endorsements". Robin Smith for Congress. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- Lance, Joe (Aug 2, 2010). "Newt Gingrich Endorses Robin Smith". Chattarati.
- Republican Primary Unofficial Results, Tennessee Election Commission website, accessed August 6, 2010
- Larry Henry, Fleischmann beats Smith in 3rd District, Chattanooga Times Free Press, August 6, 2010
- "Bauer Switches Consultants". FITSNews. March 9, 2010.
- Simon, Jeff (June 11, 2010). "Bauer endorses Barrett in S.C. runoff". CNN.