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Is Wal-Mart Feeling the Shift in the Wind?

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From the Nashville Tennessean this morning. Wonder if a trend is underway, or did they just get caught?

A voter registration group with Republican ties has been banished from Wal-Mart stores in Tennessee for failing to meet the retailer's standards of nonpartisanship and may soon be shut out of stores in California and Nevada, the retailer's spokesman said Tuesday.

Liberty Consultants wanted to register Wal-Mart shoppers in seven traditionally GOP suburban counties around Nashville. But the request was denied after the firm's owner, Gary Thompson, acknowledged to Wal-Mart that he had been hired by Tempe, Ariz.-based Sproul & Associates.

Ah, a blast from the past. Remember these "Sproul" folks?"

" They were all over the news--well, here in the Reality-Based Fucked-Over Community anyway, back in '04, for any number of fraudulent (at best) to flatly illegal (more often) actions like taking any voter registration forms they got which indicated that the person intended to register as a Democrat and failing to submit them to registrars. Google can help with details, which is good because this Tennessean story doesn't go nearly into all the gory details. The most they'll give for background is

Headed by Nathan Sproul, a former Christian Coalition activist and executive director of the Arizona GOP, Sproul & Associates was paid $7.9 million by the Republican National Committee for consulting and voter-registration drives in the 2004 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

But the bigger picture is that this outfit is suddenly too stinky even for Wal-Mart to be associated with. In Tennessee for chrissakes.

The group set up tables Friday at a Wal-Mart in Gallatin, despite being denied permission earlier in the week. They left only when company officials threatened to call police, Wal-Mart spokesman Dennis Alpert said.

The areas they're talking about--Gallatin, at least--are interesting. While Nashville itself is commendably Democratic in voting, the ring around the town, particularly as you drop off to the south into Williamson County, forms a choking red necktie of new-money Republicanism. The Wal-Marts there serve mostly the oldtimers, who are not entirely thrilled about the changes, and of course the people who mow the lawns of the McMansions and spray them for bugs and hope that enough of the nouveau money trickles down their way that they can pay their suddenly sky-high property tax bills.

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