Monthly Archives: August 2009

Winfield “Completely Neutral” in GOP Gubernatorial Primary

Former Gov. Winfield Dunn, who took an early and active role in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jim Bryson, was present for a Zach Wamp speech in Nashville Monday.
But in a brief interview, Dunn said that doesn’t mean he’s supporting the congressman or anyone else in the Republican gubernatorial race this time around.
“I’m completely neutral,” he said. “I just came to hear Zach’s speech. He gave a great speech. We’ve got some other great candidates.”
Dunn said his backing of Bryson, who lost all 95 counties in the general election, was partly an effort “to make Bredesen spend his money and time on himself, so then he wouldn’t spend it on (helping Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Harold) Ford.
“That worked, to some extent,” Dunn said.

Governor Renews Pay Supplement for State Workers on Miltary Duty

Despite the continuing shortfall in state revenue, Gov. Phil Bredesen has renewed for another year an executive order that provides income supplements to state employees called to active duty in the National Guard or reserve forces.
Here is the press release:
NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today signed Executive Order #60, continuing a policy that ensures executive branch employees ordered to active military duty are not financially constrained by lower military pay while they are in service. Governor Bredesen has issued this order every year since taking office.
Executive Order #60 extends for another year the special leave with partial pay granted to executive branch employees who are Tennessee National Guard and Reserve members serving in operations undertaken in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and other operations, including Enduring Freedom, Joint Endeavor, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom.
“I have always been extremely proud of the service these men and women provide for our country,” said Bredesen. “They and their families make tremendous sacrifices for us every day, and we must do everything in our power to ease their burden. This is a policy I have felt strongly about since my first year in office, and I’m pleased to show our appreciation to our soldiers in this way.”
For executive branch employees called to active duty, the state of Tennessee pays the difference between their regular state salary and their respective Guard or Reserve pay. In addition, employees continue to accrue sick leave, annual leave, longevity pay and service towards retirement. The state has maximum allowable accruals on leave, but time accrued above the maximum is counted as time served toward the employee’s retirement date.

Notes on Democrats: Money & 12 ‘Opportunities’

Democrats will be focusing on a dozen seats now held by Republicans in efforts to regain control of the state House next year, Rep. Mike Turner has told the Tennessee Democratic Executive Committee.
Turner, who is House Democratic Caucus chairman, also said Saturday that the party is hopeful of getting financial help from groups outside the state, perhaps including the Democratic National Committee.
The DNC normally is focused on races for the federal office. But state legislators elected next year will oversee reapportionment following the 2010 census – including U.S. House districts.
Thus, there is much interest among national Democrats in seeing that the party has control of at least one House during redistricting to block Republicans from enacting a plan that could give the GOP an advantage for the next decade in legislative and congressional elections.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, who is governor of Virginia, met with Tennessee party leaders Friday, according to state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester, and indicated DNC’s willingness to help.
Turner said there are other Democrat-oriented groups that may also provide financial fuel for the legislative campaigns next year. While declining to discuss them in detail, Turner said in an interview that he has his third out-of-state trip scheduled next week to talk about the possibilities.
Turner faced some critical questioning from executive committee members who basically contended that some Democratic legislative candidates were neglected in past elections by the party and legislative caucuses.
Turner replied that, realistically, Democrats must concentrate resources on districts that do not tilt strongly toward either party. But he said that “hopefully” money will be available next year to devote attention to districts where the odds are against Democrats.
In the interview, Turner declined to list the “12 opportunities” the party sees for unseating Republicans beyond those he said were obvious, namely freshmen Republicans in competitive districts.
He named Reps. Joe Carr of Rutherford County and Tony Shipley of Kingsport. Both won previously Democratic seats in 2008. Shipley, Turner said, “has done so much crazy stuff” that Democrats would have difficulty in deciding what to emphasize to voters in a campaign. Former Rep. Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport, who lost to Shipley in a close race last year, has indicated he will seek a rematch.
Bredesen Helping Too
Democrats faced considerable intra-party feuding earlier this year after Forrester was elected chairman over a candidate endorsed by Gov. Phil Bredesen and most of the state’s Democratic congressmen.
Party officials went to some lengths Saturday to declare that was all in the past. Bredesen described Jackson Day as “a solidarity event” and said he plans to be active in promoting Democratic legislative candidates next year.
The governor said the Democratic party includes people “with a lot of different views,” but suggested opposing factions “leave a little bit of your ideology aside” in coming combat with Republicans.
Reporter Ousted
Though the official schedule of Jackson Day events declared the Executive Committee meeting open to media, the only reporter present (yours truly) was told to leave during a presentation of Democrat plans to counter Republican “voter suppression” efforts in the 2010 election.
Keith Talley, the party’s press secretary, subsequently said the eviction was a mistake and apologized.
Both parties generally allow media at executive committee meetings. In recent years, Republicans have had more closed sessions than Democrats and, of course, the GOP last year declared the entire Statesmen’s Dinner fundraiser closed to the media when Karl Rove was scheduled as keynote speaker.

If You’re Looking for TN Political Reading This Weekend….

Bob Is Richer Than Lamar
Bob Corker has belatedly filed his financial disclosure, listing assets (under the odd system for federal officeholders that is designed to avoid specifics) as “between $17.1 million and $87.6 million. ” Lamar Alexander, who filed on time earlier, has only ‘between $9.6 million and $36.6 million” in assets. Both are richer than the average senator, according to the report from The Tennessean. And the average Tennessean, for that matter.
Debate in Zambodia (or, uh, Memphis}
The backdrop of last week’s debate among the Memphis mayoral candidates is recounted by the Commercial Appeal, which says the debate’s TV ratings beat an NFL preseason football game and a “Big Brother” episode to turn “Opera Memphis into the hottest act in town on a Thursday night.”
Seems that Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, a “perennial candidate who claims to be from the planet Zambodia and who made his first run for mayor in 1978” almost gummed up the works with a lawyer’s help, but wound up debating with commentary such as Memphis has “a bunch of thieves in office who’ve stolen us blind” and suggesting that all citizens be issued a machine gun.
Jackson Baker has a “think piece” on the debate and another candidate has emerged, acknowledging that he gave the former mayor $9,000 as a “gift”
Ballot Configuration Research
Deciding whether Democrats or Republicans should be listed first on ballots in Tennessee polling places next November would not seem to require a lot of research. Democrats would want their folks first, Republicans would want their candidates first, since top billing may be worth a percentage point or two when results are counted.
But it seems that research is required by the Secretary of State’s office. Musings on the matter in Sunday’s News Sentinel column.

Clinton’s Speech — at Some Length

Here’s an extended rundown on former President Clinton’s speech to the state Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner Saturday night, with thanks to Rick Locker
.
Clinton recalled his first speech to a Jackson Day gathering, in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas.
“The only reason I got to speak is that Jay Rockefeller the scheduled speaker, choked on a chicken bone and had to go to the hospital.”
Clinton said three things determine the outcome of national elections: the culture of the country, the conditions at the time and the quality of the candidates.
He said Republicans won most elections for the White House from 1968 to 1992 (except for Carter after Watergate) because they had a base of about 45 percent of the voters and “we had a base of about 40 percent, so that meant we had to get 2 out of 3 independents to win.”
“In 2008, the cultural balance was in our favor. The conditions were terrible for them (Republicans), and we had a better candidate in Barak Obama. So we won.
“However it is important to remember something. When we win, people vote for us because they expect us to stand and deliver.
“You know, the Republicans don’t really know what to do. That’s why you’ve got all these screaming matches at these town hall meetings.
“They’re just sitting around hoping the president will fail. They’re sitting around hoping they can spook the Congress. And unlike when I was president trying to do health, they don’t have a jaw buster in the Senate any more so their only shot at killing health care reform one more time is to scare the living daylights out of everyone.

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Devaney’s Put Down of Partying Democrats

State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney took notice of the state Democratic Party’s annual “Jackson Day Dinner” by issuing the following statement:
“As Democrats gather in Nashville tonight to pat themselves on the back, the honest truth is their party, led by an ever increasingly failing president, stands for policies and principles that do not represent the views of most Tennesseans. Republicans look forward to continuing the debate of how best to move our state and country forward. We believe it is through our core principles of less government, individual freedom, and free enterprise that our nation advances. Standing by our principles brought Republicans great success last year in Tennessee and that is why we are planning on big success in 2010.”

Democrat Gubernatorial Forum: Republican Bashing & an Oops

At Democratic gubernatorial candidate forum Saturday, state Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden perhaps got the most applause by devoting part of his remarks to an attack on “some Republicans telling lies” — particularly in stating that a someone “cannot be a person of faith and be a Democrat.”
Such Republicans, Herron said, declare”Jesus never rode a donkey and when he comes back from heaven, it will be on the back of an elephant.”
At times quoting scripture, Herron said Democrats generally are more inclined to follow Christian teachings that urge help to “the least among us,” including widows, orphans and the poor.
State Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis, the most recently-announced Democratic candidate for governor, presented himself as experienced as a legislator handling bills for Bredesen. He emphasized higher education in his remarks.
Kyle said 30,000 Tennesseans left college with less than a year remaining to get a degree and, if elected, he would push to provide “incentive scholarships” with lottery profits to encourage them to complete their education.
Also, he said he would freeze tuition for college students at the rate applying when they enter college as a freshman.
Ward Cammack, a Nashville businessman, said a top priority for him as governor would be making Tennessee a leader in creation of “green jobs” and environmental protection. Cammack said he is the only gubernatorial candidate to present a full plan for bring the state out of the current economic downturn.
“If I did not have a plan, I would not be running for governor,” he said.
Former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan of Clarksville, said her “wonderful experiences throughout life” – from legislator to mother – and her willingness to work hard are qualifications to serve as governor.
“Public service is my passion,” she said.
Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman and son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, said the last legislative session had shown “the failure of Republican leadership” and that “any one of these candidates would be a better governor than any in that bunch running as Republicans.”
McWherter presented himself as “a businessman, not a career politician” with the background needed to focus on “creating and saving jobs” as a priority if elected.
Also speaking at the luncheon were Paula Flowers, Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional seat being vacated by Republican gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp, and Greg Rabidoux, seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the 7th Congressional District.
The congressional candidates both said they agreed with Herron’s remarks about Republicans and religion, with Flowers declaring Democrats must be “the party of rational ideas and not the radical right.”

Oops of the Event
At the conclusion of the gubernatorial candidate speeches, state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester told the luncheon crowd that Kyle had a “previous commitment” and had to leave early. Kyle then left the room.
A few minutes later, after congressional candidate speeches, Forrester told the audience that “you see the next governor of Tennessee before you.” The other four candidates were still on hand; but not Kyle.
Asked about the comment later, Forrester said he was “speaking metaphorically” and “metaphorically, Sen. Kyle was still in the room when I said that.”

Democrats Claim Fundraising Record with More Money to Come

With a keynote speech by former President Clinton as a draw, Tennessee Democrats raised more than $600,000 Saturday to claim a state record for party fundraising that leaders said illustrates an end to intra-party discord.
That may be just the start toward financial success for the state party and Democratic efforts to regain control of the Legislature, party officials said.
The basic ticket to the dinner was $150, though prices were considerably higher – up to $5,000 for “the governor’s roundtable, which included front row seating, a reception with Clinton and Gore and having a picture made with the former president.
Forrester said “well north of $600,000” was collected, setting a record, and state party finances stand to be enhanced further by out-of-state help in the coming election year.
State Legislators elected in 2010 will reapportion congressional and state legislative districts, setting the stage for political races in the next decade. Republicans now control the state Senate, 19-14, and have a 50-49 majority in the House.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Kaine, who is governor of Virginia, met with Tennessee party leaders Friday and indicated the DNC, which normally focuses on congressional races, may provide financial aid in legislative races, Forrester said in an interview.
State House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner said other Democrat-oriented groups based outside the state have also shown interest in helping fund campaigns to control the Legislature this year. In the state House, he said the party is focusing on “about 12 opportunities” in seats now held by Republicans.

A Tale of the Cobb Web (or Some Corn on the Cobbs)

Chris Fletcher of the Columbia Daily Herald has done an entertaining column about Ty Cobb.
Actually, he mentions five of them, starting with the famous baseball player, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb. But most attention is focused on state Rep. John Tyler “Ty” Cobb, D-Columbia, and Tyrus H. “Ty” Cobb of Shelbyville the Democratic nominee in House District 62.
(Unmentioned is the Legislature’s non-Ty Cobb, Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City. Mentioned is a Nevada Republican Assemblyman Ty Cobb and a Maury County youngster named Ty Cobb. )
“Politics is about name recognition,” says Columbia Cobb, who had bumper stickers in his campaign featuring his name with a baseball. He got the nickname, by the way, as a Little League baseball player.
Shelbyville Cobb says confusion between the two is not new. He recalls last November, when both Columbia Cobb and Shelbyville Cobb’s brother, Curt, won House elections.
News of Ty Cobb’s win was heard by some of Shelbyville Cobb’s friends on the radio
“People were calling me on my cell phone saying, ‘Man, we didn’t even know you were running’,” he says.
And there’s some speculation: “What happens if someday he and I had to run against each other?”
Of course, this all may be premature. Shelbyville Cobb first has to defeat Republican Pat Marsh of Shelbyville in an Oct. 13 special election.

Marsh Wins GOP Nomination in House District 62

Pat Marsh beat his closest competitor by more than a 4-to-1 margin Thursday to win the Republican nomination in a special election for the vacant state House District 62 seat.
That sets up an Oct. 13 general election contest between Marsh and Ty Cobb II, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
District-wide, Marsh drew 1,826 votes to Bobby Scott’s 397, Casey Walters’ 348 and Joseph Byrd’s 48.
Cobb got 557 votes.
Marsh, a Shelbyville trucking company owner, and Cobb, a UPS driver, seek to succeed Cobb’s brother, former Rep. Curt Cobb, who resigned to take a Bedford County position.
The district includes all of Bedford County and parts of Lincoln and Rutherford counties.