Monthly Archives: October 2010

Direct Mail: Still a Key Part of Trashing the Opposition in Legislative Races

Do you know candidates for the Tennessee Legislature who would let rapists pack pistols, allow bridges to crumble and treat taxpayer dollars as as “a personal slush fund?”
The state Democratic and Republican parties claim to know them. And they are passing on the information in scores of direct mail advertisements that are flooding mailboxes across the state as a key part of the war for control of the General Assembly.
Voters are advised of candidates with bankruptcy and drunken driving in their past. There’s a Democratic incumbent living a “lavish lifestyle” in Nashville while citizens suffer and a Republican incumbent who wants Tennessee to become a dumping ground for nuclear waste.
One Democratic challenger has the motto “greed is good” and there’s a Republican challenger who likes to sue poor people over as little as $34.
Or so the mailers say. Sometimes the factual basis for political charges via direct mail is, at best, somewhat tenuous.
A review of the mailers also indicates that many candidates favor illegal immigration and higher taxes. They are prone to lying.
They take money from questionable sources – an anti-war protester who “specializes in riots,” for example, not to mention the “job-killing special interests who are funneling money to Washington, D.C. politicians and bankrupting our country.”
Republicans point out that virtually all Democrats legislators hang out with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, helpfully providing pictures of candidates with the Washington duo. But for some reason, Democrats never mention the two in their mailers.
A recurring Democratic theme – notably against Republicans living within commuting distance of Nashville – is acceptance of the $185 per day automatic legislative expense allowance when they have no motel expense.
Of course, there are also multiple mailers of party-favored candidates posing with smiling children and declaring the candidate’s passion for better education, more jobs and Second Amendment rights. In such mailers, all candidates seem to dislike taxes – especially a state income tax – and illegal immigration.
But attack mail seems a primary focus for both parties.

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Bill Haslam Nov. 1 Schedule: Day Before the Election

Knoxville Mayor and Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Haslam will conduct a statewide fly-around to all three Grand Divisions in Tennessee. the campaign says. He will make stops in Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson and Nashville.
11:15 a.m. EDT
Haslam will attend and speak at a meet and greet at Big River Grill in Chattanooga. Media invited.
LOCATION: 222 Broad St, Chattanooga
12:40 p.m. CDT
Haslam will attend and speak at a meet and greet lunch at Patrick’s in Memphis. Media invited.
LOCATION: 4972 Park Ave, Memphis
2:45 p.m. CDT
Haslam will attend and speak at a campaign event at the Bakers Rack in Jackson. Media invited.
LOCATION: 203 E. Lafayette St, Jackson
5:45 p.m. CDT
Haslam will attend a Middle Tennessee voter rally at the City Café in Brentwood. Media invited.
LOCATION: 330 Franklin Rd, Brentwood

Mike McWherter Nov. 1 Schedule: Day Before The Election

7:30 – 8:15 a.m. CDT – Gibson County
At a campaign stop in Gibbons County, Mike will join Sen. Roy Herron and Candidate for State Rep. Joe Shepard to have breakfast with voters.
Location: Perkins Restaurant / 15301 S. First Street / Milan
8:45 – 9:30 a.m. CDT – Carroll County
Mike will meet and greet voters in Carroll County along with Sen. Roy Herron, Joe Shepard, and State Rep. Mark Maddox.
Location: Carroll County Office Complez / 625 High Street / Huntingdon
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. CDT – Stewart County
Mike will knock on doors and greet voters in Stewart County with Sen. Roy Herron and Butch Borchert
Location: Stewart County Library / 102 Natcor Dr. / Dover
12:15 – 1:15 p.m. CDT – Montgomery County
Mike, Mayoral Candidate Kim McMillan, State Sen. Tim Barnes, State Rep. Joe Pitts, and Candidate for State Rep. Brett Ramsey will lunch and have a conversation with voters.
Location: Blackhorse Pub & Brewery Tap Room / 132 Franklin St. / Clarksville
3:05 – 4:30 CDT – Davidson County
Mike will conduct campaign activities in Nashville. Details to come.
Location: Nashville – (TBD)
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. CDT – Maury County
Mike will speak with voters in Maury County where he will be joined by Congressman Lincoln Davis, State Rep. Ty Cobb, and Candidate for State Sen. Debbie Matthews.
Location: Maury County Democratic Party / 120 West 7th St. / Columbia

TN News & Commentary Notes From the Weekend Before the Election

The ‘Everybody’s Mad’ Election
No matter who wins on Tuesday, this will be remembered as the angry election, according to Michael Collins. Voters are mad at Washington and at one another and candidates are angry, too, in some cases.
Tennessean’s Reviews
The Sunday Tennessean has a trio of articles reviewing the races to be decided on Tuesday – one on Bill Haslam’s apparent win in the governor’s race, another on the congressional races in Tennessee (things look bad for Democrats) and the third on legislative races.
A Deeper Shade of Red?
Tennessee Republicans say they believe voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections will paint the Volunteer State a deeper shade of red, pushing Democrats into their worst corner since post-Civil War Reconstruction, reports Andy Sher in a Tennessee election overview article.
What? TV Ads Don’t Give the Full Story?
Democratic state Rep. Ty Cobb and his Republican challenger, Sheila Butt, are both being less than forthright in their attack TV advertising, observes the Columbia Daily Herald.
Gun Guys Should Be Content
Instead of being satisfied with victory on virtually every front, some Tennessee gun advocates are going too far in advocating repeal of the handgun carry permit system to allow gun owners to carry anywhere without a permit, opines Frank Cagle.
Dems More Personal In Ad Attacks
A Wesleyan University study released shows Democratic candidates use personal attacks at a much higher rate in 2010 campaign ads, reports the Jackson Sun.
Anti-Cohen Agression
Congressman Steve Cohen seems to be facing a more aggressive candidate in the general election — “a rare African American Republican candidate named Charlotte Bergman” than he did in the primary against former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, says Zach McMillin.
Slinging Mud At Mudslinging
This year’s political season is stumbling to a ignominious close, with some candidates in Tennessee stooping to levels rarely seen in the Volunteer State, says a News Sentinel editorial.
A Commercial Appeal editorial has a similar theme: The hate mongering and political pandering that have escorted the electorate through the 2010 season have been like the worst date one could imagine — loud, obnoxious and openly hostile.

In Campaign Financing, Coal Companies Much Prefer Haslam

Coal companies and related interests have given at least $150,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam but just $5,000 to Democrat Mike McWherter, Andy Sher reports.
Tennessee’s next governor likely will have to grapple with ongoing legislative battles over mountaintop removal mining and with a mining-related petition filed earlier this month by outgoing Gov. Phil Bredesen. Bredesen asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to declare state-owned or state-managed ridges along the northern Cumberland Plateau “unsuitable for mining.”
McWherter said outright he supports the petition. He said Bredesen “has done the right thing by making sure mountaintop removal mining does not scar the landscape forever.”
Haslam has offered a more nuanced position, saying he backs efforts to protect the natural resources and beauty of the area but also is concerned for private property rights. On Monday, Haslam said he is “against mountaintop removal when it talks about cutting off the tops of mountains and pushing them down into valleys.”

TN Political Predictions 2010

Back when John Jay Hooker was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee against incumbent Republican Gov. Don Sundquist, yours truly stated in a pre-election prediction that Hooker would set a new bottom-line for his party’s vote in a statewide election: 30 percent.
Shortly thereafter, an agitated Hooker confronted yours truly and proclaimed, after preliminaries including discourse on Tennessee election dynamics and the foolishness of “lazy lout” reporters:
“If I don’t get at least 40 percent of the vote, I’ll kiss your posterior on the steps of the state Capitol and give you 30 minutes to draw a crowd.”

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Haslam, McWherter Differ on Budget

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Bill Haslam and Democrat Mike McWherter disagree over the severity of the budget crunch facing Tennessee’s next governor.
Haslam says it’s “not a done deal” for lawmakers to approve more than $1 billion in cuts envisioned by term-limited Gov. Phil Bredesen because the federal stimulus money is running out.
That’s why he dismisses as unaffordable McWherter’s proposals to expand the state’s pre-kindergarten program, create a tax incentive program for job creation in small businesses and extend broadband coverage to rural areas.
McWherter in turn argues that his opponent is being more gloomy about the state’s prospects than is necessary.
Haslam’s response: “I’m not running on bad news, I’m defining reality.”
Voters decide Tuesday who will become Tennessee’s next governor, a choice between two wealthy candidates trying to step out of the shadow of their legendary fathers.

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The AP Report on 8th Congressional District Race

By Adrian Sainz
JACKSON, Tenn. — Democrat Roy Herron has gone small-town as he distances himself from President Barack Obama in his campaign for the open congressional seat in West Tennessee’s 8th district.
Herron likes to tell voters he’s a truck-driving, shotgun-shooting, Bible-reading, family-loving country boy.
Republican Stephen Fincher — a farmer, gospel singer and political newcomer — has worked to tap into voter disapproval of Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He’s been airing a television ad that shows Herron’s photo sandwiched between pictures of the two Washington Democrats, with the statement “He’ll make things worse.”
Herron says he hasn’t asked for the president’s support, nor does he expect it. He says he won’t vote for Pelosi for House speaker.
“My opponent wants to run against a woman from California and an African-American from Chicago, but Stephen Fincher ought to man up and run against a country boy from Weakley County, Tennessee,” Herron said.
Fincher and Herron are both running against Washington as they seek to fill the seat being vacated by 11-term Democrat John Tanner, who is retiring. The race is being closely watched. The district, which covers many small towns, is one of about 50 that elected a Democrat to Congress while backing Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.

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Report from House District 42: Fincher Vs. Williams

As an example of how Republicans are mounting serious challenges this year in what could be considered safe Democratic seats, WPLN focuses on Putnam County, where incumbent Democrat state Rep. Henry Fincher faces Republican Ryan Williams.
Included is this snippet on how Fincher is dealing with the pro-GOP environment:
As he works the room at the bean supper, Fincher wants voters to remember his reputation, not his party.
Voter: “I hate to say this, is that Democrat or Republican?
Fincher: “Pro-gun, pro-life, anti-illegal immigration. Yes ma’am.”
Voter: “Just checkin’ up on you.”
Fincher: “No problem here, Church of Christ, yeah.”
Voter: “Alright! That’s our man.”
Fincher says he has to downplay his democratic status to win.
“I’m not advertising or trumpeting the fact that I’m a Democrat. It’s a bad year to be a Democrat. The brand has been damaged by the left wing of the party. They have really screwed up things for guys like me.”
Fincher doesn’t fully buy into the notion that national politics will affect down-ballot races like his. He does admit that he’s “sailing with the wind in his face,” but as he puts it, “a good sailor can sail through it.”

Poll: Many Like Idea of 3rd Party Candidates, But Won’t Vote For Them

A recent poll conducted in the 8th Congressional District found that 46 percent thought it would be good for American politics if the country had a viable third party, but only 2 percent said they would vote for a third-party candidate in the election, the Jackson Sun reports.
Union University political science department chairman Sean Evans said those numbers represent what he believes is often the case — people are happier with the idea of a third party or independent candidate than the actuality.
“The general idea of support reflects the frustration people have in the government not solving problems,” Evans said. “But when they have to make an actual choice and know they only have two real choices, they are going to vote Republican or Democratic.”
The poll was conducted the second week in October for The Hill, a Washington-based congressional newspaper.
The two independent candidates in the 8th District race, Donn Janes and Mark Rawles, said they have received mixed reactions to their bid for a seat in Congress. Neither man has an even shot at winning the seat, with polls giving them only 2 percent to 5 percent of the vote.
But both candidates said they feel it is important to give voters another option and perhaps provide a better chance for future candidates.