Monthly Archives: October 2010

Wolfe Files No FEC Report, Apparently Has Raised Less Than Independent Candidates

John Wolfe, Democratic nominee in the 3rd Congressional District, is having a dispute with a former campaign manager and has not filed any campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
His current campaign manager, Joda Thongnoonua, says the campaign has raised “in the ballpark between $15,000 and $20,000.” That’s less than two independent candidates say they have raised, while Republican nominee Chuck Fleischmann has reported $1.2 million in receipts, including self-financing.
“We’re slightly behind in (filing the reports), but we are in the process of submitting our FEC reports now,” Thongnopnua said. Candidates are required to register their campaign committees and make regular financial reports to the FEC once they raise or spend more than $5,000, commission spokeswoman Mary Brandenberger said.
Wolfe, a Chattanooga attorney, is making his third bid for Congress after unsuccessful campaigns in 2004 and 2006. Wolfe’s former campaign treasurer, Albert Teague, told the FEC in June that Wolfe “is running off the old committee” from his 2006 campaign and “has no right to use my name.”
“He has not paid me for the last two campaigns,” Teague said in a letter to the FEC. “I no longer support or back Mr. Wolfe.”
… Two independent 3rd District candidates — Mark DeVol and Savas Kyriakidis — said Friday they have raised far more than has Wolfe.
DeVol, an Oak Ridge business owner, said he expects to spend about $40,000.

PAC Donations Heavily Tilt Toward Republicans

In the subscription-only Tennessee Journal, Ed Cromer has provided a list of top-spending political action committees in donations to state candidates for the period July 1-Oct. 23.
In the legal definitions, the campaign finance organizations set up by political parties are also PACS. On that front, the list shows Republicans even more awash with money versus Democrats than a comparison of the parties in the last disclosure. (The other ‘total expenditure’ figures include money churning, wherein one PAC gives to another, does ‘independent expenditures,’ etc. and not just donations directly to candidates.)
The GOP’s main PAC has given almost $1.7 million to party candidates. The Democrats’ main PAC, less than $500,000. Ergo, a more than $3 to $1 direct candidate-funding lead for Republicans.
In the period, Senate Republicans have given $110,000 to their candidates; Senate Democrats $75,000.
As an exception to the general rule, House Democrats provided $172,000 to their guys, House Republicans $106,000 (while shipping a bundle to the state party for spending on separate direct mail pieces – which don’t count as a direct donation – plus polling, GOTV stuff and the like.)
As for the traditional special interest PACs (again, excluding what they give to parties, PACs and such) the direct donation list is toped by bankers ($297,000), followed by teachers ($275,000), trial lawyers ($201,000), doctors ($175,000), Federal Express ($163,000), the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union ($151,200) and Road builders ($151,000), Realtors ($130,000), liquor wholesalers ($128,000), nursing homes ($113,000).
But then there are the partisan-oriented PACs and, again, Democrats take a drubbing.
-CAS PAC, set up by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, passed out $170,500 to GOP candidates.
-Leaders of Tennessee PAC, set up in 2008 by Williamson County Republicans (with the county party kicking in $15,000 at the time), has since been getting money from Republicans around the state. In the July 1-Oct. 23 period, it delivered $168,000 to Republican candidates.
-MPAC, set up by Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, had $135,000 in contributions.
-Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s PAC gave out $94,000.
No PAC with a declared Democratic partisan orientation made the Cromer list of top PAC donors.

Tanner Campaigns for Mississippi Democrat (What About Roy Herron?)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Tennessee congressman who helped found the fiscally conservative coalition of Blue Dog Democrats campaigned Friday in northern Mississippi for one of his allies, Rep. Travis Childers, who’s locked in a tight re-election campaign.
“Travis is the epitome of a guy who takes the title ‘representative’ to heart. He represents north Mississippi first, last and always,” said Rep. John Tanner, who’s not seeking re-election in his own western Tennessee district this year.

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AP on the Blue Dog Dilemma

By Ray Henry
ATLANTA — Across the South, Blue Dog Democrats up for re-election find themselves in difficult races, caught between their party’s leadership in Washington and angry voters back home sympathetic to Republicans.
The difficulties for Democrats are apparent across the region, from Georgia and North Carolina to Alabama and Mississippi. Of the 20 Blue Dog lawmakers in the South on the ballot, 14 races are competitive. Three additional caucus members have decided to step down, triggering open races for those seats.
If members of the fiscally and socially conservative Blue Dog coalition lose, the party’s center could shift more to the left, making it harder to win races in the conservative South.
“The worst thing that could ever happen is to get rid of a moderate and put someone in that’s an extreme to one side,” said Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who has broken from his party’s leadership in the current Congress more often than any other lawmaker in his state’s delegation. “We don’t need that. Our country doesn’t need that.”

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Bredesen On CNBC: Lots of States Face Budget Cliff, But Not TN

In another of his continuing series of interviews on national media, Gov. Phil Bredesen tells CNBC how well he’s managed Tennessee’s budget and cautions that some other states unwisely relied on federal stimulus money for recurring expenses.
“An awful lot of states took that money and treated is as continuing money and not like one-time help,” he said. “So a lot of states this coming January have a cliff they’ve got to navigate. There’s going to be some dislocation. You’re going to see some problems.”
Bredesen said he treated the federal funding Tennessee received as a one-time aid. He continued to use budget cuts and public employee layoffs to reduce the state’s sizeable budget gap.
“We’ve legislatively done everything we need to go ahead and make the cuts that are necessary,” said Bredesen.
Raising taxes to increase state revenue was not an option for Bredesen, who is the first Tennessee governor in modern times to complete two terms without raising the state sales tax. However, a new shortfall of $170 million has opened in the state’s current $29 million budget, even after legislators cut $230 million in last year’s session.
…The former founder and CEO of HealthAmerica, a health insurance corporation, Bredesen runs his government like a business. He said that states like his will continue to attract new companies as long as “investors are willing to look on a state-by-state basis and not lump all states into some category.” If investors follow his advice, Bredesen said, “They’ll find great bargains there.”
In the long run, these investment categories might not matter if a few key states fail–namely California and Michigan.
“That can’t possibly be good thing for the country or a good thing for the economy,” said Bredesen of state failure, adding that “it produces a huge drain on the economy and we can’t absorb too much more of that in these states.”

On the Stump in Delaware: Lamar Vs. John Kerry

CENTREVILLE, Del. (AP) — The Republican and Democratic parties brought in outside help for their candidates in Delaware’s U.S. Senate race Friday, with Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander campaigning with Republican Christine O’Donnell and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry stumping for Democrat Chris Coons.
Alexander, chairman of the Republican Senate Conference, said the outcome of the Delaware’s U.S. Senate race could decide which party controls the Senate after Tuesday’s midterm elections.
“The races across the country are close, and Delaware, Christine O’Donnell’s race, may very well decide whether the Republicans or the Democrats set the majority in the Senate and set the agenda for our country in the future,” he said.
An independent poll released Thursday shows O’Donnell, the tea party favorite who upset longtime Congressman Michael Castle in the Republican primary, trailing Democrat Chris Coons by 21 points, but Alexander said he believes O’Donnell can win.
“What we’re seeing in Tennessee and across the country is a huge difference between Republicans and Independents who are concerned about runaway government in Washington. They’re going to the polls, and Democrats are unhappy and they’re staying home,” he said. “Christine’s already shown herself to be a pretty good come back artist, polls don’t really reflect the enthusiasm for her support.”
Alexander noted that he is a friend of Castle and supported him in the primary against O’Donnell.
“But the voters of Delaware chose Christine O’Donnell as the Republican nominee, and it will be her vote that has the chance to be the decisive vote in the direction of our country for the next several years,” he said.

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Haslam: Let’s Talk Budget, Just Not Specifics

Andrea Zelinski notes that Bill Haslam has often said there needs to be more talk about “fixing the budget” – but he won’t talk specifics on how he would go about doing that.
Apparently, for insight into budget details he was hoping to tune in on the department-by-department budget briefings traditionally held in December by Gov. Phil Bredesen. But the departing governor isn’t doing that this year.
Excerpt from Zelinski’s TNReport:
“There’s a world of difference between being on the campaign trail and being in office,” he said. As a candidate, it’s easy to point out questionable spending, he continued, “but you need to get in there in the middle of it” to decide what programs are worth keeping and what needs cutting or scaling back.
To get a head start, Haslam said he’s looking forward to taking a crash course in state finances by tuning in to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s annual budget hearings. But that class isn’t being offered this fall.
The termed-out governor does not plan on holding them this year, preferring instead to let the election winner do his own probing for waste and spending excesses. The administration has asked state agencies for budget proposals that slice 1 percent and 3 percent off their fiscal outlays in an effort to give the next chief executive thought-out, workable options

Early Voting Down 13 Percent from 2006 Level

Early voting fell by more than 113,000 votes statewide as compared to 2006, the last gubernatorial election year, according to figures on the Division of Elections website. That’s about 13 percent.
The AP notes that state Election Coordinator Mark Goins had said officials were expecting about 1 million early ballots to be filled during the two-week period that started Oct. 13. But Thursday’s final tally was way below that level
Goins said Friday that officials were still encouraged by the final numbers, and that “the number of early voters did surpass all previous early voting totals for a midterm election excluding 2006.”
The total statewide early vote this year was 736,885. In 2006, it was 850,217. (The old statistics are HERE – scroll down to the ‘voter turnout’ part.)
Early voting ended on Thursday. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
In 2006, of course, the gubernatorial contest was not competitive as Gov. Phil Bredesen won every county against Republican Jim Bryson. But there was a hot race for the U.S. Senate between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford Jr.
The early voting turnout was down in all four of the state’s largest counties.
Davidson County had 88,197 early voters in 2006 and fell to 72,331 this year.
Hamilton County had 38,378 four years ago, 27,332 this year.
Knox County had 67,833 in ’06, fell to 56,932 this year.
Shelby was down from 139,296 to 109,680.

Haslam Dodges Endorsement in Cochran-Williams Race

Jerome Cochran, the Republican nominee running against House Speaker Kent Williams, has a campaign mailer that pictures him standing alongside gubernatorial nominee Bill Haslam. The headline: “Jerome Cochran and Bill Haslam, Carter County’s Leadership Team.”
Williams, through a spokesman, says that implies Haslam is endorsing Cochran over the speaker, who is running as an independent after being ousted from the GOP.
“I talked to Bill Haslam and Bill Haslam assures me he has not endorsed Jerome Cochran in this race,” said Williams.
Asked about the matter, Haslam spokesman David Smith replied by email that Haslam is neutral in the contest: “We didn’t know about the mailer, and Mayor Haslam isn’t endorsing in this race.”
No comment on whether the Knoxville mayor discussed an endorsement with Williams or Cochran.
Cochran says the mailer was appropriate, that he has met with Haslam on occasion and “Mayor Haslam has said he supports Republican candidates.”
Besides, Cochran said, Williams set out a mailer – after his had already reached voters – that includes a picture of the House speaker with Haslam. “I just beat him to the punch,” said Cochran.

Rove-Linked Group Joins in Bashing Lincoln Davis

American Crossroads, an independent expenditures group with ties to Republican operative Karl Rove, is the latest nation group to chim in with TV ads attacking Democrat Lincoln Davis in the 4th Congressional District.
A notice filed with the FEC by the affiliated Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies says the group spent $272,100 on producing and airing the ad.
A recent Salon article says most of the $4.7 million collected by Crossroads comes from four billionaires. It has spent about $600,000 attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Here’s the ad, which has the familiar theme of linking Davis to Nancy Pelosi and her “failed agenda”: