Now that the 2010 election has passed, I will be taking vacation and personal time off for the next few weeks. This blog – after 3,146 posts — will thus be inactive for a while.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll return when I do.
Here’s the letter sent to Republicans around the state:
We have just concluded a historic election for Tennessee Republicans and I will say it has truly been an honor to serve the Party during this time.
On November 2nd, Republicans made history with monumental gains that will affect the political landscape of Tennessee for years to come. For the first time in modern history, Republicans will lead at every level of government in the Volunteer State.
We have championed a Republican Governor, solidified majorities in the State Legislature by winning 14 new State House seats (see map below), and our Congressional delegation went from 5-4 Democrat to a 7-2 Republican majority. Our significant victories across the state were a team effort and I greatly appreciate the efforts you put forth as part of our team.
While we are extremely blessed and thankful for the success, there is still much work to do, and that is why I am writing today to ask for your support in my bid to seek another term as Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Haslam Meet With Local Officials
County Mayor Jim Bailey and Columbia Mayor Dean Dickey were among 25 city and county officials that met Wednesday with Governor-elect Bill Haslam as he began his transition to the state’s top office, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.
“The great thing about Bill Haslam is that he is experienced in city government, and he has a great appreciation for the concerns of counties and cities,” Bailey said of the former Knoxville mayor. “And he’ll have an open ear to us.”
Bailey said he and Dickey were invited to the luncheon and meeting by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Asked if he offered any suggestions to the future governor, Bailey said he told Haslam to consider appointing someone who is not a “bureaucrat” to oversee the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, saying the agency had become too much about enforcement and not enough about helping cities and towns remedy their environmental issues.
Bailey said he and Dickey also hope to set up a meeting soon with Scott DesJarlais, the Republican physician who defeated four-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis.
Gov.-Elect Visits Chattanooga
Gov.-elect Bill Haslam said the Chattanooga area’s recent success landing major industries gives it a leg up in the push for new jobs, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“Obviously we’re building on some success here, and that’s a lot easier to do than starting from scratch,” said Haslam, who was in Chattanooga on Thursday.
Haslam met Thursday with local elected leaders at the Chattanooga Choo Choo to discuss job creation.
In the past two years, two $1 billion factories have come to the area — Volkswagen in Chattanooga and Wacker Chemical in Bradley County. Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said he hopes Haslam can help the county with jobs, education and infrastructure.
“Our relationship is extremely important,” Ramsey said. “I hope we’ll have a good relationship with Gov. Haslam.” Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said he’s looking forward to working with the new governor to “keep the progressive trend we’ve been enjoying” moving forward.
McWherter the Day After
So what did Mike McWherter do the day after losing an election for governor?
“I slept late, built a fire in my fireplace, watched television and talked to a lot of people on the phone,” he told the Jackson Sun Thursday. “But I’m back to work now.”
McWherter, 54, said he was very disappointed with the loss in the election.
“I felt bad for my staff and for my family,” he said. “They were more hurt than I was. I was surprised by how hard they took it. My wife’s glad to have me back home, but she was disappointed.”
Looking back on his decision to run and the months on the campaign trail, McWherter said he doesn’t have any regrets. “I’m content with the campaign that we ran,” he said. “I don’t think that I said anything untruthful. It was a year that Democrats didn’t fare well in the state.”
New Rep. Hurley ‘On Cloud Nine’
A former model and Hooters restaurant employee rode a Republican tidal wave to victory over an entrenched state representative Tuesday. Now, she tells Bob Fowler, she’s on Cloud Nine.
Julia C. Hurley, 29, of Lenoir City easily defeated nine-term incumbent Democrat Dennis Ferguson to capture the 32nd House District seat. That district includes all of Roane County and the Lenoir City area of Loudon County.
The victory by the political novice was part of the GOP steamroller that squashed some long-term Democratic lawmakers in East Tennessee on Nov. 2.
….Hurley said she decided to run in September 2009 because she was upset about President Barack Obama and national health care legislation.
“I knew I had to step up,” she said.
Her GOP primary campaign captured area and national headlines last summer when a disgruntled fellow Republican unearthed part of her past.
Members of media outlets were tipped off to slightly racy photos of Hurley from her now-distant modeling career and her part-time job as a Hooters employee while she attended Maryville College.
Hurley had the photos yanked from a modeling website in June, but not before some shots made their way to the media.
Hurley said that brief uproar proved a two-edged sword for her campaign. “There was quite a bit of publicity, both negative and positive,” she said, including a broadcast segment on ABC News and in newspapers from Johnson City to Memphis.
Reports about her part-time modeling career enraged a key segment of her future constituency, she said. “Quite a few women were angry and very upset with the fact someone felt the need to condemn me for the work I had done in college,” she said.
“Voters realized it wasn’t relevant to my education or capabilities,” Hurley said.
By Eric Schelzig
NASHVILLE — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda visited Tennessee on Thursday to get a firsthand view of an overhaul in the state’s education system that they helped encourage with their foundation’s $90 million grant to Memphis schools.
The couple met with outgoing Gov. Phil Bredesen and Gov.-elect Bill Haslam in Nashville, a day after visiting schools in Memphis.
“We came to Tennessee to see the bold reforms that are happening here, thanks to Gov. Bredesen and the Legislature’s work,” Melinda Gates said at a press conference at the governor’s mansion. “We’re really impressed with the many partnerships that have come together to focus on kids and kids’ outcomes.”
State Sen. Roy Herron, the Democratic nominee who lost to Republican Stephen Fincher in the 8th Congressional District, sent the following “Election Night Reflections” to supporters. (He did call Fincher.)
ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority board at its first meeting with four newly appointed members has voted to give President and CEO Tom Kilgore a 10 percent increase in his long-term compensation that is largely based on incentives, to $3.6 million.
That is a 10 percent jump in his total compensation and includes his annual salary of $850,000, which was not increased for 2010. Kilgore said he has not received any increase in two years.
Kilgore said a decision about 2010 bonuses for other executives will be made later this month. There was no bonus last year due to the economy and the utility’s December 2008 costly coal ash spill that is costing $1.2 billion to clean up at its Kingston Plant.
The board met for the first time with three new members and one reappointed by President Barack Obama.
KNOXVILLE – Gov.-elect Bill Haslam announced today he will resign as Knoxville mayor Jan. 10.
The timing of the announcement will avoid the calling of a special election to elect an interim mayor.
“My objective is to make sure we have the smoothest transition for the city of Knoxville,” Haslam said.
Holding a special election would cost about $240,000, Haslam said.
(This item is lifted from the News Sentinel’s website, full version HERE.)
Former Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr has been laying the groundwork for a new company involving solar energy that would position him, Gov. Phil Bredesen and the state’s top economic development official to profit from an industry they have spent more than two years trying to build up in Tennessee, reports Chas Sisk.
Farr, Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber have created a company, Silicon Ranch Corp., that will engage in what Farr described as “a new model for deploying solar across the U.S.”
Bredesen, Farr and Kisber said Wednesday they have worked to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“Reagan was trying to figure out what he wanted to do,” Bredesen said. “He’s somebody that is very sensitive, as am I, to any appearance of a conflict of interest.”
But the company was set up as a Delaware corporation in August before Farr stepped down from his position as one of the state’s top two economic development officials. Farr reserved the company’s name with the Tennessee secretary of state in July.
Silicon Ranch also is subleasing office space from a company, Pathway Lending, that routinely partners with the state on economic development deals. Farr also has begun working to line up deals for Silicon Ranch.
Farr confirmed the plans Wednesday, saying that Bredesen is playing a passive role as an investor in the venture. Corporate records for Silicon Ranch show Bredesen is the chairman of the company, Kisber its president and Farr the vice chairman and secretary.
Text of Haslam’s Tuesday night victory statement, as distributed by his campaign:
“When you go through a campaign I think it’s hardest with those who love you – my family and some of my extended family are here behind us. They endure all the debates and negative ads. Sometimes I think the slings and arrows hurt them more than they hurt the candidate. Hopefully everybody’s ok. But I’m so grateful for them.
The last Knoxvillian to become governor of Tennessee may not be a role model for Bill Haslam.
“Among all the characters, political or military, who rose to prominence in the South during Reconstruction, it would be hard to find one who achieved wider notoriety, spoke and wrote with greater invective, and inspired more bitter hatred than William Gannaway Brownlow,” wrote University of North Carolina history professor James W. Patton in the introduction to the 1999 reprint of a Brownlow biography.
Brownlow was chosen as governor at age 60 in 1865 when the state’s military governor, Andrew Johnson, resigned to become vice president of the United States. He was reelected to another two-year term in 1867, thus presiding over the state during the harshest period of Reconstruction.
By then he was already somewhat famous as a preacher, newspaper editor and author who crusaded against secession while supporting slavery, which he declared was “especially commanded by God through Moses and approved through the apostles of Christ,” according to the biography, “William G. Brownlow: Fighting Parson of the Southern Highlands.”