Monthly Archives: January 2014

Briggs banks $156K for campaign against Campfield, who has $23K

Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs raised $122,180 in the last six months in this campaign for the Republican nomination to defeat the state Sen. Stacey Campfield, reports Georgiana Vines.

With $43,678 going into the reporting period and spending $9,315, Briggs has $156,543 remaining for the Aug. 7 state primary.

Briggs, a cardiothoracic surgeon, received considerable donations from fellow physicians as well as lawyers and other business people. He also received $10,000 from Independent Medicine’s PAC-TN and $2,500 from HMA Tennessee PAC.

Campfield, who prides himself in running low-budget and door-to-door campaigns, reported raising $16,970 during the same period and spending $4,202. His expenditures included $995 in thefts by a former campaign staffer, which he earlier disclosed. He has $23,202 left in his account and cannot raise money while the Legislature is in session.

The two are vying for the 7th Senate District seat, as is Democrat Cheri Siler, a teacher who just started campaigning a few weeks ago. She reported raising $1,717, spending $516 (including repaying a $113 loan) and having $1,201 on hand.

Note: A Briggs press release is below.
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No gubernatorial greeting for Obama

Gov. Bill Haslam had planned to welcome President Obama at the airport for his visit to Nashville today, but it turns out that he won’t.

David Smith, spokesman for the governor, says in an email that the president’s arrival was pushed back later than planned originally. So Haslam will not greet the president and instead will head onward to a meet at an undisclosed out-of-state location with an undisclosed company that is considering an investment in Tennessee. The White House was duly advised of this, Smith says.

A day earlier, Haslam said he would miss Obama’s event at McGavock High School because of the out-of-state meeting. (Note: See Andrea Zelinski’s Wednesday report HERE.)

Former Democrat political operative goes to work with Republican political operative

News release from The Ingram Group:
Beecher Frasier, former Democrat “Blue Dog” Chief of Staff in the U. S. House of Representatives and campaign manager of former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s 2006 Senate race will become a principal of The Ingram Group and The First Group Feb. 1, Tom Ingram, founder and chairman of the Nashville-Washington consulting business, announced today.

“We’re very excited to have Beecher join our team. He knows and navigates Tennessee and Washington with an engaging personality and tremendous knowledge, experience and skill,” Ingram said. “He obviously brings U. S House experience and strength to our team, but is also a very broad-gauged professional.”

“Tom has been a mentor of mine for many years and the opportunity to join him and his team is truly an honor,” Frasier said.

The two friends were pitted against each other when U.S. Senator Bob Corker and Ford went head to head for an open U.S. Senate seat. GOP Senate leadership, then Majority Leader Bill Frist and Whip Mitch McConnell, drafted Ingram to take a leave from his post as U. S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Chief of Staff in 2006 to manage the last five weeks of Corker’s flagging bid for the Senate. At the time, polls showed Corker falling behind Ford by as much as nine points. The race ended Nov. 5 of that year with Corker slightly edging out Ford for the seat.

Frasier and Ingram, both alumni of Lipscomb University in Nashville and long-time friends before the Corker-Ford race, overnight became fierce adversaries. “We pledged to each other to be friends when it was over and to call each other’s hand in the meantime if things got out of hand,” Ingram recalls. “We called each other several times.”
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Ball’s scenario for a Democratic win in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race

Frank Cagle talks with Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball – disclosing that the two are friends – about the path to a potential Democratic victory in this year’s U.S. Senate race. An excerpt:

Ball believes that a Democratic primary with him and Knoxville attorney Terry Adams (the other announced candidate) competing will generate some excitement in the party and will help other Democrats on the ballot. A primary might also give Democrats a reason to vote for their party nominees rather than cross over in large numbers to vote for Alexander.

Without Democratic crossover votes, and with a purely Republican turnout, it helps state Rep. Joe Carr, the conservative candidate opposing Alexander in the primary. Should Carr succeed in knocking Alexander off in the primary, moderate Republicans might be convinced to vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

…Whether such a scenario could play out in Tennessee is an open question, but it is an argument Ball and Adams can make in seeking support and contributions. It’s a long-shot, but it’s a shot. It it also an argument that can help stave off the perception among political reporters and donors that an Alexander win is inevitable.

Ball is a traditional conservative Southern Democrat, slightly right of center, for low taxes, balanced budgets, and that sort of thing. He’s more libertarian on social issues. Pro-choice. He sees gay marriage as a state issue and believes that what people do in their bedrooms isn’t the federal government’s business.

He sees a major issue in the campaign as the reform, or replacement, of Obamacare. He says the Affordable Care Act is needlessly complicated and gives insurance companies too great an influence in health care. He will campaign to keep provisions like covering pre-existing conditions and letting young people stay on their parents’ policies longer. But he advocates repealing the insurance-company exemption from federal anti-trust laws, which enables them to lock up markets within states and leaves customers no place else to go.

Wine-in-grocery-stores bill passes Senate 23-8

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Senate has passed a bill to allow local governments to hold votes on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets and convenience stores.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro (SB837) was approved on a 23-8 vote after the companion bill was revived in the House this week.

The proposal would allow cities and counties to vote on grocery store wine sales as early as November, but wouldn’t allow supermarkets to stock wine until at least July 2016.

The Senate version would require convenience stores to have at least 1,200 square feet to qualify for a wine sales license, while the House version would set that limit at 2,000 square feet.

Under current law, supermarkets can’t sell anything stronger than beer.

MTSU Poll: Obama’s approval rating continues to decline in TN

A new Middle Tennessee State University poll indicates that President Barack Obama’s approval rating continues to fall in Tennessee and that his approval rating among white, evangelical Christians was worse than with any other demographic.

Further from the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal:

“That’s a fairly common pattern in Tennessee,” said Ken Blake, director of the MT Poll. “Minorities approve of Obama across the board, and way fewer whites than minorities approve. But those that showed the most disapproval were evangelical. Religion and race kind of interact in a sense.”

According to poll data, which was gathered Jan. 23-26 via telephone interviews of 600 Tennessee adults, 69 percent of white, evangelical Christians disapproved of Obama while only 46 percent of white, born-again Christians showed disapproval.

“This is all without political affiliation added in,” said Blake. “However, minorities support Obama regardless of religiosity.”

Adding in political affiliation, there’s a religion split along with party identification, he said — the stronger the relationship with religion, the stronger someone feels about disapproval with Obama.

…Race and religion aside, 55 percent of Tennessean’s disapproved of the job Obama was doing and 30 percent approved. Over data from 2013, the percentage did not change significantly, said Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU Poll. However, throughout Obama’s career, a steady decline was noticeable, he said.

Chattanooga mayor joins colleagues in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville in opposing guns in local parks bill

From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:
Add Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke to the list of Tennessee’s “Big Four” city mayors opposing a bill in the Legislature that seeks to strip local governments of their power to keep firearms out of public parks.

Berke, a former Democratic state senator, on Wednesday joined mayors of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis in objecting to the legislation sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

“When I was in the Legislature a central part of what I fought for was local control,” said Berke, who was elected mayor last year. “This gives people the chance to decide what’s best in their own community. By taking away that right, the state Legislature would be saying there’s only one way to do that and Nashville knows that way.”

The bill was cleared for Senate floor action after a 6-2 vote Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill seeks to end city and county governments’ ability to opt out of a 2009 law allowing firearms in public parks, playgrounds and ball fields.

It says handgun-carry permit holders can bring their firearms to any of those areas unless there’s a school function. Campfield argued that local policies are confusing, even within the same park, where a person with a permit might be allowed to carry on trails but banned from going armed at a nearby ball field.

Full story HERE.

Student fatally shot prior to Obama’s visit to his Nashville school

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As President Barack Obama’s security detail prepared for his Thursday visit to a Nashville high school, grief counselors went to the school to help students cope with the fatal shooting of a teen by a classmate.

The shooting came within an hour of the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, in which he renewed calls to curb gun violence.

“I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, in our shopping malls, or schools,” Obama said in the speech.

Police said the shooting took place at an apartment when 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson was playing with a pistol. It discharged, striking 15-year-old Kevin Barbee in the face. An attorney for Robinson said the teenager did not know the gun was loaded.

It was unclear how the president would address the shooting in his Thursday afternoon speech at McGavock Comprehensive High School. But his efforts to impose more restrictions on firearms purchases don’t enjoy widespread support in a state that prides itself on being gun friendly.

Obama has been thwarted by Congress in his efforts to reinstate the assault weapons ban and expand background checks for gun purchases. But a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012 led him to issue presidential memoranda on guns that included renewing federal gun research despite a law that had been interpreted as barring such research since 1996.

The day before Obama’s visit, Republican state lawmakers broke out in cheers when an official with gun maker Beretta USA Corp. credited Tennessee’s pro-gun culture in the company’s decision to choose a suburban Nashville site to build a $45 million plant and research facility.
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Study suggests liberals drink more alcohol, prefer beer and liquor over wine

News release from Journal of Wine Economics:
Could your political party predict your propensity for partying? A sobering study published by the Journal of Wine Economics finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s political persuasion becomes more liberal.

Findings from the study into the relationship between drink and politics across 50 states in the US over the past 50 years suggest a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol.

Economists from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University reveal that, as states become more liberal politically over time, their consumption of beer and spirits rises – while their consumption of wine tends to fall.

The research reveals that more politically liberal states like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah.

The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford reviewed more than five decades of data between 1952 and 2010 and measured alcohol intake against “citizen ideology”, which was inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives.

“In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states,” the authors say.

“Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita.” 

The authors’ findings are relatively consistent with recent sociological studies in other parts of the world showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behavior, such as excessive drinking. For example, they cite one 2002 study, which found that Russian pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views had healthier lifestyles than their pro-communist peers.

Explanations offered by the authors of this latest study include the suggestion that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs – or that they might feel more confident in government healthcare and social welfare to pick up the pieces of their socially irresponsible behavior.

The authors suggest that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.

Read the full article here.

Ramsey walks out of State of the Union address

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who attended President Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington as the guest of Sen. Lamar Alexander, tells Andrea Zelinski that he walked out after 30 minutes — but, despite some joking to the contrary, it really wasn’t in protest.

“I’ll be right upfront with you. I stayed for the first 30 minutes of the State of the Union address. It was an experience, though. Because I was flying back last night to be here for session, and if we stayed until the end you were trapped for about an hour before they let you out in the gallery. So I left a little early,” he told the Nashville Post.

His take?

“That was fun, just the whole ceremony of it all. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences,” said Ramsey who added he had never been to the State of the Union address.

But the visit also “reiterated to me why I have no desire to go up there,” he continued. “I think our founding fathers designed a system that’s embedded with gridlock and that’s not necessarily bad. I just think what we can accomplish on a state level is much more than they can. I’m extremely happy where I am.