Category Archives: Congressional campaigns

Cooper balks at naming courthouse for Thompson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – All but one of Tennessee’s congressional delegation members want the new federal courthouse in Nashville to be named after the late actor-politician Fred Thompson, but the lone holdout says there’s no need to rush.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat who lost to Thompson in the 1994 Senate race, is the only one of the 11 delegation members not to sign on to legislation to dedicate the building to the Lawrenceburg native who died last year at age 73.

“I am not against Fred Thompson,” Cooper said in an email. “He beat me fair and square decades ago. I am not against it being named for a Republican.

“But is rushing through a bill at the last minute in Congress, without any public input or discussion, the best we can do?”

Cooper said it should be up people in Middle Tennessee to decide the name of the courthouse that’s being built after years of delays. And if they end up choosing Thompson, Cooper said he’d have “no problem” with that.

Thompson was a Tennessee-trained lawyer, prosecutor, hard-driving Senate counsel during the Watergate hearings, movie and TV actor and even a fleeting presidential hopeful in 2008. He commanded audiences with a booming voice, folksy charisma and a 6-foot-6 frame.

Thompson starred the “Law & Order” TV series and appeared in at least 20 motion pictures including “In the Line of Fire,” ”The Hunt for Red October,” ”Die Hard II” and “Cape Fear,” while also fostering a lobbying career in Washington. Upon his return home in early 1990s to run for the Senate, Thompson leased what would become his signature red truck to drive around the state to cast himself as a man of the people.

Cooper at the time derided the truck as a cynical prop to deflect attention from Thompson’s inside-the-Beltway status, arguing that his Republican opponent was in fact a “Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special-interest lobbyist.”

Thompson nevertheless ended up winning more than 60 percent of the vote.

Kustoff: Security is the No. 1 issue

By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Republican congressional candidate David Kustoff said Friday that he will work to improve national security and cut taxes for farmers if he is elected to the U.S. House in November.

Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney, won the GOP primary for the 8th Congressional District in Tennessee on Thursday. He defeated 12 other opponents who jumped at the chance to fill a House seat that opened up when Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher announced he would not seek re-election after three terms.

The 8th District stretches from suburban Shelby County through 14 other, mostly rural counties in west Tennessee. The 8th District seat is heavily Republican, presenting a challenge to the Democratic primary winner, Rickey Hobson. A loss by Kustoff would be a major upset, experts say.

The top four finishers in the Republican primary were from Shelby County — Kustoff, radiologist George Flinn, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and state Sen. Brian Kelsey. Kustoff won Shelby County and four other counties, with about half of his nearly 17,000 votes coming from Shelby County alone. Shelby County accounted for 40 percent of the votes cast in the GOP primary.

Kustoff insists he will continue to work hard ahead of the general election. Continue reading

Kustoff wins 8th District GOP nomination

Former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff defeated 12 opponents to capture the Republican primary for Tennessee’s 8th Congressional district Thursday night, all but guaranteeing that he will go to Washington to succeed Stephen Fincher in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

With all 15 of the 8th District’s counties reporting, Kustoff had 27 percent of the vote outdistancing the other candidates…. He’s expected to easily win the Nov. 8 general election in the heavily Republican district.

“I’m very proud of the campaign that we ran and the volunteers all across the 15 counties in the district. It’s very humbling,” Kustoff said in a brief interview late Thursday. “And I’m going to work hard to make sure that I’m the congressman for the 8th District come November.” Continue reading

DesJarlais defeats Starrett in 4th District

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais has won the 4th District Republican nomination to a new term despite being substantially outspent by challenger Grant Starrett.

Unofficial returns who the incumbent with about 42 percent of the vote; Starrett 10 percentage points back. (Note: Results HERE.)

The Times-Free Press has statements from the two campaigns:

A statement from Starrett’s campaign says:

“We spoke with tens of thousands of our friends and neighbors face to face at their doorsteps and in their living rooms over the course of this campaign, and I’m grateful for their prayers, support, and vote of confidence to be their next Congressman. While it was not enough, I’m proud of our campaign, and I’m incredibly grateful for everyone involved.

“I just called to congratulate Congressman DesJarlais, and I wish him the best in his work as a Representative for our district.”

DesJarlais released the following statement: “Despite my opponent spending nearly two million dollars trying to distort my conservative voting record, the people of the Fourth District know I will always fight for Tennessee values and principles. I am honored by the opportunity to continue to serve my constituents and I promise to remain steadfast in my defense of conservative constitutional principles

Black blasts Carr in 6th District

U.S. Rep. Diane Black trounced challenger Joe Carr in the Republican primary of Tennessee’s 6th congressional district, overcoming a barrage of attacks from her opponent that sought to tap into a national wave of anti-establishment GOP politics.

From The Tennessean’s report:

Black, a three-term congressman, beat Carr, a former tea party-aligned state representative from Rutherford County, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin Thursday. Republican primary candidates Tommy Hay and Donald Strong each have below 3 percent of the vote.

Black, a 65-year-old former nurse and ex state lawmaker from Gallatin, will now be a heavy favorite as the Republican nominee in the November general election against Democrat David Kent, who defeated Flo Matheson for the Democratic nomination Thursday.

For Black — despite outspending Carr 10 to 1 in campaign spending — the race presented an important political test as she considers a Republican run for governor in 2018. Losing her congressional primary would have derailed any statewide ambitions.

Note: Returns available on Division of Elections website, HERE.

Black, a three-term congressman, beat Carr, a former tea party-aligned state representative from Rutherford County, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin Thursday. Republican primary candidates Tommy Hay and Donald Strong each have below 3 percent of the vote.

Black, a 65-year-old former nurse and ex state lawmaker from Gallatin, will now be a heavy favorite as the Republican nominee in the November general election against Democrat David Kent, who defeated Flo Matheson for the Democratic nomination Thursday.

Fleischmann coasts to primary win

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleishmann, who faced intense opposition from fellow Republicans in past campaigns, coasted to a victory in Thursday’s 2016 GOP primary over two opponents who put little money into their unsuccessful efforts – one of them a Georgia resident.

The primary win puts Fleischmann, a Chattanooga lawyer, on a clear path toward a fourth two-year term of representing the 3rd Congressional District, which leans strongly Republican. His Democratic opponent in November will be Melody Shekari, who won a three-candidate contest for the district’s minority party nomination.

Unofficial returns Thursday night showed Fleischmann winning the GOP nod with about 84 percent of the vote while Allan Levene, who lives in Georgia and has run for Congress in that state and two others, and tea party activist Geoffery Suhmer Smith of Athens, each had about 8 percent.

In the Democratic primary, Shekari, a lawyer who has worked with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, was winning about 51 percent of the Democratic primary vote with Michael Friedman, a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga professor, second with 34 percent, followed by George Ryan Love of Chattanooga at about 15 percent.

(Note: Returns available on Division of Elections website, HERE. Continue reading

Roe rolls over Tribble in 1st Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe won the Republican nomination to a fifth term representing the 1st Congressional District on Thursday, easily defeating challenger Clint Tribble, a tea party activist who had declared the incumbent “out of touch” with conservative voters.

Unofficial returns Thursday night showed Roe,a physician who declared he would serve no more than five terms when first elected, with about 82 percent of the vote to 17 percent for Tribble, who lives in Knoxville.

Alan Bohms of Mohawk, escribed on his website as former head of a logistics company and executive director of the Volunteer Firefighter Allicance, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He will face Roe on the November ballot along with independent candidate Robert D. Franklin of Elizabethton.

Tibble on July 1 announced he was suspending his campaign, saying in a news release that he had received threats to himself and his family – making a point of saying he felt Roe had nothing to do with them. He restarted the effort a couple of weeks later, however, and reported loaning his campaign $30,000 and spending most of it. Roe has reported spending about $210,000 on the campaign with $512,220 still in the bank.

AP’s TN election day setup story

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With no statewide positions on the Tennessee primary ballot on Thursday, much of the attention this election season has focused on congressional and state legislative races.

An open congressional seat in western Tennessee attracted a baker’s dozen of candidates to enter the fray for the Republican nomination, while U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Diane Black are trying to fend off primary challenges from GOP candidates who are trying to position themselves to the right of the incumbents.

In the Tennessee General Assembly, all 99 House seats and 16 of 33 Senate seats up this year. Thirty-eight GOP incumbents are facing challenges by candidates seeking to join the strong Republican majorities in both chambers.

While state Rep. Jeremy Durham has suspended his campaign amid accusations of sexual harassment outlined in a state attorney general’s report, the Franklin Republican remains on the ballot. Several Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, have made contributions to Durham’s opponent Sam Whitson. Continue reading

Starrett defends work history

Republican congressional candidate Grant Starrett is taking issue with attacks about his work history from incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, reports the Daily News Journal.

DesJarlais campaign spokesman Robert Jameson, citing blog posts about Starrett’s employment, recently sent out accusations that Starrett doesn’t have an actual job and is instead being bankrolled by “his father’s rich friends” in order to campaign for Congress.

Starrett campaign manager Tommy Schultz, however, said Starrett has worked with Los Angeles-based Lion Real Estate Group LLC.

“This is a dirty trick in the final week of the election by a desperate DesJarlais scrambling to divert attention from his votes for Obama’s food stamps and military cuts,” Schultz said. “This attack on Grant is pathetic and outrageous. It’s an outright lie straight out of Harry Reid’s dirty playbook. Scott DesJarlais and his cronies should be ashamed.” Continue reading

Complaint: Tracy used state campaign money to pay fed campaign expenses

A Petersburg man has filed a complaint Tuesday against Sen. Jim Tracy claiming he may have used state campaign funds to pay federal campaign expenses for media work on his 2014 congressional race, reports Sam Stockard.

In addition, the complaint says Tracy made a $1,000 contribution from his state Senate campaign fund in March 2014 to his congressional campaign.

“At the end of the day, right is right and wrong is wrong, and everybody should be held to the same standard,” said Corey Smith, who filed the complaint but noted he has known Tracy his entire life and isn’t mad at him.

Tracy, a third-term Shelbyville legislator representing eastern Rutherford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties, says the accusations are “absolutely false” and calls the matter a “typical election-type deal, 23rd hour, trying to throw something out there.”

Wrapping up a third four-year term, Tracy is being challenged by Steve Lane of Murfreesboro in Thursday’s Republican primary. Smith said he is familiar with Lane but declined to call himself a supporter.

Filed with the Registry of Election Finance by Smith, of South High Street in Petersburg, a town straddling Marshall and Lincoln County lines, the sworn complaint says Tracy paid $18,000 to Harris Media in 2015 for “Media Services” and “Consulting” from his state campaign account.

Harris Media is one of the nation’s top firms for creating and managing websites, the complaint notes. Yet Tracy’s website hasn’t been updated since 2014, according to the complaint, when he challenged U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and lost by only 38 votes after a recount. The complaint points out Tracy’s donation page continued to show federal donation limits and disclosure rules in late July.

A review of the web page shows Tracy for state Senate and several recent social media postings that link to Tracy’s Facebook page, but it also has several mentions of his congressional race and two-year-old media items.

In addition, Federal Election Commission reports show Tracy made a $50,000 loan to his congressional campaign on July 3, 2014, and on Aug. 5, three days before the election, he held a fundraiser with U.S. Rep. Diane Black as “special guest.”

…Tracy says he signed a contract with Harris Media after the congressional race to have the company convert his congressional campaign web site to a state Senate website containing social media items and other work.

“We just looked at it. It looks like they switched everything over except the … it looks like they switched most everything over.”

…Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, confirmed the Registry of Election Finance received the complaint, which will be presented to the Registry at the next meeting after its Aug. 10 meeting.

The complaint was filed too late for the Aug. 10 meeting, but the Registry will make a decision on whether to issue a “show cause” notice or to dismiss the complaint, Rawlins said. Tracy would be given a chance to respond before action is taken if the Registry issues a “show cause” notice, he said.