Category Archives: Congressional campaigns

Rick Santorum campaigns for Kelsey

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who won Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary in 2012, campaigned for state Sen. Brian Kelsey in the 8th Congressional District GOP primary race Tuesday.He made stops in Jackson, Fayette County and Collierville.

This comes a week after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Tennessee GOP presidential nomination in 2008, campaigned in the district for David Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney who is another of the 13 candidates seeking the GOP nomination in Thursday’s election.

From the Jackson Sun:

Santorum used his speech to pump Kelsey’s record and said West Tennessee’s conservative values are being criticized as antiquated and bigoted. He said unlike Donald Trump’s different style, the 8th District should be represented by someone trustworthy.

“You have to have people who go to Washington, D.C., that you know you can trust who will stand up to that,” Santorum said. “So I understand fresh and new and shake things up, but Ronald Reagan always said, ‘Trust but verify.’ And if you’ve got someone with a record you can verify, that’s a pretty good place to start.

“What I want, if I’m voting for Congress, is someone I can trust,” he said. “So you’ve got a decision to make, and I just hope you take it seriously. This isn’t a time to get mad. It’s a time to get focused. Our country is in trouble.”

“I think if we can get proven conservatives up there in Washington, whether we have a President Trump, like we all hope for, or a President Clinton, then we will really have a Congress who can hold its ground,” Kelsey said. “And not only hold our ground, but we’ve got to start moving the ball down the field forward.”

Black backer files complaint against attack ad sponsor

A supporter of U.S. Rep. Diane Black has filed a federal complaint against an organization led by conservative activist Steve Gill that has bankrolled a series of negative ads targeting Black in her 6th Congressional District race against challenger Joe Carr, reports the Tennessean. The group has also been running radio ads attacking candidates in the 8th Congressional District GOP primary.

In a complaint filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, Michael Zinser, an attorney from Gallatin, alleged that the 501(c)(4) organization Power of Liberty – whose donors remain secret – has produced ads that constitute “electioneering communications” because they fell within one-month of the Aug. 4. None of that activity, however, has been disclosed with the FEC, according to the complaint.

Gill, a former conservative radio talk show host and Power of Liberty’s registered agent, has said the group is an “issue advocacy” nonprofit organization and therefore does not have to disclose its donors and expenditures with the FEC. Instead, Gill has said Power of Liberty would be filing how much it raised with the IRS next year but that it won’t include a list of donors.

But the complaint details more than $67,000 in radio advertising that Zinser says Power of Liberty has purchased through Aug. 3, this Wednesday, that mention Black by name.

Election Day is Thursday. Under federal law, radio or TV communications that clearly identify a federal candidate are considered electioneering. Sources of funding of this type of communications must be disclosed within 24 hours, according to federal law, when it exceeds $10,000 and occurs within 30 days of a primary.

The group’s ads in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District race, both on radio and via mail, have criticized Black as being part of the “Washington establishment,” among other charges, but they don’t say to vote for Carr or against Black.

Zinser, who told The Tennessean that he supports Black in her Republican primary race against Carr, has asked the FEC to investigate the allegation and impose all appropriate penalties.

In addition to advertising that has targeted Black, Power of Liberty has also paid for ads that have attacked Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, state Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown and businessman Brad Greer. All three are candidates in West Tennessee’s crowded 8th Congressional District Republican primary to replace departing U.S. Rep. Steve Fincher.

Gill, reached by The Tennessean, said he wasn’t surprised by the FEC complaint, calling it a “desperate” response from a candidate in a tough political race.

“We’ve seen them file frivolous lawsuits in the Diane Black versus Lou Ann Zelenik races,” Gill said, referring to Black’s first congressional race six years ago and reelection two years later. “At the end of a campaign, the Blacks tend to go to litigation and filing complaints. That’s unfortunately what they do in close races rather than taking their case to the voters.”

Starrett bumps self-funding up to $900K

Challenger Grant Starrett this week personally loaned his campaign another $200,000 as his 4th Congressional District Republican primary with U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais heads into its final stretch, reports the Times-Free Press.

The $200,001.10 loan, made Tuesday and reported to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, brings the total amount of personal loans the wealthy 28-year-old attorney has made to his nearly two-year effort now to $876,562.10.

Combined with $23,400 Starrett gave his campaign last year as an in-kind contribution, his total personal stake in the contest now at nearly $900,000 or $899,962.10 to be precise.

It accounts for over half of the $1.69 million he’s taken in.

DesJarlais has bashed Starrett repeatedly, charging he is an opportunistic “trust fund millionaire” seeking to “buy” a Tennessee congressional seat. Starrett, meanwhile, has charged the three-term congressman has “betrayed” the largely rural district’s residents on a number of votes.

Roe’s GOP challenger ‘unsuspends’ campaign

Clint Tribble, who declared July 1 that he was suspending his campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Phil Roe in the 1irst Congressional District Republican primary, has now decided to “unsuspend” it, reports WJHL-TV.

Tribble said he’s not backing down from the threats he said he’s received.

“They’ve got a choice this time around,” Tribble said.

Tribble feels that his non-political background will help bring something different to the First District. He felt that Roe sides with the establishment.

Born in Arizona, Tribble worked a variety of jobs, including as a professional poker player in Las Vegas. He moved to Tennessee last year and became interested in politics.

If elected, Clint says he will focus on veterans right away.

“I won’t take no for an answer from the Veterans Affairs Administration when they come to me and they say well we can’t fix that for 20 years,” Tribble said.

Clint gained national attention in 2013 after creating a controversial website claiming Houston based Pastor Joel Osteen profits off the word of god.

…Tribble told News Channel 11’s Justin Soto that he’s already spent nearly $30,000 on his campaign and he plans to campaign hard until the upcoming primary on Aug. 4.

Note: Tribble’s July 15 report to the FEC shows a candidate loan to the campaign of $30,000 with spending of $27,236 and a cash-on-hand balance of $4,449. Roe’s July 15 report shows spending of $210,372 and a balance of $512,220.

Huckabee campaigns for Kustoff in 8th District

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is campaigning for David Kustoff in the 8th Congressional District’s crowded Republican primary, reports the Jackson Sun.

Huckabee first appeared on television ads supporting Kustoff a couple of weeks ago, and Wednesday he took the opportunity to encourage voters to support the former U.S. Attorney out of Shelby County. He said Kustoff is someone who won’t change once he gets to Washington, D.C.

“I’m absolutely convinced that David Kustoff is the kind of person who when you send [them] to Congress you’re never going to pick up the paper in the morning and be surprised at how he voted,” Huckabee said. “He’s never going to embarrass you. He’s not going to make you mad.

“You’re going to pick up the paper and see, ‘that’s exactly what we sent him there to do,’” he said.

…Also present was current U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Frog Jump, who caused the 8th congressional shakeup, which has seen 20 candidates run for the vacated seat, when he announced he would not be seeking re-election earlier this year. He made a brief appearance Wednesday, but didn’t endorse Kustoff.

“It matters who governs. It matters who serves. It matters who votes in our district in Washington,” Fincher said. “It’s been an honor to serve and we love all of you to death and it’s been unreal the last six years.”

Black camp: Carr reaches ‘lows never before seen in TN politics’

As part of a story on apparent inaccuracies in U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s radio ad touting her endorsement by the National Rifle Association, WSMV TV says the NRA is sticking with its move and Black’s campaign is denouncing challenger Joe Carr as sleazy.

The Black ad says the lawmaker got her handgun carry permit after becoming the victim of a violent criminal assault. But other reports indicate she didn’t get the permit until 14 years after the robbery and some other details of Black’s comments in the ad have been questioned based on a police report at the time. (Note: Carr’s press release on the matter previously posted HERE.)

Black declined an on-camera interview, but her press secretary Jonathan Frank sent the following statement:

“This is not going to be Joe Carr’s first losing campaign, but it certainly is his sleaziest. In what is likely the end of his political career, he and his allies have sunk to lows never before seen in Tennessee politics. They’ve exploited the addiction problems faced by Diane’s in-laws. They pretend that she never was violently assaulted when a police report documents it all. They even attacked her life as a single mother before she met Dave.

“Now that the Carr campaign has been confronted with the truth about Congressman Black’s attacking, they continue to dismiss this violent crime as a ‘purse snatching’ and are effectively telling their supporters that the attack described in the police report wasn’t bad enough. Efforts by the Carr campaign to minimize this assault are offensive to victims and their families. It is pathetic attacks like this that have caused Joe Carr to rack up three failed campaigns in a row. On Aug.4, Tennesseans will reject Joe Carr’s sleaze and relegate him to an even less reputable line of work.”

Political analyst and former campaign manager Kent Syler said it’s extremely important to get all the facts in a campaign ad right.

“The facts in this police report are certainly traumatic enough to cover the points of this ad without vacillating from it whatsoever,” Syler said.

Syler said whether the inconsistencies were intentional or not, it’s a good lesson in campaign advertising.

“Having that paper to back it up is important. Many times you’ll even see the police report in the ad as evidence,” he said.

The National Rifles Association has endorsed Black. Spokeswoman Jennifer Baker sent the following statement:

Diane Black is a strong advocate for the 2nd Amendment and an inspiration to women determined to avoid being victimized by exercising their constitutional right to self-protection. It is ludicrous that her political opponents are twisting the facts of experience as a victim of a violent crime.”

Starrett now has $700K in self-financing

In the first two weeks of July, Republican challenger Grant Starrett expanded mail and media assault on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the state’s 4th Congressional District primary.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

A pre-primary disclosure form Starrett filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission for July 1-15 showed he spent $190,000 on a TV and radio ad blitz and direct mail, and has spent $918,591 overall to date in the 16-county race.

…Meanwhile, a separate 48-hour disclosure Starrett filed last week showed the the 28-year-old attorney from Murfreesboro loaned his campaign another $200,000.

To date, Starrett has loaned his campaign $676,561. Combined with $23,400 Starrett gave his campaign as an in-kind contribution, his total personal stake in the contest is now $699,961. It accounts for almost half of the $1.49 million he’s taken in.

As of July 15, Starrett had $377,124.48 in cash on hand, according to the pre-primary disclosure. But that doesn’t include the $200,000 loan of July 18.

In his pre-primary disclosure, Starrett reported $584 in contributions.

DesJarlais’pre-primary report shows just $100 in contributions during the period and $73,472 in spending (including about $41,000 in direct mail and $15,520 on TV) His cash-on-hand balance was $249,627.

DesJarlais: ‘Dead baby parts’ mailer ‘reprehensible’

Challenger Grant Starrett’s latest political mail attack on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais has the congressman crying foul about “morally reprehensible” tactics, reports the Times-Free Press.

The mailer, which began hitting voters’ mailboxes earlier this week, accuses the congressman of having been “silent on life” and features a picture of DesJarlais with tape over his mouth beside a doctored “Planned Parenthood” cooler marked “Dead Baby Parts $500.”

It’s an intended hit on DesJarlais for not having joined in with GOP House committee colleagues’ questioning of Planned Parenthood’s chief last year over allegations the nonprofit abortion provider “sold” abortion fetus parts to medical companies.

“Even liberals in his home state of California, would be repulsed by Grant’s morally reprehensible campaign tactics,” DesJarlais campaign spokesman Robert Jameson said of the mailer, one of four that Starrett has sent out in recent days.

Jameson said “Grant should apologize to voters in the Fourth District for subjecting them to this trash, pack his bags and head back to his parents’ mansion in Beverly Hills. Clearly, politics is not his calling in life.”

But Tommy Schultz, Starrett’s campaign manager, said the mailer is fair and accurate and that the congressman should be the one apologizing.

Black vs. Carr: Back-and-forth bashing (guns and Cruz)

News release from the Diane Black campaign
GALLATIN, TN – The Diane Black for Congress campaign is calling on Joe Carr, a delegate for Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign, to repudiate the Texas Senator’s refusal to endorse Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump last night at the Republican National Convention. Diane Black released the following statement:

“Americans face a binary choice this November: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Tennesseans know that Hillary Clinton lacks the integrity and judgment to hold any elected office, let alone President of the United States. That is why, back in May, I endorsed Donald Trump’s campaign and encouraged others to do the same so that we could unify our party and ensure a Republican victory this November,” said Diane Black. “Last night, Ted Cruz set us back in those efforts and handed a gift to the Clinton campaign by refusing to endorse Donald Trump. As a delegate for Ted Cruz, it is deeply concerning that Joe Carr has so far been silent on this selfish power play. Tennesseans deserve to know where Joe stands. I call on him to immediately denounce Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse the Republican nominee and make clear his own support for Donald Trump.”

News release from Joe Carr campaign
SIXTH DISTRICT, TENN. (JULY 20, 2016) – It was recently discovered that Diane Black intentionally misled voters in a radio commercial about when she obtained her handgun carry permit.

This morning John Harris went back on air with 99.7 WTN talk show host, Michael DelGiorno after having finally obtained the police report of Diane Black’s assault 22 years ago. In the ad, Diane Black makes several allegations (see below) that we now know to have been exaggerated, and in some cases a complete fabrication, according to the police report. Continue reading