Category Archives: Republicans

Brooks running for House GOP caucus chair

State Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland tells Nashville Post Politics that he’s running to become House Republican Caucus chairman, anticipating the man currently holding that office — Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin — will instead run for House majority leader.

“Glen and I have had multiple positive conversations,” Brooks said about his decision to announce his leadership bid during tonight’s House Republican Caucus fundraiser at the Hermitage Hotel. “It’s my understanding that Glenn wants to run [for Leader] … and tonight has been an very important evening — I feel like everyone I talked to offered me their support.”

Since last week’s announcement from McCormick that he wouldn’t seek the leadership role again, a number of legislators have stated or implied they want his job, the second highest ranking position behind House Speaker Beth Harwell. Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) told the caucus that she had already been planning to challenge McCormick, and Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) posted on Facebook that he was “prayerfully” considering running. Brooks also expressed an interest, along with Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and, of course Casada, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House.

According to Brooks, Casada is running for Leader. According to Casada’s staff Monday night, the legislator isn’t thinking past Election Day.

…”I think Glen and I will be a great team, should leadership allow us to serve together,” Brooks said. “He recruited me to run for office in 2006, and it’s a great feeling to think about serving with him now, together.”

Brooks may be the first name in the running for the caucus leadership, but he doesn’t expect to be the last.

“I would be surprised if no one else jumps in the race,” Brooks said.

Matlock offers ‘covenant’ to House GOP Caucus

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock has listed what he calls “the guiding principles” of his effort to replace Beth Harwell as House speaker in a document labeled “Covenant with the Caucus,” reports Cari Wade Gervin. The Covenant was emailed to members of the House Republican Caucus.

The one-page “covenant” (Note: Copy HERE) still offers no specifics as to what kinds of legislation Matlock wants to push, but it does throw shade on aspects of Harwell’s tenure.

“After many conversations with friends and colleagues in recent months, it is clear that many of us have a shared sense of concern regarding the manner in which the House operates,” Matlock writes, before elaborating in sections entitled, “SERVICE,” “PROACTIVE INTERACTION,” “CONSISTENT STANDARDS,” “CONSISTENT STRATEGY,” “CONSISTENT SUPPORT,” and “CONSISTENT RESPECT.”

Matlock describes how his office will reach out to members, how he won’t bully them, and how he’ll stand by all incumbents during primary races. 

“I will promote and apply high standards of conduct equally among all members. We cannot secure an environment of trust and confidence apart from the consistent application of such standards (emphasis his),” Matlock writes in the “CONSISTENT STANDARDS” section.

…Matlock stated in his email he plans “to deliver a signed copy of the covenant to each of you in the coming weeks.” However, he added that he wouldn’t be “sharing details regarding specific goals for the coming Session” until after the general election in November.

Matheny speech on TNGOP ‘crisis’ spurned

The Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee took a vote Saturday on whether to let state Rep. Judd Matheny address the body on his belief the party faces a “crisis,” in part over leadership ties to a consulting firm that helped challengers attack him and other incumbents in this year’s primary elections.

The result, according to The Tennessean: 24 voted to let Matheny talk; 35 voted no.

In recent months, Matheny has taken issue with the fact that Southland Advantage – a company founded by Taylor Ferrell, who is the wife of the party’s political director, Walker Ferrell – was once hired by candidates running against Matheny, Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

All three lawmakers beat their challengers in the state’s Aug. 4 primary election.

Several party members, including Wilson County Republicans, have called for the firing of Walker Ferrell, as well as party chairman Ryan Haynes and Brent Leatherwood, the state party’s executive director, arguing that they have condoned activity that undermines the work of incumbent Republicans.

…Matheny later told The Tennessean that he hoped to provide SEC members with a packet of information that included a two-page speech, his April letter and other notes about Southland Advantage’s involvement in primary election races.

…“We are here today because we know and the public knows that our party is in crisis,” Matheny wrote in his prepared remarks. “We are at a point where we have to make a choice. We either work to restore our party to one that conducts its business with integrity and based on principles, or we stand by and watch it decline into Obama-like lawlessness.”

… Matheny said the party cannot continue to “buddy up with people of questionable ethical behavior who for their own personal benefit and ambition are willing to lie, cheat and bend the rules until they become unrecognizable.”

Haynes has previously said that no party staff members have been involved in any Republican primaries. In an email sent to SEC members in May, Haynes said the party has a long-standing policy of staying out of primary elections but the bylaws do not prevent “vendors or spouses of staffers from engaging in primaries.”

…Matheny also said Haynes originally told him he could address the SEC but was removed from the agenda during a last minute administrative meeting held Friday night.

Haynes confirmed that the party’s administrative committee voted against Matheny speaking but added that he supported the lawmaker.

“I think it would’ve been in the best interest of the party to allow him to have an opportunity to speak,” he said, adding that he and Matheny disagree on the facts.

Matheny said Haynes has been “very disingenuous” with him, adding that the chairman told him Saturday morning that he would “lobby” for the lawmaker to address the audience. Matheny also said he would only talk to Haynes via email or in public because “I can’t trust him.”

Haynes said he was sorry Matheny felt that way about him and that he believes the lawmaker is “an outstanding conservative legislator.”

Windup TN notes on GOP national convention

Press release from TNGOP
CLEVELAND, Ohio-July 21, 2016–The Tennessee Republican Party released the following statement from Chairman Ryan Haynes regarding the conclusion of the 2016 Republican National Convention:

“While 2016 has showcased the passions within our Party, it only serves as evidence of how ready we are to get to work. Congressman Marsha Blackburn clearly and concisely laid out what’s at stake. With delegates voting to name Donald Trump and Mike Pence the Republican nominees for President and Vice President, all of us are ready to get to work and do everything possible to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November.”

“This has been an incredibly successful week for the Republican Party. For Tennessee, our delegation came together with the objective of uniting—and we did. One thing that struck me is how all of us want to believe this nation can continue its exceptional run of the last 240 years as a beacon of opportunity, hope, and stability in an uncertain world. We’re the Party that can turn that belief into a reality. That’s the message the Tennessee Republican Party will be engaging voters with this fall.”

TN talk on Trump and NATO
By the Associated Press
Tennessee Republican National Convention delegate Victor Ashe, a former ambassador to Poland, says he hopes Donald Trump clarifies a suggestion that the U.S. might abandon its NATO military commitments if he were elected president.

Trump told The New York Times that he would review allies’ financial contributions before acting under NATO’s mutual defense clause, if any of the countries were attacked by Russia.

Ashe says he hopes Trump will reiterate strong support for the nation’s NATO treaty obligations. He says they are “an important component of our European alliance” and as binding on a president as a law.

Sen. Bob Corker, a Trump supporter and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, says Trump was only expressing exasperation that the U.S. plays an outsized role in the protection of NATO allies. Continue reading

Day 3 notes on TN delegates at GOP convention

Excerpts from today’s edition of former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe’s “Delegate Diary” at the Republican National Convention:

(Donald) Trump Jr.’s appearance and presentation is very different from his father as was demonstrated in his speech Tuesday night to the convention. In fact, if he were the candidate I suspect 65 percent of the misgivings and doubts many have about his father would vanish. He is that good.

The father of five and articulate, Trump Jr. talked about ‘streamlining the system and getting rid of the hangers-on and nonsense.” He said his father is “the most famous man in the world who so few know.”

… Knoxvillians Jimmy and Dee Haslam hosted a luncheon Wednesday for the nation’s Republican governors and large donors to the Republican Governors Association at their large home on Lake Erie east of Cleveland. Twenty governors attended, including Gov. Haslam and Pence, who pledged that “federalism” would be a hallmark of a Trump administration, according to sources.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was not present, although Jimmy Haslam had been a donor to his presidential campaign.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd of Knoxville, who is being mentioned as a possible 2018 candidate for governor, attended the luncheon as well as a delegation breakfast at the Radission. Boyd, who is sponsoring a luncheon for the delegates on Thursday, said he backs Trump for president.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee delegation and alternates attended a luncheon at Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which featured speeches by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and four members of the state’s congressional members — Phil Roe, Marsha Blackburn, Chuck Fleishmann and Scott DesJarlais. Continue reading

An ‘oops’ and other TN doings at GOP convention

A transcript of state Sen. Mae Beavers, chair of Tennessee’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, in casting the state’s presidential delegate votes on Tuesday, as reported by The Tennessean.

“Madame secretary, the Volunteer state, the state with no income tax, a budget surplus, and a balanced budget. A state that is in the top five for jobs growth, number one in auto-manufacturing, with a Republican Governor, Two Republican US Senators, seven Republican congressmen, and a two-thirds majority in the state house and state senate.

“Our pro-life state, proudly casts our votes: 16 votes for Senator Ted Cruz, 19 votes for Senator Marco Rubio, and 33 votes to ‘Make America Great Again’ with Donald J Trump.”

Actually, the Rubio total was wrong. He had nine Tennessee delegates; not 19. … The leaders of the convention’s roll call process asked the Tennessee delegation to repeat their votes and Beavers read the correct totals the second time around.
Continue reading

Haslam’s hesitancy toward Trump stirs convention comment

Gov. Bill Haslam’s benign attitude toward Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee is drawing criticism from at least one Tennessee delegate – former state Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville – while others are kinda, sorta saying that the governor’s less-than-enthusiastic position is OK and he’ll come around.

Further from The Tennessean:

“A lot of (delegates) have said that they are let down with Bill Haslam – by him not helping out Donald Trump he’s practically supporting Hillary Clinton,” former state Sen. Stacey Campfield told The Tennessean on Monday.

Haslam has on occasion been critical of Trump. In June, the Knoxville Republican called recent attacks by Trump on GOP governors “not helpful.” The governor has also said Trump’s comments about federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, which many have said are racist remarks, were “indefensible.”

…Robert Duvall, former Metro councilman and Trump delegate, said he’s heard some people ask about why Haslam hasn’t been more vocal in his support for the real estate mogul, especially after the governor met with the presumptive nominee. However, Duvall believes the governor is ready to support Trump.

“I was with Bill earlier today, and he seemed to be OK. And if you listened to what he had to say, while he didn’t sit here and (say) Trump by name, I felt like he was saying it’s time to get behind our candidate. Whether it’s half-hearted or not, I don’t know how gung-ho you’re going to be.”

James Eaton, a Trump delegate from Williamson County, said he believes that Haslam is simply waiting until the presidential candidate officially becomes the Republican nominee.

“There’s a lot of people in the Republican Party that will not say I’m supporting Trump but once he’s nominated they’ll support him,” he said.

Duvall said he expects Haslam to eventually donate to Trump. If he doesn’t, and Trump wins Tennessee as expected, Duvall believes it could make any future political ambitions of the term-limited governor much more difficult.

“It could be Haslam stays out of the race, but I think that could be political suicide in Tennessee if he wanted to run for any office,” Duvall said.

“That would make it hard for him to build the coalition he needs to even win a primary. I think Bill’s smarter than that.”

Haslam family hosts a party at GOP convention

Excerpt from a Huffington Post article on parties at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and their sponsors:

The Cleveland host committee that handles the logistics and can accept unlimited funds to do so doesn’t have to report donor names until then (60 days after the convention)… The group is hosting a welcome reception for sponsors Sunday night. It’s listed as being at the home of Natalie and James Haslam, megadonor and founder of Pilot Corporation, an oil company; that could be a misprint, since James lives in Tennessee and it’s his son, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and his wife Dee who paid $4.1 million for a mansion on Lake Erie in 2012. (Another of James’ children is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam).

The Haslam family has long been active in donating to Republican politics. They certainly didn’t start out as Trump supporters this cycle: James, Jimmy, Jimmy’s sister Ann and his wife Susan gave a combined $125,000 to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise USA, early last year.

Since it would be a shame to let such a lovely estate go unused for the rest of the week, Jimmy Haslam’s place will be the venue for a Republican Governors Association lunch on Wednesday; we’re guessing invitees include, besides GOP governors, representatives of some of the RGA’s top donors, which this cycle include Koch Industries ($2 million); Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($1.5 million); and Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands ($1 million).

TN Republican convention notes

From the Associated Press
A Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention says he is disappointed the presiding officer did not allow a roll call vote on changing party rules.

The roll call vote was supported by delegates opposed to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. Those seeking a roll call wanted a chance to change the rules, but the presiding officer declared the rules passed on a voice vote.

Charlie Cato is a Nashville attorney in Cleveland as a delegate for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He says the leadership should have given everyone a chance to be heard. He would have voted against the rules, although he thinks they would have passed.

Cato says the Trump campaign won a victory “but not in a way that’s likely to bring the party together in November.”

From Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and a delegate, in his Monday ‘Delegate Diary’ blog post on convention activity.

Tennessee delegates led by state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet heard Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine speak at their breakfast Monday morning before the 2016 Republican National Convention was gaveled into session.

DeWine said is predicting a tight race in Ohio but that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump would prevail. DeWine is a likely candidate for governor of Ohio in 2018.

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris hosted a reception for delegates Sunday and will stay thru Thursday, making contacts among the delegates. Continue reading

Ketron brings Dutch anti-Islam leader to GOP convention

From the Associated Press
Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron has invited controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the Republican National Convention.

Wilders tweeted late Sunday that he had arrived in Cleveland. His tweet included a photo of a guest pass from the Tennessee Republican Party. Ketron, of Murfreesboro, told The Tennessean ( ) the populist anti-Islam and Euro-skeptic lawmaker is his friend.

Wilders has supported a ban on immigrants from Islamic countries to the Netherlands, similar to the idea presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has floated of temporarily banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. Ketron has sponsored several Tennessee bills aimed at Islam.

The invitation was criticized by Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, who said, “The Republican Party should not be importing foreign anti-Muslim bigots.”

For more, see Nashville Post Politics. Excerpt:

“Mr. Wilders is my guest at the convention. He called me sometime ago and was interested in attending. Like myself, having never attended a Convention before [sic] and he wanted to experience the process!” Ketron said in a text message.

When reached by phone this morning, Ketron said he was surprised that Wilders was a controversial choice of guest.

“He’s well-known in Europe, not here. A lot of people don’t even know who he is here,” Ketron said. “The only reason he is controversial is that he speaks his mind … and I agree with his philosophy.”

That philosophy is, in part, is that Islam is not actually a religion and that it is not compatible with democracy, or as Ketron put it, that his country “is being destroyed by the state of Islam.” Does Ketron think the United States is also being destroyed by Islam? He does, he replied, saying that the flux of Syrian refugees who do not “want to assimilate” and who are bringing tuberculosis past the borders is a crisis.

Yet although Wilders is Ketron’s guest, it seems that he likely won’t be attending many of the delegation’s events. For one, Ketron says, he has his own Dutch secret service accompanying him, adding to the already complex security logistics at the RNC. For another, it seems unlikely that at least one event at which Wilders is a “featured guest” — an LGBT gathering entitled, “WAKE UP! (the most fab party at the RNC)” — would be of interest to most of the Tennessee GOP delegates.