Category Archives: Republicans

ECD promoting GOP on Facebook?

More than half of the money a state agency has spent on Facebook ads targets supporters of Tennessee’s top Republican politicians, with none spent on Democrats, according to WSMV-TV. The report prompted a press release protests from state Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and TNDP Chair Mary Mancini.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is to attract businesses to the Volunteer State, as well as to let the community know what’s going on. One of several marketing strategies involves paying for ads on Facebook.

What pops up in a user’s newsfeed may seem random, but Facebook can target users based on interests. And if you “like” certain officeholders, there’s a good chance you’ll see updates from the TDECD Facebook page.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is a nonpartisan state agency, except they’ve paid more than $18,000 to target people who “like” Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker or Sen. Lamar Alexander. Not a dime was spent on targeting fans of Democrats.

That fact troubles Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

“I think the real question is more so, who’s not getting the information who deserves to get the information?” Oppenheimer said.
… So why would an agency that’s interested in developing businesses and creating jobs not cast a wide net to garner fans of all political parties? The I-Team sat down with TDECD Commissioner Randy Boyd.

“Should politics be involved in a department that’s supposed to be apolitical?” asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“Politics is a pretty broad word,” Boyd said. “We have to work with the legislature and the legislature is always creating new legislation affecting things we do, and they are political. So in that sense, the politics of new laws and legislation do affect what our development and any department does.”
… Many of the ads pushed for more Facebook likes. Others were more specific, such as a post around Valentine’s Day 2014 that targeted users who like “Bill Haslam or chocolate.” But of all the metrics the department used, none mentioned Democrats.

“I think the blatancy of this may be a little different. Probably the thought is, no one is really going to find out about this sort of targeting,” Oppenheimer said. The professor said the strategy also resembles microtargeting, a tactic used during political campaigns to reach voters.

“It looks like something a campaign or somebody who’s thinking of running for office [would do],” Oppenheimer said. “It’s an attempt to get your message out and manage what you’re doing and who you are.”

Political watchers say there’s talk in Republican spheres about Commissioner Boyd running for governor.

Note: The Harris commentary is below. Continue reading

Sen. Beavers to chair TN GOP delegation (Haslam didn’t run)

Sen. Mae Beavers was elected to chair the Tennessee delegation to the Republican National Convention at teleconference meeting of the delegates Thursday, becoming the first woman ever to hold the position. Beavers, an elected at-large delegate for Donald Trump from Mount Juliet, defeated Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro in the voting, according to a party spokesman. The “delegates only” meeting was closed to media.

Traditionally, governors have always served as chairmen of Tennessee delegations to national political conventions – both Democrats and Republicans. Gov. Bill Haslam, who chaired the delegation at the 2012 convention and who will go to Cleveland in July as a Marco Rubio delegate, did not seek the chairmanship, a position that has relatively few duties – other than announcing the state’s votes on the floor. Some delegates say an informal nose count indicated the governor would have lost to Beavers had he tried for the chair.

The delegates also elected Tennessee members to four standing convention committees, one man and one woman to each. Six of the eight seats will be held by Trump delegates; two by Rubio delegates; none by Ted Cruz delegates. Trump won 33 Tennessee delegates; Cruz 16 and Rubio nine.
The Credentials Committee, which decides contests over the seating of delegates, and the Rules Committee, which has rather broad powers, are the focal points for potential conflict. Have

Linda Buckles of Kingsport, who chairs the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, and Chris Hughes, an executive committee member from Hendersonville, won the Credentials Committee slots. Buckles was appointed a Trump delegates; Hughes won his seat in the March 1 delegate elections.

The Rules Committee seats went to state party Vice Chair Betty Cannon of Nashville and John Ryder of Memphis, who is outgoing RNC national committeeman from Tennessee as well as RNC general counsel. Both were appointed to their positions by vote of the executive committee, though neither figured directly in charges from the Trump camp that the appointment process included efforts to “steal” delegates from the billionaire frontrunner. In fact, Trump himself sent a tweet afterwards declaring he was honored to have Ryder appointed to represent him.

Permanent Organization Committee members will be Beth Campbell, an executive committee member from Nashville who is a Rubio delegate, and Chad Blackburn, son of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and a Trump delegate. Elected to the Platform Committee were Trump delegate Connie Hunter of Brentwood and former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, a Rubio delegate.

Note: Below is a release from the Tennessee Republican Party.
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On playing partisan games as legislature winds down

A sequence of partisan bickering events last week led to the apparent death in the House — barring a last-minute change of heart by Republican representatives as the Legislature moves to adjourn this week — of a Senate-passed bill (SB2149) allowing indigent people convicted of driving with a suspended license to pay their court costs and fines through community service rather than cash, subject to local approval.

The bill is sponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville, who has played a pivotal role in pushing Democratic amendments to various Republican-sponsored bills that reached the House floor — almost always voted down by the supermajority.

Here’s a rundown on last week’s events, which began with a noncontroversial bill (HB2009) sponsored by Rep. Shelia Butt, R-Columbia, that changes the wording of some education-related statutes:
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Trump backers blast TNGOP delegate appointments

From the Times-Free Press (with a Tennessean excerpt following):

In a sometimes raucous meeting with security guards inside and police outside, Tennessee GOP leaders today approved a list of appointed delegates to this summer’s Republican National Convention over the protests of Donald Trump supporters who charged some had opposed the billionaire reality star and businessman.

Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee members voted 40-25 for the slate, prepared by state GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes and his staff with the “advice” but, under a 2013 SEC rule change previously unnoticed, not the consent of Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio campaigns.

Daren Morris, Trump’s state director, sounded the alarm Friday evening, blasting out a message to supporters that charged state GOP leaders “want to steal your vote tomorrow” and urging them to show up to stop the effort in its tracks.

At least 40 Trump supporters paraded outside with signs denouncing “establishment” Republicans while executive committee members inside fought on a series of procedural votes to block final approval. Despite sometimes angry rhetoric both inside and outside, there was no violence.

Some supporters of U.S. Sen. Cruz, R-Texas, weren’t happy with the selections either.
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TNGOP delegate news release and delegate list

News release from Tennessee Republican Party
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-April 2, 2016–At a meeting of the State Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party, the final slate of delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention was approved by a vote of 40-25.

Based on the results of the March 1st presidential preference primary, the delegates were allocated as follows:

Donald Trump – 33 delegates

Ted Cruz – 16 delegates

Marco Rubio – 9 delegates

Under Tennessee state law, delegates are bound to their respective candidate for two rounds of balloting at the Republican National Convention this summer on Cleveland, Ohio.

TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes stated, “I appreciate the campaigns working with us to create this slate and I am especially grateful for the hard work of our State Executive Committee members to approve it.”

The entire slate may be accessed here (delegates and alternates are listed by alphabetical order).


Note: The links in the TNGOP release above take you to a drop box. A list is also available below. Continue reading

House votes thanks to Alexander, Corker for SCOTUS stance

A partisan debate topic on the House floor Thursday was a resolution by state Rep. Andy Holt offering thanks to Tennessee’s two U.S. senators for declaring they will not vote for anyone nominated by President Barack Obama as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

“We hereby thank Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker for their position to not move forward on a nomination to the Supreme Court by the current administration and expect their decision to refrain from entertaining a nomination by the current administration be sustained regardless of any conditions,” declares HR178.

“It looks like to me like we’ve got more important things to do than compliment senators on not doing the job they’re supposed to do … or for doing the job they’re supposed to do, for that matter,” said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

But Holt said it was appropriate for legislators to back Alexander and Corker in refusing to consider Obama nominees when “his presidency is coming to a close, thank goodness.” Other Republicans, including Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and Rep. William Lamberth of Gallatin, rallied to the cause in speeches.

Casada read quotations from Vice President Joe Biden, speaking when he was a Democratic U.S. senator, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York in opposition to Republican presidents submitting nominees to the Supreme Court late in their terms.

Lamberth noted the Legislature regularly passes resolutions honoring sports teams, couples celebrating wedding anniversaries, students chosen as class valedictorian and the like.

“We should recognize people when they’ve done something good,” he said, and the senators’ stance meets that standard.

Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death created the court vacancy at issue in Washington, as declaring senators should act promptly on court nominees and “would have been in opposition to what we’re complementing our senators for doing.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville complained about “engaging in these partisan games” and supporting U.S. Senate Republicans in “obstructionism that the public finds so abhorrent.”

The resolution was approved on a 70-24 vote. Only one Democrat, Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston, voted for it and no Republican voted against it, though four did not vote.

Holt filed the measure as a House-only resolution, so it does not go to the Senate and a copy will now be officially sent to Alexander and Corker.

TN GOP delegates eye possible brokered convention

Some leaders in the voting for Tennessee delegates to represent Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio see a possibility that none of their party’s three top presidential candidates will have enough support to win the nomination when the Republican National Convention begins in July.

“Certainly a brokered convention is possible if not probable,” said former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, who won 112,664 votes statewide Tuesday to lead all others seeking election as a Tennessee delegate for Rubio to the convention.

“If it turns out no candidate wins on the first ballot, it will be an incredible event that has not happened in 68 years,” Ashe said in an email. “America will be watching closely. Rubio should be part of any compromise if a deadlocked convention emerges.”

William H. Beavers, 72, who won a Trump delegate slot in Tuesday’s voting based on complete but unofficial returns, said he anticipates establishment Republicans going to great lengths to try to block the billionaire businessman from reaching the convention with the needed majority of delegates. He cited Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, attacking Trump on Wednesday and called the former Massachusetts governor “a Judas goat” for doing so.
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Sunday column: Splits in the Supermajority

As an aging politician remarked recently, Tennessee is arguably no longer a two-party state in its politics — it’s a two-and-a-half-party state.

Under this view, two of the parties call themselves Republicans and, jointly under that label, they hold a supermajority in the state Legislature, all offices elected on a statewide basis and seven of nine congressional seats. Democrats constitute the half party.

This is a close to a mirror image of bygone days when politicians who called themselves Democrats ruled the Tennessee political roost and often split into two competing factions, sometimes with sub-factions. Every now and then, the half-a-party Republicans got to weigh in and decide disputes between the factions.

Perhaps more than today’s two main Republican factions, the old Democratic differences tended to involve personalities, for example, Ed “Boss” Crump of Memphis versus Estes Kefauver, to go back a few decades. But the current intra-GOP rivalry also seems to increasingly have prominent personalities on display when there are differences of opinion.

For purposes of discussion, if not exaggeration, consider some developments in the past few days that suggest that Gov. Bill Haslam is the leader of one GOP party while Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey leads the other. House Speaker Beth Harwell, meanwhile, floats back and forth, sometimes resolving a dispute.

Some recent situations:

–In what some called a gunfight at the state Capitol corral, Ramsey launched an effort to allow handgun permit holders to pack their pistols in the buildings where legislators meet and other officials, including the governor, have their offices. Haslam said no. Harwell, after initially backing Ramsey, shifted to the Haslam side. Result: a victory for the governor’s faction and, maybe, for the half-party Democrats, who had loudly raged against the proposition.

–Ramsey spearheaded a resolution directing the attorney general to file a lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement within Tennessee borders. With one exception each, the supermajority Republican senators all quickly voted to approve the idea, while superminority Democrats voted no. Haslam demurred, saying, among other things, that the feds were providing ample information on refugees — something that Senate Republicans repeatedly said during debate they were not doing. That situation may indicate that the two factions sometimes don’t even talk to each other these days.

Harwell, meanwhile, got caught in a curious sideshow. Breitbart News, an online political news service with a generally ultra-conservative viewpoint, reported that Harwell was “surreptitiously” collaborating with Haslam to derail the resolution in the House — linking this to Haslam’s support, at the time unannounced, for Marco Rubio in the Republican presidential campaign. The report, mostly quoting anonymous sources and perhaps indicating a lack of knowledge of House procedural rules, was debunked by a spokeswoman for the House speaker: Harwell actually supports the resolution and has never spoken to Haslam about it. This may be another indication of failure in GOP leadership communication.

–Speaking of the presidential campaign, Haslam’s belated blessing of Rubio — after withdrawal from the race of Jeb Bush, openly supported by others in the Haslam family — shows the Tennessee GOP factions reflect national divisions. Ramsey says Donald Trump will win the race, perhaps reflecting his personal preference, though he coyly declines to say so. Harwell just keeps quiet, declining to confirm or deny anonymous sources contending she’s a surreptitious Rubio backer.

The Republican divisions have been on display otherwise this year in situations too numerous to list here. The most attention-getting example was the school voucher bill, approved by Senate Republicans in lock-step fashion with Ramsey, but failing in the House where one faction of supermajority Republicans aligned with opposing superminority Democrats. Some voucher advocates complain that Harwell and Haslam were only lukewarm in backing the proposal.

Ergo, the two-party system is alive and well in Tennessee as long as you don’t pay attention to the labels they use, and maybe is even evolving into a three-party system.

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GOP presidential candidates roaming Tennessee

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three of the five candidates for the Republican presidential nomination campaigned in Tennessee on Friday, with the remaining two planning rallies in the state before voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday next week.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made two appearances Friday in Nashville in which he heavily criticized front-runner Donald Trump, who plans a big rally outside Memphis on Saturday.

Cruz said Trump is “not the right candidate” to take on Hillary Clinton, who he predicted will win the Democratic nomination. Clinton is planning a Nashville rally on Sunday.

“Donald Trump, like Hillary Clinton, is a rich New York liberal,” Cruz said.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who gained Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s endorsement this week, plans a rally in Knoxville on Monday morning. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich has events planned in Memphis on Friday evening and in Nashville and Knoxville on Saturday.
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Rep. Timothy Hill elected as House majority whip

The House Republicans today elected Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, as House Majority Whip, succeeding Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, who recently resigned the post during controversy over alleged inappropriate text messages to women.

From The Tennessean:

The caucus voted 38 to 33 to make Hill the new Whip, defeating Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton. Although there are 73 members of the caucus, only 71 attended the vote.

“No matter what happens today, this caucus has some healing to do. And I want to offer a pathway to healing, a pathway to victory,” Hill said during his speech before the vote.

Further, from Andrea Zelinski:

“I don’t just want to maintain our seats in the supermajority, I want to pick up seats. And I think we’re in a position; we’ve got work to do, we’ve got seats to defend, but I think we’ve got seats we can grab,” Hill, of Blountville.

…In his pitch to the caucus, Hill said he’s consulted on campaigns and performed polling and research for the better part of a decade, adding he’s raised close to $1.2 million for various campaigns. Duties of the whip include counting up votes and support for Republican Caucus candidates in elections.

Hill is a restaurant owner now in his second term. He is also the younger brother of state Rep. Matthew Hill, a six-term Republican from Jonesborough.