Tag Archives: 5th District

On Cooper vs. Ries in 5th Congressional District

Bob Ries, who once campaigned for Robert F. Kennedy and says he’s still “a philosophical Democrat,” is the Republican nominee against Jim Cooper, the Democratic congressman holding the 5th Congressional District seat. In a review of the race, The Tennessean reports that — perhaps not surprisingly — President Obama is a topic.

After running unsuccessfully in the Fifth Congressional District Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012 — when he lost by a mere 40 votes — Ries won this year’s four-man GOP race by 8 percentage points. But he has a lot of work to do this fall to defeat Cooper, who’s seeking a seventh two-year term representing the predominantly Democratic district that covers all of Davidson and Dickson counties and part of Cheatham County.

“He’s sucking up a seat, and that’s not fair,” said Ries, 74, who promised not to serve more than six years. “People have an alternative.”

But Cooper, 60, has a national profile, thanks to his efforts to reform Congress’s work ethic and the federal government’s budget practices. His “No Budget, No Pay” bill, which became law on a temporary basis last year, prohibits members of Congress from getting paid if they fail to pass a budget on time.

The self-described “nerd” said an upcoming article in The New Yorker would mention some of his proposals.

“Nobody’s more critical of the failures of Congress than I am,” Cooper said in an interview Thursday at Fido as two young campaign aides looked on. “Most (congressional) committees don’t really work anymore. This Congress has been so bad, we even had to work to keep Congress from shutting itself down. I’ve never been party to those destructive efforts.”

…Cooper also has a personal touch that has translated well in Middle Tennessee, where he freely gives out his cell phone number during his many public appearances.

“I welcome people’s suggestions,” he said, adding that he’s received just one “semi-obscene” call since he started passing out the number.

But Ries, a businessman and Army veteran who sometimes plays up his passing resemblance to the late football broadcaster Howard Cosell (even wearing a nearly flourescent yellow sport coat), said Cooper should be held accountable for voting for Obamacare, the controversial 2010 health care reform law. He said the law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, violates the U.S. Constitution in several ways and shows that President Barack Obama doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart.

He called Obama “an absolute piece of cowardly puke.”

Jim Cooper’s reelection run: ‘Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room’

Unabashedly moderate Democrat Jim Cooper doesn’t like much of what is going on in Washington these days, reports the Tennessean, but he’s seeking another term and likely to get it despite Republican talk to the contrary.

“Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room, or the only one acting like an adult,” Cooper said.
…This year, Cooper, having turned 60 in June, is again offering a moderate record and professorial demeanor to voters of the 5th Congressional District, seeking his seventh consecutive term and 13th overall. Cooper has served from January 1983 to January 1995 and from January 2003 to the present.

He left temporarily after losing the 1994 U.S. Senate race to Republican Fred Thompson.

Four Republicans — Chris Carter of Franklin, Ronnie Holden of Madison, Bob Ries of Nashville and John “Big John” Smith of Nashville — are running in the Aug. 7 primary for the right to oppose him in November. There is also one independent, Paul Deakin of Nashville.

Tennessee Republicans suspect Obama’s falling approval ratings — and a still-tepid economic recovery — mean trouble for Cooper.

“Overall voters are dissatisfied with a Democratic-led Washington, D.C.,” said Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state Republican Party.

In general elections for the House, however, Cooper has never gotten less than 64 percent of the vote. And while the rest of Tennessee has gone red politically, Nashville and Memphis stay blue.

Political analysts don’t expect a change anytime soon.

Bruce Oppenheimer, an expert on Tennessee politics at Vanderbilt University, said the 5th and the 9th (Memphis) congressional districts “are unlike the other seven House districts in their partisan composition. They’re more urban, more minority and more Democratic.”

While Republican state legislators made noises about carving up Davidson County during redistricting, Oppenheimer said, they were stopped by Cooper’s GOP colleagues, who didn’t want more Democrats in their districts.

And David Kanervo, a political science professor emeritus at Austin Peay State University, said “a winning coalition can be easily constructed in his district and not much incentive exists for a strong Republican challenger to be recruited to oppose him.”

Fifth Congressiona District GOP Nominee Fires Campaign Manager

Brad Staats, the Republican opposing Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, has fired his campaign manager and hired Jeff Hartline to replace him, reports Michael Cass.
Staats, the Republican nominee, said he let John Shorter go because “the campaign just wasn’t going in the direction that I wanted it to go.”
“Several months ago, I wanted very badly to reach not only across party lines but out to some large minority groups that are here in Tennessee,” he said. “We’re now doing that.”
He added that he should have made the change earlier, as his wife had recommended, although he “enjoyed working with John.”
Asked if he was worried that his campaign might appear to be in disarray this close to the election, Staats replied, “I haven’t really given it a second thought. You just have to make the right decision. It has proved very quickly to be the right decision.”
Shorter declined to be interviewed but wrote in an email, “We have run a great campaign with very little resources, but it’s important for the team to be in unity. Both Brad and I had some disagreements with how the campaign should be run in the last month.”

Staats Relying on ‘Obamacare’ to Defeat Cooper

Republican Brad Staats hopes to channel public discontent with the federal health care reform law into a voter uprising to defeat Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper, who supported it. But The Tennessean reports he “could have a hard time” in one of the state’s last Democratic strongholds.”
“People seem to be in a better mood than they were two years ago,” said Cooper, who survived the 2010 midterm elections that gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives and a 7-2 edge in the state’s congressional delegation.
Staats, who owns two security businesses, has never run for office before, while Cooper has served 11 terms in two different stints in Congress. The challenger’s campaign war chest, which he estimated at $55,000, is a small fraction of Cooper’s, which held more than $800,000 in July, the last time they filed reports.
Cooper said his opponent has been “almost invisible” so far, though he said he takes nothing for granted in a campaign. Political analyst Pat Nolan said he expects Cooper and everyone else in Tennessee’s delegation to be re-elected.
But Staats, while acknowledging his challenges, said the choice for voters in the5th Congressional District is clear. He said Cooper has tied himself to the health care reform law, which Staats describes as a vehicle that will drive the nation into a financial ditch.
“Any government that has ever reached 30 percent expenditure of their GDP (gross domestic product) has gone bankrupt,” he said. “With Obamacare, we will reach 30 percent expenditure within 18 months. That means America is bankrupt at that point. So, yes, I have a real problem with Obamacare, as all Americans, if they knew, should.”

Staats Wins Close 5th District GOP Primary

Businessman Brad Staats declared victory in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District on Friday after a count of provisional ballots showed there was no way for his main rival to overcome a 44-vote deficit in Thursday’s tallies, according to TheTennessean.
Vote totals compiled by the state showed Staats received 5,459 votes to 5,415 for Bob Ries as they and three others fought for the right to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in November.
Staats’ campaign said just 24 provisional ballots were cast in Davidson, Cheatham and Dickson counties, the three counties in the district.
“I want to congratulate all my opponents on the great — and sometimes spirited — campaigns they ran,” Staats said in a news release. “As I’m sure some of them would agree, this campaign was never about any of us — but rather about changing the direction of our federal government.

Staats, 43, lives and works in Hermitage, where he owns a security business.

Cooper: ‘I’ve Always Been a Reformer’

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has been in Congress all but eight of the past 30 years, spending most of his working life there. One might see the Nashville Democrat as an insider, says The Tennessean, and thus part of the problem with an institution most people don’t think too highly of.
Yet Cooper, a mild-mannered man known for his folksy comments and Rhodes Scholar brain, has positioned himself as something entirely different: an outsider — a grown-up among children — doing everything he can to “fix” Congress.
“I’ve always been a reformer,” he said. “Ask anybody. I’ve always been a gadfly, a critic. I’ve never been an old-boy insider.”
With early voting in this year’s primary elections starting today, Cooper seems like a good bet to win a sixth two-year term representing the 5th Congressional District, which would match his six terms serving the 4th Congressional District from 1983 to 1995. He’s unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face one of five politically unknown Republicans in the general election this fall.
“I think America’s in trouble, and I think I can do a good job strengthening America,” he said. “There are many meetings I go to where I’m the only adult in the room. Tons of people are just partisan. All they care about is their team jersey and their talking points.”

Someone (GOP?) Polling on Imaginary Cooper vs. Harwell Race

From Pat Nolan:
Would House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville give up her powerful position and safe seat in the State House of Representatives to run for Congress against incumbent Democrat Jim Cooper?
That seems to be the focus of a professional telephone poll that’s been making the rounds in recent days asking voters who they would support. Sources close to both the Congressman and the Speaker say this isn’t their poll, leading to speculation that it might be funded by one of the national parties’ congressional committees. Mostly likely it would be the GOP testing candidates to see which might be the strongest competitor to take on Cooper.

More Congressional Redistricting Rumblings (btw, you can draw districts, too)

The Tennessean has a news story, an editorial and two op-ed pieces in Sunday editions on the possibility of the 5th Congressional District being carved into chuncks to improve the prospects for a Republican unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper
This follows earlier publicity over the possibility that notably included publicly-displayed opposition to the notion from Mayor Karl Dean and Cooper.
The focus of Chas Sisk’s news story is that the scenario isn’t likely to happen because such a move could put Republicans in danger. It begins thusly:
Democrats’ best hope to avoid a split of Nashville’s main congressional district may be Republicans’ self-interest, experts on redistricting say.
Federal law appears to let Republican leaders divide up Davidson County and lump its voters into primarily suburban districts, as some Democrats fear. But doing so might weaken the GOP more than Democrats by leaving them with slender majorities that would be difficult for them to defend in elections in which Democrats hold the upper hand.

The editorial opines that ‘taking a hatchet’ to Davidson County’s congressional representation would be a bad thing to do.
On the op-ed front, Steve Brumfield’s piece is summed up by a headline saying Republicans will do what’s best for the community and suggests that the carving would not be the best thing. Excerpt:
Tennessee Democrats such as Cooper and Dean clearly are concerned about the possibility of losing a seat in Congress, after losing two last year. But the extent to which Nashville would be gutted is unprecedented and carries real economic and social concerns beyond party politics. In the past, Republicans as well as Democrats saw the wisdom in keeping the state capital intact. Why tamper with that?
Last, but surely not least, state Demcoratic Chairman Chip Forrester uses his op-ed space to denounce the idea and take a swipe at Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron. (The carve-up plan cited by Cooper and Dean was drafted by a blogger, who sent Ketron a copy. It has been dubbed the ‘Ketromander’ plan.) Excerpt from Forrester:
Ketron is the attention-loving, tea party state senator from Rutherford County who sponsored the unpopular new voter ID law. He has fought to take away rights from teachers, workers’ groups and minorities. And on the more ridiculous side, Ketron even thinks Tennessee should start minting its own currency.
Now he wants to be your congressman. And he may have the influence to do it.

A couple of notes: Ketron says he’s not heading up the Senate Republican redistricting committee and the members named by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey — Ketron, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson — as co-equal. Ramsey sits in on the meetings, he says.
The blog Red Racing Horses, which featured the ‘Ketromander’ plan, also has a somewhat more logical speculative plan for Tennessee congressional districts, HERE. For the 5th, it keeps Davidson County basically intact, coupling it with Cheatham County and the northwestern part of Rutherford (including Smyrna, where some Democrats live.) The rest of Rutherford — incuding Ketron’s Murfreesboro home — is in the newly-aligned, much more compact 4th District.
If you are a hopeless political junkie and want to draw districts for amusement, try Dave’s Redistricting HERE. (Yes, I have made a few amateurish efforts, but have a hard time with the coloring. My congressional map bears some similarity to the non-Ketromander Red Racing Horses map.)
The authoring blogger has a footnote to the map: “I believe that safeguarding all 7 GOP seats is worth not going after Cooper. Remember PA’s 2000 redistricting? The GOP thought they had a good plan, didn’t they? Not so good after all. That is what could happen in Tennessee if the GOP gets too aggressive in redistricting.”

Cooper, Dean Plea to Harwell: Don’t Carve Up 5th District

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper, both Democrats, are publicly appealing to Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell to make sure that the 5th Congressional District isn’t carved up into chunks by the Legislature’s GOP majority. The move is being widely reported in Nashville media..
From the City Paper: In a letter to Harwell, Dean wrote that while Harwell has made a “commitment to a fair, transparent process,” others such as state Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney have suggested “Davidson County should be divided to achieve particular political goals.”
Dean makes the case severing Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, held by Cooper and encompassing the bulk of Davidson County, could have harmful economic ramifications.
“Splitting Davidson County would not only divide business interests and industry concerns, but would drive a stake in the heart of a cohesive and diverse (ethnically and politically) social and civic unit,” Dean wrote. “In addition, Davidson County’s role as a regional leader could be significantly diminished.”

Also, Cooper and Dean met jointly with the Tennessean editorial board to elaborate on their concerns over redistricting. And WPLN has a story on the matter, including comments from Harwell and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner.
Rep. Mike Turner, who is a Democrat like the mayor, says he can’t imagine Republican Congressmen would want more Democrats in their districts, but…
“More power to them. I welcome it because it gives us a chance to take back more seats. So if they’re smart, they’ll try to consolidate on what they got.”
The GOP currently has more seats than ever in Tennessee, controlling seven of the state’s nine Congressional Districts. With majorities in the state legislature, Republicans are also in charge of redrawing political boundaries.
House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Republican, says outside input is important, but she notes the political interests.
“I know that Congressman Cooper is worried about his job. I understand that. But the bottom line is this is a state’s responsibility. This is an issue of state’s rights.”