Tag Archives: 8th district

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

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.”

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.”

8th District TV spending: Flinn $510K; Kelsey $134K; Kustoff $88K

From the Commercial Appeal:
Thirteen Republicans are running for West Tennessee’s District 8 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but one candidate appears to be spending far more money on TV ads than anyone else: George Flinn.

He’s a 72-year-old radiologist and radio station owner who has lost three campaigns for Congress since 2010 by wide margins, and so far this year he’s spent at least $510,000 on TV ads, according to financial disclosures. Nailing down an exact number for TV spending is difficult because publicly available data is incomplete and changes often.

Flinn, a former Shelby County Commissioner, said Friday he’s pursuing every medium available to reach voters.

“It’s a very laborious campaign and we’re working hard,” he said. “Nobody will outwork me.”

Second in TV spending appears to be state Senator Brian Kelsey, who has spent at least $134,000.

“Well, I’m trying to reach voters with my proven conservative message every which way I can: knocking on doors, making phone calls, going to forums and through TV and mail as well,” said Kelsey, 38. He said that he and other participants in his campaign have knocked on 20,000 doors.

Other candidates who have bought TV ads include former U.S. attorney David Kustoff, who has spent at least $88,000, Shelby County mayor Mark Luttrell, who has spent at least $5,800, and Jackson businessman Brad Greer, who has spent at least $2,600.

No TV ad spending was found by the following Republican candidates: Ken Atkins, Hunter Baker, Dave Bault, Raymond Honeycutt, George B. Howell, Tom Leatherwood, David J. Maldonado and David Wharton.

Kelsey wins straw poll at Holt’s gun giveaway ‘Hogfest;’ Democrats bash ‘media circus’ event

News release from Rep. Andy Holt
DRESDEN, Tenn., June 28, 2016– Last Saturday, Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) hosted the first Holt’s HogFest & Turkey Shoot at his family farm in the rural town of Dresden in West Tennessee. The event garnered world-wide attention as Holt ‘stuck to his guns’ in his plan to give away two AR15s and drew attendees from all across the State of Tennessee.

“It was an incredible evening. At one point, we had more than 50 people waiting in line to register. We had folks coming from as far east as Johnson City and all the way west from Memphis,” said Holt. “We raised more than $16,000, not a single person was injured, and there were probably more firearms there than there were people. It was a fantastic celebration of the 2nd Amendment, God, and country.”

The event was open carry and was attended by most of the top-tier candidates running for U.S. Congress in Tennessee’s 8th District which includes Holt’s State House district. Congressional candidates Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Dr. George Flinn were scheduled to attend, but did not show, although Flinn did send a representative from his campaign to speak on his behalf.
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Six 8th Congressional District GOP candidates back Trump

Seven of the 13 Republican candidates in the 8th Congressional District primary attended a forum in Memphis Tuesday and only one of them — Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell — expressed any reservations about backing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, reports the Commercial Appeal.

“I do hope that we start to see a little bit more civility in public discourse,” he said.

(Others on hand and declaring support for Trump were former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, retired banker Raymond Honeycutt, businessman David Maldonado, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood, state Sen. Brian Kelsey and Dr. George Flinn, who said he was even wearing a Donald Trump tie.)

…The embrace of Trump by most illustrated the tone of the candidate’s forum — the seven candidates, all Republicans, expressed similarly conservative views.

The seven candidates present at the forum were among 13 Republicans in the race to replace incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, who is not running for re-election. Candidate Brad Greer of Jackson complained he was left out. Sam Goff, with forum sponsors Mortgage Bankers Association of Memphis, said the group decided to limit participants to Shelby County candidates. None of the Democratic or independent candidates appeared.

Several candidates called for lower taxes and deregulation of business. Leatherwood called for abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. “The Number One issue I hear from the farmers as I travel across the district is the EPA,” he said.

The CA has a separate story on Greer’s complaints that candidates from outside Shelby County were excluded. Excerpt:

Greer said rural West Tennessee is being treated as an afterthought in a race dominated by Shelby County candidates.

“If we end up sending this seat to Shelby County then the other 14 counties will just be forgotten,” Greer said, “and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Greer said previous forums in the district have limited participants based on money raised. Greer’s campaign raised $104,000 as of April, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, and he said he’s spending money and time campaigning in Shelby County.

But organizers say no one was intentionally left out of the debate. Sam Goff, with forum sponsors Mortgage Bankers Association of Memphis, said the group decided to limit participants to Shelby County candidates when they realized how many candidates were running for the seat. He said this was the group’s first attempt at a forum.

Shelby split could help Greer in 8th Congressional District primary

Jackson Baker reviews the 8th Congressional District Republican primary, using a forum in Shelby County as the starting point. Excerpt:

Four of the main GOP players were there — state Senator Brian Kelsey, radiologist/radio executive George Flinn, Shelby County Register of Deeds Tom Leatherwood, and advertising man/consultant Brad Greer of Jackson. Missing among the touted contenders were former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

…Flinn, Kelsey, Kustoff, Luttrell, and Leatherwood (to list them in the order of their campaign financial holdings) could very well divide the vote in their home county of Shelby, wherein resides 55 percent of the 8th District electorate. And that could pave the way for an upset victory for Greer, whose Madison County bailiwick is closer to the traditional heartland of the District, which since 2010 has been served by Crockett County resident Stephen Fincher, who is voluntarily relinquishing the seat.

That might especially be the case if the 8th District votes according to the same pattern as in March on Super Tuesday, when the distribution of votes for the hotly contested Republican presidential primary was, according to Greer, 60 percent in the non-Shelby part of the district and only 40 percent in the Shelby County bailiwick of Flinn, Kelsey, Kustoff, Luttrell, and Leatherwood.

To be sure, Greer has some competition of his own among fellow Jacksonians Hunter Baker, David Bault, and George Howell, none of whom, however, have raised much money at this point or figure to run well-supported races. And prominent Madison County kingmaker Jimmy Wallace, a major force behind Fincher, is putting his eggs this time in the basket, not of Greer, but of Kelsey, who also has good support and fund-raising potential in the Memphis area.

…Last week’s forum at the Pickering Center gave a partial foreshadowing of how the race might be run and of some of the intangibles involved. Herewith are some (admittedly sketchy) reviews of how and what the participating candidates did:

First up was Greer, who established the fact that he represented rural Tennesseans and had handled 18 West Tennessee counties in the 2006 U.S. Senatorial race for Republican victor Bob Corker. He distinguished himself from the others when an audience member asked about trade policy, and Greer wasted no time blasting away, Trump-like at the purportedly ruinous effects of various free-trade pacts on ordinary working folk. “I don’t give a good rat’s ass about other countries before my fellow countrymen,” Greer declared, in what may have been the line of the night.

Flinn was next, and right away declared his fealty to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Trump. He went on to express, as he does in his now-frequently-appearing TV ads, some of the well-worn GOP shibboleths of recent years, fretting that “we’re being killed by entitlements,” and promising to “represent you to D.C., not D.C. to you.” (I can’t help fantasizing about what would happen if the genial and accomplished Flinn dispensed with such pedantic bromides and let fly something defiant about the independence secured by his self-financing, a la “If you like Trump, you’ll love me!”)

Kelsey was third to speak, and in his allotted two-minute introductory spiel, he must have used the self-defining phrase “proven conservative” perhaps 50 times. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but variations on the phrase dominated his brief remarks to an overwhelming degree. In fairness, he did get to elaborate on his record during the Q-and-A portion of the evening, touting his sponsorship of a constitutional amendment to ban a state income tax and his enmity-to-the-death for Medicaid expansion.

Most compellingly, Kelsey signaled his willingness and intent in the future to attack the absent Luttrell, a supporter of Governor Bill Haslam’s ill-fated “Insure Tennessee” proposal: “We have Republicans in this very race who supported extending Obamacare.” And later: “As I mentioned before, we have Republicans who want to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.”

And there was Leatherwood, whose hold on his county register’s job owes much to a neighborly demeanor and a competent, customer-knows-best attitude but who, when running for offices of partisan consequence, prefers to present himself as some kind of avenging Robespierre of the Right. He vies with Kelsey in his contempt for “socialism” and regard for “free enterprise” and, on matters of education policy, gave notice of his wish to purify both state (“Frankly, TNReady is merely Common Core by another name”) and nation, promising to support the abolition of the Department of Education.

Flinn puts $2.7M into his congressional campaign

Memphis radiologist and radio station owner George Flinn has loaned his campaign for the 8th Congressional District $2.7 million, reports Michael Collins. That puts Flinn at the top of the multi-candidate Republican primary in cash on hand, though state Sen. Brian Kelsey leads in raising money.

Flinn also transferred into his campaign committee another $231,000 that had been leftover from his unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has spent $212,000, leaving him with $2.7 million in the bank at the end of March — more than six times as much as Kelsey, his closest competitor.

Asked if he intends to self-fund his campaign, Flinn said he would put more of his own money into the race if needed, but that he also intended to raise money from other sources.

“We’ll put up whatever it takes to get our message out to the people,” he said.

Kelsey’s campaign raised $439,000 during the first three months of the year in the race for the 8th Congressional District, which takes in parts of Shelby County and 14 other counties in West Tennessee.

…Former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff has raised nearly $320,000 — almost all of it from individual contributions. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell raised $145,000, all from individual donors.

Luttrell said he got a late start fund-raising because he didn’t jump into the race until the end of February, more than three weeks after Fincher announced his retirement and Flinn, Kelsey and Kustoff had all entered the race.

…Thirteen Republicans, four Democrats and five independents are all running to succeed Fincher, a Crockett County Republican who has served three two-year terms.

Other GOP candidates who reported raising money are Jackson businessman and political consultant Brad Greer, $104,000; Shelby County Register of Deeds Thomas F. Leatherwood, $36,000; Collierville businessman David Maldonado, $5,000; and retired Navy pilot John Mills, $5,000.

None of the Democratic or independent candidates reported raising any money.

Kelsey leads 8th District fundraising on first report

Seven of the 13 candidates seeking the Republican nomination to the 8th Congressional seat have filed their first financial disclosures, reports the Jackson Sun. State Sen. Brian Kelsey leads in money collections with former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff as runnerup. Multi-millionaire perennial candidate George Flinn, on the other hand, leads in spending.

Here’s the list:

Brian Kelsey, R, – $433,605 raised, $13,161.47 spent

David Kustoff, R, – $319,682 raised, $3,405.66 spent

Mark Luttrell, R, – $144,570 raised, $1,575.87 spent

Brad Greer, R, – $103,712.86 raised, $3,182.21 spent

George Flinn, R, – $74 raised, $212,056.23 spent

David Maldonado, R, – $62 raised, $1,743.66 spent

James Hart, I, – $0.00 raised, $38.85 spent