County Commissioner Richard Briggs said his nomination of Craig Leuthold for Knox County trustee was not a conflict of interest, reports the News Sentinel, though Leuthold’s father is Briggs’ treasurer for a Tennessee state Senate bid. “If it is a conflict, it’s a conflict by second degree,” Briggs said. “I don’t have anything to gain by Craig being in the office or not being in the office.”
Knox County Law Director Bud Armstrong said there was no conflict in Briggs’ action under county policy.
“He’s got a guy who has volunteered to run his campaign who happens to be Frank Leuthold,” Armstrong said.
Briggs said he voted rather than “disenfranchise” his 5th District constituents by recusing himself from voting for an interim trustee on Monday.
Briggs, Leuthold and other Knox County elected officials explained to the News Sentinel this week their connections and decision-making used to fill the trustee seat that John J. Duncan III resigned from July 2. Duncan pleaded guilty that day to a felony charge for giving $18,000 in unearned bonuses to himself and staff.
While local political gadflies have mused over the connections between Leuthold and the people who selected him, Briggs defended Leuthold as a commissioner who made it through “Black Wednesday” unscathed.
Leuthold worked in the Knox County Property Assessor’s Office until his Monday appointment as the county’s tax collector and was a two-term commissioner who held office when the state Supreme Court enforced term limits in 2007.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — State Rep. Joe Carr on Thursday joined state Sen. Jim Tracy in the race to oust embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in next year’s Republican primary.
Carr, a Murfreesboro business consultant, made his announcement from a balcony overlooking the Middle Tennessee Medical Center, which he said “represents some of the paralysis that has engulfed this county.”
“We’ve got a state of the art medial community over here, and it’s in peril because one thing, and one thing only: and that’s the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare,” he said.
Carr said beyond his opposition to the federal health care law, his campaign would focus on supporting gun rights and tighter enforcement of immigration laws.
“At the very least the immigration reform that is being touted by some of my colleagues in the Republican Party are premature,” he said.
Carr’s exploratory committee raised about $205,000 in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, Tracy’s campaign reported last month that he had raised more than $436,000 in the first quarter, while DesJarlais raised $105,000.
DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, has struggled to raise money since winning re-election last year amid revelations that a phone call was recorded with him urging a patient with whom he was having an affair to seek an abortion.
The congressman denied during the campaign that he had recorded the call, but in his 2001 testimony he acknowledged that he did. DesJarlais said he was only trying to get her to admit she wasn’t pregnant.
Carr cast himself as the outsider willing to take on the entrenched interests.
“Don’t misunderstand me: This is going be difficult,” he said. “Because who we’re standing against … is some of our Republican colleagues. We’re standing against, in some respects, the establishment.”
Carr acknowledged that more than one candidate in the primary could improve DesJarlais’s chances, but predicted that conservative voters would come to embrace his positions.
Carr also said he was undaunted by Tracy’s long list of endorsements and financial backers.
“I think what the voters are looking for is more than the same good old boy politics that we’ve become accustomed to,” Carr said.
Tracy, a Shelbyville insurance agent and former college basketball referee, previously ran for Congress in 2010 before his county was moved from the 6th District as part of redistricting.
— Note: The Carr campaign announcement news release is below.
Former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown, who recently lost his syndicated television courtroom over a contract dispute with CBS, may seek the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Lamar Alexander, reports The Commercial Appeal.. That’s what the flamboyant Brown, whose 15-year stint as a television judge ends next month, told The Hollywood Reporter recently. According to the publication, the judge “says he also is considering offers to get involved in politics, which could include a run for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.”
A business partner responding to a text message at his newly created Milwaukee-based company Celebritunity, who identified himself as A-Sun Truth, said that Brown, 65, was not immediately available Tuesday.
Tennessee State Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, said Brown told him Tuesday he was not ready to confirm a bid, but passed along this quote from the judge: “All aspects concerning the ‘Campaign For Justice’ will be revealed in due time.”
As a television judge, media reports indicate Brown was paid somewhere between $5 million and $20 million in recent years for his daytime arbitration-based reality show. That could mean a self-financed run for Brown against Alexander, 72, a former two-term governor and former U.S. Secretary of Education seeking his third six-year term in the senate.
Brown maintains an active Shelby County Election Commission voter registration with an address in Germantown. He should not be confused with the Memphis City Council member with the same first and last name.
Union University political science department chairman Dean F. Evans in Jackson. Tenn., said he had not heard of Brown as a potential Senate candidate, and suggested his campaign might be an uphill fight.
— Note: For more, see Jackson Baker’s piece on Judge Joe.
News release from Larry Crim campaign:
According to a Federal Election Commission Statement of Candidacy filed with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., Larry Crim of Nashville, Tennessee has officially announced his Democratic candidacy for United States Senate (TN) in 2014.
Records on file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Public Records Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Senate reflect that Crim is the only Democratic Party candidate from Tennessee to file a FEC Statement of Candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2014 at this time.
Mr. Crim will seek the Democratic party’s nomination in August 2014. If Crim wins the Democratic primary, he will face the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the November 2014 general election. The current republican incumbent in the U.S. Senate is Lamar Alexander, whose term is up in 2014. Alexander has announced he will run again.
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who was reelected to his post without opposition Wednesday, is now considering a run for governor in 2014, reports Andrea Zelinski. When asked directly whether he would run for governor, Fitzhugh said “I wouldn’t rule it out at all.”
“I’ve got some experience, good, bad or otherwise. And feel like I understand the issues of this state, understand the budgetary process and just am concerned with some of the fundamentals of our state. Before we step too far back, we just need to keep things moving forward,” he told The City Paper Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, before the House Democratic Caucus, Fitzhugh had played an audio montage of classic comeback speeches, including “Inch-by-Inch” from the film Any Given Sunday, saying it was time for Democrats to have “somebody at the top that we can rally around.”
Fitzhugh has served in the legislature for just less than 20 years, largely as the caucus’ budget guru. He first ran for minority leader and won in 2010. He was re-elected to that post Wednesday.
“If we can have a viable statewide candidate at the next general election that espouses the views of many Tennesseans — which happens to be the views of many Democrats … even though it would be running against a multimillionaire, Senate seats, House seats, somebody can rally around at those levels and we can start bringing our house back,” he told The City Paper.
“We’re in a tough position, and we’re in a crossroad where we could just continue to be small and let people sort of run over us, let the other side run over us,” he said. “Or we can start clawing our way back. So I think that’s what our people want to do.”
Steve Glaser, who lost the state House District 44 race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Mike McDonald, has delivered a harsh critique of the lack of support for his efforts from the state Democratic party. Steve Hale has reproduced his email and a response from TNDP.
Excerpt from the email: My opponents party used their considerable clout and gravity to move his candidacy forward and managed to besmirch my reputation in the press with little or no response from us. The TNGOP conducted polling and provided technical support to my opponent and helped raise PAC money from traditional republican strongholds. It appears their strategy was to raise money, present their candidate as a reasonable person, and promote his republicanism to exploit his affiliation with the Romney Campaign.
On the other hand the TNDP provided absolutely no support to our campaign. In fact, we had to pay for access to Votebuilder, and pay for a “poll” that was ostensibly for us but was done for multiple candidates. We had to cajole the party into including our website on the candidate page. We had to request our video be promoted like the other candidates, but it was too late. We received more financial help from the Sumner County Democratic Party than from the TNDP which was zero. It was like pulling teeth to get our calls answered and the answers we got were often times inconsistent or wrong.
Excerpt from the response of TNDP’s Brandon Puttbrese: “The Tennessee Democratic Party did more for candidates this time around than it’s ever done, broadly speaking, more than we’ve ever done for candidates across the board [than] ever before. Now some candidates needed more assistance, some needed less assistance. But we tried to offer a base level of support for every candidate.”
When asked, Puttbrese declined to say whether he rejected Glaser’s critique or if the former candidate’s claims of an absentee party organization were incorrect.
“We did everything we could for all kinds of candidates,” Puttbrese said. “I won’t say that Steve is wrong. I won’t say that he’s right. I would like to have a conversation with him, versus reading it on a blog, and I think that some people have had a conversation with him, not me personally. So, I’m not here to mince hairs with Steve. I think he did the best he could do in a tough district.”
The headline on a Washington Post story, datelined Whites Creek, Tenn., suggests that Mark Clayton may be “2012’s worst candidate.” It begins like this: The Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee has no campaign headquarters, a fundraising drive stuck at $278 and one yard sign. Not one type of yard sign. One sign.
And with the election just days away, he has not actually put that sign in a yard. Instead, it resides inside candidate Mark Clayton’s pickup. “VOTE FOR,” the sign says. The rest is hidden by the seats.
“Jesus did not have a campaign staff. And he had the most successful campaign in human history,” Clayton said recently, when asked if all this adds up to a winning run against incumbent Sen. Bob Corker (R). Jesus “didn’t even have pictures or a Web site.”
This may be America’s worst candidate.
Clayton, 36, is a part-time flooring installer, an indulger in conspiracy theories — and for Democrats here, the living personification of rock bottom. In a state that produced Democratic icons including Andrew Jackson and both Al Gores, the party has fallen so far that it can’t even run a good loser.
Instead, it has this guy. In Tennessee, Clayton’s unlikely run is providing an absurdist coda to a long Democratic disaster. Something like falling down a flight of stairs onto a whoopee cushion.
“It’s pretty sad. I mean, when your nomination is not worth having, that’s embarrassing,” said Will T. Cheek, a Nashville investor who has been a member of the state Democratic Party’s executive committee since 1970. “That would appear to be where we are.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state Senate candidate is suing the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service over damage to his home during the 2010 Nashville flood.
Phillip North filed his suit Monday claiming the two federal agencies were negligent. He seeks $360,000 for a $200,000 decline in property value plus damage to items not covered by flood insurance.
The Democratic nominee in the 20th District told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/T8ZAXb ) it wasn’t great timing to have to sue in the middle of the campaign and he agonized over filing the lawsuit.
The corps has also been sued by Gaylord Entertainment Co. over the handling of the flood.
The agency successfully argued the government cannot be held liable in similar lawsuits from Hurricane Katrina.
“Vote Orange” is a new election slogan coming from the University of Tennessee, reports WPLN. But according to a recent candidate survey, it’s hard to tell whose interests align with UT’s top officials. Only a third of General Assembly candidates bothered to answer the survey.
The questionnaire attempts to pin down lawmakers on increasing funding for higher education, maintaining lottery-funded scholarships and keeping guns off campus.
It was a first year for the survey. The results – as incomplete as they are – have been distributed to tens of thousands of alumni around the state, says UT President Joe DiPietro.
“Perhaps in the future, General Assembly members will participate in greater numbers, particularly if we have alumni who have conversations with their elected officials to gain a better perspective perhaps about why they didn’t participate.”
As part of a new strategic plan, UT is trying to turn its alumni into lobbyists who will influence their own lawmakers to back the university’s position on issues. Note: The survey results are HERE.
as Democrats head to Charlotte, N.C., for their national convention beginning Tuesday, most of Tennessee’s Democratic congressional challengers aren’t singing “Hail to the Chief” or clamoring for a second term, reports Chris Carroll. Instead, they’re struggling to sell moderate and liberal views to increasingly conservative districts with little love for Obama’s policies.
Dr. Mary Headrick, the Maynardville, Tenn., Democrat up against U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in November, said she’ll vote for the president. But when it comes to policy, she said she “can’t win as an Obama lookalike” in Tennessee’s 3rd District, which includes Hamilton County.
“If I had 30 hours in the day instead of 24,” Headrick said, “I could overcome the propaganda against Obama. But I don’t.”
Headrick and other Tennessee Democrats downplay or don’t mention the president on their campaign websites. Some are reluctant to say whether they’ll even vote for Obama.
“Can I keep that to myself?” asked Alan Woodruff, an attorney challenging U.S. Rep. Phil Roe in upper East Tennessee. “I will probably vote for Obama. Well, I will vote for him. Yeah.”
Timothy Dixon, a Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher in Tennessee’s 8th District, would not disclose his presidential choice. He also said he didn’t know if he would have voted for Obama’s landmark legislative achievement — an overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system.
“I was disappointed with the way it was handled through the Congress,” Dixon said. “Nobody likes having things jammed down their throat.”
Troy Goodale, a Tusculum College political science professor challenging longtime U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan in the Knoxville area, said he shies away from Obama during speeches.
“Children on their parents’ plan until they’re 26; the end of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions — standalone, people love those,” he said. “But it goes down the toilet when you say, ‘What do you think about Obamacare?’
“He’s very unpopular in Tennessee,” Goodale added. “He’s not an asset.”
Meanwhile, Mark Clayton, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, is running against first-term U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor. Clayton, a Nashville resident, said he won’t vote for Romney “and maybe not Obama,” labeling the president “a flip-flopper” for reversing a prior stand against gay marriage.
…He said he supports Obama’s work on foreclosures and foreign policy, but in the same breath he blasted the state party for “making me a one-issue candidate.”
Still, Clayton said, “Obama supporting gay marriage is a deal-breaker for a lot of my supporters. It’s a deal-breaker for my conscience.”
Candidates and incumbents overwhelmingly said they’re not voting for Clayton.
“People have told me he’s a bigger liability than Obama,” Goodale said.
..(Eric) Stewart eventually said he will vote for Obama. But an interview last week indicated he isn’t wild about him.
“There are going to be times that I would support Gov. Romney if he’s president,” he said. “There’s going to be times I support President Obama if he remains president. To me, the question ought to be, ‘Are you willing to work with whoever’s there?’ I am.”