NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A special panel of members of the state Republican Party’s executive committee is meeting behind closed doors to consider an election challenge in a legislative primary race.
The six-member subcommittee appointed by Chairman Chris Devaney was scheduled to meet in Nashville on Thursday morning to evaluate the challenge brought by Shirley Curry, who wants to overturn her four-vote loss in the House District 71 primary.
Adam Nickas, the executive director of the party, wouldn’t say why the public wouldn’t be allowed to follow the hearing and declined to elaborate on the basis for Curry’s challenge.
The special panel will make recommendations to the full executive committee on Sept. 5.
Messages seeking comment from Curry and Dennis were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
— Note: The six members of the subcommittee are Rob Ailey of Seymour, chairman; Betty Cannon of Nashville; Beth Campbell of Nashville, Kurt Holbert of Decaturville; Paula Sedgewick of Arlington and Ken Gross of Knoxville.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Republican Party is setting up a special panel to hear an election challenge in a legislative primary race.
Shirley Curry, a member of the party’s executive committee, is challenging her four-vote loss to incumbent Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah in House District 71.
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney on Monday appointed a subcommittee to hear the dispute this week. A full panel is scheduled to meet about Curry’s and any other potential challenges on Sept. 5.
Curry has recused herself from the hearings.
Dennis was first elected to the House in 2008. His district was significantly redrawn in this year’s redistricting process.
Seven Republican incumbents in the state House lost their primaries on Aug. 2.
After losing its case for photo library cards, the City of Memphis has amended its federal court lawsuit to make a direct challenge to the constitutionality of Tennessee’s new law requiring voters to present a state-issued photo identification card before they can vote.
From the Richard Locker report: An amended complaint was filed Tuesday by attorneys for the city and for two Memphis voters without state-issued ID cards whose provisional ballots in last Thursday’s election were not counted. The complaint charges that the voter photo ID requirement adds a new qualification for voting beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution and is therefore an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote under both the federal and state constitutions.
The attorneys have asked for an expedited hearing in the case, and have asked the federal court to ask the Tennessee Supreme Court whether requiring otherwise qualified voters in Tennessee to present photo IDs violates the state constitution. No hearing has been scheduled.
The direct challenge to the state’s voter photo ID law comes a week after the city and the two registered voters, Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell, failed to persuade U.S. Dist. Judge Aleta A. Trauger to order election officials to accept new photo IDs issued by the Memphis Public Library for voting purposes.
Trauger ruled that the state legislature did not intend for photo IDs issued by local governments to qualify, and that the library itself was not an “entity” of the state.
She did, however, leave the door open to a direct constitutional challenge to the state law.
The city’s amended lawsuit argues that the Tennessee Constitution’s Article 4, Section 1, provides “the sole and exclusive qualifications for citizens and residents” of Tennessee to vote. That section provides: “Every person, being 18 years of age, being a resident of the United States, being a resident of the state for a period of time as prescribed by the General Assembly, and being duly registered in the county of residence for a period of time before the day of any election as prescribed by the General Assembly, shall be entitled to vote in all federal, state, and local elections held in the county or district in which such person resides. All such requirements shall be equal and uniform across the state, and there shall be no other qualification attached to the right of suffrage.”
However, the legal battle is likely to be over the following sentence in the same section: “The General Assembly shall have power to enact laws requiring voters to vote in the election precincts in which they may reside, and laws to secure the freedom of elections and the purity of the ballot box.”
WINCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Eric Stewart wants to have three debates with Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais before the Nov. 6 general election.
Stewart said in a letter to DesJarlais that he wants to have the debates over the next month so voters in the 4th Congressional District will have a chance to see where the candidates stand on issues.
The Winchester Democrat wants DesJarlais to respond by email to his campaign by Aug. 13.
Stewart also said his staff will work with Desjarlais’ staff to find a location and time for the debates.
A losing candidate for Tennessee’s Democratic U.S. Senate nomination launched an effort Monday to have the election of the winner, Mark Clayton, thrown out because he is a member of a “hate group.”
Larry Crim, who finished fourth in Thursday’s seven-candidate field, met with State Election Coordinator Mark Goins Monday, then delivered letters to the state Democratic Party headquarters asking that Clayton be rejected and that a new primary election be conducted no later than Oct. 9.
Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Sean Braisted said attorneys were reviewing the letter and wanted to research legal issues involved. The letter from Crim’s lawyer s a demands a reply by 3 p.m. Tuesday. (Note: Letter from Crim HERE; letter from Crim’s lawyer HERE.)
The party issued a statement Friday disavowing Clayton’s candidacy, saying he is “associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C.” Clayton is vice president of Public Advocate of the United States, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as “a hate group” – a depiction disputed by Clayton and by the group.
State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester said Friday that the party is simply asking voters to write-in a candidate of their choice in November’s election rather than vote for Clayton.
“That’s not a remedy at all – not for the candidates, not for the voters and not for the party,” said Crim.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An attorney for plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that overruled local protections for gay and lesbian workers said Wednesday that she will appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss the suit.
The Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act prohibits local governments from creating anti-discrimination regulations that are stricter than those of the state. The law nullified a Nashville ordinance that barred companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.
Plaintiffs claim the law is unconstitutional for several reasons, including stripping them of previous legal protections.
But Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy said last week that the plaintiffs did not satisfy standing requirements and ordered the lawsuit dismissed.
“The Court finds no justificable question is before it in this matter in that none of the plaintiff’s had standing,” she wrote.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Abby Rubenfeld said she believes the judge ignored certain arguments raised in the lawsuit and she plans to appeal.
For instance, Rubenfeld said one part of the statute “gratuitously redefines ‘sex’ for purposes of anti-discrimination laws so as to exclude all transgender persons.”
“She just flat out ignored it, although we briefed it and argued it,” Rubenfeld said.
Among the lawsuit’s plaintiffs is Lisa Howe, a former Belmont University soccer coach whose departure from the private Christian university was the impetus for the city’s ordinance.
The House on Wednesday passed a measure by Republican Rep. Diane Black that would prevent the Obama administration from challenging state immigration laws in court, reports The Tennessean. The measure, an amendment to a bill that would fund the Justice and Commerce Departments and other agencies for fiscal 2013, passed 238-173. It would forbid the Justice Department from spending money on lawsuits challenging state immigration laws.
“There are over 10 million unauthorized aliens in this country, and states must be able to enforce the law if the federal government refuses to,” Black said on the House floor Tuesday. “The states should not have to live in fear of federal retribution for trying to keep their citizens safe.”
Black’s amendment came to the floor just two weeks after Arizona’s controversial immigration law made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justice Department said that law — which gives the police broad power to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally — conflicts with federal immigration policy.
Five states have passed similar laws, and the Justice Department has filed suit against three of them: Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. Georgia and Indiana also have passed laws. Parts of the laws are on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling, which is expected in June.
Dr. George S. Flinn Jr., a radiologist and radio station magnate who has sought or held public office in Shelby County since 2002, said Wednesday he will seek as a Republican the 9th Congressional seat held by Democrat Steve Cohen.
From the Commercial Appeal: “It’s a winnable district,” Flinn said. “The redistricting really changed the makeup of the district. I’m looking forward to winning.”
Flinn, who spent $3.5 million of his own money losing the GOP primary in the 8th Congressional District to Stephen Fincher in 2010, said Cohen “has not done a very good job in Congress.”
“We’re not as well off as when he started. Gas prices are up. Unemployment’s up. It’s time for me to get in there and make some difference because I’m worried about what I’m going to leave to my children and grandchildren.”
Cohen dismissed Flinn’s candidacy, saying, “I take care of my constituents. My relationship with my district is based on how I treat my district and it doesn’t make any difference who should run — Democrat, Republican or independent.
“My analysis of it is, on the worst day possible, I’ll get 71 percent of the vote,” Cohen said of the November general election.
Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth is expected to issue an order today delaying a hearing on the recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield just as candidates can begin picking up qualifying petitions, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The delay was prompted by a new lawsuit in which the Hamilton County Election Commission is challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s recall statute.
“We need to resolve those issues,” Hollingsworth said.
Election commission attorney Chris Clem said Thursday he would like to see the recall statute thrown out and revamped because it specifically excepts Nashville/Davidson County.
Tennessee’s Constitution says that laws must apply equally across the state. The recall statute doesn’t, Clem said.
The state attorney general has 30 days to reply to the suit.
That moves the recall hearing, in which Littlefield is asking for a permanent injunction stopping the August election, to Feb. 10.
Qualifying opens today for people interested in running for mayor
Gallatin pharmacist Ferrell Haile has announced he will next year seek the Republican nomination for the 18th District state Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Kerry Roberts of Springfield, says the Tennessean. Haile, a lifelong Sumner County resident, co-owner of Perkins Drugs in Gallatin and a cattle farmer, was appointed as interim 18th District state senator by the Sumner County Commission by unanimous vote Nov. 22, 2010 when Diane Black resigned following her election to the U.S. House of Representatives last year.
“I enjoyed serving,” Haile said. “I felt like I was able to do some good and be a positive influence in the process, and I’d like to be able to do that again.”
Haile did not seek the GOP nomination during the 2011 special primary election for Black’s seat. Kerry Roberts of Springfield won the GOP nomination in January and went on to defeat Portland Democrat Ken Wilber by a landslide victory in the special election held in March.