State Sen. Doug Overbey, a Maryville lawyer, has pocketed a passel of endorsements in the 2nd District Senate Republican primary, observes Greg Johnson.
Newspapers, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Tennessee Education Association endorsed Overbey, along with Republican heavyweights Gov. Bill Haslam and, a bit surprisingly, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a tea party favorite.
Given his opponent, Overbey needs all the help he can get.
Scott Hughes, chief financial officer for a Knoxville church and former pro-life executive, is challenging Overbey at every turn, in every way. Though Overbey maintains an enormous financial advantage, Hughes has loquaciously roughed up Overbey in debates.
At a June debate in Sevierville — the 2nd District includes all of Blount County and much of Sevier — Hughes had Overbey back on his heels, out-arguing the lawyer with a withering, well-researched attack on Overbey’s record. Hughes’ verbal pugilism aims to make Overbey the moderate, a characterization sure to stick with some voters.
In fact, TEA’s lead lobbyist, Jerry Winters, said when endorsing Overbey and a few other Republicans, “The people we endorsed in Republican primaries are moderate Republicans who have voted pro-public education.” TEA’s political action committee donated to Overbey, though the group historically gives more than 90 percent of its contributions to Democrats.
Overbey isn’t backing away from the TEA endorsement, citing it on his website under the headline, “Teachers Endorse Doug Overbey.” Education is, no doubt, an important issue for Overbey. In 2008, he ousted incumbent Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, after Finney voted for changes to school funding formulas that led to both Sevier and Blount counties receiving much less money from the state.
Hughes, a Seymour resident, is supported by the Tennessee Conservative Fund, a tea party PAC, which wrote in its endorsement, “Hughes is a full-fledged conservative who has vowed to protect life and Tennessee’s sovereignty under the Constitution.” Significantly, Hughes is backed by Peggy Lambert, a longtime Blount County GOP activist and Republican National Committee member.
At the June debate, Overbey said, “I will work with anybody willing to reach out a hand of goodwill to do what’s right for the state of Tennessee.” Could such bi-partisanship burn him?
SEVIERVILLE — Dale Carr and Richard Montgomery drew distinctions between each other on some previous votes, but also showed common ground in their debate Tuesday night, reports the Mountain Press.
Carr, a Sevierville alderman, and Montgomery, the incumbent, are the Republican candidates for the 12th District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. They faced off in a debate sponsored by The Mountain Press and the Sevier County Republican Party. No Democrats qualified to run.
The two showed more distance over some of their previous actions than over issues they could face in Nashville if elected.
Montgomery was questioned on his support of a bill to allow a third liquor referendum for Pigeon Forge, which would come ahead of the normal two-year moratorium since the last vote. Pigeon Forge voters have twice rejected the measure, but Pigeon Forge City Commission voted 4-1 to ask legislators to put it on the November ballot.
The incumbent said he first rejected a bill that would have allowed liquor sales in all tourism development zones in the state. At the time, Pigeon Forge was the only city with a TDZ that didn’t already allow liquor sales.
After that, however, he said he supported the plan to let the city have another vote earlier than the allotted two years. His reason: Turnout is typically higher for a presidential election.
“It’ll be up to the people to make the decisions and not Nashville, and that’s what I’m for.”
Carr said he wouldn’t have taken that step, even with the vote from Pigeon Forge City Commission, because it contravened the voters’ rejection of the measure twice.
“The City Commission … took it upon itself to go against, I think, the will of the people,” he said. “They were pandering to one particular entity.”
Carr had to account for his own vote on a liquor issue, however. Early in his career as an alderman, he supported a request for a private act that would have allowed for the sale of liquor by the drink inside the city’s TDZ. Private acts like the one in question typically name an area without naming the city, making them hard to track. They often move far along the legislative process without the notice of local residents, and that was the case with the one in question.
Carr said the request was already sent to the Legislature when Mayor Bryan Atchley polled aldermen individually to see if they supported it. Local legislators had asked for the phone poll after the private act became public knowledge. He said he told the mayor he didn’t oppose it moving ahead because it was already in the Legislature when he heard of it.
The private act was eventually pulled, but city voters later approved the sale of liquor by the drink in a referendum.
Weston Wamp did everything but call U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann a lightweight Saturday as he reacted to court documents showing the freshman congressman didn’t always approve campaign ads in his successful 2010 race, reports Chris Carroll.
“I can’t even connect with a candidate who isn’t in charge of his own operation,” Wamp said Saturday after a Chattanooga Tea Party debate heavy on agreement among most of the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary field. “I look at TV commercials as my opportunity to say exactly what I want to share with people on my own terms.”
Meanwhile, Fleischmann said voters “aren’t concerned” about depositions that appear to discredit portions of a 2010 attack ad charging that opponent and former state GOP chairwoman Robin Smith paid a top aide “lavish bonuses” at a financially difficult time for the party. He also shrugged off testimony showing that his former campaign consultant and now chief of staff, Chip Saltsman, failed to authenticate documents used in his ads.
“The people of the 3rd District overwhelmingly are concerned about jobs, the economy, the debt, the issues I’ve been addressing for them as an effective congressman for 18 months,” Fleischmann said. “Politically motivated lawsuits are probably on the last of their wish list.”
The candidates were serious, but a bit of political theater lightened the mood.
Fleischmann, Wamp and Ron Bhalla sat on stools for the debate. Dairy executive Scottie Mayfield was absent, but on a fourth stool, tea party officials placed a half-gallon Mayfield milk jug with a yellow bowtie draped over its neck.
It was the second major candidate forum Mayfield shunned. He has characterized debates as events where people “have already made up their minds” about elections.
“He could easily win, and it’s a shame,” Chattanooga Tea Party member and debate moderator Gregg Juster said.
A Mayfield spokesman did not return a call requesting comment.
Weston Wamp questioned U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s congressional credentials during an aggressive debate Monday, attempting to define Fleischmann as an inflexible creature of Washington in the fight for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.
From the Chattanooga TFP account:
With the Aug. 2 primary election only two months away, Fleischmann arrived at a crucial moment of his re-election effort armed with a defense of his record and a list of shots targeting Wamp’s perceived inexperience as the 25-year-old son of the congressman’s immediate predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp.
Several times, Fleischmann described Weston Wamp’s reasoning as incorrect, inaccurate and, using a baseball analogy to describe a trio of answers, “0-for-3.”
Unbowed, Fleischmann’s young rival claimed to be the most powerful advocate on local issues like the Chickamauga lock and the most energetic person ever to run for Congress.
…”Just how much does it impact us when we’re represented in Congress by one of the most divisively partisan people there?” Wamp asked.
But Fleischmann said he’s respecting the 3rd District’s wishes.
“We have basically blocked the president,” he said of the Republican-controlled House.
By the end of the 90-minute debate, the scrutiny appeared to wear on Fleischmann, who received hoots from a host of twentysomething Wamp supporters when he said his only “special interests” are the people of the district.
That statement came after a debate moderator asked him to square his $363,000 in PAC contributions with a 2010 campaign promise that said “special interest groups in Washington will not find an open door in my congressional office.”
“If he didn’t leave his door open to special interests, he at least let the mailbox or the bank account — it’s a pretty clear violation” of the promise, Wamp said.
The exchange later put Wamp in the interesting position of slamming as “a snake pit” Washington, D.C., where his father broke a campaign term-limit promise to serve 12 years in Congress. (He served 16.) The younger Wamp also gave himself wiggle room on the PAC money question, saying he would accept it from organizations whose “principles and values are aligned with mine.”
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and two of his challengers, Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp, said they will participate in a 3rd Congressional District Republican primary debate sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and WRCB Channel 3.
Scottie Mayfield rejected an invitation to the May 21 debate. A campaign spokesman, Joe Hendrix, emailed a statement to the newspaper Wednesday.
“Scottie believes the majority of those who attend debates have already made up their mind who they are going to vote for,” Hendrix wrote. “The issues are not where the candidates differ, it’s experience.”
This will be the second candidate forum Mayfield has shunned in two weeks. In late April, the Athens, Tenn., dairy executive was the only 3rd District Republican candidate to decline an upcoming Chattanooga Tea Party debate.
State representatives debated at length Wednesday the Obama administration’s proposal to require that most health insurance plans cover the cost of contraception.
“Reminiscent of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, this administration has decided that its goal of state-run health care should trump millions of Americans constitutional right to religious freedom,” says one line in HJR667 by Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City.
The resolution, which amounts to a statement of opinion with no legal effect, calls on Congress to reject the proposed rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It passed 71-22 with all no votes coming from Democrats. The vote came after 35 minutes of back-and-forth arguments that included both sides quoting Biblical scripture.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A plan backed by Tennessee judges that would change the ethics panel that disciplines jurists is at odds with arguably the judiciary’s biggest critic in the legislature — Sen. Mae Beavers .
The differences in opinion came out this week at a debate before the Tennessee Press Association between Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins.
Beavers has long complained that the ethics board, known as the Court of the Judiciary, is dismissing too many citizen complaints against judges accused of serious misconduct.
The judges are backing legislation that would make it more difficult to dismiss a complaint against a jurist. But they still insist that the vast majority the disciplinary board be made up of judges.
The majority of members now are judges appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
“I just think it looks bad when you have judges appointed by judges to judge judges,” Beavers said at the debate.
Beavers wants fewer judges on the panel and thinks they should be appointed by the speakers of the House and Senate.
Critics of a bill to create a school voucher system in Tennessee characterized the plan as a “bailout” for financially failing private schools in a legislative hearing while proponents hailed it as a needed new choice in education.
Rep Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, sponsor of the pending voucher bill, compared public school systems opposing the idea to the McDonald’s chain board of directors telling legislators, “We don’t think Burger King should be able to build anywhere near our restaurants.
He also challenged opponents of the bill to let him pick which schools their children should attend. None accepted his offer to “put them in the shoes of the parents they’re trying to deny.”.
The hearing before a subcommittee of the House Education Committee last week was a prelude to what is shaping up as the most combative education issue for the 2012 session of the Legislature.
Knoxville mayoral candidates Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett covered a range of topics in a radio broadcast debate, reports Jim Balloch, including red light cameras, the city’s homeless population and the best approach for bolstering the city’s economy.
“I would like to see them come down,” Padgett said of the city’s red light cameras, which are posted at more than a dozen locations. He said he doubts they have been as effective as claimed in making intersections safer.
“They are nothing but revenue generators, and another layer of bureaucracy,” Padgett said.
Rogero said she believes the cameras have been effective in encouraging safer driving at the intersections where they have been located, but that she has no plans to increase their numbers.
The candidates were seated at a table in the Market Square studio of Knoxivi.com. The two-hour debate was carried live on NewsTalk 98.7 FM radio and on a live video stream on the websites of both the radio station and Knoxivi.com.
It was the 50th time the candidates have debated during their campaign.
Each candidate was cordial to the other. Rogero occasionally zinged Padgett, but did so very mildly.
“Mark, you know nothing about this,” she said at one point during a lengthy debate on the complexities of the homeless issue and how best to address it.
Padgett, 33, exuded his trademark enthusiasm and energy throughout the debate. He vowed to be a mayor who would aggressively recruit new businesses and industry to Knoxville and take many steps to make the city even more business-friendly than it already is.
A planned October GOP presidential contenders debate to be held at Kingsport’s MeadowView Marriott has been changed to a forum, according to one organizer of the event, reports Hank Hayes.
Fabian Story, executive director of the Nashville-based Conservatives on the Move (COTM) political action committee, said candidates’ campaigns expressed concerns about the debate format.
“They feel another debate just exposes them,” Story explained. “They don’t like the format that we have set up. What we have done … earlier this week we changed the format from a debate setting to a forum setting where each candidate will be given a certain amount of time to make their case, and they could take questions from the audience if they choose.”
The debate, said Story, was expected to feature three types of questions: Moderator to candidate, audience to candidate and candidate to candidate.
“They didn’t like the candidate-tocandidate questions,” Story said. “They felt those campaigns would come after them. … Obviously we would have used a vetting process and not allowed personal attacks.”
When asked about candidate commitments to participate in the Oct. 15 afternoon event, Story said: “We have yet to get a yes or no from the (Minnesota congresswoman) Michele Bachmann campaign or the (Texas governor) Rick Perry campaign.”
Story said he had “no noncommitments” from other GOP hopefuls. At a news conference last month, he said Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined to participate.
“However, (the Romney campaign) contacted me and said they would be reconsidering and to send the details,” Story noted.