Veteran state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, was defeated in his bid for reelection by Micah Van Huss, a first-time candidate who owes much of his campaign success to a generous benefactor in Middle Tennessee, says Robert Houk. How could a political newcomer like Van Huss pull off such a win? The answer is easy — money. And not his own. A report in The Tennessee Journal (a weekly newsletter dedicated to Tennessee politics and business) noted that Andrew Miller, a Nashville businessman, was “financing independent radio attacks on state Sen. Doug Overbey, and Reps. Charles Sargent, Debra Maggart and Dale Ford in their Republican primaries.”
…Miller’s direct involvement in the 6th District race troubles some Washington County Republicans. One asked, “Why in the world would someone in Middle Tennessee care about who we send to Nashville?”
Several local government officials also told me they were disappointed to see Ford lose his seat in the House because they considered him to be their go-to guy in Nashville. That’s not something they say of Hill.
Republicans eating their own is certainly not new, at least not in Northeast Tennessee. Ford’s defeat reminds more than a few local politicos of the 2004 GOP primary that saw Hill knock off incumbent Rep. Bob Patton, R-Johnson City. Hill was aided in that race by a series of attack ads funded by individuals who lived outside the 7th District.
While passion about gun rights contributed to the defeat of state Rep. and House Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart on Thursday, The Tennessean says her ouster may not dramatically change how the legislature addresses Second Amendment rights — at least not in the near future. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said the legislature and its leaders will try to respect the rights of property and gun owners when they consider this type of legislation next spring.
“We will always do what is best for the state of Tennessee,” Harwell said. “We are always open to discussion, but our job is to uphold the Constitution and do what’s best for the state.”
…And while Harwell said all of the state Republicans who won Thursday share common conservative principles, she said the all-out effort didn’t play well with lawmakers.
“Some members have been upset about how she was treated,” she said.
…John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, said the reasons his group got involved went beyond a single bill.
“It dates back to the broader issue last year when she said that she had no intent of taking Second Amendment issues to the floor in an election year,” he said.
Harris expects the law to pass eventually, whether in the next General Assembly or another one with more receptive legislators. And he sent a not-so-veiled warning to GOP leaders that they should pay attention to what happened Thursday — even if some of Tennessee’s biggest businesses don’t like it.
“We hope this legislation won’t be derailed by leadership because of financial allegiances,” he said.
In a statement, Chris Cox, who leads the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, called Rogers’ win a great victory for the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms.
“The NRA will always champion Second Amendment rights in Tennessee and across the United States,” Cox said. “We look forward to working with Courtney Rogers and all of our supporters in Nashville during the next legislative session to help secure passage of the Safe Commute Act.”
John Geer, chairman of the political science department at Vanderbilt University, said… this race showed how the Republican-dominated legislature could end up taking more conservative positions than the people it represents, a finding that emerged in a poll Vanderbilt conducted in partnership with The Tennessean earlier this year.
“They’re not fearful of losing to a Democrat,” he said.
“They’re more afraid of losing to a more conservative candidate.”
Given the forces arrayed against him, Gov. Bill Haslam faces a major policy defeat because of his position on having Amazon.com collect sales taxes, argues Frank Cagle.
In addition to getting bad advice, his natural tendency to avoid confrontation and make everybody happy is putting him in an untenable situation.
Haslam first took the advice of his deputy governor to go along with a deal to allow Amazon to operate facilities in Tennessee without collecting sales tax. He didn’t get out in front of the issue and it’s coming around to bite him in the butt.
The forces arrayed against him, the article says, range from newspapers questioning the secrecy of the dealings to local governments “figuring out” that they are losing prospective tax money to an increasingly powerful lobby of regular retailers who do pay the tax and who have hired a bunch of lobbyists while finding frineds in the legislature.
Haslam does seem to face questioning about Amazon on a daily basis. Here’s an excerpt from Thursday’s episode, as reported in the Chattanooga TFP: Haslam, in remarks prior to speaking at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, said he’s having “very fruitful discussions” with the online retailing giant over collecting taxes.
“We’re having discussions with them about what the long-term relationship looks like,” he said. “My job is to create jobs but also to make a fair playing field.”
Haslam said he’s hopeful of coming up with a solution that will work for everybody, though he knows how important Amazon’s jobs are for Hamilton and Bradley counties.