By Matthew Daly, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — In a political role reversal, Republicans are blasting President Barack Obama’s plan to consider selling the Tennessee Valley Authority, an icon of the New Deal long targeted by conservatives as an example of government overreach.
Obama’s 2014 budget proposal calls for a strategic review of the TVA, the nation’s largest public utility with 9 million customers in seven states from Virginia to Mississippi.
Selling the U.S-owned power company could reduce the federal deficit by at least $25 billion and “help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path,” Obama says in a budget document.
Not so fast, say GOP lawmakers in the region.
“It’s one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a longtime TVA champion.
Tennessee Republicans think they can turn yet another state House seat their way this year in a district stretching from Goodlettsville to Bellevue, reports the Tennessean. But Democrats believe they have a strong candidate to keep the District 50 seat in Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, who will face one of three relative newcomers from the GOP ranks. Democratic state Rep. Gary Moore, a union advocate like Mitchell, is retiring after representing the district for eight years.
Early voting starts today. Mitchell, 41, is running unopposed on the Democratic side. The Republican race features Dwight “DJ” Farris, a 25-year-old Realtor; Dave Hall, 24, who works with data for Wyndham Resorts; and Charles Williamson, 51, a geologist, business owner and bison rancher.
…Both Williamson and Hall ran for House seats in 2010, while Farris is making his first bid for public office. Williamson lost to state Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory in District 51. Hall was the Republican nominee in District 50. He drew more than 42 percent of the vote but couldn’t unseat Moore.
Moore made an issue two years ago of the fact that Hall lived with his parents, which still appears to be the case. Hall and his father, Senate District 20 candidate David Hall, listed the same address and phone number when they qualified to run in April.
Hall said he’s legally old enough to run and that he would focus on cutting taxes, confronting illegal immigration and communicating with the people he hopes to represent.
“If you’re here illegally, we need to deport you,” he said. “We need you to come here through the proper channels.”
Farris, who said he closed his first real estate deal when he was a 20-year-old sophomore at Lipscomb University, said he would work to reduce regulations on businesses and create an environment that encourages student achievement and rewards successful teachers.
“People are ready to see someone that’s focused on creating jobs,” he said. “They understand that government does best when it gets out of the way of small business.”
Farris has been endorsed by Tennessee Right to Life, a pro-life group.
Williamson did not return two phone calls or an email seeking an interview this week. In a response to a request for basic information last month, he wrote that he decided to run because “I want to give back in a meaningful way and represent my neighbors with common sense leadership and a sincere willingness to work across party lines for solutions that keep Tennessee vibrant and strong.”
Editorial Page Editor Dwight Lewis, whose newspaper career has ranged from exposing problems in Tennessee’s correctional system to becoming an influential voice for children in underserved communities, will retire this week after 40 years at The Tennessean.
From the newspaper’s report on his departure: The Knoxville native, 63, began his career as a part-time campus correspondent for The Tennessean, covering Fisk University and his alma mater, Tennessee State, then moved into general assignment reporting. He went on to cover state politics, reporting on the scandal-ridden administration of Gov. Ray Blanton, and worked a stint as the newspaper’s correspondent in Washington.
He reported on key issues of the day, such as public-housing conditions, but he also, after repeated tries, got to interview the
state’s most famous inmate at the time, James Earl Ray. The exchange lasted for more than a decade, and Lewis had one of the last interviews with Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer before his death in 1998.
“As a reporter, Dwight was driven to cover areas of community life ignored by other journalists — which led him, for instance, to a series of meaningful reports on the state Department of Correction and conditions at state prisons,” John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean who was editor and publisher when Lewis was hired, said last week.
“As an editorialist and columnist, he was driven to explore and comment on issues of community controversy, always exhibiting compassion for the problems of the poor and the powerless.”
Dwight’s own farewell column is HERE.