Statement from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on Republican gains in state Senate and House:
During the last two years, for the first time in history, Republicans have controlled the legislature and the Governor’s mansion. Tennesseans have witnessed what Republican government can do and know we have delivered on our promises.
Our message of more jobs, less spending and smaller government resonated not just with traditional Republicans but throughout the state in areas disappointed with the Democrat Party.
After decades of Democrat Party rule in Tennessee, Republicans have won the war of ideas across this state’s Grand Divisions and changed the political culture.
The Tennessee Democrat Party has abandoned any pretense of supporting traditional values or conservative fiscal policy. As Democrat leaders have lined up with the pro-abortion, tax and spend liberals in Washington, D.C, their voters have responded to our message of lower taxes, balance budgets and economic growth.
The historical majorities we achieved tonight are a culmination of years of hard work and responsible governance. Republicans have many successes under our belt but there is still much left to do.
I look forward to working with newly-elected and current members of the legislature, as well our Gov. Bill Haslam and Speaker Beth Harwell, as we continue on the path of responsible, conservative governance for Tennessee.”
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, says he believes the GOP in fall elections will make big gains in its current majority in the 33-member chamber, reports Andy Sher. One pickup, he says, will likely be the Senate District 10 seat now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga. “There are six seats across the state we’ll be playing in and have a legitimate shot of winning,” Ramsey told reporters in his Legislative Plaza office this week. “Obviously, it’ll be hard to run the table, but we’ll come close.”
Republicans currently have a 20-13 majority, and Ramsey said, “we’re back at 20 no matter what.”
Berke is not seeking re-election and is instead running for Chattanooga mayor in 2013. During this year’s legislative redistricting, Republicans took out Democratic-leaning Marion County from the district. They then added Republican areas of Hamilton County and a good portion of heavily Republican Bradley County.
“You start in Chattanooga with that race over there, with Andy Berke’s old seat, probably the most Republican of the six we have redrawn,” Ramsey said. “I think the [GOP] primary will be the race in that seat.”
Senate Republicans say the currently constituted district was won back in 2006 by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in Tennessee’s last major contested statewide election. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam won it by about 60 percent.
Democrats say the seat remains winnable.
Health care entrepreneur and developer Greg Vital and financial consultant Todd Gardenhire are squaring off in the Aug. 2 GOP primary.
Quenston Coleman, a retired state probation and parole officer, Chattanooga City Councilman Andrae McGary and Hamilton County School Board member David Testerman are running in the Democratic primary.
— Note: In his comments to reporters, Ramsey also joked about Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester’s assessment of Democrats having only about eight safe seats in the Senate. “I think he’s pretty close on that,” said Ramsey. “I was thinking seven, but we’ll take eight.”
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher tells The Commercial Appeal that 2011 has been a “trying year” with the many obstacles facing the country and little cooperation from the Democratic majority in the Senate. But he said he remains optimistic that common sense solutions will prevail. “I think people are searching for stability and certainty in not only government but in the economy,” he said. “That’s one reason that we were elected in such a large number in the last election. They just want common sense solutions, if you will, to common sense problems that are really, really plaguing the private sector.”
To that end, Fincher touted his recent legislative initiative to make it easier and cheaper for companies to make initial public offerings of shares. Earlier in the year, Fincher — who left assignments with the House Agriculture and Transportation committees to take a spot on Financial Services — introduced a bill to suspend collection of capital gains taxes for 10 years.
“Taking capital gains to zero, we think, is a good step in the right direction of keeping more money in peoples’ pockets,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann proposed a two-year moratorium on capital gains taxes this week, leveraging a key point of his jobs plan and suggesting an idea that would benefit him personally, reports the Chattanooga TFP. The government now charges individuals and corporations varying rates of tax on most capital gains, which are commonly obtained from the sale of stocks, bonds and property. If the House and Senate adopt his idea, the Chattanooga Republican said, the savings will be invested in people, not “buried in the backyard.”
“Once you get that capital in the game, it results in more jobs,” he said Friday in a telephone interview. “This allows average Americans — all Americans — to go out and take a risk with their capital.”
Fleischmann is one of those Americans. According to House financial disclosures filed last spring, the attorney and freshman congressman reported an investment valued between $500,001 and $1 million that included capital gains income. Records show the investment returned a profit between $15,001 and $50,000 last year.
“It’s a very fair question, but I have never thought of my own financial situation one time in any of the 830 votes I’ve ever cast,” he said. “It just doesn’t enter my mind.”
State House redistricting plans are still officially secret, though various details have been reported and speculation is underway on how things will shake out in the elections next fall with the new plans. Andy Sher reports: (Republicans are) looking at creating GOP districts next year in Hamilton, Knox, Rutherford and Williamson counties. In other cases, they are hoping to make some Democratic districts more competitive for GOP candidates.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said GOP lawmakers will draw districts “in a fair and legal way that will withstand any scrutiny in any courts and try to keep communities together in the process.”
Demographic changes, such as slower population growth in some Democratic districts and higher growth in Republican areas, will drive GOP gains in the once-a-decade redistricting process, McCormick said.
“We would be hard-pressed not to pare some of them [Democrats], but it won’t be out of this idea that we’re trying to pad our numbers,” McCormick said. “I think it will just be unavoidable.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said if Republicans carry out their plans, “they could probably pick up, I don’t know, five or six seats maybe” under what he called a “worst-case scenario.”
“But,” the Nashville Democrat said, “at the same time they’ve got some districts they can’t do anything about, really. They’re fairly Democratic, and I think we should be able to pick up” three to five seats.
Some have projected a net Republican gain of one to three seats in 2012 elections, depending on how state and national campaigns, including the presidential race, play out.
….Shelby County is losing two House seats based on population shifts. Two white Democrats’ districts there will be changed, and two black Democrats, Reps. G.A. Hardaway and Barbara Cooper, will wind up in the same district.
Democrats are warning they might sue over the changes in Hamilton and Shelby counties. (In Hamilton County, two black Democrats – Reps. Tommie Brown and Joann Favors – will be thrown into the same district.)
News release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chuck Fleischmann announced his jobs plan for America today, “Less Government, More Jobs”. The 33-page plan lays out the seven ideas he views as vital to getting our country back to work, and the action he is taking, or has already taken, to ensure those ideas are implemented.
“The free-market based solutions in my jobs plan are what this country needs right now. The same ‘tax, borrow, spend’ policies from this Administration are not the solutions. The Republican-led House has already been working to put some of these measures in place, but unfortunately the Democratic Senate and White House have said, ‘No.’ They need to listen to the American people and realize their ideas have failed. I am proud to introduce solutions I believe will result in real job growth, not government growth,” Fleischmann said.
Congressman Fleischmann understands there are many ways to get the government out of the way so the American entrepreneur can grow his or her business, but these are the seven he views as being able to have some of the greatest impact.
1. 0% Capital Gains Tax
2. Rein in Regulatory Agencies
3. Stability in the Marketplace
4. Exploration-Based Energy Policy
5. Tort Reform
6. Tax Reform
7. Free Trade
Go to http://fleischmann.house.gov/jobs to read the plan.
Congressman Fleischmann will be appearing on radio shows across the 3rd District and state this week, as well as holding a district-wide Tele-Town Hall, to talk about his “Less Government, More Jobs” plan.