Former congressional hopeful and vocal Tennessee income tax opponent Steve Gill is ending his nationally syndicated radio show after 15 years on the air, reports The Tennessean. The Steve Gill Show will broadcast for a final time on Jan. 31 or Feb. 1, Gill said. Gill, a Brentwood attorney, said he is ending the show so he can focus on other business ventures, including speaking engagements and consulting, through his company Gill Media Inc.
He said he also wants to continue as a political analyst on News 2 WKRN.
“We’d been looking over the last several months at what we were going to do past the New Year,” Gill said. “We’ve got some other business ventures and opportunities to pursue and we thought this would be a good time.”
He said the growing corporate influence on radio also has made it more difficult for small broadcasters to thrive.
“When we started 15 years ago, radio was a different animal,” Gill said. “The way corporations work, it’s difficult to have a grassroots, listener-focused show right now.”
Republican incumbent Becky Duncan Massey is being challenged by Evelyn Gill, 45, who teaches special education at Carter High School, in state Senate District 6. Jim Balloch has talked with the candidates. Massey, 57, has the backing of the politically popular Duncan family, and the district lines are drawn to favor the GOP. The District stretches from the Bluegrass community to Corryton, surrounds much of Knoxville and includes rural, urban and suburban sections.
She has a record of legislative success. Of the 31 bills she introduced or co-sponsored, 22 have became law, including those that were compromised or amended.
“She thinks things out and is not easily stampeded,” said fellow GOP Sen. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge, “She has a special and personal interest in issues that effect senior citizens, and our citizens who are mentally or physically disabled. She has an easy manner, but doesn’t beat around the bush. She very much comes to the point on issues.”
Gill is originally from Mississippi. She holds a master’s degree in public planning and administration from Rutgers University. Her master’s thesis was on poverty in urban and rural areas.
She said she is waging a classic grass roots campaign. She emphasizes education, economic development and the environment. She said her experience as a teacher makes her particularly better suited to deal with education issues than her opponent is.
Gill has lived or worked in three different sections of the district for many years. That, she says, gives her a better grasp of the district’s wide geographic diversity, and the multitude of issues that arise from such a district.
“I can represent the district on a personal as well as a professional level, and make sure that all of the voices in the district are heard,” she said. “In the end, the issues of education, economic development and the environment are all tied together.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander has won favor with pundits for his decision to quit his Republican leadership position in January to focus on reaching bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. But Jeff Woods observes that he’s drawing scorn from the GOP’s Tea Party wing, which sees any attempt to accommodate Democrats as a betrayal
On Steve Gill’s conservative talk radio show, as Gill asked pointed questions about whether a Republican senator should reach across the aisle, a clearly frustrated Alexander tried to make himself understood.
“I’m a very Republican Republican, as you well know,” said Alexander, who phoned in to the show from Washington. “But if you’re going get 60 votes in the Senate, we’ll have to find some things that Democrats and Republicans agree on.
“I think you can still be a good Republican and look for opportunities to get results. I tried to do that as governor and was successful, and I’d like to try to do more of that here. My voting record is very Republican and will continue to be. I said when I ran for this office that I’d serve with Republican principles and independent attitude, and that’s the way I expect to continue to do it.”
The show’s callers and emailers weren’t buying the senator’s insistence that he was putting country above party, and they pounced on Alexander when he hung up and it was their turn to speak out.
“This guy has got to go,” one said.
“As a Republican’s Republican, doesn’t that make him Obama’s doormat?” another said.
Later, Gill stated the obvious: “There wasn’t a lot of love lost for him in the calls that he got.”
Alexander, who is 71, wouldn’t have to worry about the Tea Party except that he seems to want to keep his options open for 2014 when he’s up for re-election.
When he announced he won’t seek another term as Senate Republican Conference chairman, his party’s No. 3 position, he also said he plans to run for a third Senate term in three years. But most insiders have discounted that statement as not indicating that Alexander has made up his mind yet. If he had said he planned to retire, it would have triggered a free-for-all of politicians scrambling to succeed him, and the senator was trying to prevent that from happening as long as possible.
“It’s what he had to say to keep the chaos to a minimum,” Gill said. “If he said he’s not running, he immediately becomes a lame duck. Whether he’s going to run or not again in 2014, I don’t think is determined by what he’s saying he’s going to do. He may run. He may not run. But what he’s saying now about reaching across the aisle isn’t helping his re-election prospects. If he does run, I think he definitely will face a Tea Party primary challenge.”
(Memphis Tea Party founder Mark) Skoda doubts Alexander will run again. He said he thinks the senator is preparing to retire and thinking about his legacy.
“I believe what he’s trying to do is solidify his position in his own mind as a statesman, so he’s taking this very conciliatory approach to Democrats,” Skoda said. “He’s trying to play the elder statesman as he’s coming into the twilight of his career.”