Tag Archives: governor campaign

Haslam’s inaugural theme: ‘Together for Tennessee’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam plans for his inauguration to a second term include an outdoor ceremony, a dinner and ball and tours of the state Capitol and governor’s mansion.

The Jan. 17 swearing-in ceremony will be held on the plaza across the street from the state Capitol in Nashville. State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee is scheduled to administer the oath.

The theme of the inaugural events is “Together for Tennessee.” Haslam in November won 70 percent of the vote against nominal Democratic opposition to carry all 95 counties of the state. He says goals for his second term include job creation, education and more efficiency in state government.

The inaugural events are free except for a $250 dinner and dance called the First Couple’s Celebration and the $50 ball.

Columnist Cagle: Randy Boyd for governor?

In a News Sentinel column, Frank Cagle adds Randy Boyd — the newly-named commissioner of economic development — to the list of prospective Republican candidates for governor in 2018 and speculates that other gubernatorial wannabes — particularly House Speaker Beth Harwell — may be looking over their shoulders in the coming controversial legislative session.


As economic development guru, you rub elbows with the state’s major business people — i.e., political donors — on a daily basis. You work with local officials and legislators and you get to be a hero at the ribbon cutting. In short, it’s not a bad place to be in order to be introduced statewide.

Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd appears to be Haslam’s go-to guy. He served as an unpaid adviser on higher education and has now been named the new Economic Development commissioner. Whether Boyd has any interest in following his friend Bill into the office or not, the new job puts him in the spotlight and positions him to decide one way or the other in a couple of years. He has the qualification the last four winning statewide candidates have had — considerable personal wealth.

…Putting Boyd forward into a public role may make some other potential candidates nervous. Wonder how House Speaker Beth Harwell feels about it? Harwell has let it be known she is considering running. Harwell has been Haslam’s ally, fending off criticism from her conservative members, and she will play a vital role for any of Haslam’s initiatives standing a chance of passing next session.

Will she go to the mat for Medicaid expansion, new education standards (we aren’t allowed to call it Common Core anymore) or a gasoline tax? How much of her political capital is she willing to expend? None of these issues are popular with the conservatives who make up the Republican caucus.

…The Republican caucus is conservative, but within it is a subset of what might be described as the “Krazy Kaucus.” They see a mop sink and think it might be a foot-washing receptacle for creeping Sharia law. Obamacare, Obamacore, Obamaeverywhere are their constant watchwords. They may not be a majority, but they can make enough noise to spook some of the more level-headed members.

Haslam needs Harwell. He should hope she isn’t distracted looking over her shoulder.

Tre Hargett says he’s focused on ‘what’s now, rather than what’s next’

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who has been included in speculation about 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidates, says he’s not running. At least not now.

From the Commercial Appeal:

Hargett was among several Republicans included in early speculation after the Nov. 4 election about potential candidates to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam, since Haslam can’t run for a third consecutive term.

But Hargett, who is in the middle of a four-year term, found such speculation uncomfortable and issued a statement Friday saying, “I am not running for governor in 2018. While I am honored to be mentioned and thought of in this regard, I am focused on being the best secretary of state I can be and the best one our state has ever had. The people of Tennessee deserve nothing less. I would rather focus on what’s now, rather than what’s next.”

“I am deeply appreciative of the trust placed in me by the General Assembly and I still have much I hope to accomplish as Tennessee’s Secretary of State.”

Hargett was a state representative from the Bartlett area from 1996 to 2006 and was Republican leader in the House during part of that tenure. He was appointed a director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in 2008 and was there until the state legislature appointed him secretary of state in January 2009. He was appointed to a second four-year term in January 2013.

A score or so of potential candidates for governor in 2018

Richard Locker has put together a list of prospective candidates for governor in 2018 and talked to a poly sci professor about it. Here’s the list:


— Gordon Ball, Knoxville lawyer who just gained statewide name recognition in his losing challenge of Sen. Lamar Alexander. He’s reportedly moving to Memphis.

— Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga and former state senator. Two consecutive former mayors, Phil Bredesen of Nashville and Bill Haslam of Knoxville, disproved the conventional wisdom that mayors didn’t get elected governor because they’re too identified with their cities. It could be Chattanooga’s time.

— Jim Cooper, congressman from Nashville and former congressman from a rural Middle and East Tennessee district. One of the few Blue Dogs left.

— Karl Dean, two-term mayor of Nashville and former public defender, who steps down next year.

— Craig Fitzhugh, state representative from Ripley and House Democratic leader. A lawyer by training, banker by profession, he was finance committee chairman during Bredesen’s tenure.

— Ashley Judd, the actress and liberal activist. Hey, she could bring some star power to the race.

— Madeline Rogero, mayor of Knoxville and former Knox County commissioner. She came close to beating Haslam in his first race for mayor; then he appointed her city community development director. She succeeded him as mayor of the hub of Republican East Tennessee.

Other Democratic possibilities are Nashville businessmen Andrew Byrd, Bill Freeman and Frank Garrison; newly elected state Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis, and former Nashville mayor Bill Purcell.
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Results in governor, U.S. Senate races

From the Associated Press
U.S. Senate

2,055 of 2,065 precincts – 99 percent

x-Lamar Alexander, GOP (i) 848,567 – 62 percent

Gordon Ball, Dem 436,869 – 32 percent

Joe Wilmoth, CST 36,025 – 3 percent

Martin Pleasant, Grn 12,516 – 1 percent

Tom Emerson, Ind 11,122 – 1 percent

Danny Page, Ind 7,701 – 1 percent

Rick Tyler, Ind 5,740 – 0 percent

Joshua James, Ind 5,664 – 0 percent

Bartholomew Phillips, Ind 2,377 – 0 percent

Edmund Gauthier, Ind 2,303 – 0 percent

Eric Schechter, Ind 1,666 – 0 percent

C. Salekin, Ind 783 – 0 percent


2,055 of 2,065 precincts – 99 percent

x-Bill Haslam, GOP (i) 949,732 – 70 percent

Charles Brown, Dem 308,525 – 23 percent

John Jay Hooker, Ind 30,519 – 2 percent

Shaun Crowell, CST 26,519 – 2 percent

Isa Infante, Grn 18,484 – 1 percent

Steve Coburn, Ind 8,591 – 1 percent

Daniel Lewis, Ind 8,280 – 1 percent

U.S. House District 4 South Central

237 of 242 precincts – 98 percent

x-Scott DesJarlais, GOP (i) 83,950 – 58 percent

Lenda Sherrell, Dem 51,132 – 35 percent

Robert Doggart, Ind 9,191 – 6 percent

Alexander, Haslam promptly declared winners as polls close

The AP bulletins:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Lamar Alexander has won a third term representing Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

Alexander was beating Democrat Gordon Ball in early returns Tuesday night.

Alexander emerged from a closer-than-expected primary campaign against state Rep. Joe Carr, and then he left little to chance against Ball in the general election campaign. Alexander shed his usual feel-good campaign image to harshly criticize his Democratic opponent in TV ads and in public appearances.

Alexander spent more than $8.6 million what was one the most difficult campaigns of his 40 years in Tennessee politics.

Ball tried to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment. He attempted to portray Alexander as out of touch with Tennessee voters.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Bill Haslam has been re-elected to a second term as Tennessee governor.

The outcome of Tuesday’s election was widely expected, as Haslam faced no serious opposition either in the primary or the general election. He beat Democrat Charlie Brown, who raised no money in his bid for office.

This year’s re-election campaign was a far cry from Haslam’s first run for governor four years ago, when he faced a spirited nomination fight with U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey. Haslam went on to defeat Democrat Mike McWherter by 32 percentage points in 2010.

Haslam campaigns where it counts — Arkansas and Kansas

Excerpt from an election eve overview story in News Sentinel:
Gov. Bill Haslam devoted one of his last days of 2014 campaigning to promoting Republican candidates in Arkansas and Kansas rather than Tennessee, another indication that the GOP is not too worried about the outcome in most of Tuesday’s partisan elections in his home state.

Haslam on Friday traveled with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, to Kansas for backing the re-election of Gov. Sam Brownback and to Arkansas in support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson. Brownback is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Paul Davis, while Hutchinson is in a close contest with Democrat Mike Ross.

“At the request of the RGA chairman, Gov. Haslam went to the states closest to Tennessee where he thought he could have the most impact helping his colleagues,” said Haslam campaign spokesman Jeremy Harrell in an email.

Haslam has said he is not taking his re-election for granted and Harrell pointed out the governor has had a number of campaign events in the state. Today, Haslam is making a final pre-Election Day tour of the state, starting with a breakfast in Knoxville and ending with an afternoon event in Memphis.

Haslam’s spending on re-election campaigning has been somewhat serious, though less than half what he spent in 2010. So far this campaign, Haslam has spent $4.25 million, according to filed reports ending Oct. 25. He still had about $1.6 million cash on hand in his campaign account at that point.

Democratic nominee Charles “Charlie” Brown, a retired Morgan County construction worker, has spent $53 and reported a $50 balance.

Polls have shown Haslam a heavy favorite, even though his popularity is down somewhat from earlier levels. A Middle Tennessee State University poll released last week had Haslam at 50 percent and Brown at 19 percent. About 10 percent of respondents said they would vote for another candidate and the rest undecided or refused to answer the question.

Note: An excerpt from Politico’s story on the Kansas event:
“Gov. Brownback told me that if I came back just one more time, he would help me buy a farm in Kansas,” joked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, reminding assembled reporters and a partisan crowd that he’s been to the mostly-rural state three times in the last three weeks.

…Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam — who’s up for reelection in the Volunteer State but cruising to victory against a little-known Democrat — was there, riffing on the thought of the New Jerseyan Christie on a farm.

“I’m gonna come back to see Chris in overalls riding that tractor. It is gonna be a great day,” he said to laughs. “We’re gonna have a crowd here for that.”

The event was largely a well-orchestrated pep rally for Kansas Republicans up and down the entire ticket, with downballot nominees like Secretary of State Kris Kobach also on hand. The group stepped off a state GOP-funded bus, adorned with images of the candidates, with “Born Free” blaring and a makeshift sea of lawn signs — set up moments earlier by campaign aides — surrounding the press conference.

MTSU Poll: Amendment 3 outcome uncertain; Haslam leads Charlie Brown 50-19, Alexander over Ball 42-26

News release from Middle Tennessee State University:
The election night fate of a proposed amendment constitutionally banning a state income tax remains uncertain, given close percentages of supporters and opponents and a large proportion of undecided voters, the latest statewide MTSU Poll shows.

Meanwhile, Republican incumbents Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander hold substantial leads over their challengers in the Nov. 4 election despite the tumble their approval ratings took last spring.

The amendment to constitutionally ban a state income tax, known as Amendment 3, drew the support of 30 percent of registered voters, while a statistically equivalent 25 percent oppose it, and 24 percent are unsure. Fourteen percent of respondents said they would cast no vote at all, and the rest decline to answer.

The recent poll of 600 registered voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Amendment 3 would constitutionally prohibit the legislature from levying, authorizing or permitting a state or local tax on income. The amendment carves out an exception for the state’s existing tax on some income from stocks and interest.

“Given the statistical tie between supporters and opponents as well as the large number of voters who are still making up their minds, we can’t say for sure from these poll results how Amendment 3 will fare,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.

“Remember, too, that, in order to pass, the amendment will have to receive a number of votes equal to a majority of however many votes are cast in the race for governor. In our sample, 166 likely voters said they supported the amendment, while 416 planned to cast a vote in the race for governor. That comes to only about 40 percent. So, Amendment 3 appears to have some ground to cover among all of those voters who are still undecided about it.”
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Hooker: Don’t count amendment votes of those who skip governor’s race

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As if Tennessee’s lengthy process for amending the state constitution weren’t complicated enough, independent gubernatorial candidate John Jay Hooker is now raising concerns that the method for counting the votes does not pass constitutional muster.

The longstanding interpretation of the state constitution has been that in order to be ratified, proposed amendments must receive a majority of the number of votes cast in the governor’s race.

But Hooker, who is one of the leading opponent of efforts to write the state’s plan for merit selection of appeals judges into the Tennessee Constitution, argued in a letter to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday that only voters who cast actual ballots in the governor’s race should be able to have their votes counted on the amendments.

According to language of the Tennessee Constitution, voters must “approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor.”

The secretary of state’s office is unpersuaded by Hooker’s argument, said spokesman Blake Fontenay.

“Whether people vote in the governor’s race doesn’t affect their eligibility to vote on the amendments,” he said.

Hooker’s letter follows the creation of an online campaign urging Tennessee voters to skip over the governor’s election as a way to help pass another proposed constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers more power to regulate abortion in the state.

The website explains that fewer votes for governor mean fewer votes will be necessary to pass the amendment. Groups supporting the abortion amendment have disavowed any knowledge of the website promoting the voting scheme.

Hooker is also demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Sharon Lee for sending a letter to lawyers around the state urging support of the merit selection amendment. He argued in a legal filing with the high court that Lee violated rules banning judges from using their office to further personal “economic interest.”
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Harwell for governor campaign coming soon?

PARIS, Tenn. (AP) — Republican state House Speaker Beth Harwell is open to a possible run for statewide office in Tennessee.

Harwell in an interview with the The Paris Post-Intelligencer (http://bit.ly/1w0tOgC ) said she was happy with her current position in charge of the 99-member House, but said she would “certainly be interested” in running for statewide office.

Harwell became the state’s first female House speaker when she was elected by the chamber in 2011.

Republican Rep. Tim Wirgau of the Henry County community of Buchanan cited Harwell’s House leadership for his belief that Harwell will become Tennessee’s “first woman governor.”

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam faces little-known Democrat Charlie Brown in his bid for a second term. The state constitution limits governors to two consecutive terms.

Note: Here’s the full Harwell quote from the Post-Intellingencer (link above) which is not too different from what she’s said in the past:

“I do love what I do, and it’s an honor to get to be speaker,” Harwell said. “Nobody knows exactly what the future holds, either personally or professionally, but if I had the opportunity to run for a statewide office, I would certainly be interested in doing that, and I would just have to see what the lay of the land is.”

Wirgau said several members of the House of Representatives hoped to see Harwell make a bid for higher office.

“I feel very strongly she’ll be the first woman governor,” Wirgau said. “She’s proven that leadership as Speaker of the House.”