Tag Archives: governor campaign

Video urges voters to skip governor’s race, vote yes on Amendment 1

Key leaders of the ‘Yes on 1’ campaign disavow any connection with an anonymously-posted video urging Tennesseans who support passage of the anti-abortion amendment to skip voting in the governor’s race, reports The Tennessean.

A recently launched website at truthon1.org features a YouTube video in which a woman explains why sitting out of the governor’s race during this year’s election — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is widely seen as a shoo-in against Democrat Charlie Brown — might be good for supporters of Amendment 1, which would change the Tennessee constitution to grant state lawmakers power to set new restrictions on abortion.

“Double your vote on Amendment 1,” the narrator tells voters.

That logic, though not mathematically a “double vote,” hinges on a provision in the state constitution that outlines the threshold an amendment must get for it to succeed — a majority of the votes cast in the gubernatorial election regardless of the number of votes cast on the amendment.

…”I know you may think this is crazy, but it doesn’t matter,” the video says. “It’s the law. What does it mean for us? Vote yes for Amendment 1, but don’t vote in the governor’s race. The less people who vote in the governor’s race means it takes less votes to pass the amendment.

“In other words, if you vote yes on 1, but don’t vote in the governor’s race you’ll double your vote.

“Here’s the deal: Please tell your friends! Forward this video to them.”

The website is registered anonymously in Panama. It shows a trademarked “Truth on 1” logo but that name is not connected to any of the eight committees on Amendment 1 registered with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. The website itself doesn’t identify an organization, although videos are posted on YouTube under the name “Tenn Williamson.”

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which operates one of those committees, said he doesn’t know who created the website, nor does he subscribe to its message.

The same goes from Tennessee Right to Life President Brian Harris, a coordinator with the Yes on1 campaign.

“I would like to just underscore that while that strategy is technically correct, it’s not something that we’re advocating from the campaign,” Harris said.

Haslam has $3M in the campaign bank; Charlie Brown $103

Gov. Bill Haslam has spent about $2.75 million on his re-election campaign so far and has $3 million in the bank, while his Democratic opponent has not reported spending anything yet but has $103 available for the final weeks, according to financial disclosures.

A discussion has developed among some Democrats, meanwhile, over who they should support with their votes on Nov. 4.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis has urged fellow Shelby County Democrats to vote for John Jay Hooker, the Democratic nominee for governor in 1970 and 1998 who is running as an Independent this year with the centerpiece of his campaign calling for a defeat of Amendment 2, a proposed rewrite of the state constitution’s language on how appellate court judges are chosen.

Hooker reports spending zero dollars on his campaign efforts and says he told listeners in a recent speech on his anti-Amendment 2 efforts, “If you can’t think of anybody else better to vote for, vote for me … but vote for somebody, just not Haslam.”

State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron, while declaring Cohen is “as always logical in his arguments,” said in an interview that he will personally vote for the official Democratic nominee, Charles V. “Charlie” Brown, 72, a retired construction worker from Morgan County. Brown is widely assumed to have won the Democratic nomination because his name was first on the primary ballot and/or because of name identification from the famous “Peanuts” cartoon character, Charlie Brown.

“I’m just afraid that people will come out and they won’t vote for Charlie Brown because they’ve never heard of him or they think he’s funny or not really running a campaign,” Cohen told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

He said the 84-year-old Hooker is, in contrast, “dressed, tested and true. You know he’s good on Democratic issues.”
Continue reading

Haslam on skipping-the-governor’s-race strategy: ‘I obviously don’t like that’

In an editorial on the “nuances of voting in Tennessee,” the Memphis Flyer observes that voting in the governor’s race has become “a conjuring point in strategies for boosting or defeating this or that amendment” to the state Constitution.

If one is dead set against a given amendment, one take on how to defeat it is to make sure to vote in the governor’s race — literally for anyone at all — while going ahead to cast one’s vote on the no side for the displeasing amendment.

The idea is to raise the threshold for the amendment’s success. That’s based on a constitutional formula that is applied specifically to the amendment process. To succeed, an amendment must garner a majority that is equal to or larger than what would constitute a majority of those voting in the race for governor.

Conversely, one might avoid voting for governor altogether if the aim is to lower the threshold for a favored amendment. The logic of these strategies is more than a little abstruse, a bit like Martian algebra, but the mechanics of it all, either way, seem simple enough. The real question is whether it is desirable to admit that much cynicism into the voting process.

Understandably, Haslam, when asked last week about this manner of consciously linking a pro or con vote on an amendment to one’s choice in the governor’s race, said, “I obviously don’t like that.”

We’re not sure we’re crazy about such a strategy, either, realistic as it may be.

But we’re more concerned, frankly, about another, more prevalent way of influencing the voting process… the requirement, built into state law as of 2012, that anyone desiring to vote must provide a government-issued ID bearing a photograph…. While the law has had little or no effect on voter fraud, what it and a similar law in Kansas have done, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is to suppress the vote among black and younger voters, for a variety of reasons having to do with a proportionally lower possession of photo IDs among those demographic groups.

No Libertarian label for party’s candidate this year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Libertarian Party of Tennessee’s candidate for governor has lost a bid to have his party affiliation appear next to his name on the ballot, according to court records. Instead, those wishing to vote for Daniel Lewis will see him listed as an independent.

That’s because the party has not collected the more-than-40,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Under Tennessee law, individual candidates need collect only 25 signatures to appear on the ballot, but they appear as independents if their parties have not also qualified.

The party is suing over the signature requirement, claiming it is onerous. While the lawsuit works its way through the courts, Lewis had asked for a temporary order allowing him to be listed as a Libertarian on the ballot this election. U.S. District Judge William Haynes denied the request last week.

Heather Scott, an attorney for the Libertarian Party, said she was not discouraged.

“This isn’t the only election,” she said. “The important thing is the long haul.”

State Elections Administrator Mark Goins had no comment.

As the basis for his denial, Haynes cited a recent opinion by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar ballot access challenge brought by the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee.

In that case, the 6th Circuit left open the idea that the signature requirement could be an unconstitutional burden on party members’ first amendment rights. However, the panel sent the case back to Haynes because they said there was not enough evidence in the record to make that determination yet.

Despite the setback at the 6th Circuit, an order by Haynes requiring that both the Green and Constitution parties appear on the ballot through at least 2015 still stands, and the party affiliations of their candidates do appear next to their names this year.

The parties also are challenging a Tennessee law that requires candidates from smaller parties and independent candidates to appear after the Republican and Democratic candidates.

Early voting starts Wednesday. Election Day is Nov. 4.

Haslam’s first general election TV ad

According to an email from the Haslam campaign, this ad — first for the general election campaign from Haslam — will go up statewide on Tuesday, both on cable and regular TV.

UPDATE: Here’s an excerpt from the Richard Locker review:

Haslam, 56, is virtually certain to win re-election Nov. 4 by the largest margin ever by an incumbent Tennessee governor running for re-election. His Democratic opponent is Charles V. “Charlie” Brown, 72, a Morgan County retiree who said he’s running because “somebody needs to.” He’s done no campaigning and has no campaign website other than a Facebook page with a photograph of him and his wife but no other information.

The Haslam ad features a dozen or so young children and teens reciting lines from a casual script, with scenes of the State Capitol, downtown Nashville, a residential neighborhood and mountains, presumably in Tennessee:

“Working with teachers, Tennessee students are improving faster than in any state ever. Tennessee is the only state where if you graduate from high school, you go to college and you get a mentor free.

“Unemployment is way down. More than 175,000 new jobs. With more and even better paying jobs yet to come.”

Unemployment is down, from 316,800 in January 2011 when Haslam took office to 223,200 in August, the latest month for which full statewide figures are available. But the number of employed Tennesseans is up less than 10,000 — 2,779,400 in January 2011 to 2,787,700 in August.

The state’s jobless rate remains higher than the national average — 7.4 percent for Tennessee and 6.3 percent for the U.S. in August. In January 2011, Tennessee’s jobless rate was 10.2 percent and the national average was 9.8 percent.

Charlie Brown does Knoxville

Charles “Charlie” Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, was the featured speaker at Tuesday night’s 6th District Democratic Club meeting but by the time he got around to speaking, he had pretty much lost his voice, reports Georgiana Vines.

“I have a very sore throat and getting hoarse. Can’t we just discuss things?” he asked the some dozen Democrats who came to hear him at the Karns Library on Oak Ridge Highway.

…Brown was asked what his top three issues were.

“Put the Bible back in schools,” he said.

Someone in the group said that didn’t appeal to voters. He replied he believes God should be first in priorities, even over family.

His second issue was to raise the minimum wage. He said Haslam employees work 39½ hours a week with no benefits, suggesting this is what happens at Pilot Flying J, which is owned by the governor’s family. Several pointed out other businesses are doing the same and he agreed.

“It’s not good,” he said.

His third issue was Medicare and its expansion. Linda Haney, Knox County Democratic Party chairwoman, said he meant to say Medicaid. Haslam so far has declined to come up with a plan for expanding Medicaid under the federal health care act, something that Democratic legislators and leaders have been critical of.

Brown had another theme he mentioned several times — “we’ve got to do something about the Democrat Party.”

A reluctant Haney asked him to please refer to it as the Democratic Party.

“It’s a different part of English,” Brown said. The next time he referred to the party, he said Democratic.

Further, from a Metro Pulse report:

Here are some more memorable responses to questions from last night:

On voting “no” on Amendment One: “A woman’s health is the first priority. It ain’t none of my business. And it shouldn’t be publicized.”

On learning on the fly: “I may talk like a hillbilly, but I’m a fast learner.”

On his hipster tendencies: “I had a beard way before they [the Duck Dynasty cast] did.”

On the gravity of the upcoming election: “I like to have a lot of fun, but I’m very serious about this governor’s race.”

On schools’ curricula: “Who in the devil took penmanship out of school? I got a grandson who can’t sign his name.”

On his name: “I’ve been called Charlie Brown ever since before I went to school. Where did that [comic] come from? They owe me!”

On some more issues he cares about: “I’ve got a list longer than one of these papers of things I want to do. … I want to strengthen this state up.”

Almost $3 million spent on TV political ads in TN Supreme court, governor and legislative campaigns

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new study finds that nearly $3 million has been spent on broadcast TV advertising for state-level races in Tennessee so far this year.

The report released by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity on Wednesday found that 8,565 ads have run for and against judicial, gubernatorial and legislative candidates in the state.

(Note: The Center previously reported that 8,143 TV ads were aired during Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race prior to the Aug. 7 primary, costing a total of $3.4 million. Incumbent Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander ran most of them. Post on Senate TV spending is HERE.)

The August retention campaigns of Democratic state Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade involved nearly 4,600 broadcast ads. The justices and their supporters spent $929,000, while opponents spent about $538,000. Despite the bruising TV campaign, the three justices cruised to comfortable victories.

While the closing weeks of the Aug. 7 primary included a barrage of ads on the judge races, the advertising was a far cry from the 2010 election that featured $12 million in spending on 33,871 broadcast ads through the same period.

The 2010 campaign season was highlighted by an open race for governor, which was won by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam after a spirited Republican nomination fight with then-U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

The Center for Public Integrity reviewed data about political advertising on national cable and broadcast television in all of the country’s 210 media markets. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot.

These figures only represent part of the money spent on political advertising. They do not include the money spent on ads on radio, online and direct mail, television ads on local cable systems or the cost of producing the messages. That means the total cost of spending on political ads can be significantly higher.

The study found that Haslam this year spent $666,000 on about 1,900 TV ads despite not facing any serious opposition for the Republican nomination, and that advertising in state legislative races ran at about $799,000.

Knoxville surgeon Richard Briggs ran the most TV ads among the legislative candidates in his successful bid to defeat state Sen. Stacey Campfield in the Republican primary. Briggs spent nearly $190,000 to run his spots 514 times, while Campfield spent just $1,000 to run ads on broadcast television four times.

Nashville attorney Jeff Yarbro was the next-highest spender, dropping $146,000 to run 273 broadcast ads in his successful campaign for Democratic nomination to succeed longtime state Sen. Douglas Henry, who is retiring. Yarbro’s opponent, Mary Mancini, spent nothing on broadcast TV ads.

Notes: The Center’s national overview story on state-level spending is HERE. Tennessee ranks 23rd among the state overall in TV spending by candidates for state office. The Tennessee-specific page is HERE.

A couple of things from the Tennessee page not mentioned above:

–TV ad spending in state Senate races totaled $413,200. The only loser among top-spending Senate candidates was Matt Swallows ($36,300), who lost to Paul Bailey in the District 15 GOP primary.

–In state House races, the total reported was $385,900 with top spender being House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada at $83,000.

Charlie Brown’s first campaign speech: He’s for ‘common sense,’ not Common Core

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Brown gave his first campaign speech Tuesday, reports WATE-TV, declaring — among other things — that he’s for “common sense” education and not the Common Core that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is pushing.

Brown took to the steps of the old Roane County courthouse Tuesday to give his first campaign speech, but campaign staffers denied questions from the media.

“It’s time to elect a governor just like you all who understands your issues, your struggles and your problems,” Brown said.

In his prepared remarks, Brown said he is the candidate who can relate to the working class.

Brown recently retired and now works on a farm in his hometown of Oakdale in Morgan County.

“If you struggle to make a house payment or a car payment, I’m your man,” Brown said.

According to his website, Brown supports raising the minimum wage and wants to increase the speed limit on certain highways to 80 miles per hour.

Brown also said he is against Gov. Haslam’s educational policies.

“He wants common core for education,” Brown said. “I want to restore just plain common sense to education.”

Members of Brown’s own party admit Brown is an unknown candidate, albeit with a famous name.

“It is an uphill battle and we know that,” Knox County Democratic Party Chair Linda Haney said.

Haney said the majority of Knox County Democrats voted for former Sullivan County Mayor John McKamey in part because he was the only Democratic candidate to do much campaigning in Knox County.

Haney said she wishes Brown had campaigned more here but is looking forward to meeting him when he visits on the campaign trail.

On Tennessee’s tradition of reelecting governors (shared by 5 other states)

A Washington Post blog lists Tennessee as one of the nation’s six where incumbent governors are traditionally assured of winning a second term, once elected for the first time.

No governor has lost a reelection bid in Vermont, Connecticut, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, North Carolina or Tennessee since 1963, according to a new analysis of 669 gubernatorial elections, conducted by Eric J. Ostermeier, a research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. One-fourth of governors lost reelection over that period. The only state excluded was Virginia, where governors can’t run for reelection.

…Connecticut has had the longest streak without a reelection loss. Gov. John D. Lodge (D) was the last incumbent to lose reelection there, in 1954.

History note: Actually, a sitting Tennessee governor hasn’t lost a bid for a new term since 1952, when Frank Clement defeated incumbent Gordon Browning in the Democratic primary and went on to win the general in a day when Democrats ruled the state.

In 1952, governors served two-year terms and could run for reelection. In 1953, an amendment to the state constitution began requiring instead that governors serve only one four-year term. Clement got to seek a four-year term in 1954, then began to “leap frog” terms with Buford Ellington.

Backed by Clement, Ellington won in 1958. After Ellington’s four-year term, he backed Clement for another term as governor in 1962 and Clement won. In 1966, Ellington was elected again. In 1970, John Jay Hooker was the Democratic nominee and lost to Republican Winfield Dunn.

Dunn served his four-year term and was succeeded by Democrat Gov. Ray Blanton, winner of the 1974 gubernatorial election. Another change in the state constitution came during Blanton’s term that would have allowed him to seek a second four-year term, but – plagued by an array of scandals — he choose not to do so. Republican Lamar Alexander won in 1978 and, like every governor since, won a second term handily.

UPDATE: Niraj Chokshi of the Post’s GovBeat blog has added a parenthetical clarifying sentence to his post following the mention of Connecticut as having the longest string of gubernatorial reelections that is quoted above. It reads: (Tennessee’s streak was technically longer—stretching back to 1952—but the state had banned consecutive terms from 1953 to the lat-1970′s.) The addition came promptly after yours truly sent him an email on the matter.

On the ‘good grief’ situation for TN Democrats

Robert Houk observes in his weekly column that today’s minority Democrats are fielding less credible challengers to majority Republican officeholders than Republicans did decades ago when they were in the minority.

Republicans were able to nominate a one-term state legislator (Dwight Henry) to give token challenge to the Gov. Ned McWherter in 1990. The Democrats of 2014 have given us Charlie Brown.

Democrats did have four candidates on the Aug. 7 ballot to choose from. One was Piney Flats’ own John McKamey. Despite McKamey being the most qualified candidate in the field, his campaign was doomed from the start. (That’s because his name appeared third on the ballot.)

McKamey, who previously served as county executive (now county mayor) of Sullivan County, has decades of experience in politics. He was the only candidate in the field to literally campaign from Mountain City to Memphis.

He stumped in Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga. McKamey was even endorsed by the AFL-CIO Labor Council. But it made no difference. Democratic voters chose Charlie Brown.

Good grief!