Tag Archives: governors

TN, VA govs talk opioid addiction with agriculture secretary

By Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press
ABINGDON, Va. — Kicking off a national tour on opioid addiction, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack brought together the governors of Tennessee and Virginia on Thursday to talk about stemming Appalachia’s drug abuse epidemic.

The town hall reinforced President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to pump $1.1 billion more into substance abuse treatment. It also was an opportunity to show that governors of opposite parties want to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, despite Republican efforts to stop them.

Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam see solutions in a mix of treatment, prescription monitoring, drug courts, education and new economic opportunities.

West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose deaths, with 35.5 per 100,000 people. Kentucky has the fourth-highest toll and Tennessee the eleventh, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s everybody’s problem,” McAuliffe said. “Of course, we need money.” Continue reading

Haslam, other GOP govs, talk with Trump

Gov. Bill Haslam, who at times has been critical of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, joined five other Republican governors Tuesday to meet with him in New York, according to various media reports.

From the Times Free Press:

“Gov. Haslam joined several other governors in New York [Tuesday] to meet with Mr. Trump and discuss state and federal issues,” Haslam Press Secretary Jennifer Donnals said in a statement, later declining to elaborate.

Haslam, a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in Tennessee’s March 1 GOP primary. He has yet to endorse Trump, billionaire and former TV reality star. But the governor has also said in the past he did want to have a meeting with Trump to discuss state and federal relationships in areas like health care as well as other matters.

That happened in the expected nominee’s self-named Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Haslam has been critical or voiced concerns about some of Trump’s more controversial statements on several occasions. Just last week, he did so again, describing as “indefensible” comments Trump made regarding Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a case involving Trump University.

Note: While Haslam has kept quiet about the meeting, some of the other governors have had more to say. A couple of samples below. Continue reading

Haslam approval rating 63 percent; almost unchanged from 2015

Gov. Bill Haslam’s approval rating stands at 63 percent, almost unchanged from last year, according to polling by Morning Consult, an online politics and polling operation.

In 2015, the same polling group put Haslam’s voter approval at 63 percent with 24 percent disapproving. This year it’s 62 percent approval; 22 percent disapproval. Last year, Haslam was tied for seventh in popularity among governors nationwide with Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska. This year, he’s alone at seventh. (Walker is fifth.)

Nationally, the most popular governor is Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker with a rating of 72 percent approval. The least popular governor is Kansas’ Sam Brownback, who has a disapproval score of 65 percent.

The full national report is HERE.

White House giving govs more refugee info; Haslam pleased

The White House sought Monday to ease concerns among the nation’s governors about Syrian refugees entering the United States by proposing a new program that would provide regular data on refugees who have settled in their states, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and other governors, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the refugee vetting process as “extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive.” But McDonough said the administration would be willing to work through the National Governors Association to set up a new system to provide governors with more information about the refugees in their states.

Under the new program, once the State Department receives a governor’s request for data on refugees, it would compile a report tailored to that individual state. The data would include information on refugees resettled in the state during the prior month and the fiscal year to date.

…In response to the White House letter, Haslam said he was “pleased to see them responding to what a lot of governors had asked. As I understand it, they said two things: No. 1, they will give us a way to access the data about who has recently settled here in terms of — not names — but how many, ages, families, et cetera, so I think that will help. And then No. 2, they’ve agreed to have a collaborative process about how governors might be more involved in the vetting process, which I was encouraged to see as well.

“I don’t know what that looks like yet but I think they basically said we would set down at the NGA (National Governors Association annual winter meeting), which is in February in Washington. So we’re still two, two-and-a-half months out, but I think that’s good news.”

In addition to the new program proposed, the State Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are prepared to brief governors on the refugee resettlement process and to discuss working together to improve the program at the next governors’ association meeting, McDonough said.

New Mexico’s Gov. Martinez succeeds Haslam as RGA chair

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez was elected Thursday as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, succeeding Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Excerpt from an Albuquerque Journal report:

Martinez, who had been the RGA’s vice chairwoman, is the first woman and first Hispanic to lead the GOP governors group. She was recommended for the top position by the RGA’s executive committee and elected to the post Thursday by acclamation. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently dropped out of the Republican presidential race, was elected the group’s vice chairman.

No other Republican governors formally announced bids for the chairmanship.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the RGA’s outgoing chairman, lauded Martinez as one of the Republican Party’s best leaders.

“She has made the tough decisions necessary to move New Mexico forward and knows what it takes to win in a blue state, a skill that will be vital to ensuring our governors and candidates have the resources they need to win in 2016,” Haslam said in a statement.

Martinez’s election as RGA chairwoman also drew immediate criticism from the Democratic Governors Association, which referenced recent reports on a federal grand jury probe involving the governor’s top political adviser, Jay McCleskey.

“We welcome Governor Martinez into this new role, and look forward to discussing the FBI investigation everywhere she campaigns in 2016,” DGA communications director Jared Leopold said in a statement.

Martinez has expressed confidence that McCleskey did nothing wrong. Asked Wednesday whether other GOP governors had raised concerns regarding the federal investigation involving how money was raised and spent for her 2010 inaugural celebration, she said, “Not at all.”

Note: The RGA press release is HERE.

Haslam backs Vitter in Louisiana governor’s race

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Bill Haslam has endorsed U.S. Sen. David Vitter for governor of Louisiana after he finished ahead of two Republican rivals in Saturday voting despite a combative campaign that included explicit references to his 2007 prostitution scandal. Vitter now goes into a runoff election next month against Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards.

From a Politico story on the Louisiana gubernatorial campaign:

Among those Edwards still needs to convince of his viability is the Democratic Governors’ Association, which has yet to spend money on television ads in the contest and isn’t committing to do so during the run-off. The DGA is sending Scott Arcenaux, a Louisiana native who was previously executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, to assist Edwards’ campaign.

“John Bel Edwards has proudly served our nation and the state of Louisiana with integrity,” DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said, adding: “The primary results were a clear repudiation of David Vitter’s tired Washington politics. Louisiana voters know that they just can’t trust David Vitter. That’s why more than 70 percent of them rejected his campaign today.”

…Polls have shown Vitter’s image rating tanking among the state’s voters, compared to the popular Edwards. But while Vitter had focused his primary campaign on his GOP rivals, the Republican Governors Association revved up its attacks on Edwards, spending $1 million in the final weeks on TV ads that call Edwards an “Obama liberal” and features audio of Edwards saying “I supported the president” four different times.

The RGA formally endorsed Vitter on Saturday night.

“As a dedicated leader for Louisiana, David Vitter has been committed to making government work better for the people by cutting wasteful spending and fighting back against President Obama’s executive overreach,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the RGA chairman, said in a statement. “His record of reform shows that he knows what it takes to solve Louisiana’s most pressing issues.”

Edwards’ ads rarely mention his party affiliation and instead emphasize his most conservative policy positions. One ad features Edwards and his wife discussing their decision to keep her pregnancy after a diagnosis of spinal bfida in the womb. Their daughter, Samantha, is now in graduate school and engaged, the ad says.

Haslam bets with Maryland gov on Lady Vols game (TN ribs vs. MD crabs)

News release from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, distributed to TN media by Gov. Bill Haslam:
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today challenged each other to a friendly wager, ahead of tonight’s “Elite 8” women’s basketball matchup between the #1 ranked University of Maryland Terrapins and the #2 University of Tennessee Volunteers.

Confident that the Terrapins will win, Governor Hogan called Governor Haslam, and they agreed to place the wager over a bushel of Maryland blue crabs and ribs from the world-famous Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous restaurant in Memphis.

“The Lady Terps are going to the Final 4; it’s that simple,” said Governor Hogan. “Don’t forget the barbecue sauce, Governor Haslam!”

The game airs tonight at 9 PM EST on ESPN.

Haslam on becoming RGA attack dog: ‘Not my style’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was known as an attack dog during his tenure as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, observes the Chattanooga TFP, while new RGA Chairman Bill Haslam “is known to friends and critics as the ever-optimistic Mr. Nice Guy.

So how does an amiable guy who often shuns direct confrontation work out as Mr. Attack Dog?

Haslam chuckled this week when reporters asked that question.

“I think anybody knows that’s probably not my style,” Haslam said. “But I do think it matters who we elect across the country.”

He quickly turned the topic to GOP gains in 2014 and how Republicans showed they are not solely a regional, Southern-based party with victories in Democratic states such as Massachusetts and Maryland. (Note: A typical Haslam tactic in avoiding potential confrontational questions, of course, is to change the subject slightly and offering an innocuous comment.)

…Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney predicted Haslam will do a fine job as chairman.

“I think that Gov. Haslam certainly has the experience. He’s a great campaigner and fundraiser. He knows how to win,” Devaney said.

As for Haslam’s nice-guy image, Devaney said, “everybody brings different styles to any position.”

“I don’t think you necessarily have to have the style Chris Christie has,” he added.

…”I just think his kind of message, a very positive message talking about all the great things Republicans can do under conservative leadership … is going to resonate very well,” Devaney said.

Mike Turner, the former state House Democratic Caucus chairman who does have a reputation as an attack dog, said he generally got along with Haslam with some major exceptions, such as expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

“He can be tough when he needs to be tough. He’s shown that to me,” Turner said. “There were times when things were going on and I made some statements or things were sent to him and he stood his ground.”

But he said he hopes Haslam will prove a “good influence” on Republicans at the national level.

“They’ve gone too far to the right. … I think he can be a moderating force on that group,” Turner said.

Haslam chosen RGA chairman (the AP story)

By Jill Colvin, Associated Press
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been elected as the next chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

The second term governor will take the reins from New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who has been on a victory lap at the group’s annual meeting in Florida this week after Republicans did especially well in the midterm elections.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will be vice chair of the organization, the group also announced.

Haslam will have big shoes to fill. The group raised more than $100 million during Christie’s tenure, setting a record and helping the potential 2016 candidate lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign.

In a statement, Christie praised Haslam as “a strong leader among leaders.” Haslam “emerged as a true pioneer when he took office, and his commanding victory this past election shows that his reform-driven approach is working for Tennessee,” Christie said.

Haslam told reporters before the vote that he was “interested and willing to serve if elected” chairman — a position it seemed nobody had wanted to fill.

Several more high-profile candidates, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, took their names out of the running as they consider potential presidential runs.

And with only three governor’s races on the calendar in 2015, the position is less of a platform than in busier years.
Continue reading

Haslam named RGA chairman (the news release)

News release from Republican Governors Association:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Republican Governors Association announced today that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was elected to serve as RGA Chairman in 2015, along with New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who was elected to serve as RGA Vice Chairman. Both assume the positions today.

“Governor Haslam is a strong leader among leaders, and his chairmanship will serve the RGA well as it works to build upon a historic election year and strengthen our majority in the states,” said outgoing RGA Chairman Chris Christie. “He emerged as a true pioneer when he took office, and his commanding victory this past election shows that his reform-driven approach is working for Tennessee. Governor Haslam is doing what governors are elected to do, he has the results to prove it. His guidance will be a tremendous asset to this organization in the coming year.”

“The results Governor Martinez has achieved provide a solid foundation for New Mexico’s future, and I know she will have the same record of results as Vice Chairman of the RGA,” Governor Christie added. “She is fighting every day to make the tough decisions and move her state forward, and I have no doubt her leadership at the RGA will be vital to the success of our new governors-elect and candidates in 2015.”

“Republican governors are the standard bearers of truly meaningful reform, and from coast to coast, we’ve proven to be principled problem solvers, willing and ready to do what Washington has not,” said Governor Haslam. “No one is achieving better results than our Republican executives in the states, and thanks to the RGA’s hard work, they can continue to drive America’s comeback. This election was a resounding affirmation of the policies and the leadership Republican governors are providing, and I am honored and eager to build upon that momentum as I take on the chairmanship.”

“The RGA is the most impactful political organization in the country, and I’m honored to serve as the group’s Vice Chairman as we enter 2015 with 31 Republican governors, the most for either Party in 16 years,” said Governor Martinez. “Republican governors offer the ideas and solutions that are moving America forward, and I’m enthusiastic to work with Governor Haslam to continue the RGA’s proud record of success.” ‘