The House Republican Caucus has reported spending more than $75,000 on a television ad that supports Rep. John Ragan while criticizing his Democratic opponent — apparently the largest TV buy of the campaign season in a Tennessee state House race.
Financial reports for the period Oct. 1-27 indicate Ragan benefited from about $150,000 in Republican PAC spending, including the TV buy, while former Rep. Jim Hackworth, got about half that amount from the state Democratic Party.
“We spent it where we need it,” said House Republican Leader Gerald McCormick.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said polling earlier in the campaign indicated Hackworth held a lead, but acknowledged the heavy Republican spending may have made a difference. He contended Republicans had reached a “saturation point” so that continued spending did them little good.
The candidates themselves in House District 33 have been spending less than their partisan allies, disclosures indicate. Ragan reported $66,989 in expenditures during the Oct. 1-27 period, including $20,000 in reimbursements to the House Republican Caucus for mailers, while Hackworth reported $56,331 in spending, including about $30,000 in reimbursements to the Democratic Party.
Ragan also benefited from $25,000 in spending on his behalf for advertising by the American Federation for Children’s Tennessee PAC. That’s more than spent on any other legislator’s campaign by the group, which advocates school vouchers — a topic that will be considered in the 2013 legislative session.
The PAC spent $145,300 between Oct. 1-27 supporting 18 candidates and the leadership PACs set up by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell. All those getting the PAC’s aid are Republicans.
The state’s Republican leaders have rallied behind fellow Republican Rep. John Ragan in his rematch clash with former Rep. Jim Hackworth while Democrats portray Ragan as an extremist, reports Bob Fowler. Ragan has won endorsements from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell.
Haslam in one news release is quoted as saying: “John has a true servant’s heart.”
The state Democratic Party has joined the fray, sending out scathing news releases and paid political ads slamming Ragan’s voting record and lambasting him as an extreme right-wing politician.
Republicans portray Hackworth’s record during four terms in the House as having a “long history of supporting tax increases, runaway spending, and a larger, more intrusive government.”
Ragan, 63, is a retired Air Force fighter pilot and is now a business consultant. He lists as one of his top issues is lowering the state’s jobless rate “by creating a business climate that encourages hiring.”
Ragan also says he wants to cut taxes and reduce state spending while increasing government efficiency.
He also calls for “more accurate and reliable education measurement capability and system accountability.”
Hackworth, 61, a fifth-generation Anderson County resident, is a retired senior facility engineer from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Democrats are crying foul over Tennessee Republican Party mailers attacking two East Tennessee Democratic legislative candidates.
A direct mail piece targeting former state Rep. Eddie Yokley, who is opposing incumbent Republican Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville, charges that the Democrat “supported taxpayer funding of abortions” in a 2009 House floor vote.
“You thought you knew Eddie Yokley, but Eddie says one thing in Greene County and does something different in Nashville,” declares the mailer. It includes a black-and-white photo of Yokley with a grim expression on his face and a copy of the printed roll call vote on HB1756 with his name circled under the list of those voting no.
“This is shameless and too far,” said Brandon Puttbrese, communications director for the Tennessee Democratic Party. “Would these pathetic politicians rather see young women and children die from preventable diseases than see Eddie Yokley in the state House?”
The bill in question was aimed at Planned Parenthood from receiving funding for providing “women’s health services” in Shelby and Davidson counties. The services provided under those contracts included contraception along with disease treatment and prevention, but did not include abortions.
As Puttbrese noted, taxpayer funding of abortions is otherwise prohibited by Tennessee law and has been for years.
The hotly contested 33rd House District race between incumbent Rep. John Ragan and his Democratic challenger, Jim Hackworth, has spurred furious sparring, with political salvos now being regularly lobbed at the state level by both parties. The latest attack from the Republican Caucus brands Hackworth of Clinton as a job-killer in favor of big government and “reckless, Washington D.C.-style policies that are sending this country down the wrong path at an alarming pace.”
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga is quoted as the spokesman in a recent news release. The headline: Hackworth “hides liberal record.”
Hackworth responded, calling Ragan a “job killer” who has focused on “extreme policies that have hurt our schools and teachers, embarrassed our community and neglected his responsibility to create jobs.”
Hackworth said he has a “proven record of job creation,” and described himself as a “fiscal conservative.”
The full News Sentinel story is HERE.
The Tennessee Democratic Party and state Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, are stepping up a war of words over the freshman lawmaker’s voting record, with Democrats now saying Ragan is “in the pocket” of the school voucher lobby, reports Bob Fowler. In a news release, Chip Forrester, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, blasts Ragan for supporting private school vouchers.
Ragan said he wasn’t going to respond to “every lie leveled by the Obama shills at the Tennessee Democratic Party.”
Ragan in June received what Forrester said was Ragan’s largest contribution — $5,000 — from Students First. That education reform group “pushes for school vouchers,” Forrester said. He said vouchers amount to “a tax break for wealthy Tennesseans” while diverting money from public schools.
Ragan said the group is nonpartisan and has been praised by both the Bush and Obama administrations as well as Governors Bredesen and Haslam.
Forrester said a voucher program could provide around $7,000 for families to spend on private school tuition, but many private schools charge much more, “leaving poor and working families a choice only on paper.”
“John Ragan has agreed with his corporate and political bosses every time they propose a new method to weaken public education in Tennessee,” Democratic Party official Jason L. Huff said.
Ragan said he has supported “measures like paying our teachers better and offering parents more choices.”
“Unlike my opponent, I do not believe the status quo is good enough, especially when it comes to our kids,” Ragan said in response to the Democratic criticisms.
Ragan is running for re-election Nov. 6 and is opposed by Democrat Jim Hackworth of Clinton, who Ragan unseated in 2010.
— Note: Below are warring press releases from the two parties on the Hackworth-Ragan contest.
The state Democratic party says first-term state Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, cast a “shameful vote” against a bill to prohibit convicted child abusers from contacting their victims, reports Bob Fowler. Ragan is seeking re-election and is opposed by Jim Hackworth, a Democrat from Clinton who previously held the 33rd House District seat, in the Nov. 6 election. The district encompasses most of Anderson County.
Ragan in April 2011 was the only member of the House who voted against the bill that also was unanimously approved in the Senate. The legislation, signed into law, prohibits any person convicted of child abuse from contacting the victim, including by electronic means.
“Ragan’s bizarre opposition to this common sense legislation is one more black stripe in a troubling pattern of irresponsible, anti-children votes,” Brandon Puttbrese, director of communications for the Tennessee Democratic Party, stated in the news release.
Ragan said, “While the aim of the legislation is admirable, the law is redundant.”
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – A review of Democrat Jim Hackworth’s campaign finance disclosure for the 2nd Quarter uncovered thousands of dollars given to his campaign by yet another liberal union with close ties to the Obama campaign.
“While Tennessee Democrats like Jim Hackworth are doing everything they can to avoid being attached to President Obama and his failed economic policies, they don’t mind taking thousands of dollars to fund their campaigns from the same liberal unions who have endorsed and funded the Chicago-style attack machine of the Obama campaign,” said Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.
“With pro-Obama unions willing to invest in Jim Hackworth’s campaign, voters have to expect that Jim Hackworth’s policies don’t stray far from the failed economic policies of President Obama,” continued Devaney.
Records show that Jim Hackworth accepted a $7,100 contribution on May 18, 2012 from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Education Committee. According to a March 1st press release, The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters was the first major union to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and has enthusiastically endorsed Obama’s re-election bid.
“If Jim Hackworth is going to continue to take campaign money from pro-Obama unions, voters in Anderson County deserve to have one questioned answered,” continued Devaney. “Does Jim Hackworth endorse President Obama for re-election? He needs to be forthcoming with voters in answering that question,” concluded Devaney.
An emailed comment from Jim Hackworth: “Once again John Ragan is peddling smear tactics and political garbage rather than defending his failure to create jobs, protect the middle class, and show compassion for all children.
“I’m not running for President, I’m running for the state legislature and my job is to help solve the problems of people in Tennessee — not to jump on the president’s bandwagon or jump off it.
“So while John Ragan plays politics — our campaign is focusing on results, ideas and progress to protect our families and help hard-working Tennesseans earn paychecks again. Based on our financial reports, it appears Anderson County families agree with those priorities.”
Republican state Rep. John Ragan says he has removed his state office phone number and state email address from his campaign website as a “courtesy” to a constituent who complained — opponent and Democrat Jim Hackworth.
Hackworth this week sent reporters an email declaring Ragan, who represents District 33 in Anderson County, had run afoul of state laws with his campaign website, http://johndragan.com, on two fronts. He added a third example in an interview.
First, Hackworth said that by giving his state office telephone number and state government email address as a means of communicating on campaign matters, Ragan appeared in violation of the state’s “Little Hatch Act,” which generally prohibits use of taxpayer-paid equipment for political purposes. Hackworth said a caller to Ragan’s state office asking for campaign information was referred to a separate number, providing another indication that state facilities were being used for politics.
State Rep. John Ragan is under attack for allegedly trying to water down an anti-bullying bill and for his opposition to gay rights, with the accusations coming from his political opponent, gay rights advocates and the state Democratic Party, reports Bob Fowler. Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, who represents most of Anderson County in the 33rd House District, is immersed in a hotly contested race with Democrat Jim Hackworth of Clinton, whom he defeated two years ago.
Hackworth renewed attacks on Ragan on Monday when he formally launched his campaign and recited allegations from the state Democratic Party and the Tennessee Equality Project, which supports same-sex marriages.
Democrats and the Tennessee Equality Project have leveled numerous accusations against Ragan, including:
n He worked to give school bullies a “free pass” by exempting politically or religiously motivated actions from classroom behaviors deemed disruptive.
n He responded to a constituent’s letter by calling sexual orientation “a description of feelings,” adding that “feelings do not control the behavior of a mentally healthy adult human being.”
n In the same response, Ragan allegedly compared homosexuals to murderers, prostitutes and pedophiles.
Ragan said many of the allegations against him were taken out of context and he described them as his rhetorical responses to questions he was asked.
“The Tennessee Equality Project and members of the Anderson County Democratic Party support gay marriage, gay adoption and other policies that I don’t agree with,” Ragan said in a prepared statement.
“If they wish to protest me and support my opponent, then that is their right.”
Ragan called gay marriage “harmful to the family.”
He denied trying to water down and exempt gay bashing from an anti-bullying bill that never made it into law.
The purpose of that bill, he said, “was to make sure that schools differentiate between bullying and students exercising their First Amendment right to express deeply held religious beliefs.”
The proposed legislation, Ragan said, did “not condone violence or bullying, and protects students by giving the authority to the school personnel to determine what is free speech, and what is bullying.”
An Anderson County man who organized a protest against Ragan outside the Lake City Municipal Building when he appeared at a town hall meeting there last week disagreed.
According to Jeremy May, if the bill had passed it would have opened “a doorway for more bullies to be protected under law.”
Lifted from the News-Sentinel:
A potential rematch may be brewing in Anderson County in a state representative race.
Both incumbent John Ragan, a Republican from Oak Ridge and the man he defeated two years ago, Democrat Jim Hackworth of Clinton, say they intend to run for the 33rd House District seat.
Both men have taken out qualifying petitions, but there may be other candidates for the parties’ respective primaries in August, Anderson County Administrator of Elections Mark Stephens said.
The deadline to file is April 5. The general election coincides with the Nov. 6 presidential vote.
The 33rd House District encompasses most of Anderson County. Under redistricting, areas of the county northeast of Interstate 75 have been placed in the 36th House District, which also includes Campbell County and part of Union County. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, now represents that district.
Ragan in his first run for office in 2010 unseated four-term incumbent Hackworth, 8,569 votes to 7,270.