A good bit of the Tennessean setup story on the 8th District Congressional race concerns incumbent Rep. Stephen Fincher’s sponsorship of a bill that eases regulations for IPO offerings by some businesses — a move praised by President Obama and business, but criticized by consumer advocates. There’s also a rundown on Fincher’s opponents.
Fincher, meanwhile, has shown himself to be one of the House’s most prolific fundraisers as well, having raised $2.03 million for his re-election and his personal political action committee combined through June 30.
…His Democratic opponent is Timothy Dixon, 53, of Germantown, who has 25 years’ experience in various aspects of the automotive industry, including work with both Chrysler and Cummins, the engine manufacturer.
Dixon decries the gridlock that has engulfed Congress on most matters over the past two years and says he wants “work on the problem rather than working on being a partisan.” He added: “It’s time for serious discussions and collaboration.
“Republicans,” he said, “have gone so far to the right they have become obstructionist in the House and in the Senate.”
Dixon also vowed to work on the economic potential of West Tennessee, saying its prime location in the middle of the country continues to make it a potential hot spot for businesses if Congress provides more certainty about budget and tax decisions. Dixon has raised $15,602 through June 30.
Fincher also faces two independent candidates, Mark Rawles of Jackson and James Hart of Buchanan.
Rawles, 53, a business communications consultant and sales manager, said Republicans have spent the last generation selling out the nation to “economic globalism” through unfair trade agreements, while Democrats have become advocates for “social globalism” that calls for surrendering American sovereignty to the United Nations.
“This country is in crisis,” he said, adding Fincher lacks “the strength of consciousness” to judge the long-term effects of congressional actions.
Hart, 68 and retired, says he wants a congressional seat so he can “bury the counter culture” and liberal ideas such as gay marriage, especially in the nation’s schools. He said he wants to restore the nation to “a traditional moral compass.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s athletic department posted a $3.98 million deficit for the2011-12 fiscal year that forced it to use a substantial portion of its financial reserves, department officials acknowledged Monday.
Although the athletic department made $106.5 million in revenues, it had $110.5 million in expenses. Those expenses included hefty buyouts to former athletic director Mike Hamilton, football coach Phillip Fulmer, men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and baseball coach Todd Raleigh. When Hamilton resigned in June 2011, he received a $1.3 million buyout over three years. Fulmer received a buyout of $6 million over four years after getting fired in 2008.
Tennessee also has more than $200 million in outstanding debt related to the construction and renovation of various athletic facilities on campus.
The deficit, first reported Monday by The Sports Animal radio station in Knoxville, caused the athletic department’s reserves to dip to slightly below $2 million.
There’s a big difference between the 8th Congressional District race of 2010 and the contest this year, observes Bart Sullivan in a review of campaign now underway.
The winner, incumbent Stephen Fincher, is being challenged by Dyer County juvenile delinquency counselor Annette Justice in the Republican primary Aug. 2.
He’s likely to face Democrats’ Timothy Dixon, Wes Bradley or Christa Stoscheck in November as well as two independents, including James L. Hart of Henry County, who has repeatedly sought the office since 2002. This year, Hart, 68, is parading around courthouse squares with a sandwich board bearing the slogans “Bury the Counter-Culture, Not Our Children,” and “Send the Mexicans back to Mexico.”
He won the Republican primary in 2004 and went on to win 59,853 votes against (former Democratic Rep. John) Tanner but has not done as well since.
This year, none of the challengers has much name recognition, an indication to Union University political science department chairman Sean F. Evans that Democrats have conceded the seat to Fincher.
Redistricting also made the seat more Republican-leaning while placing more of Shelby County in it, opening Fincher, 39, to a possible challenge down the line, Evans suggests. But for the moment, he said, Fincher’s hold seems solid.
There’s a historical precedent for what Tomeka Hart is trying to do, reports Bart Sullivan. In 2004, she took on a powerful, 17-year incumbent, and beat him with 68 percent of the vote to win a seat on the Memphis City Schools board.
Now a member of the unified school board that is carrying out the merger of Memphis and Shelby County schools, Hart is aiming higher this year. Her sights are set on three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary that is tantamount to outright election in the heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District.
She said she is “absolutely not” running just to raise her profile for a future shot at the seat.
“I’m running to win right now,” said the 41-year-old former school teacher and labor lawyer who’s on leave as president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League. “The district can’t wait until he (Cohen) retires to get the kind of leadership I’m talking about.”
Vowing to run hard against “two millionaires, actual millionaires, one in the primary, one in the general election,” 9th District congressional candidate Tomeka Hart has opened up her headquarters. The Memphis Flyer reports:
Addressing a group of supporters drawn heavily from the ranks of New Path, the activist group that gave her a start in politics by boosting her for the Memphis City Schools board in 2004, Democrat Hart promised to focus on local issues in a way that she said the incumbent Democrat, Steve Cohen, has not.
Hart even managed to turn a supporter’s suggestion that she might have considered running for mayor or the City Council first into a slam against Cohen.
“I get that a lot,” she said, contending that such advice reflects a sense in the district that the current congressman is “not about local issues, but all about national politics….That seat should be completely about what’s going on in Memphis.”
Having reviewed her role as a prime mover on the MCS board in 2010 for the charter surrender that forced the ongoing city/county school merger, Hart said she had asked Cohen for aid and support of the merger movement but had been turned down. “The response was he wasn’t getting involved in local issues,” Hart said.
The Registry of Election Finance on Wednesday dismissed a complaint of campaign finance law violations filed against House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, by a voter in his district.
The complaint filed by Wilburn M. Hart of Estill Springs had three parts.
First, Hart noted that 3D Financial PAC of Tullahoma gave CAS-PAC, a political action committee operated by state Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, a $7,500 contribution in October of 2008. Casada’s PAC then gave Matheny a $7,400 contribution at about the same time. Matheny reported receiving the money on his disclosures in two chunks — $5,000 as a general election donation and $2,400 as a primary election donation.
The complaint says the $7,500 exceeded the $5,000 limit that applied at the time to PAC donations in House races. Further, Hart said it appeared CAS-PAC acted as a “conduit” to Matheny from the 3D Financial PAC in violation of law.
Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry, said the splitting of the contribution was legal and, as for the rest, state law prohibits any penalties for violations after two years have passed from the paperwork being filed, absent a showing of fraud. No fraud was even alleged in the complaint, he said.
Second, the complaint notes that records indicate Matheny received per diem expense payments from the Legislature and about the same time records of Matheny’s PAC show the PAC as paying for motel stays. Rawlins said the Registry has nothing to do with per diem payments and payments for lodging are an appropriate expense for a PAC.
Third, the complaint provided copies of records indicating that Matheny had reported the same campaign expenditures for gas in two places — as itemized expenses and as unitemized expenses. Rawlins said that, had the Registry staff noticed that situation, Matheny would probably have been sent a letter pointing out what appears to be a simple error and asking for a corrected filing.
The Registry board voted unanimously to dismiss all three allegations. Neither Matheny nor Hart attended the board’s meeting.
Tomeka Hart, one of the Memphis City Schools board members who has led the charge to force consolidation of MCS with Shelby County Schools, said Tuesday that she will run for Congress. More from the CA’s Zack McMillin:
Hart, 40, said she has not decided when she will officially file to challenge U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., but plans are in motion.
She wrote in a Facebook message: “The worst-kept secret in Memphis is that I’m planning to run for Congress.”
Hart, president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League, lives in Midtown in what is currently the 9th Congressional District, a seat held by Cohen, who also lives in Midtown.
Cohen, 62, said he expected a challenge but, citing a visit by Hart to his office two months ago, is surprised by the source.
“She told me, ‘We know you are always right on the issues and you always vote right and do right,’ ” Cohen said. “She sounded like one of my strongest supporters. Other than that I haven’t ever heard from her on any issue at all.”
See also Jackson Baker, who got word via Twitter.