Tag Archives: House

Matlock optimistic about unseating Harwell

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City tells the Tennessean that he’s optimistic about chances for unseating House Speaker Beth Harwell in voting among House Republican Caucus members after the November election.

“I see myself up by seven (votes). I think there’s still a good number in the middle. So I’m far from locking down anything, and don’t presume among (lawmakers in) my count 100 percent will stay. I’m just telling you how it feels,” Matlock said in a phone interview Thursday.

… In his phone interview Thursday Matlock tried to stress he is not running against Harwell, calling her “just a wonderful lady.”

“The word that keeps coming back is ‘We’re frustrated, Jimmy, and we want transparency. We want the opportunity to be in the discussion, and we want to go home and be able to tell our districts we know what in Nashville is being planned and how we set our agenda.’ The transparency keeps coming up over and over again,” Matlock said, referencing conversations he said he’s had with other members.

Harwell has faced criticism, mainly from Democrats, as to how she’s handled the ongoing scandal involving embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham. Matlock said he doesn’t want to second-guess Harwell’s decisions, but he’s committed to a “new day” at the statehouse.

He was light on the details as to what that new day would look like, but promised more information throughout his campaign. In general, Matlock said he wants to promote candor and transparency while giving everyone in the caucus and the entire House a chance to speak and contribute, something he said hasn’t always been the case.

“I have, like other members, found the last session to be challenging, frustrating, and I think there was a mood among the caucus of divisiveness that didn’t certainly play in a positive direction,” Matlock said.

Womick: Somebody has to step up and hold Harwell accountable

In an interview with the Daily News Journal, state Rep. Rick Womick lays out his reasons for challenging the reelection of Beth Harwell as House speaker. Some excerpts from the report, mostly in Q-and-A format:

“I really don’t want to be the House speaker, but somebody has to step up and hold our current speaker, Speaker Harwell, accountable for the things she has done in her four years in office,” Womick said.

…The speaker of the House and the leadership in the House is doing whatever the governor (Republican Bill Haslam) tells them to do. And if there’s legislation the governor doesn’t like, it gets killed. And it starts with the speaker. She allows things like flagging bills and fraudulent fiscal notes, these kinds of things that are put on legislation with the sole intent to kill the bill because the governor may not agree with them.

… Am I a tea partyer? First of all, I’m a conservative, then I’m a Republican. That’s what I call myself. That’s what I am. I identify with the tea-party folks. I identify with all conservatives, 9/12s, all the different groups. So to label me as a tea-party candidate, well, there’s no such thing as a tea party. I’m a conservative. I’m a Republican. And that’s how I’ll lead.

…(On last session’s Common Core vote): There was a large group of us in the Tennessee House, Republicans, who came together, and we actually sat down with the Democrat leadership, who also was opposed to Common Core. And we forced, unbeknown to the speaker at the time, and against her wishes, we forced a vote on the floor of the House. And that vote was 83 votes against Common Core, 83 votes that wanted to repeal Common Core and then 87 votes to stop the PARCC testing. Overwhelming, but yet our speaker did what the governor asked her to do instead of following what the House, the very people who elected her, the House members, instead of following their wishes, she did what the governor asked and tried to squash it, and ultimately did because it never got to the Senate, and it never became legislation. They were able to throw it out that way. But we did work with the Democrats. We did work with other Republicans. And when you get 83 and 87 out of 99 votes, you have a big majority, and you have worked together. We overcame the leadership’s opposition. We overcame the chairman’s opposition of those education committees. And we forced the vote, and the people of the House spoke. But again, we were ignored by the leadership of the House.

…(Part of comments on Womick’s proposed bill requiring women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound and explanation from providers):

Does the bill give women the option on whether to hear the heartbeat?

Womick: No. She’ll have to hear the heart. Turn it up and listen to the heart beat and define the dimensions of the child just like normal ultrasounds are done all across this country. She will hear the heartbeat, and she will hear the doctor describe the baby is this old, it’s two months, three months, six months, however old the fetus is within the mother. At that point, she will still have the option to choose whether to terminate her pregnancy.

Knoxville GOP House candidate voted in a Democratic primary?

State Democratic Leaders launched late efforts to shore up state Rep. Gloria Johnson’s campaign against Republican challenger Eddie Smith, reports Georgiana Vines.

That includes Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville, who is spearheading the House Democratic Caucus campaigns this fall, pointing out that Knox County Election Commission records show Smith voted in the 2008 Democratic primary when Barack Obama was opposing Hillary Clinton.

“I’m not sure why Mr. Smith is not being honest about his voting record. I have nothing against people voting for Democrats, but he should admit it. He also should tell if he voted for Obama or Hillary. Those are his choices,” Stewart said Friday.

Smith could not be reached on Friday, but his Facebook comment (noted by Stewart) denies he voted for either candidate.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley will lead a rally of Johnson supporters at (Johnson’s) headquarters before joining a door-to-door canvass of voters (Saturday).

Johnson, who’s in her first term, won two years ago in the district that had become more Republican under redistricting than when held by Democrat Harry Tindell for 22 years. She has been vocal on education issues that go against Republican leaders seeking a voucher system and other changes.

…Among those trying to rally supporters for Johnson this week was Democratic activist Jim Sessions, who sent an email that said, “Reports show that a surge of South Knoxville Republicans is swamping us. …They are outworking us. Gloria Johnson needs our help!!!”

On Rep. Alexander vs. Matthew Huffer, a 21-year-old college student, in House District 39

The Tennessean reports on Democrat Matthew Huffer’s race against state Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, in House District 39.

The college junior, who is majoring in political science and economics (at Vanderbilt), decided to join the race in January while he was looking over education statistics for his hometown in Moore County.

“I got intrigued,” he said, mentioning the county’s low ACT scores. “I figured I could do a lot to help our public education system.”

He researched the requirements to run between sips of root beer in the school cafeteria. After consulting with his parents and professors, he decided to move forward, navigating a maze of paperwork necessary to get his name on the ballot.

…The pressures of juggling a campaign with a full slate of exams and coursework has forced Huffer to cut back on on-campus events and movie nights with friends.

“Finding a way to keep focused has definitely been a struggle,” he said. “I have to make the most of every moment I’ve got.”

If he is elected Nov. 4, Huffer plans to arrange his classes around legislative sessions downtown.

Despite the challenges, Huffer, who is running as a Democrat, believes he has a chance to beat the incumbent in his district, Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester. He credits the environment at Vanderbilt with sparking his political ambitions.

“You’re always around people who are driven to do better,” he said. “It pushes you to strive to do better.”

…Alexander was first elected to the General Assembly in 2010, and then reelected in 2012. He lives in Winchester and owns Reliable Rental, a construction equipment and special event rental store.

He said his robust life experience, from service in the Army to owning a small business, qualifies him for reelection.

“I believe that I have served them and represented them well,” he said. “I would ask for them to send me back.”

On a Republican tweeter, Democratic response in House District 13

So, blogger Brian Hornbeck (a former chairman of the Knox County Republican party) sent a tweet on state Rep. Gloria Johnson that was likely not intended to generate support for her reelection. The House Democratic Caucus responds with a news release, distributed to Knoxville media, declaring it an insult to women and House District 13 voters generally. And Hornbeck has a snippy response.

Such is the level of debate in Tennessee legislative campaigns today, it seems.

The tweet:
“The difference in House Dist. 13. A husband, father, businessman @voteeddiesmith –vs- not a wife, a mother, a bureaucrat. @VoteGloriaJ”

The HDC news release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (10/14/14) – House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh called on the Tennessee Republican Party and Eddie Smith to disavow recent attacks made on State Representative Gloria Johnson by prominent GOP operative Brian Hornback.

“Gloria Johnson is a strong, successful woman,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “She takes care of her elderly Mother, she is a loving aunt of four, a sister and like all school teachers, she’s been a mother to more than one child.”

Earlier today Brian Hornback, a well-known GOP operative and blogger, took to twitter to criticize Rep. Johnson for being “not a wife, not a mother, a bureaucrat.” This is the latest in a series of false and misleading GOP attacks in the district 13 race.

“Eddie Smith and the Tennessee Republican Party should disavow this attack today. They have done nothing but throw mud at Rep. Johnson for the last two years, but this is beyond the pale. It’s insulting to Gloria, it’s insulting to women as a whole and it’s insulting to the voters of district 13.”

Excerpt from Hornback’s comeback:
What is factually wrong with my tweet, Smith is married to Mrs. Lana Keck Smith, he is a father to a daughter and son and he is a businessman. Johnson to my knowledge is NOT married, does not have children and is a school teacher which is a government employee aka bureaucrat.

…For the record, I did not criticize her for not being a wife and mother, just the fact (not a criticism) that she isn’t. There is still time for Gloria to find Mr. Right and get married. But if she doesn’t that is cool. It is her life.

I welcome the readership of the Democrats, appreciate the presser as it will provide additional name recognition of this website to the 3% of the state that are Fitzhugh, Johnson fans.

Um, as the Fox News folks used to say, We report, you decide. Or something like that.

On Smith vs. Johnson in House District 13, a rare TN place of partisan competition

An enclave legislatively designated as House District 13, one of the last places where genuine partisan competition continues in Tennessee’s political landscape, this year has given birth to combatants with sharp issue differences who are nonetheless polite in talking about one another.

“He seems like a nice man,” said state Rep. Gloria Johnson, one of 27 remnant Democrats in the 99-member state House, referring to the Republican who wants to make her first term her last in representing the 62,000 or so Knoxvillians who live within the district boundaries.

“She is a nice lady,” said Eddie Smith, the Republican who won the right to carry his party’s banner against Johnson by just 28 votes in a primary wherein his GOP opponent, Jason Emert, was remarkably more shrill in denouncing the Democratic incumbent while outspending Smith by more than $5 to $1.

At the statewide level, operatives of both parties see House District 13 as one of about half-dozen House seats where the general election for seats in the 109th General Assembly is not already a foregone conclusion, though Republicans and Democrats alike contend there might be a surprise or two out there

In the 33-member Senate, Republicans are confident Democratic numbers will be reduced from seven to five thanks to retirement of two popular Democratic senators in districts that lean Republican. Democrats, meanwhile, pretty much concede their best-case scenario is to maintain the status quo on the Senate side of the current Republican Supermajority.

In the House, though, there is more debate about the overview outcome on Nov. 4. After listening to opposing partisan operatives review things seat-by-seat, generally commenting on an off-the-record basis, Democrats reasonably believe they could shrink the present GOP Supermajority by a seat or two. Republicans reasonably believe they could gain a seat or two — maybe even three.
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Final results in contested Republican primaries for Tennessee state House

Final unofficial results in contested Tennessee Republican state House races:

District 2
10 of 10 precincts – 100 percent

x-Bud Hulsey 5,046 – 60 percent
Tony Shipley (i) 3,391 – 40 percent

District 3
25 of 25 precincts – 100 percent

x-Timothy Hill (i) 8,069 – 80 percent
Kevin Parsons 1,984 – 20 percent

District 4
24 of 24 precincts – 100 percent

x-John Holsclaw 7,187 – 63 percent
Judy Veeneman 4,275 – 37 percent

District 5
35 of 35 precincts – 100 percent

x-David Hawk (i) 5,934 – 60 percent
Ted Hensley 3,936 – 40 percent
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Republican Jason Emert running to replace ‘liberal’ Rep. Gloria Johnson

Knoxville businessman Jason Emert announced Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination to in House District 13, a seat now held by freshman Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville.

From the News Sentinel:
Emert’s initial announcement of his campaign stated that he was an attorney, but a staff member called to clarify that Emert had graduated from the University of Miami Law School. The staffer said that Emert has not taken the Tennessee bar exam and asked that the reference to Emert being a lawyer be removed. (Note: The release is below.)

Emert said he believes he offers the people of the district representation that is more in-line with their views and values.

The businessma said the district doesn’t need a politician like Johnson who advocates for “liberal” special interests and agendas.

…The businessman said beating Johnson will require a well-funded, disciplined candidate. Emert said he already has $100,000 in donation pledges and he will campaign full-time beginning Tuesday.

When contacted in Nashville shortly before the General Assembly convened, Johnson said she enjoys the democratic process and encourages people to get involved.

A Knox County Schools teacher, Johnson said Republicans aren’t talking about job growth and said that while the rest of the nation is seeing less unemployment, Tennessee is seeing more.

The representative said her priorities in the 108th General Session will be to bring jobs to East Tennessee, opposing school vouchers and expanding healthcare.

“I don’t think it is real liberal to say we need to put people back to work, we have to keep public education dollars in public education and we need to get folks in East Tennessee the healthcare they need,” she said.

Note: This updates an earlier post, which contained only the Emert announcement news release as originally sent. It’s below.
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East Ridge city councilman to seek House District 30 seat

Marc Gravitt, an East Ridge city councilman, has announced as a candidate to succeed Rep. Vince Dean in state House District, according to Nooga.com – and under circumstances that make it appear he just might have Dean’s blessing.

On Veterans Day at the Pachyderm Club, he was joined by his wife and Dean when he announced a run for the GOP nomination in the state House of Representatives 30th District. The Red Bank-raised military veteran pointed to his business experience and religious upbringing to prepare him for higher office.

These experiences “helped shape and mold many of the conservative values I have, and they are the drivers on why I’m making this announcement,” he said in prepared remarks.

Republicans have held the seat since at least 1990, election records show. Consisting of East Ridge, Apison, Collegedale and parts of Brainerd, 30th District voters favored Mitt Romney over Barack Obama almost 2-to-1 in 2012, precinct results show.

Gravitt is the first candidate to announce a run for the 30th District seat.

Note: See also the Chattanooga TFP, from which the following is excerpted:
Dean stopped short of formally endorsing Gravitt, but introduced him as his “good friend.”

Gravitt’s announcement means his East Ridge service could be ending early. Gravitt was elected last year, and the term isn’t up until December 2016.

If Gravitt wins the District 30 race next year, the East Ridge City Council could appoint a temporary replacement or hold a special election, according to Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, the county election administrator.

UPDATE: If elected to the Legislature, Gravitt says he’ll still finish out his term on the City Council.
“If I am blessed enough to win this state Legislature seat, I will fulfill my term on the City Council. … But I will not seek re-election. I’ll fill out my obligation to the citizens, but I will not run again. I have a problem with doing that,” Gravitt said.

A Carr-Tracy Contrast Contest Coming in 4th District?

State Rep. Joe Carr tells the Daily News Journal that state law prevents him from seeking reelection to his state House District 48 seat while he’s running for Congress – along with incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Tracy is in the middle of a four-year Senate term and thus can run for Congress without giving up his seat in the Legislature. The article notes this and also quotes Carr as otherwise contrasting himself with Tracy.
An excerpt:
Carr confirmed he was not seeking re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly a couple of days after Rutherford County Commissioner Adam Coggin announced candidacy for the 48th District seat.
Carr said that he talked to Coggin and two others about their interest in succeeding him as a GOP lawmaker in Nashville.
“It will be a contested primary,” Carr said. “I hope the House 48th District is a referendum on my job performance and the way I conducted myself.”
…”Does the district want a fighter like I’ve tried to be for them or do they want somebody who is more of a compromiser?” Carr asked. “I am interested to see if the voters of the 48th are going to put in somebody who is committed to being that vocal principled fighter or do they want somebody who is more of a get along, go along type of legislator? That’s the choice. I am interested in seeing what choice they make, but I will not be on the ballot as a state representative.”