Tag Archives: jim kyle

Sen. Sara Kyle’s husband bows out of hearing election lawsuit

Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle has recused himself from hearing a lawsuit filed by former Memphis City Court Clerk candidate Wanda Halbert related to the accuracy of last year’s election results, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The Shelby County Election Commission filed a motion Wednesday for Kyle to remove himself from the case because his wife, Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis, is in a contested election, Jim Kyle said.

The SCEC motion came after Kyle, himself a former senator, had a run-in with SCEC staff as he tried to get a map of his wife’s district.

“I’m sure I was a bit frustrated,” he said of his repeated attempts to pick up an accurate map.

Kyle said his recusal was “inevitable” once his wife was challenged for her seat, but he stressed that he had abided by the law through the process and hadn’t helped his wife’s campaign in any way.

As a side note, he added: “Today, I got my map.”

The other two chancellors have already recused themselves, so the case could go to a Circuit Court judge, Kyle said. If no circuit judges agree to hear the case, an outside judge would be brought in to hear it.

Halbert filed the lawsuit in October after losing the City Court clerk race to Kay Robilio because voting machine reports didn’t match final tallies.

Court of Appeals: Chancellor Jim Kyle should have recused himself from annexation case

Newly elected Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle erred when he failed to recuse himself from a case related to the Southwind annexation, according to a ruling handed down Thursday by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, reports the Commercial Appeal.

When Kyle heard the case, which he inherited after Shelby County Chancellor Oscar Carr recused himself, the recently elected chancellor was still winding down several cases in which he represented the city of Memphis as an attorney with the firm Domico Kyle.

“In this case, we conclude that there is reasonable basis for questioning the judge’s impartiality due to his current representation of the city of Memphis in other litigation,” the ruling says.

At the start of the Nov. 4 hearing, Kyle informed attorneys for both sides that he had a potential conflict and gave them two days to consider any objections. Despite an objection lodged by the group suing to block annexation, Kyle decided the conflict did not require him to recuse himself and heard the case anyway.

The appeals court ruling is only the latest legal chapter in the long, troubled history of Memphis’ push to annex the Southwind community.

The original annexation deal was approved by the Memphis City Council in 2006 on the condition that the annexation would not take effect until the last day of 2013. But, as the annexation date approached, residents successfully sued to prevent the consent order from being enforced.

On the just-begun campaign for Senate District 30

The Commercial Appeal has an article on the recently-launched campaigns of Republican George Flinn and Democrat Sara Kyle of the Senate District 30 seat vacated by Kyle’s husband, Jim, when he was elected a Chancery Court judge. An excerpt:

“I want us to get our fair share of all of the money, all of the support, all of the programs that are done in the state,” Flinn said. “… I’m tired of Shelby County, which is a huge part of Tennessee, (being told that) they’ve forgotten about us.”

Flinn has entered his fourth political campaign since 2010; he’s 0-for-3 in two bids for Congress and this year’s failed bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Flinn has spent large sums of money in his previous bids, making his candidacy a plausible concern to Democrats.

Sara Kyle’s message to voters will be more focused, she said.

“The three top priorities are jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Kyle, who has pledged only to fill the term for the next two years and not seek re-election in 2016.

She said she spent much of last week in the district, including a community forum at a Frayser school. She praised the work of the Frayser Neighborhood Council, specifically its leader, former elected official Shep Wilbun.

“It takes the whole nine yards,” Kyle said. “You’ve got to create safer neighborhoods. I think you’re seeing more and more people grouping together. … When you can create safer communities you can create jobs.”

David Vinciarelli has also qualified for the ballot as an independent.

Democrats nominate Sara Kyle to succeed her husband in Senate District 30

The Shelby County Democratic Party voted Monday night to put Sara Kyle on the Nov. 4 ballot to finish out her husband’s District 30 state Senate term, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Jim Kyle, a 31-year Senate veteran, resigned the seat after he was elected Shelby County Chancery Court judge last month.

“The very first thing I want to do is beat the Republican” in the race, Sara Kyle, a former Tennessee Regulatory Authority director, told Democrats gathered at the IBEW Local 474 hall in Midtown to choose a candidate.

Her priority after that, Sara Kyle said, is “jobs, jobs, jobs.” She singled out neighborhood initiatives in Frayser and redevelopment of the Raleigh Springs Mall as projects of special interest to her.

A former teacher, state legislative staffer and Memphis City Court judge, Kyle was elected in 1994 to the Public Service Commission, the utility regulatory agency that later became the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, whose directors were appointed rather than elected. She resigned after the state legislature made TRA’s directors part-time positions in 2012.

Local Republicans last week nominated businessman and radiologist George Flinn as the GOP candidate in the special election for the last two years of the Senate term. Flinn noted that District 30 had more than three Democrats for each Republican.

Kyle was among three candidates the Democratic Party caucus considered Monday. But one of the three, lawyer and former state representative Carol Chumney, threw her support to former state senator Beverly Marrero after calling on more women to engage in politics. “People all over are gonna be for breaking glass ceilings,” Chumney said.

Jim Kyle moves on… and remembers

Richard Locker has recorded some reminiscences of Jim Kyle, who on Friday became a Shelby County chancellor after three decades as a state senator, as well as thoughts of some he dealt with over the years.

“You remember the people, you remember the faces, you remember some of the more dramatic events. I’m going to miss the give and take,” said Kyle.

There was the towering figure of the late John Wilder, Senate speaker longer than anyone in history. There was the three-year running battle over state tax reform and income tax.

“When I first got elected, people asked what do you like about being in the Senate. I said, when you can stand up in a room of people and tell them what you think ought to happen and they’ve got to listen to you, that’s fun.”

But it was less the debate and more the nuts and bolts work on important legislation that Kyle is known for here. After winning a special election to a vacant seat in June 1983, the senator arrived in time to work on then-governor Lamar Alexander’s Better Schools Program, his first votes during a special session Alexander called to address Tennessee’s first wave of education policy changes in decades.

A few years later, Kyle crafted the key compromise that led to passage of the second wave, Ned McWherter’s sweeping program for more equity in state funding among school districts and for state takeover of failing schools.

… Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville has occupied the center-right chair opposite Kyle. “Jim and I were sparring partners for many years in his role as Democratic leader and mine as Republican leader. He was a worthy opponent in the professional sense but we became pretty good friends over the years as a result of it. I told him before and I will say it publicly: I will miss him as my sparring partner and as my friend. Here’s another passing of an era.”

AG outlines procedure for filling Senate District 30 vacancy

Attorney General Bob Cooper has issued an opinion on the procedures to be followed in choosing Democratic and Republican nominees to succeed Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis, who is resigning his Senate District 30 seat to become a Chancery Court judge. The opinion is HERE.

And here is Jackson Baker’s summary of what it means:

(1) require nominations to be made by the two major parties’ local governing bodies — the Shelby County Democratic executive committee and the Shelby County Republican steering committee;

(2) limit the number of eligible voters to those committee members who represent precincts that lie within Senate District 30.

In the case of Democrats, who elect most of their executive committee members by House District, this effectively franchises all members representing House Districts which contain such precincts.

Republicans also elect many of their steering committee members from House Districts, but a majority of their committee members are at-large and will also be enabled to vote.

(3) require House members seeking the Senate nomination to withdraw from the November ballot before attempting to win their party’s nomination for the Senate. This requirement places a clear burden upon rumored candidates like Democratic state Reps. Antonio Parkinson and G.A. Hardaway, inasmuch as the withdrawal of either from the November ballot would necessitate a write-in campaign to fill the ballot void for their party’s House race.

Preliminary word is that the county’s Democratic committee will be asked by chairman Bryan Carson to convene on September 8 to name a candidate.

All candidacies, whether by party nomination or by independents, must be certified by a date 45 days from the date of the November 4 election. That would seem to make the September 20 the effective deadline for application to the Election Commission.

Kyle asks AG to clear up confusion over picking his successor

Sen. Jim Kyle has asked Attorney General Bob Cooper to resolve questions over how his successor in the Senate District 30 will be chosen, reports the Commercial Appeal. Kyle is resigning the seat effective Aug. 31 to become a Shelby County Chancery Court judge.

(W)hat was expected to be a straightforward process of electing a new senator has fallen into disarray and confusion.

The Shelby County Democratic Party had scheduled a meeting for Thursday of this week to discuss the process and a caucus for next Thursday to select a nominee. But those meetings were delayed after state Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron wrote told local party officials that some details about the process were unclear, including when a caucus should be held, which executive committee members can vote at the caucus, whether a majority or plurality of votes will determine the nominee and whether the vote will be via roll call or secret ballot.

There are also conflicting sections of state law. When first asked how Kyle’s successor would be selected, the state election coordinator’s office cited one provision that indicated there would be special Senate District 30 primary elections to choose party nominees on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The office later revised its opinion.

The county Republican Party will also choose a nominee. County GOP chairman Justin Joy said last week it will follow state law in determining the process.

Kyle said Friday that “given the confusion and the ambiguity of the statute, I believe it is best for everyone to have a review of the statute from the highest legal authority in the state. There are a great number of well-meaning people who will be involved in this process and I feel that an opinion from the attorney general will be most valuable as we move forward in selecting someone.”

Sara Kyle, Beverely Marrero seeking Jim Kyle’s Senate seat

Sara Kyle, former member of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and wife of state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, and former state Sen. Beverly Marrero both want to replace Jim Kyle in the state Senate, reports Jackson Baker.

The Shelby County Democratic Executive committee will choose the party nominee for Senate District 30 since the current senator, Jim Kyle, is resigning to become a Shelby County Chancery Court judge. That nominee will then be on the ballot for the Senate District 30 seat in November, along with any nominee the Shelby County Republican Executive Committee chooses to pick. The seat is strongly Democratic.
In other words, no appointment, interim or otherwise, by the Shelby County Commision, and no special primary followed by a special general election. Another condition of the election process would reportedly require that any member of the state House now appearing on the November general election ballot would have to remove his or her name to become eligible for the Senate seat.

That provision would seem to give pause to two members of the state House from Shelby County who are known to be considering a try for the Senate seat. They are G.A. Hardaway, state representative for District 93, and Antonio “Two-Shay” Parkinson in District 98.

Parkinson is currently unopposed on the November ballot, but Hardaway has a Republican opponent, Colonel G. Billingsley, who in the event of Hardaway’s removal from the ballot, would win the seat by default unless Democrats organized a massive write-in campaign.

In any case, Sara Kyle has let friends know she’s in the race and won’t be persuaded out by the fact that Marrero has begun to pick up endorsements, including one from Deidre Malone, recently the Democratic standard-bearer for County Mayor.

Marrero is also sure of all-out support from 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, her longtime friend and political ally. A Marrero-Sara Kyle contest would, in effect, be a continuation by proxy of a blood feud that has existed for years between Jim Kyle and Cohen, who served uncomfortably in the state Senate together for years as fellow Democratic caucus members but whose relationship was always frosty and characterized by a sense of rivalry.

After his election to Congress in 2006, Cohen backed Marrero to oppose Jeff Sullivan, a Kyle aide, in the resultant 2007 special election. That contest, which resulted in a Marrero victory, was no-holds-barred and included a Cohen call to prosecute Sullivan for early-voting for himself in a precinct where he did not reside.

After the Republican-sponsored redistricting of 2011, Jim Kyle and Marrero found themselves in the same district as election opponents, rekindling the feud. Kyle won that one.

Kyle asks Haslam to veto a Haslam administration bill (pseudoephedrine limits)

News release from state Sen. Jim Kyle:
NASHVILLE – State Sen. Jim Kyle today urged Gov. Bill Haslam to veto legislation limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine, arguing that the new law doesn’t go far enough to combat the problem.

“I do not believe that the limits set by this piece of legislation are strong enough to make a dent in the problem,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said in a letter to the governor.

“This bill is not stringent enough to keep people from producing meth, especially in the ‘shake and bake’ laboratories for which there are weekly accounts of explosions and burns.”

The legislation sets a monthly limit on the purchase of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine of 5.76 grams per month, which equals approximately 48 pills. The limit in the legislation is far less stringent than Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Safety recommended in January of this year.

The legislation was transmitted to the governor May 5, meaning it needs his signature by May 14 to become law.

Note: It’s HB1574, introduced as a Haslam administration bill with the push for passage led by Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons. The House expanded the limits for non-prescription sales and the Senate, which had originally back the Haslam version, retreated. Haslam has said he is comfortable with the compromise. In other words, it’s pretty doubtful that the Republican governor will heed the Democratic leader’s request.

Senate Republicans kill Democratic bill allowing college ID for voting

A Senate committee rejected a bill Tuesday that would have let students at public colleges and universities use their campus identification cards to vote, reports the Tennessean.

The Senate State & Local Committee voted 7-2 against Senate Bill 1082, which would have amended the voter ID law that the Tennessee General Assembly passed less than three years ago.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, the Memphis Democrat who sponsored the measure, argued that the voter ID requirement has been a burden to students because they often do not have driver’s licenses.

…The panel spent about seven minutes debating the bill, which has been pending since last year. Similar measures have failed in the past.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, noted that the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the law as it is currently written last fall. The law requires voters to show a state or federally issued ID at the polls, but it explicitly bars the use of IDs from state colleges.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to wade back into these waters in this way at this time,” he said.

Note: Sen. Kyle issued a short news release afterwards. Here it is:
NASHVILLE – Republican lawmakers on Tuesday batted down a proposal by state Sen. Jim Kyle to allow college ID for voter identification, similar to other states such as Arkansas and Mississippi.

“Other states have successfully allowed college ID as proof of identification without inviting voter fraud,” Sen. Kyle said. “Tennessee allows other forms of state-issued ID, such as state employee identification cards, but today the Republican majority singled out the identification every college student has as invalid for voting.”

The legislation, SB 1082, would have allowed college students to use state-issued photo identification from institutions of higher learning as evidence of identification for voting. State law currently requires photo ID at the ballot box. Sen. Kyle’s proposal was defeated Tuesday in the State and Local committee on a 7-2 party-line vote.