Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle joined his House counterpart Wednesday in declaring disinterest in running for governor, even though he waged a brief campaign for the office in 2010.
“I haven’t thought about it,” said Kyle, D-Memphis, adding that he had hoped House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley would run. As for himself, Kyle said he is not really interested, though stopping short of absolutely ruling it out.
“I’ve thought more about ‘do I want to leave the Senate and become a judge or do I want to stay in the Senate.’ That is the decision I’ve got to make between now and the end of the year,” he said. “That’s what I’ve focused all of my energy on.”
Fitzhugh, who has toyed with the idea of running for governor since December, said earlier this week that he has decided to instead seek re-election to his West Tennessee House seat and another term as head of House Democrats.
Kyle ran briefly for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2012, then withdrew — along with three other Democrats who initially declared themselves candidates, including the party’s current chairman, former state Sen. Roy Herron. Dresden businessman Mike McWherter won the nomination, then lost to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.), July 22, 2013 — State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) has announced plans to file legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to freeze tuition at the current rates at state colleges and universities. The announcement comes after the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) system recently adopted hikes in tuition ranging between 3 to 6 percent.
“The current increases are an outrage, especially in light of this year’s increase in appropriations to these higher education systems,” said Senator Summerville. “No other governmental department consistently raises their costs to the taxpayers at such a high rate on an annual basis.”
The General Assembly approved a budget providing a $108.6 million increase for higher education, including $65.7 million in additional funds for the Tennessee Board of Regents, $37.6 million for the University of Tennessee system and $5.2 million for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. A 2010-2011 study by the Bloomberg News College Board found that 56 percent of public four-year college students average $23,800 in student loans upon graduation.
“Over the past decade, tuition at public colleges and universities has increased by an astounding 62 percent,” added Summerville. “These ever-increasing costs lead students to take out more loans, thus saddling themselves with debt that can take almost a lifetime to pay back.”
Summerville said his legislation, the “Tennessee College Students’ Tuition Relief Act,” is currently in the drafting stage but will freeze tuition for several years. He said bill will include cost reduction recommendations to help the state’s higher education system realize efficiencies. This could include top-heavy administrative office expenses and excessive salary packages for college coaches.
“Non-instructional cost is a good place to start in looking for savings,” added Summerville. “If we are going to meet our goals of raising our college graduation rates, we must get a handle on the rising costs. This legislation is a big step in the right direction to accomplish this.”
News release from Congressman Jim Cooper:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced three new additions to his Washington office.
Chris Carroll, a Tennessee native and most recently the Washington correspondent for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, will join as Cooper’s new press secretary on August 5. At the Times Free Press, Carroll reopened the Capital Hill bureau and won several awards for his reporting. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Honors Program.
Carroll replaces Katie Hill, who has taken a job as communications director for former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Cooper also announced the addition of a new staff assistant, Vic Goetz, a Nashville native and former intern, who graduated from Bucknell earlier this year. Goetz replaces another Nashville native, Kathleen Ambrose, who joined the staff of Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) this spring.
Cooper is also pleased to welcome a new health care legislative fellow, Paul Shorkey. Shorkey is a Rhodes Scholar and current candidate for M.Sci. in Global Health Science at the University of Oxford with a focus on U.S. health policy and health systems. He also holds a M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford and is a Morehead-Cain graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shorkey will work with Cooper on health care issues until the end of the year.
Shorkey succeeds Ruth McDonald, Cooper’s health care legislative aide, who will begin graduate school this fall.
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.”
Jim Tracy leads in fundraising for the 4th Congressional District Republican primary with Rep, Joe Carr second and embattled incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais third, according to the Chattanooga TFP. State Sen. Tracy, R-Shelbyville, reported raising $303,000 from April 1 through June 30 while the embattled DesJarlais disclosed raising just $39,153. Carr, R-Lascassas, said he raised $100,255.
Both Tracy and DesJarlais’s net contributions were slightly lower after refunds to contributors. Tracy’s net was $296,393, while DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, netted $35,155.
Tracy also dominates in cash on hand with $656,201. That’s seven times as much as DesJarlais’ $88,361. Carr reported $275,000 in cash on hand.
The financial stakes are a little higher today in Tennessee’s 4th District, where state Sen. Jim Tracy had another big-money fundraising quarter and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is keeping his campaign fundraising data close to the chest.
Further from Chris Carroll: In a Wednesday news release that calls DesJarlais “the embattled incumbent,” Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican, said he raised $303,000 between April and June. The announcement came several days before the deadline for federal candidates to file detailed campaign finance reports with the government.
DesJarlais and another 4th District Republican challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas, declined requests to provide their second-quarter hauls and said to expect numbers on the July 15 deadline. That represents a departure from last quarter, when Carr was first to release his $200,000 haul well ahead of the final day to do so.
In a phone interview, Tracy said he has $656,000 left after expenses.
In the year’s first fundraising quarter, Tracy doubled Carr’s haul and held a 4-to-1 cash-on-hand lead over DesJarlais. At the end of March, DesJarlais reported $87,000 on hand and Carr had $192,000 left.
“I will not be outworked in this race,” Tracy said.
News release from Vanderbilt University:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – James R. Sasser, a former three-term U.S. senator from Tennessee and ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, and his wife, Mary Sasser, have donated their papers to Vanderbilt University’s Special Collections.
“We are deeply grateful that Jim and Mary Sasser, treasured alumni who have devoted their lives to outstanding public service on behalf of Tennessee and the nation, have chosen Vanderbilt as the home for their archives,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “Having first-hand information from Jim’s career as a senator and ambassador and from Mary’s work in bridging cultures will offer Vanderbilt scholars an invaluable level of insight into a vital time in our world’s history. These papers will be a pivotal part of the work of researchers for many generations to come in advancing understanding of global affairs.”
“Mary and I have chosen Vanderbilt as the home for our records because in many ways it is where our journey began,” James Sasser said. “We met as students there in the ’50s and the education that it provided us, as undergraduates and then for me as a law student, proved to be the foundation for decades of public service for which we are both enormously grateful. We are hopeful that this record, and all of the stories that it tells, will be useful to future students, scholars and researchers.”
Talk of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ involvement in abortions and sex with patients have become more prominent in the media lately, but his challengers in next year’s Republican primary say they don’t foresee using the reports in negative campaigning, reports Chris Carroll. State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, are challenging DesJarlais in next year’s 4th District Republican primary.
The second-term incumbent, a physician fined $500 last week by the state’s medical board, continues to battle charges of unethical behavior. According to the board’s findings, he had sex with two of his patients in 2000. Ten years later, he successfully campaigned as an anti-abortion advocate. Then in 2012, documents turned up showing he encouraged his ex-wife to get two abortions in the 1990s.
Voters last year knew about the Jasper Republican’s sex with patients and re-elected him. But they only found out about the abortion revelations after Election Day, meaning Carr and Tracy have the first crack at painting DesJarlais as a hypocrite.
To hear the challengers tell it, though, this is just your average Republican primary. In a recent interview, Carr said he “despises” and “loathes” negative campaigning. Those statements came a day after he hired Chip Saltsman, a GOP strategist known for his work in the political dark arts.
“We’re not running a campaign based on what happened to the congressman 12 or 14 years ago,” Carr said last week. “That’s not why we’re in this race.”
Tracy? For now, equally dismissive when asked about DesJarlais’ struggles.
“I’m focused on what I call a grass-roots, issue-oriented campaign — Benghazi, the IRS and restoring the public’s trust in government,” Tracy said. “People will be able to tell the difference between me and Congressman DesJarlais.”
Former Rep. Zach Wamp said it’s admirable — but probably unrealistic — to think that both candidates will uphold their positive pledges. Victory means everything, he said, and desperate candidates go to desperate lengths to get there.
“None of this means their campaign operatives are not planting seeds everywhere they go to try to raise the negatives of the incumbent while publicly touting their own positive platform,” Wamp said.
Wamp predicted that, throughout the campaign, debate moderators, media organizations and the challengers’ supporters will air DesJarlais’ troubles without Carr and Tracy ever lifting a finger.
“They’ll want to be as clean and positive as they possibly can be,” Wamp said, “and these revelations already will be on the table.”
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, May 21 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the U.S. House of Representatives passed his Senate legislation which includes an immediate two-year ban to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing below dams on the Cumberland River. The president has 10 days from the day he receives the legislation to act upon it, before it becomes law.
“When the president signs this legislation, this will end the discussion,” Alexander said. “Both chambers of the United States Congress have now told the Corps to immediately abandon its unreasonable efforts to restrict fishing and work with state agencies on a sensible policy to address safety concerns, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen.”
The legislation that passed the House today – and received unanimous Senate support on May 16 – would stop the Corps from enacting any existing or new fishing restrictions for the next two years, while also delegating enforcement to state wildlife agencies.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Debra Payne as the new commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) as Jim Henry becomes the permanent commissioner at the Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
Payne currently serves as deputy commissioner of DIDD and Henry as the interim commissioner of DCS.
“These two departments handle some of the state’s most difficult work concerning our most vulnerable citizens,” Haslam said. “I want to thank Debbie for taking on this new role in such a young department. Her experience and hard work will continue to serve the state of Tennessee very well.”
As deputy commissioner of program operations at DIDD, Payne has overseen two development centers, a statewide community-based service delivery system supported by more than 2,000 employees, 475 community providers and three regional offices.
“I want to thank Gov. Haslam for the opportunity to continue to serve Tennesseans with disabilities,” Payne said. “I look forward to working with this department and all of our providers in continuing to offer quality care.”
Payne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Middle Tennessee State University. She has served in numerous capacities throughout her career and is credited with assembling a nationally recognized Protection from Harm system as the statewide director of Protection from Harm for DIDD.
Payne lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband, Mike, and she has three children, two step-children and one granddaughter.
Henry was the first commissioner of DIDD, which was formerly a division of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming a state department on January 15, 2011. He has headed up both DIDD and DCS since February when he became interim commissioner of DCS.
“I am honored to serve in this capacity with Gov. Haslam,” Henry said. “We have taken important steps at DCS, and we will continue to strengthen our processes and policies as well as continue to improve the department as a whole.”
The appointments are effective June 1.
— Note: Interestingly, House Democrats have issued praise of the governor’s appointment of Henry. It’s below.