NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey is joining the advisory board of a conservative political group that recruits and trains Republican political candidates.
The Blountville Republican announced this week that he will be part of the 2013 Legislative Leaders Advisory Board of GOPAC.
Ramsey became the first Republican Senate speaker since Reconstruction when he was elected to the position in 2007.
He says GOPAC was crucial to his early success in the Legislature. GOPAC was formed in 1978.
— Note: Ramsey was founder of one of the first — and now the largest — political action committees in Tennessee, Republicans Achieving A Majority, or RAAMPAC. The Ramsey news release on GOPAC is available below.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of the House Republican caucus on Monday unanimously nominated Speaker Beth Harwell for another term in charge of the chamber, but ousted Rep. Judd Matheny from the No. 2 slot.
Matheny, R-Tullahoma, was defeated by Rep. Curtis Johnson of Clarksville in a secret ballot.
Matheny announced in August that he was mulling a challenge to Harwell for speaker because he felt marginalized by other Republican leaders. He said they worked to dilute his key legislative initiatives ranging from loosening gun laws to battling what he perceived as the spread of Islamic law in the United States.
He later abandoned that bid in favor of another term in his current role, but by that point, Johnson had already begun to round up support for the position.
“We all need to pull together, we should all remember that our caucus tent is big enough to have different opinions,” Johnson said before the vote.
Gail Kerr devotes a column to urging Gov. Bill Haslam to use his popularity and position to start leading the state on a number of pending issues. Maybe the governor is waiting until after the holidays to present a layered legislative package of proposed laws. But if Haslam were smart, and he is, he would use this time before the legislature convenes to start selling the public on the specifics of his agenda.
The governor’s tendency has been to proceed with undue caution most of the time. He oh-so-carefully tosses small stones into the water to see if they make waves. Haslam and other party leaders are visibly nervous about the newly elected Republicans. Will they side with the administration? Or fall back on get-elected language and out-there social positions? Will they care more about guns in trunks than they do the safety of Tennessee children and people who are dying because they sought help for back pain? Haslam would be wise to show his popularity numbers to lawmakers as a way to keep the kittens in the box.
There are those from the tea party persuasion who stand by their “no government regulation” mantra. But the goal needs to be good government, not no government. And sometimes, as with hiring enough people to answer the child abuse reporting hotline, those things cost money. That does not have to mean a tax hike. It does mean a leader must be willing to look at what is needed, find a way to get it done, and have the gumption and skills to get enough lawmakers to vote yes.
The Tennessee Republican Party provided on Monday a list of 109 donations to The Governor’s Leadership Fund that were solicited by Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell, then used toward providing financial support to Republican legislative candidates.
The list of about $272,000 in donations — in amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000 — includes several lobbyists and special interest political action committees.
The top donations of $10,000 came from Federal Express’ PAC and David Johnson, part of a Nashville architecture firm.
The governor’s father and brother donated $5,000 each, according to the list provided by Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party.
The News-Sentinel reported Monday the existence of the fund, which is legal by all accounts but questioned by some as avoiding normal disclosure requirements and described as a “secret political slush fund” by a Democratic Party spokesman.
A list of candidates receiving a total of $91,800 from the fund was provided earlier, but Nickas said last week the list of contributors to the fund could not be provided. He sent the list Monday.
While Haslam and Harwell solicited donations to the “Governor’s Leadership Fund” and the money is kept in a separate bank account, it is legally treated as an arm of the Tennessee Legislative Campaign Committee, the state Republican Party’s main PAC for funding GOP candidates for the General Assembly.
Nickas said that, while Harwell and Haslam can suggest where the money should be spent, the party controls the spending — a distinction that means The Governor’s Leadership Fund does not have to register as a separate PAC and file lists of donors and contributions on its own. The list of donors and contributions are instead lumped together with all other reports on receipts and expenditures by the TLCC.
The list of about $270,000 in donations to the fund versus about $92,000 in contributions to candidates indicates the fund had substantial money still on hand at last report, dated Oct. 27. That surplus could have been sent to candidates after Oct. 27 or otherwise spent by the TLCC, which does not have to file another disclosure until the end of the year.
— Note: The list of donors may be viewed HERE.
Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell have quietly channeled at least $91,800 to 24 Republican legislative candidates without disclosing who gave them the money to distribute.
The money maneuver, coordinated with the Tennessee Republican Party, is by all accounts legal. GOP officials checked with Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry of Election Finance, to make sure before setting up a separate, special bank account for money raised by Haslam and Harwell.
But Dick Williams, president of Common Cause Tennessee, said the arrangement “dilutes the whole concept of disclosure.” A Democratic Party spokesman called it a “secret political slush fund.”
The Harwell-Haslam fund was never publicly disclosed when it was set up earlier this year. Spokesmen for the governor, House speaker and state Republican Party all acknowledged its existence in response to News Sentinel inquiries, however, and Harwell’s office provided a list of 24 candidates who got donations ranging from $7,100 to $2,000 each.
All but four are Republicans seeking election to their first term in the state House. The four exceptions are incumbent Republicans facing tough re-election races on Tuesday — Reps. John Ragan of Oak Ridge, David Hawk of Greeneville, Jim Gotto of Nashville and Tim Wirgau of Buchanan.
A list of those who donated to the special account, known as the Governor’s Leadership Fund, was not provided.
Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, said providing a list would require getting the information from the party’s comptroller and that there was no opportunity to do so last week.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey wouldn’t mind one bit having a super majority in his chamber, but the Blountville Republican acknowledges governing the group may be tough.
“No doubt about it, my leadership skills will be challenged,” he said.
He might want to start prepping.
With a financial advantage in their legislative campaigns, and a near dead heat in the presidential race, Tennessee Republicans in both chambers are poised to get a super majority — or more — on Nov. 6.
Currently in the Senate, Republicans have a 20-13 advantage. The margin is 64-34 in the House, with one independent. To get a super majority, Republicans need to claim two seats in each chamber.
Ramsey said it’s possible to win as many as six seats in the Senate, while House Speaker Beth Harwell has said the GOP may gain at least three seats in the lower chamber. (Note: She’s also predicted the GOP pickup will be from three to 10 seats.)
If Republicans do get a super majority, Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer said they may experience problems because sometimes “there’s more competition … within the party than between parties.”
“The general rule is that as parties get larger in Legislatures, they get less cohesive,” he said.
Gov. Bill Haslam gave an upbeat message to the Carter County Republican Party during its Reagan Day Dinner on Friday, reports the Johnson City Press. Haslam spoke about the progress the state has made during the past two years under the leadership not only of a Republican governor but also a Republican-led House and a Republican-led Senate. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the leader of the Senate, was in the audience.
…He said that as a result of that leadership, personal income is growing faster in Tennessee than in any other state.
The state unemployment rate was more than 10 percent during the 2010 campaign. He said today there are more Tennesseans working than at any time in the past four years and the unemployment rate has dropped below the national average.
….Haslam told his Republican audience that the 2012 national election may very well be the most important in many years.
He said the reason for its importance is the two candidates offer a clear choice on which direction the nation will head.
He said the choices are whether we will “totally rely on the government for all our problems or whether we really believe in the free enterprise system … whether we will choose the path of Europe and more debt or whether we will spend less than we bring in.”
Haslam said he though it was going to be a very close election.
Congressman Scott DesJarlais received more than $20,000 from political action committees associated with House Republican leaders in the past three months of 2011, observes The Tennessean, though he voted against the party line on occasion (and points that out in a news release on his first campaign radio ad of the year.) DesJarlais said campaign contributions from House leaders signal their support for his “independent voice.”
“I think they have grown to know where I stand in principle, and they respect that,” he said
…Lara Brown, a specialist on American politics at Villanova University, said DesJarlais and other tea party-backed freshmen don’t necessarily pay a price for breaking with party leaders.
“It’s not unusual for leadership to understand that certain members of the legislature need to distance themselves from the establishment, especially if their reputation was gained in some of these outsider activities such as the tea party movement,” she said. “It’s less expensive and strategically beneficial for the leadership to keep an incumbent, even if that incumbent doesn’t always agree with them. Then they can redirect resources to candidates who are more endangered.”
News release from Department of Human Resources
LEAD Tennessee, state government’s premier leadership training initiative, announced its upcoming class of 117 current and emerging leaders from 33 departments and agencies from all three branches of state government.
“State government is taking a proactive and assertive approach towards creating a talented pool of leaders that will help lead our state into the next generation,” said Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey. “LEAD Tennessee is a valuable asset in the effort to develop efficient and effective leadership in state government.”
LEAD Tennessee, a dynamic program administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Resources, is a statewide, 12-month development initiative which includes six one-day summits of intense, personally tailored, high impact learning focused on twelve core leadership competencies. The goal of LEAD Tennessee is to increase the state’s leadership bench strength by providing agencies with a continuous pipeline of motivated and prepared leaders that share a common language and mindset about great leadership.
“Encouraging and developing emerging leaders is a fundamental requirement for success in any organization. For state government, that requirement is fulfilled in LEAD Tennessee,” said Mark Cate, Special Assistant to Governor Bill Haslam. “The citizens of Tennessee are well-served by this unique and valuable program.” Mark Cate serves as the Executive Sponsor of the Executive Leadership Council for LEAD Tennessee. The Executive Leadership Council consists of agency appointing authorities who offer guidance and leadership insights for the initiative.
Participants learn a combination of behaviors, knowledge and skills that drive effective job performance. This shared leadership language enables leaders across agency lines to increase networking efficiency, directly impacting the state’s workforce and contributing to greater opportunities for resource sharing and problem solving. State government directly benefits by higher productivity, efficiency, and overall improved organizational performance through better-trained leaders.
“The Department of Human Resources is proud to administer one of the most effective and dynamic leadership development initiatives in the country,” said Commissioner Rebecca Hunter of the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. “LEAD Tennessee brings together current and emerging leaders from agencies throughout state government to provide the citizens of Tennessee with a well-developed and well-prepared bench of talent. I join with many across the state in welcoming the incoming class of Tennessee’s next generation of leaders.”
LEAD Tennessee is directly facilitated by the Division of Strategic Learning Solutions (SLS) within the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. Trish Pulley, the division’s director and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, is a nationally recognized public speaker with over 19 years of leadership experience in both the non-profit and public sectors.
For more information on the Tennessee Department of Human Resources and LEAD Tennessee, please visit www.tn.gov/dohr.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s Tennessee leadership team includes music industry executive Mike Curb, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and fundraiser Stephen B. Smith.
Curb, owner of Curb Records and a former lieutenant governor of California, has been named honorary Tennessee campaign chairman, while Ramsey, a Blountville auctioneer, will serve as the active state chairman.
Smith was the national finance chairman for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s political action committee and one of three Tennessee “Super Rangers” in President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004.
Ramsey and others are hosting a $2,500-per-person fundraiser for Perry in Franklin on Nov. 10, featuring the candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Other members of Perry’s Tennessee finance team include former state GOP chairmen Bob Davis and Tom Beasley. NOTE: The Perry campaign news release is below.