Some of those signed on as supporters of state Rep. Joe Carr’s “exploratory campaign” for the 4th Congressional District seat made political donations to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in this year’s campaign, reports Chris Carroll. Records show at least four of Carr’s early boosters — including a powerful auto dealer, a physician and a former Rutherford County GOP chairman — gave DesJarlais a combined $12,900 during his 2010 and 2012 campaigns for Congress.
Carr’s exploratory committee is headed by auto dealer Lee Beaman, a big fish in Middle Tennessee Republican circles who has given $7,400 to DesJarlais.
Asked about his $2,000 DesJarlais contribution this year, Murfreesboro dentist Dr. Nate Schott said he cut a check “long before I found out what happened.”
…DesJarlais spent $1.26 million on his re-election, depleting his current campaign balance to $16,000, records show.
Campaign manager Brandon Lewis has said: “We are confident that we will continue to receive support from like-minded conservatives and small-business organizations.”
But Dr. Ron McDow, a retired family medicine physician and owner of a medical device company, said he regrets the $1,000 he contributed in 2010. He’s in Carr’s camp now.
“I haven’t read everything that’s been published, and these things all occurred well before Dr. DesJarlais ran for Congress,” McDow said. “But Joe Carr doesn’t have the baggage hanging over him.”
Memphis City Councilman Lee Harris is pushing passage of a city ordinance that, as it stands, would declare the city cannot discriminate in hiring on the basis of race, age or gender, which is not very controversial. But Jackson Baker reports he’s also proposing an amendment that would add “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
...And that’s where some resistance could arise, both on the Council and in the city. Harris said Sunday night he thought most of the organized opposition in the city — “90 percent” — emanates from Cordova and specifically from Bellevue Baptist Church, where pastor Steve Gaines and church members have mounted a campaign against the ordinance.
As for the population at large,l Harris doesn’t foresee much objection to the inclusion of the sexual categories, loosely characterized by the initials LGBT (for “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered/transsexual”). “We wouldn’t be doing anything radical. We wouldn’t even be moving ahead much. We’d just be catching up,” said Harris, who said most major American cities have already moved to extend workplace protection to people in those categories.
Nor does Harris believe such an ordinance would be in conflict with legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2011 that prohibits local jurisdictions from passing anti-discrimination provisions at variance with those ordained by state law. Harris, who consulted legal authorities in and out of city government, said he was assured that, so long as his ordinance confined itself to municipal government and did not apply to “third party”employers, it would pass muster.
But Harris said his decision on whether to include the sexual categories in his anti-discrimination ordinance will be based solely on a simple practical test: “Do we have the votes? That’s it, pure and simple.” The ordinance will need 7 of the Council’s 13 votes to prevail.
And Harris was explicit on the subject. There are five Council members who would definitely support the more inclusive version of the ordinance, Harris said…Two other Council members — Wanda Halbert and Ed Ford — Harris counts as undecided, the swing voters on the issue.
From Hank Hayes comes this report on the race in state House District 3:
Timothy Hill has been down this road before.
Hill, a Blountville businessman and former press secretary for ex-U.S. Rep. David Davis, looked like the front-runner to win the GOP primary for Tennessee’s 3rd House District seat two years ago.
Hill, the brother of GOP state Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, had name recognition in Sullivan County, a number of campaign donors, and a conservative message to go with his candidacy.
But Mountain City Republican Scotty Campbell’s base of Johnson County voters in the district showed up in droves, and Hill came in second to Campbell after splitting the rest of the primary vote with five other candidates. Campbell, a former legislative aide to ex-House Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton, easily defeated Democrat Joe Mike Akard and two independents in the November 2010 general election.
After one term, Campbell isn’t seeking re-election, and Hill is again seeking the seat.
And now Hill is facing another GOP candidate with considerable Johnson County name recognition — former Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons. Also in the primary race are Karen Greene Morrell and Lee White, both of Bluff City.
With two terms under his belt, ample funding and a voting record that’s solidly Republican and pro-life, Rep. Joshua Evans would seem like a lock to secure the GOP nomination for the 66th House District in August.
But, Chas Sisk observes, he faces a potentially stiff challenge from Lee Harrell, a veteran of the state Capitol who now works as a lobbyist. Evans holds the advantages of a sitting incumbent. His campaign went into the primary with more than $36,000 in the bank, and he has secured the endorsement of Tennessee Right to Life, the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group.
The two do not appear to differ much on policy.
Harrell is hitting Evans hard over his travel overseas. Harrell also pledges to waive the $173 per day that state lawmakers receive for expenses and compensation — taking on a frequent complaint voiced on conservative talk radio and in tea party circles.
…Evans is not chairman of any committees. He has been a steady rank-and-file vote on Republican legislation, standing out only as the sponsor of several measures favored by pro-life groups.
…Harrell can claim experience in the state Capitol, too, despite never having been elected to office.
Starting as an intern in the Tennessee legislature in 2001, Harrell worked as an aide to state Sens. Douglas Henry, Randy McNally and Jamie Woodson before leaving in 2009. Harrell specialized in education policy, and after leaving the Capitol, joined the influential Tennessee School Boards Association as its director of government and labor relations.
….Harrell was stopped in 2010 on suspicion of drunken driving, a charge that was first reported in May by the Capitol website TNReport after it was brought up by a pair of Evans’ Republican colleagues in the legislature. Harrell pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of reckless driving and violating the state’s implied consent law.
“It was a mistake,” Harrell said. “I fully expect my opponent to bring that up.”
Evans says he did not raise the DUI charge, but he criticizes Harrell for working as a lobbyist after leaving state government.
“People don’t realize that,” Evans said, “and it seems to be an issue when they are told that.”
Meanwhile, Harrell is hitting Evans over his attendance record at the legislature. Evans missed 116 votes in 2011 and 2012, with more than one-third of them unexcused.
A Capitol Hill lobbyist looking to unseat a rank-and-file House Republican has a DUI in his history — a fact some lawmakers want to highlight although one of their party peers faces trial on the same charges.
Excerpt from Andrea Zelinski’s TNReport: The two legislators are careful to say the run-in with the law shouldn’t disqualify Lee Harrell from being seriously considered in the race against Rep. Joshua Evans for the Robertson County House seat, but firmly add that it’s a fact voters should know.
“I think it’s probably important for voters to have that information and be able to use that in their consideration,” said Evans, a Republican from Greenbrier and small business owner.
Evans is beating back a challenge from Harrell, a lobbyist for the Tennessee School Boards Association, in the 66th District encompassing Robertson County. The August primary election race is one of 21 this year where House Republican incumbents are trying to fend off challengers.
Harrell was arrested Sept. 4, 2010, on drunken driving charges and refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test.
“It was certainly a mistake, but I learned from it. I’ve moved on. I’m a better person because of it,” Harrell told TNReport.
According to the arrest warrant, Harrell was driving 80 miles an hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone on I-40 in Nashville on a Saturday night and was seen “meandering back and forth in his lane of travel, partly crossing into other lanes.” The report said he had watery, bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol and “lacked smooth pursuit” while performing field sobriety tests before refusing a blood-alcohol test.
His DUI charge was reduced to reckless driving. He pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2011, along with violating the implied consent law.
TNReport obtained documents about Harrell’s arrest from Rep. Vance Dennis, a Republican lawyer from Savannah who describes himself as a “good friend” of Evans, and provided the information for “personal” reasons.
News release from Lee Harrell campaign:
WHITE HOUSE–Lee Harrell has qualified to challenge Joshua Evans for the Republican nomination in House District 66. Harrell currently works for the Tennessee School Boards Association as the Director of Government and Labor Relations and resides in White House.
“I am running for this seat because the voters of Robertson County deserve a state representative who is accessible, hardworking, and dependable. As state representative, I will continue my passion for improving education in Tennessee. A strong system of public education will attract industry, generate jobs, and promote economic development,” said Harrell.
“Also, as a Republican, I firmly believe in a smaller, less intrusive government. Washington, D.C. is out of control with its wasteful spending and reckless, unconstitutional mandates, and we need strong leaders in our state legislature to stand up to these bureaucrats,” he added.
Harrell has dedicated much of his career to the issue of public education. Before working for the Tennessee School Boards Association, he served as a research analyst for the State Senate Education Committee. He worked with the committee through the implementation of BEP 2.0, charter school reforms, expansion of lottery scholarships, and several other educational initiatives. With TSBA, he has worked with the General Assembly and other stakeholders in securing Tennessee’s Race to the Top Grant as well as endorsing legislation to end collective bargaining.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Lee S. Anderson, who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press for 70 years, has announced his retirement.
Anderson is associate publisher and editor of the newspaper’s opinion page. He will retire on April 18, according to the newspaper (http://bit.ly/yGoH0Y ).
Anderson is 86 years old and said of his career that he wouldn’t change a thing. He said he was 16 when the paper hired him. When the surprised youth asked when they wanted him to start, the answer was “immediately.”
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher and chairman of the Times Free Press, said Anderson has been inspirational because of his dedication, loyalty, work ethic and passion for newspapers.
Jason Taylor, president and general manager of the Times Free Press, called Anderson’s career “nothing short of legendary.”
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A retired couple from Murfreesboro will testify before a House subcommittee about their experience with Tennessee’s new law requiring a photo ID as Democrats question whether these types of state laws create barriers to voting.
“These changes in state voting laws raise serious constitutional concerns under both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment,” U.S. Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Jerrold Nadler of New York wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman.
In a hearing scheduled for Nov. 14, Lee Campbell and his wife, Phyllis, will talk about their experience securing a photo ID for her. She is one of the estimated 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee over age 60 who do not have a photo on their driver’s license.
The state has promised to provide photo IDs free of charge, but Lee Campbell told The Daily News Journal they ran into trouble when they went to a license testing center on Sept. 9 (http://ht.ly/1fsnaz ). They asked for a free ID, Lee Campbell said, but were told by a worker that the process involved too much paperwork and that they should just renew her driver’s license to add a photo at a cost of $8 or $12.
The couple persisted and said they wanted a free ID, but instead the worker made her a new driver’s license with a photo free of charge.
District Supervisor Amy Lackey told the newspaper in September that they were encouraging people to renew their licenses, rather than obtaining a separate ID for voting. She said that’s because the testing center has to create a new ID number and the state office has to merge the numbers on the driver’s license and the photo ID. People also must fill out an affidavit swearing that they have no other form of acceptable photo ID for voting purposes.
But Lackey said they will issue a photo ID for voting purposes only, if people insist on it.
“They have to let us know they need a photo to vote,” Lackey said, adding she wasn’t surprised the Campbells had to wait almost an hour to get the license renewed.
The law that takes effect on Jan. 1 does allow people to use expired state or federal identification as long as it contains a photo.
The law makes exceptions for people who vote absentee by mail, residents of a nursing home or assisted living center who vote at the facility, those who are hospitalized, citizens with a religious objection to being photographed and voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee.
The state AFL-CIO chapter has tapped a Nashville firefighters’ union president and state legislator to be its top leader as part of a top-management shakeup, reports the Tennessean.
State Rep. Gary W. Moore, D-Joelton, was elected president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council during the union’s biennial convention in Nashville earlier this week. Moore succeeds Jerry Lee, who did not seek re-election to the post he had held since 2003.
Another longtime union executive also stepped down: Eddie Bryan, who retired as secretary/treasurer after 32 years. James C. Hale, a former union official and labor activist from Sparta, Tenn., succeeds him.
Moore, 62, did not return telephone messages Wednesday. In addition to serving as a state representative, Moore is president of the union that represents Nashville firefighters.
“I think Gary will be a very energetic leader,” Lee said in a phone interview. Lee, 73, said he isn’t retiring from his union career but felt it was time for a change.
When Ginger Lee, a Nashville stripper whose real name is Candice Raines, became a fan of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, she thought she was doing her part by supporting his stance on health care reform and women’s right to choose.
Instead, reports Richard Lawson of the Chattanooga TFP, the 28-year-old former porn actress got swept up in Weiner’s cyber scandal. Raines’ decision to follow the congressman on Twitter led to sexual innuendo-laced emails from him and made her a key figure in ending Weiner’s promising political career.
After the story broke in late May, she went into hiding to avoid the media that had camped out at her Tennessee home and hounded her.
In her first interview since Weiner’s resignation, Raines said her sole purpose for connecting with the congressman was to support his political stance on issues she cared about and that much of her blogging about him was taken out of context. She said her own troubles with obtaining health insurance because of chronic mental illness she’s had since a teenager — she once said she has paranoid schizophrenia — triggered the interaction with the former congressman. Raines also has lupus.
…Once Weiner’s texting indiscretions went public, it wasn’t long before she was pulled into the scandal. She released a statement Weiner provided her, asking her to lie, and then went into hiding.
“She just wanted to stay quiet and go on with her life,” said Raines’ Nashville attorney, Marian Fordyce. “But now she’s been portrayed as a Jezebel, whore or whatever.”