Tag Archives: legislative

Candidate’s Residence Stirs Flap in Knox County

Supporters of Democrat Gloria Johnson,running for the 13th District state House seat against Republican Gary Loe on Nov. 6, say Loe doesn’t live in the district, although he says he has rented a house and sleeps there.
From Georgiana Vines’s report:
Loe said he’s heard Johnson doesn’t live in the district, either. She gives as her address 2506 Brice St., which Knox County tax records show she owns.
Loe, a TV production company owner, lists his address as 2713 Boright Place, owned by a friend. The same friend owns a house at 7215 Kennon Springs Lane, which was Loe’s address when he ran for the Legislature two years ago to represent the 18th District. Rep. Steve Hall won that election.
This columnist looked into Loe’s residency after Diane Humphreys-Barlow sent an email to News Sentinel editors, asking that it be checked out.
Humphreys-Barlow said in an interview that at a house party she had for Johnson, her supporters talked about Loe renting a house, but that no one had seen him at the address. She said she understood he lives in West Hills.
“Is it rumor or validity?” she asked.
A political sign for Loe is in the yard of the near northeast city residence on Boright Place. The first time this columnist went by his address, no car was there. The Kennon Springs Lane address in West Hills also was checked out. That was two weeks ago.
At the time, a grey Volvo apparently belonging to Loe was parked at the Kennon Springs Lane address. Last week, the Volvo was parked at the Boright Place address.
Loe met with this columnist and discussed the residency issue. He said questions shouldn’t be asked about his residence when there is a question about Johnson’s.
“After her supporters put a yard sign (at the Boright Place house), I thought I would take it to her. It appears nobody was at the (Brice Street) home, so I drove by (without stopping),” Loe said.
As for the Boright Place residence, “I moved in in February. In March and August, I voted at Larry Cox (Senior Recreation Center). I sleep there. I do work out of the house,” Loe said.

Republicans Outspending Democrats 3-to-1 in Legislative Campaigns

The largest Republican political action committees spent about $1.75 million helping their candidates for the state Legislature last month, about three times as much as their Democratic counterparts, according to financial disclosures filed Wednesday.
The financial superiority allowed Republicans, for example, to pay for 120 separate direct mail pieces that were listed on the state GOP’s main legislative committee during the period, Oct. 1-27. The main Democratic committee did just 60.
Further, in the previous reporting period, Republicans paid for 42 direct mail pieces; the Democrats had none.
The main Republican PAC, called Tennessee Legislative Campaign Committee (TLCC), reported expenditures of more than $1.2 million on legislative races for the 27 days. The House and Senate Republican Caucuses together had another $550,000 in separate spending, not counting money they gave TLCC as reimbursement for mailings handled by the party.
The main Tennessee Democratic Party PAC reported spending just under $500,000 on the party’s legislative campaigns. The House and Senate Democratic Caucuses collectively spent $108,000, excluding reimbursements to the party for mailings.

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Democratic Radio Ad Focuses on GOP Candidate Ethics

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Martin, Tenn.–The Tennessee Democratic Party released a radio advertisement featuring a West Tennessee senior citizen who filed an ethics complaint again John Stevens, an embattled attorney and Republican candidate for the state senate in District 24.
The one-minute spot features Ginger Virginia House, Steven’s former client.  It’s running on radio stations throughout the senate district in Northwest Tennessee. House filed an ethics complaint against Stevens after he charged her for services that were never delivered.
The following is a transcription of the advertisement:
“Have you heard about John Stevens, the candidate that ripped up a dying woman’s will, changed the beneficiaries of her will, and admitted to it in a sworn statement?  When I heard about this, I had to come forward and speak out.  My name is Ginger Virginia House.  My husband and I also hired John Stevens to write a will for our family.  But John pocketed our money, never did the will, and didn’t even return our calls.  He shouldn’t treat people that way.  Because of what John Stevens did to the dying lady in a coma, and to my family, I filed an ethics complaint against him.  I understand that the woman in a coma wanted to leave her money to St. Jude Children Hospital, but John Stevens tried to stop that.  I knew John Stevens and how he operates; John Stevens is a bad apple.  If you can’t trust John Stevens with a will for senior citizens, you can’t trust John Stevens at all.”
You can hear the ad online at TNDP.org.
This is not the first time Stevens has found himself in ethical hot water. Court documents show that Stevens tore up the last will and testament of Ruth Karas while she was unconscious. Karas reportedly intended to leave much of her estate to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
St. Jude and Youth Town sued to restore the original will, which directed her estate to be split between the two organizations, other than $100,000 left to Keras’ brother, Earl Allen.
According to court records, Stevens drew up a power of attorney on behalf of Keras, naming Peggy Wilkes of Carroll County as her attorney-in-fact. He also established a revocable trust establishing that upon her death its assets would be divided equally between Wilkes and Allen.

News Notes on Some Legislative Campaigns

House District 13 Combat
In House District 13, one of the closest contests in the state, the state parties are weighing in with attacks on both Democrat Gloria Johnson ( Republicans, most recently, suggest she supports voter fraud ) and Republican Gary Loe (Democrats say he favors abortion in cases of rape and incest, for example> Story HERE.
The Scene in Northeast Tennessee
The Johnson City Press, as part of a roundup of contests in Northeast Tennessee, includes a review of contested legislative races – though, naturally, Republicans are heavy favorites. Story HERE.
Profiles Stories in Senate District 10
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has campaign profile stories on Republican Todd Gardenhire and Democrat Andrae McGray.

GOP Legislative Super Majority Seen As Bringing Intra-Party Disputes

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.
Ramsey agreed.

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House District 5: Attack Mailers Flood Hawk vs. Yokley Contest

David Hawk and Eddie Yokley both say they have striven for civility in their Greene County competition for the right to represent citizens of House District 5, but political party powers in Nashville are pushing the campaign in a mean-spirited direction.
As of Friday, the Tennessee Republican Party had sent seven direct mail pieces into the district that Yokley says range from “terrible distortions” to “outright lies,” accusing the Democratic candidate of everything from “Chicago cronyism” to support for illegal immigrants and taxpayer-funded abortions. Hawk disavows them all.
The Tennessee Democratic Party last week sent voters in the district a direct mail piece outlining domestic violence charges that Hawk faces, which are adamantly denied by the Republican lawmaker. Hawk says it is “unfortunate that the Democrats have resorted to personal attacks.”
Yokley disavows the mailer, saying he and his local supporters have strictly avoided mention of allegations that Hawk attacked his wife. The charges against Hawk have been bound over to the Greene County grand jury. (Note: This has been corrected from the original post, which mistakenly said Hawk has been indicted.)
Still, both men say their party’s mailers are better than the other party’s attacks.

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Occupy Nashville Protestors File Lawsuit Against State Officials

Even though it’s been nearly a year since they’ve been removed from Legislative Plaza, the Occupy Nashville protesters are not going away quietly, reports the City Paper.
More than a dozen Occupy Nashville protesters, including 13 that were arrested, filed a lawsuit against the state in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee on Wednesday. The lawsuit names Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of General Services Commissioner Steven Cates, Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and the Tennessee Highway Patrol officers who carried out the dispersion of protesters on War Memorial Plaza last year.
Occupy Nashville took up camp on the plaza on Oct. 6, 2011, building off the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. The lawsuit specifically takes aim at a set of new rules that were enforced to oust the protesters from the plaza. The protesters are requesting a federal judge to permanently prohibit the enforcement of the new rules.
“These New Rules unconstitutionally limit access by the public to a forum universally accepted to be an area protected for the speech of the governed,” the lawsuit said.
The suit also claims the defendants are guilty of First Amendment violations, due process violations, unlawful search and seizure and unlawful arrest.

Discernment Debated in House District 34

Democratic candidate Luke Dickerson said Republican state Rep. Rick Womick lacks “discernment” in making legislative decisions during their Wednesday debate at City Hall, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.
“He didn’t ask about the online charter school,” said Dickerson, who contends the Tennessee General Assembly should never have funded the private education company’s request. “He has voted along party lines quite a bit.”
Womick defended his record representing the 34th District as well as the accomplishments of the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam.
“I have discernment,” Womick said. “We have made a difference. You’ve seen us bring jobs to Tennessee.”
..In Wednesday’s exchange, Womick bragged that the GOP-controlled state government has brought 90,000 jobs to Tennessee, including 4,500 to Rutherford County since he took office nearly two years ago.
…Dickerson also complained that the more than 4,000 bills introduced by GOP lawmakers was not an example of smaller government. But Womick countered that 25 percent of those involved getting rid of unnecessary laws.

Legislature’s Only Independent Targeted By State GOP

In a radio ad, state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney is declaring the party’s backing for Elizabethton attorney Thomas Gray, who is opposing re-election of former House Speaker Kent Williams, the only independent member of the Tennessee Legislature.
Devaney earlier this year wrote election officials to declare Williams is not a “bona fide Republican” after the 4th House District incumbent picked up qualifying papers to run as a Republican. Williams was initially elected as a Republican, but joined with Democrats in 2009 to elect himself to a two-year term as House speaker and was subsequently booted from the GOP by former Republican Chairman Robin Smith.
The 30-second radio ad, sponsored by the Republican Party, is scheduled to run on two stations in the area, according to Adam Nickas, executive director of the state GOP. It doesn’t mention Williams.
“The election this November is the most important in our nation’s history,” says Devaney in the ad. “In Tennessee, we have a true conservative Republican running for state representative, and his name is Tom Gray.
“For the record, Tom Gray is the only Republican on the ballot in Carter County’s District 4. We need someone who can effectively work in Nashville to create more jobs for East Tennessee. Vote Republican. Vote Tom Gray this November.”
Williams, first elected in 2006, is rated a “probable” winner in the contest by the Tennessee Journal and enjoys a substantial financial advantage.
Gary has reported spending of about $5,700 so far in the campaign and had a cash balance of $3,304 on Oct. 1. He has guaranteed a $5,000 bank loan to the campaign and got $1,400 from Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.
Williams’ reports show spending of more than $36,000 this year and an Oct. 1 cash balance of $47,242.

House District 14: Haynes vs Miller

The News Sentinel’s Jim Balloch takes a look at the House District 14 race:
At 27 years of age, Knoxville Republican Ryan Haynes is seeking a third term in the Tennesseee House of Representatives. And he is still the youngest member of that body.
At 57, Jerome Miller, his Democratic challenger for the 14th District seat, is making his first ever run for public office.
Haynes appears to have all of the advantages one could ask for to keep his seat.
He has name recognition that goes with being an active and energetic incumbent. His party is the majority in the distritct. And he has a bigger war chest.
But Miller, a soft-spoken grandfather, believes he has a trump card in his favor — if he can get enough exposure in the race for enough voters to see it.
“There is nothing like experience in life,” Miller said. ” I have life experiences that he does not have, and I’m not just talking about because of the differences in our ages. Age is only a number. It is a question of how can you make decisions affecting the people in your district if you have not been exposed to the many things your constituents go through on a daily basis?”
Miller, originally from Asheville, N.C., is a mechanical engineer at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, where he oversees liquid waste operations.