Politically active Tennesseans are traveling to other states to get involved in the presidential campaign and Michael Collins has talked with some of them. Forrest Erickson wants to make a difference in the presidential election, so most Saturday mornings he leaves his home in Maryville, travels for two hours to Asheville, N.C., and campaigns for President Barack Obama.
Armed with a clipboard and voter registration forms, he signs up new voters. He knocks on doors, reminds people that early voting is an option and asks if they need a ride to the polls. He also tries to persuade voters to give Obama a second term.
“Barack Obama won North Carolina by only 14,000 votes last time, and it’s important that what I do makes a real difference in terms of winning some Electoral College votes,” Erickson said, explaining why he chooses to campaign in North Carolina instead of Tennessee.
“The race in Tennessee is not close enough,” Erickson said, “but what we do in North Carolina might make a difference.”
…Last week, a busload of 60 GOP volunteers left Knoxville and spent the weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they knocked on more than 5,000 doors and called more than 7,000 voters on behalf of Romney.
Afterward, “we were happily exhausted,” said Jennifer Little of Bean Station, who was among those pounding the pavement for Romney. “At the end of the day, when we got back home, we felt like we had really accomplished something.”
Little’s rationale for campaigning for Romney in Ohio is the same motivation that drove Erickson to North Carolina for Obama.
“Ohio is an important swing state, and you make that decision — where can I make the biggest difference,” Little said. “We can make the biggest difference in a swing state like Ohio or Virginia or North Carolina.”
Thus, another busload of Tennessee volunteers is in Cincinnati this weekend campaigning for Romney. A third trip is also possible.
An aide to Sen. Ophelia Ford was fired Tuesday in the wake of a TNReport story that showed him apparently conducting political work while collecting his state paycheck. “As of today, Derek Hummel’s employment with the Tennessee General Assembly has been terminated,” Office of Legislative Administration official Tammy Rather told TNReport via email.
Hummel had been executive secretary for Ford, D-Memphis, since April, drawing a $30,468 annual salary. He’s also been working for the Phillip North campaign, a Democrat locked in a tight race against Republican Steve Dickerson for a Davidson County state Senate seat.
Full story HERE. Previous post HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state Senate candidate is suing the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service over damage to his home during the 2010 Nashville flood.
Phillip North filed his suit Monday claiming the two federal agencies were negligent. He seeks $360,000 for a $200,000 decline in property value plus damage to items not covered by flood insurance.
The Democratic nominee in the 20th District told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/T8ZAXb ) it wasn’t great timing to have to sue in the middle of the campaign and he agonized over filing the lawsuit.
The corps has also been sued by Gaylord Entertainment Co. over the handling of the flood.
The agency successfully argued the government cannot be held liable in similar lawsuits from Hurricane Katrina.
A Tennessee Senate staffer appears to have been doing political work while collecting a full-time state paycheck, an apparent violation of state law, public records and documents reviewed by TNReport show. Derek Hummel has been executive secretary for Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, since April of this year, drawing a $30,468 annual salary. Over the past three months, he has also been conducting political activities during state business hours on his state-issued computer, according to phone records and Facebook postings.
Hummel has identified himself as field director for the Phillip North for State Senate campaign. Hummel was paid $625 in September by the North campaign, according to campaign finance filings released last week.
When TNReport visited Ford’s office at the Capitol last week to interview Hummel, no one was present, but Hummel’s desk was strewn with what appeared to be campaign material, and political documents were visible on his taxpayer-funded desktop computer.
During an attempt to interview Hummel today, he accused TNReport of violating state law by calling him on his government-office phone.
“You’re an idiot,” Hummel told TNReport. “I’m calling Bill Fletcher,” he added, before abruptly hanging up. Fletcher is a prominent Tennessee Democratic campaign advertising specialist and political strategist.
…According to a state law call the “Little Hatch Act,” state employees are prohibited from “engaging in political activity not directly a part of that person’s employment during any period when the person should be conducting business of the state.” The law mirrors the federal Hatch Act.
— Note: The state Republican party’s rapid response team had criticizing news release out promptly. Here it is:
Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Adam Nickas today released the following statement regarding a news report that Democrat State Senate candidate Phillip North’s Campaign Field Director ran campaign operations out of the legislative office of Sen. Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis) with state-owned equipment on state time: “Phillip North has set a new low for public corruption. Without ever serving a day in the legislature, Phillip North has managed to violate our system’s most basic legal and ethical boundaries. It is disgraceful that North would allow a state employee to work on his campaign full-time while drawing a check for full-time work from the taxpayers of Tennessee. North has broken trust with the citizens of Nashville by having taxpayers subsidize his campaign effort. He should immediately return to taxpayers the money his field director took while he was explicitly doing political work on state-owned equipment on state time.”
Assuming that the presidential race is already decided in Tennessee in favor of Mitt Romney, the state’s Democrats and Republicans are both providing party activists to work for votes in other states where the outcome is in doubt.
But Tennessee chairmen of the two major parties say there’s also a push to turn out voters for their candidates within the state, in part because of a belief that the margin of Romney’s win could impact the outcome in “down-the-ballot” races, including those for seats in the state Legislature.
For Democrats and Republicans alike, the top target for Tennessee out-of-state influence efforts is North Carolina, where President Barack Obama won a narrow victory four years ago and narrowly trails Republican Mitt Romney in recent polls this year.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
KNOXVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney debuted new technology at the Knox County Victory Headquarters today that will be used to help elect Mitt Romney and state legislative candidates in East Tennessee.
The new VOIP (Voice Over IP) phones, which are supplied by a Tennessee-based company, will allow volunteers to more efficiently contact voters in Tennessee and in nearby “swing states” like North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio.
“This is the most crucial election of our lifetime, and the Knox County Victory Headquarters is just one part of our overall Victory effort,” said Devaney.
“While working to expand our majorities on the state level, volunteers will also have the opportunity to call into or be deployed to a nearby ‘swing state’ like North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. The volunteer spirit of the Volunteer State is alive and well, and that will help propel our candidates to victory this November and ensure a reversal of the reckless economic policies of President Obama,” concluded Devaney.
The Knox County Victory Headquarters is located at 5410 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. Volunteers can sign up to participate in the TNGOP Victory program by visiting http://www.tngop.org/action/volunteer.html.
According to Stephen Hale, both the Democratic and Republican parties have deemed the state Senate District 20 race “critical.” The seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville. Before redistricting, parts were represented by Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville.
Democrat Phillip North, an attorney, says he got in the race partly in an effort to keep the statehouse from tipping over completely on its right side. “History has shown us that when that occurs, no matter which party it is, it gives the extremists in the party too loud of a voice,” he said during an interview at his downtown law office. “So I think the party that’s in charge now has gone too far and is leaning too far in an extreme direction. I feel like a Democrat needs to be added to the Senate, specifically, because I’m afraid a moderate Republican is either going to be shouted down — or have opposition in the primary — by the more extreme faction in the party.”
Republican Steve Dickerson, a physician, is an example of the Republican Party’s healthy bench, the kind that Democrats say they need to rebuild. Dickerson ran against Henry in 2010 and lost, but said he had planned to run more than once all along.
“When I ran against Douglas Henry I knew there was a very good chance I would lose,” Dickerson told The City Paper at his Berry Hill campaign headquarters. “He’s, at the time, a 40-year incumbent, maybe the most revered politician alive in Tennessee, well-loved by Democrats and Republicans alike. So I knew if he came up in the general election, there was a very good chance I would lose. I thought this was a two-step process. I sort of, psychologically, and my wife in agreement with me, committed to two runs.”
…On social issues, Dickerson said that when he suggests, or advocates for, legislation, it will be aimed at jobs, education or reducing government waste, adding that anything else would be a distraction. North agreed, saying the legislature should put social issues “on the backburner” and “deal with the problems at hand that are more pervasive.”
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
Raleigh, NC– Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican Party Chairmen of North Carolina’s border announced today their unified efforts to defeat President Obama and the Democratic ticket in North Carolina.
As solidly red states, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are in a unique position to contribute to the Republican National Committee, NCGOP, and Romney for President’s already immensely successful efforts in North Carolina. Each state party today has committed resources to turn North Carolina red in November through efforts that include volunteer deployment, calling in to North Carolina from Victory Offices in their own states, and also utilizing the RNC’s Social Victory Center to call into the state.
In May of this year, the South Carolina Republican Party pledged at least 1,000 volunteers to North Carolina’s Victory efforts and have already begun volunteer efforts across the state. In fact, dozens of South Carolinians are in Charlotte today to help out with North Carolina’s Super Saturday efforts.
“Today’s commitments from the Republican Party Chairmen of Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee will help ensure North Carolina defeats Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot on Election Day,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam spent Wednesday stumping for Mitt Romney in Western North Carolina, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. His first stop was the Romney campaign office in Asheville and from there he attended a roundtable on agriculture and small business at Apple Wedge Packers and Growers in Hendersonville, according to the Romney campaign. His last stop was in Sylva at a campaign office.
He told supporters in Asheville that North Carolina is key to Romney’s plan to win the White House. President Obama won the state in 2008 by just 14,000 votes.
“This race is obviously being contested in all 50 states but it doesn’t take a whole lot to deduce that there are going to be several states that are going to be really close in what’s going to be a close election and North Carolina is undoubtedly one of those states,” he said.
The Republican Party in North Carolina would like to give Romney a win in the state. Much of the strategy focuses on how voters feel about the economy in a state where unemployment is around 8 percent. And it focuses, as Haslam told supporters, on getting people to the polls on Election Day.
The money is flowing in the 20th Senate District, with Steve Dickerson and Phillip North both bringing in more than $100,000 in the second quarter, reports Chas Sisk. Dickerson, who is locked in a three-way Republican primary for the Davidson County district, raised $100,040 between April 1 and June 30, supplementing the $106,964 that he collected during the first quarter. Dickerson has also loaned his campaign $100,000.
North, meanwhile, brought in $100,885 in the second quarter. North likewise has loaned his campaign $100,000.
The two far outpaced Republican Rob Mortensen, who raised $31,040; Democrat James Baxter, who donated $767 to his campaign; and Republican David Hall, who raised $150. Hall also loaned his campaign $6,976 and borrowed $1,040 from his son’s campaign, which he subsequently repaid.
The heated Republican primary has eaten into Dickerson’s finances, as he spent $126,237 in the second quarter. That amount was more than five times the $23,933 spent by North and nearly eight times the $16,047 spent by Mortensen.