Tag Archives: profile

On Larry Martin, man with ‘mediator mindset’ running F&A

Larry Martin is a man with a “mediator mindset,” according to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been assigning negotiation tasks to the 65-year-old former banker for several years now.
The most recent assignment is perhaps the most formidable — overseeing $32 billion in spending by almost 40,000 state employees as commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration and resolving the inevitable conflicts that come up in doing so.
“F&A is an intense workout. … If I’d known there were 43 different committees and commissions I have to serve on, my answer to the governor might have been different,” said a smiling Martin in an interview at his office in the state Capitol last week.
But he did say yes to Haslam, of course, and not for the first time.
Martin took the job on an interim basis after the retirement of his predecessor, Mark Emkes, on June 1.
The first time Martin was recruited by Haslam came after his retirement in 2006 from a 37-year career with First Horizon/First Tennessee Bank and its predecessors. He started with First National Bank of Memphis, a predecessor, shortly after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in banking.

Full article HERE.

Bill Haslam: ‘The Most Important Republican Governor You Never Heard of’

Pollitico hails Gov. Bill Haslam as a model for Republican governors in a profile piece. Here’s an excerpt:
But while attracting scant national attention and eschewing the camera-friendly approach of most up-and-coming Republican governors, Bill Haslam has amassed one of the most extensive conservative governing records in the country.
He is, in short, the most important Republican governor you’ve never heard of. And as the National Governors Association gathers in Washington this week for its winter meeting, the national GOP may have something to learn from Tennessee.
Since his election in 2010, Haslam has overhauled the Tennessee civil service, stripped back teacher tenure, cut taxes, enacted tort reform and expanded charter schools. Add up the various items on his agenda, and it looks a lot like a version of the pro-growth platform Washington Republicans have been grasping for.
Haslam has done all that during his first term without triggering the kind of large-scale backlash that other aggressive Republican governors have encountered. There aren’t tens of thousands of protesters, or even one irate MSNBC host, camped outside Haslam’s window.
The 54-year-old Haslam, who recorded a 68 percent approval rating last month, disavows any interest in national office. Yet to friends and allies, Haslam’s experience in Tennessee is at the very least a model for national Republicans groping around for ideas that appeal to the middle class
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Note: For a somewhat different perspective, see Jeff Woods’ commentary on the ‘insanly fawning profile.”

Ward Baker Profiled by The Hill

The Hill talks with Tennessean Ward Baker about his new job as political director of the Republican National committee and his assignment: win enough seats to give the GOP control of the U.S. Senate after the 2014 elections.
An excerpt:
In his new role, Baker will allocate the NRSC’s budget, shifting resources as the map develops. He’ll also do much of the hiring for the committee’s independent expenditure arm and help shape the messaging and strategy needed to achieve the GOP’s 2014 goal of regaining the Senate majority.
Baker readily admits that, coming out of 2012, there are things the party needs to do differently, particularly in terms of expanding the GOP’s appeal.
“We’ve got to do a better job of reaching new voters. I agree with a lot of what [Louisiana Gov.] Bobby Jindal said. … We should not run away from our party,” he said.
Jindal charged during his keynote address at the RNC’s winter meeting that while the Republican Party shouldn’t change its values, it “might need to change just about everything else we are doing.”
Baker indicated that one of the biggest changes coming to the NRSC will be in recruitment. 
“There are a lot of senators that have offered to help us recruit” besides the NRSC’s two vice chairmen, Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ted Cruz (Texas), Baker said.
Baker is bringing a winning track record — and wealth of experience in hard-fought races — to the NRSC. But his career began in the military. 
After graduating high school in Tennessee, Baker eschewed college in favor of joining the Marines. He was stationed at the 8th and I location on Capitol Hill as a member of the ceremonial drill team.
He credits his military training with giving him the self-discipline and team ethic that has guided him in his career in politics
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Profile of a ‘Power Broker:’ Mark Norris

The Commercial Appeal has a profile story on Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, “arguably the most powerful legislator west of Nashville.”
Excerpt:
This farmer-lawyer-legislator has come a long way to reach his current perch of power. From the night his wife cried herself to sleep when he asked what she thought about him going into politics. From his fight over a developer’s plans to build a golf course across from his tranquil farm that gave birth to his political career. And from those prickly days on the Shelby County Commission when former Mayor Jim Rout was ready to give him a one-way ticket to Nashville.
Though as Senate majority leader Norris carries the governor’s legislative agenda, he sees himself as more of a technician, the one who figures out how to get from point A to point C. And while he understands the significance of the school legislation, it isn’t what he’d point to as the bill he’s most proud of. That would be the effort he led to amend the state constitution to provide tax relief to senior citizens. Or maybe the designation of Tennessee’s “west coast” as a national scenic byway. Then there’s Electrolux, Mitsubishi.The Republican super majority — with Norris leading the charge — may have given unprecedented power in the state legislature to Shelby County suburbs for the first time. Critics contend his tactics have been unfair to the city of Memphis and have changed the rules of the game.
He sees things differently.
“I consider myself to be a Shelby Countian, a Memphian,” he said. “I live in Collierville’s reserve. I don’t live in any municipality. I have a Collierville mailing address. But since 1980, my office has been downtown. My wife’s family’s business has been downtown. I think I have more of a sense of community than a sense of suburbia or that kind of thing.”

AP Profiles ‘Pragmatic and Peripatetic’ Bob Corker and His New ‘Outsized Role’

By Donna Cassata, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Bob Corker is spending a lot of time lately talking to Democrats.
The freshman lawmaker from Tennessee unveiled his own 10-year, $4.5 trillion solution for averting the end-of-year, double economic hit of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts and then spoke briefly last week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Deficit-cutting maven Erskine Bowles had forwarded Corker’s proposal to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew.
Corker also was on the phone with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a 15-minute conversation about Libya and other issues. Not only is Corker a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he is poised to become the panel’s top Republican next year, with a major say on President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Clinton — possibly the divisive pick of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice — and other diplomatic nominees.
Pragmatic and peripatetic, the conservative Corker has been deeply involved in negotiations on the auto bailout and financial regulations during his six years in the Senate, bringing the perspective of a multimillionaire businessman and a former mayor of Chattanooga to talks with Democrats and the White House.
“I don’t see him as a partisan,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, another multimillionaire businessman who has worked closely with Corker on banking and housing issues. “I think he’s somebody who’s willing to work with anybody who he thinks has a good idea.”
Next year, in the Senate’s new world order of a smaller Republican minority, the 60-year-old Corker is certain to play an outsized role, not only because of his high-profile standing on the Foreign Relations panel but because he is willing to work across the aisle in his eagerness to get something done. It is something of a rare trait in the bitterly divided Congress and one that often draws an angry response from the conservative base of the GOP.
It didn’t affect Corker politically. He scored a resounding win last month, cruising to re-election with 65 percent of the vote.
“I can count. I went to public schools in Tennessee and learned that to pass a bill it takes 60 votes and I know we have 45 going into next year,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I came up here to solve problems, not to score political points, and yes, it was rewarding that after throwing ourselves into the most controversial issues there were and trying to solve things pragmatically we ended up in the place where we were in this last race.
“I’m more energized than I’ve ever been,” he continued. “The last two years of my first term were like watching paint dry because nothing was occurring and it was fairly discouraging and one has to ask oneself is this worth a grown man’s time.”
There were some doubts whether Corker, who made a fortune in real estate and had promised to only serve two terms, wanted to come back for more of a Congress riven by dysfunction and partisanship.
“At times I wondered if he would really run again,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who has known the senator for decades ever since Haslam’s older brother, Jimmy, the new owner of the Cleveland Browns football team, roomed with Corker at the University of Tennessee. “It kind of frustrates him, admirably so, when people aren’t focused on problem solving.”
Tom Ingram, a political consultant who has worked on Corker’s campaigns, said the senator deliberated on whether to run again. “He had to convince himself it was something worth doing before he did it,” Ingram said.
So Corker is back, with a black notebook that he grabs every morning to jot down problems and what he’d like to accomplish in a Senate where Democrats have strengthened their majority to 55-45, from 53-47.
On avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” his 242-page bill challenges both Democrats and Republicans. Corker calls for a mix of tax increases and limits on Medicare and Social Security benefits. He would raise the Medicare eligibility age incrementally to 67 by 2027 and require wealthier retirees to pay higher premiums.
Although he would make all the Bush-era tax rates permanent, Corker wants to cap itemized tax deductions at $50,000, which would affect high-income taxpayers.
Corker recognizes that a final deal will be hammered out between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but hopes his ideas earn some consideration.
A member of the Foreign Relations Committee since 2007, Corker has been frustrated with a committee that hasn’t produced an authorization bill in years and has become something of a backwater since its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s. His goal is to make the panel more relevant, and he wants to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all foreign assistance and spending by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
High on the list for the panel early next year will be nominations, including Obama’s choice for secretary of state and possibly U.N. ambassador.
For all of Republican Sen. John McCain’s recent bluster about Rice and her initial, much-maligned account after the deadly Sept. 11 raid on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, it is Corker who will render his judgment and provide a crucial vote on her prospects. Corker has described Rice as more of a political operative but has avoided saying definitively where he stands on the potential nominee.
While other Republicans criticized Rice after her comments based on talking points prepared by intelligence officials, Corker traveled to Libya the first week of October to meet with officials there and learn more about what happened. The senator has traveled to 48 countries since he joined the committee.
“He’s viewed as conservative, but he’s independent,” said former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist.
After being appointed state finance commissioner by Sundquist, it was Corker who brought together various factions and helped Tennessee lure the Houston Oilers to the state. To complete the deal, Sundquist had to work with Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat he had just defeated in the gubernatorial race.
Corker was like a child trying to make peace between warring parents. It paid off with the arrival of the Tennessee Titans in 1997.
One of Corker’s first jobs was good training for moving immovable objects, whether home-state politicians or members of the Senate. In college, Jimmy Haslam and Corker had a small business doing odd jobs, including removing tree stumps.
“I always give them both a hard time that the biggest thing they removed was the axle from two or three trucks that they ripped out trying to get the stumps out,” said Gov. Bill Haslam. “They were better at axle removal.”

Susan Williams, GOP Wonder Woman

The News Sentinel has a flattering profile story on Susan Richardson Williams, a former state Republican chairman and current public relations practitioner who quickly collected more than $40,000 for the Romney campaign just last week.
Williams, naturally, says that Knoxville fundraising success says a lot about how great the candidate is. From the article:
It also says a lot about Williams, a sought-after political pundit whose competitive drive and desire to deliver results for things she’s passionate about — including the Republican Party, the state of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee and environmental conservation — have been a hallmark of her 40-year career.

Chip Outshines Chuck in Washington

Former Tennessee Repulbican Chairman Chip Saltsman is profiled today in Politico. The story starts like this:
Capitol Hill staffers live by one commandment above all others: Thou shalt not outshine your boss.
Except, that is, if you’re Chip Saltsman.
A longtime Republican operative and former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, Saltsman took a job in 2011 as chief of staff for freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) after helping to run his campaign. But in an unusual twist, Saltsman has shunned the behind-the-scenes profile nearly all of his fellow Hill worker bees are forced to assume: The manager for Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign has appeared on cable nearly two dozen times this year alone.
Fleishmann’s 2012 cable TV count? Zip.
Saltsman, 44, is never identified on TV as a Fleischmann aide; there’s no mention of his government-paid salary. Instead, he’s labeled a “Republican strategist.”
In an interview, Saltsman said he’s in such high demand on cable shows that he can accommodate only a fraction of the requests. He has a website, www.chipsaltsman.com, which includes a “guest speaker request form” and, until January, cataloged his TV appearances.

Sometimes, Jamie Woodson Enjoys a Little Horse Play

In a profile story on Jamie Woodson, Georgiana Vines reports the former state senator turned SCORE president likes hunting, fishing, mentoring youngsters and, perhaps most notably, horses.
“I can’t tell you the hundreds of times I have balanced out a weighty decision I had to make while grooming a horse, picking out stalls, cleaning tack or weed-eating a fence row. Sometimes, I don’t think about a single thing. I just enjoy the sight, the smells and the sounds of horses and the labor that it takes to tend to them properly,” the 40-year-old said.
…While she lived in Sequoyah Hills, she kept a thoroughbred horse, Mikey, in Jefferson County (which became part of her state House district through redistricting, prompting some concern over winning against a Jefferson County opponent.)
She won her first blue ribbon in a horse show at River Glen in Jefferson County — a win she parlayed into winning the election. In the Republican primary she beat Craig Kisabeth, a formern football coach, and was the winner since no Democrat ran.
…During the time she served in the state House and Senate, Woodson also was general counsel for Camel Manufacturing in Campbell County. April Harris, Camel’s CEO, said she got to know Woodson when they both rode horses at Penrose Farm. Harris’ daughter, Sommerville, rode ponies there along with her friends.
“Jamie would take the pony club girls out to lunch during the day. My daughter would come back and tell me about Jamie. That’s how I met her, encouraging girls to be all they could be,” she said.

Sen. Mae Beavers, from Court Reporter to Judicial Overseer

The Memphis Business Journal has a profile-type story on Sen. Mae Beavers, mostly focused on the Mount Juliet Republican’s efforts at changing the judicial system. Starts like this:
It took a budget shortfall in the Wilson County school system and her husband knocking on doors to get Mae Beavers elected the first time.
Now, 21 years after winning that election for seat on the county commission, the Republican state senator from Mt. Juliet has carved out a niche in the Tennessee Legislature dealing with the courts, the cost of government and the relative roles of state versus federal government.
Beavers has been making headlines recently in her role as co-chair of a joint legislative panel on the Court of the Judiciary, a state agency with oversight over the conduct of Tennessee judges.
“It’s wrong that you have so many judges appointing judges that are judging judges,” she said. “The oversight is supposed to be by the Legislature. We’re the only ones with impeachment power but we can’t get information to know whether the Court of the Judiciary is doing its job or not” or whether judges are doing their jobs properly.
Beavers long has been interested in the court system, having worked as a legal secretary, paralegal and, for 15 years, as a court reporter. When she was first elected to the state Legislature in 1994, she had completed two years of law school. She said her husband still encourages her to get her law degree.

AP Profile on Memphis Mayor A C Wharton

By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Known for his mediation skills and stylish suits, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has guided this gritty city through a $60 million budget deficit, a school funding battle and a historic Mississippi River flood.
Through it all, the silver-haired former lawyer has remained low-key and calm. Those traits have helped him maintain his support as he prepares for re-election Thursday in a city that has been beleaguered by poverty, crime and unemployment.
“I’ve got to have an upbeat spirit, no matter what challenges we face,” Wharton said. “That aspect of being mayor is as important, or sometimes more important, than balancing the books.”
Wharton won a special election in 2009 to replace Willie Herenton, the city’s first elected black mayor who resigned after 18 years in office. Wharton previously served as Shelby County mayor for about seven years and was the first African-American law professor at the University of Mississippi, a position he held for 25 years. He also was Shelby County’s chief public defender.

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