The two candidates seeking the 74 District state House seat have plenty of contrasts that set them apart, says the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. Incumbent John Tidwell, a Democrat, was first elected in 1996 and has served on various committees and subcommittees through the years, and also served on the Humphreys County Commission, as well as local and regional boards.
Lauri Day, who lives in the Humphreys County town of McEwen, is a small business owner with her husband and has been an outspoken advocate for education in Nashville, which is the extent of her public service and political experience.
Because of redistricting, Dist. 74 now includes Humphreys, Houston and the western part of Montgomery County.
Tidwell said he lost two-thirds of his former district when the boundaries were redrawn. “I’ve not been opposed in the last 10 years,” he said. “I serve the people, and they know that.”
Day, who beat Clarksville City Councilman Nick Steward in the Republican primary, has been in the news lately because of unpaid federal income taxes and a $46,000 IRS lien against her home.
Shelby County’s chief election official says the County Commission’s failure to develop its redistricting plan, the loss of critical local precinct-change data by the state, the massive complexities of redistricting overall, and a new staff without redistricting experience contributed to unprecedented local problems in the Aug. 2 elections.
From the Commercial Appeal: The County Commission’s redistricting plan was legally due last Dec. 31, but was never finalized. The Shelby Election Commission decided on June 14 that it “must proceed at a rapid pace to implement the redistricting at all levels” based on no county commission plan, but the next day a court ruling approved a plan — and that ruling was promptly appealed. That was only a month before the start of early voting.
“I believed we could not act until the county commission enacted a redistricting plan,” Shelby Elections Administrator Richard Holden wrote. “Had they acted in compliance with state law, we would have implemented the plan we developed after the March election certification and the results would have been dramatically different.”
And despite preparations that started two years ago and the fact that “the potential for problems was well known throughout the state,” Shelby election officials did not become aware that voters were being issued incorrect ballots for their districts until early voting began last month, Holden said in a 4½-page letter e-mailed to State Election Coordinator Mark Goins Wednesday night.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Opponents of Republican-drawn lines for the Tennessee Senate are suing for the redistricting plan to be thrown out on the basis that it ignored proposals made by the Legislature’s Black Caucus, their lawyer said Friday.
Bob Tuke, attorney for the opponents and a former state Democratic Party chairman, told The Associated Press the lawsuit to halt the plan was filed in chancery court in Nashville.
The lawsuit names Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and state elections officials as defendants. Among the eight Shelby County plaintiffs is Rep. G.A. Hardaway, who was drawn together with another Memphis Democrat in the GOP plan, and who is considering challenging Democratic colleagues in both the House and Senate.
It will be heard by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle.
Two fairly recent comments by legislative leaders are deemed false in recently-posted items on Politifact Tennessee.
From Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: “This year’s redistricting has been the most open, interactive and transparent redistricting process in Tennessee history.” (Direct link: HERE)
From House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick: The state constitution “clearly says there’s not to be a state income tax in Tennessee.” (Direct link HERE)
News release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office:
Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced that 2012 geographic redistricting data can now be accessed and downloaded online.
Geographic information system (GIS) users can now download the redistricting data in either Esri .shp files or Google .KML formats. Offering the data in these formats will allow users to overlay the boundaries in certain programs and to extrapolate statistical and other data from each district.
The electronic availability of these data products, in addition to the street-level statewide Google maps unveiled last week, is another first in the history of the state of Tennessee redistricting efforts.
“The release of this data is in continuation of the House of Representatives’ commitment to provide the most detailed, accurate, and accessible redistricting information to the citizens of Tennessee,” said Speaker Beth Harwell. “All of this information can now be accessed from the General Assembly’s redistricting map website or from the State’s TNMap portal.”
Detailed individual district maps will be available in PDF format in the coming week.
Citizens can access the new GIS data here: http://tnmap.state.tn.us/portal2/download.asp
The street-level statewide Google map data can be accessed here: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/districtmaps/redist.html
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey today announced the online release of Tennessee’s new state Senate district maps with street-level detail. The release is an unprecedented step in the history of redistricting in Tennessee and gives the general public access to the same information as county election officials.
“The first Republican redistricting process was not just fair and legal — it was also open and honest,” said Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. “Technology has given us the opportunity to distribute information quickly, efficiently and with little cost to the taxpayer. The new districts belong to Tennessee citizens so it is important for us to make the new maps widely available as soon as possible.”
Using Google’s publicly available Maps application, the Office of Legislative Information Services has created a map that displays Tennessee’s new redistricting data in a clean, detailed and easy-to-use fashion. Citizens now have the ability to find their own district as well as explore districts statewide.
This year’s redistricting has been the most open, interactive and transparent redistricting process in Tennessee history. In September, Lt. Governor Ramsey opened the redistricting process, soliciting map proposals from the general public. Any Tennessean with access to a computer and an internet connection had the ability to participate in the redistricting process.
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law the congressional and state House of Representative redistricting plans approved earlier by the Legislature, his office reports.
The Senate redistricting plan, which had to be revised after initial passage to correct the omission of Tipton County, got final approval later and is still awaiting the governor’s signature
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Senate has voted to restore Tipton County to the upper chamber’s redistricting plan.
The West Tennessee county that is in Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ redrawn district, had been inadvertently omitted by the upper chamber when it passed its plan last week.
The Senate voted 22-10 on Thursday to approve a fix made earlier in the House. All votes against the measure came from Democrats.
Democrats have blamed what they call the overly hasty adoption of the GOP redistricting plan for causing the error.
The plan now heads for the signature of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign it into law.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Thought Tennessee’s arduous redistricting process was over? Not so fast.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that Tipton County was inadvertently omitted from the upper chamber’s redistricting measure passed last week. The missing county is part of Norris’ redrawn Senate district.
The Legislature will need to pass the measure again to correct the error, Norris said. The Collierville Republican said the mistake was caught before the measure was sent to the governor for his signature, meaning lawmakers can move to reconsider their previous action.
“If it had received his signature already, that would have been problematic,” Norris said.
The language of the bill lists the areas of Shelby County that Norris would represent, but fails to mention Tipton County. Norris said it was a technical mistake akin to a typographical error but that he wanted to go through all the legislative motions again to ensure accuracy in the final product.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said.
Democratic Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, who is from Covington in Tipton County, said the mistake could have been avoided if the redistricting process has been more deliberate.
“It’s ironic that the sponsor of the bill is supposed to be representing Tipton County,” Naifeh said. “And he and the speaker of the Senate were in such a hurry to get it passed, they left Tipton County out.”
Democrats complained that the complete redistricting maps were not made publicly available until the week before the session began and that their requests to delay a vote to more carefully study the proposals were rejected.
“This is what getting in such a big hurry for show does,” Naifeh said. “And that’s all that was for, no other reason.”
The Senate redistricting plan passed on 21-12 vote in the upper chamber on Friday. The House voted 60-29 to approve the measure.
Democratic Rep. Bill Harmon says he might run for the state Senate rather than for reelection to a state House seat that has been redistricted to pair him with Republican Rep. Jim Cobb.
The Senate seat in question is District 16, currently held by Democratic Sen. Eric Stewart, who has announced plans to run for the 4th District Congressional seat. Before and after redistricting, district 16 includes Sequatchie County, Harmon’s home. Most rate it as leaning Democratic, though not dramatically so.
In the House, redistricting pairs Harmon and Cobb in new District 31. The House district stretches from Sequatchie and Bledsoe through Rhea County, Cobb’s home, and into southwestern Roane County. Most rate it as leaning Republican, though not dramatically so.
“Probably,” replied Harmon when asked whether he could win against Cobb. “I’m first going to look at (running for) the Senate.”
“Can I win in that district? Yes,” said Cobb.
The Cobb-Harmon Harmon contest is the only remaining matchup between an incumbent Republican and an incumbent Democrat from the new House redistricting plan. The version originally unveiled had another – pairing Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Giles County with Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Hardin County. That match was eliminated in the final and revised version, which leaves Bass in District 70, comprised of all of Giles and most of Lawrence County.
Republican Rep. Joey Hensley of Lewis County, who represents the House District adjoining the Bass District that was also impacted by the revisions, was apparently a key in Republican assent to the revision. House Speaker Beth Harwell and House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner say Hensley is considering a run for the Senate in the new, no-incumbent Senate seat created in Southern Middle Tennessee by the new Senate redistricting plan.