Tag Archives: republicans

Haslam family hosts a party at GOP convention

Excerpt from a Huffington Post article on parties at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and their sponsors:

The Cleveland host committee that handles the logistics and can accept unlimited funds to do so doesn’t have to report donor names until then (60 days after the convention)… The group is hosting a welcome reception for sponsors Sunday night. It’s listed as being at the home of Natalie and James Haslam, megadonor and founder of Pilot Corporation, an oil company; that could be a misprint, since James lives in Tennessee and it’s his son, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and his wife Dee who paid $4.1 million for a mansion on Lake Erie in 2012. (Another of James’ children is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam).

The Haslam family has long been active in donating to Republican politics. They certainly didn’t start out as Trump supporters this cycle: James, Jimmy, Jimmy’s sister Ann and his wife Susan gave a combined $125,000 to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise USA, early last year.

Since it would be a shame to let such a lovely estate go unused for the rest of the week, Jimmy Haslam’s place will be the venue for a Republican Governors Association lunch on Wednesday; we’re guessing invitees include, besides GOP governors, representatives of some of the RGA’s top donors, which this cycle include Koch Industries ($2 million); Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($1.5 million); and Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands ($1 million).

TN Republican convention notes

From the Associated Press
A Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention says he is disappointed the presiding officer did not allow a roll call vote on changing party rules.

The roll call vote was supported by delegates opposed to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. Those seeking a roll call wanted a chance to change the rules, but the presiding officer declared the rules passed on a voice vote.

Charlie Cato is a Nashville attorney in Cleveland as a delegate for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He says the leadership should have given everyone a chance to be heard. He would have voted against the rules, although he thinks they would have passed.

Cato says the Trump campaign won a victory “but not in a way that’s likely to bring the party together in November.”

From Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and a delegate, in his Monday ‘Delegate Diary’ blog post on convention activity.

Tennessee delegates led by state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet heard Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine speak at their breakfast Monday morning before the 2016 Republican National Convention was gaveled into session.

DeWine said is predicting a tight race in Ohio but that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump would prevail. DeWine is a likely candidate for governor of Ohio in 2018.

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris hosted a reception for delegates Sunday and will stay thru Thursday, making contacts among the delegates. Continue reading

Ketron brings Dutch anti-Islam leader to GOP convention

From the Associated Press
Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron has invited controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the Republican National Convention.

Wilders tweeted late Sunday that he had arrived in Cleveland. His tweet included a photo of a guest pass from the Tennessee Republican Party. Ketron, of Murfreesboro, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/2a6RUkx ) the populist anti-Islam and Euro-skeptic lawmaker is his friend.

Wilders has supported a ban on immigrants from Islamic countries to the Netherlands, similar to the idea presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has floated of temporarily banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. Ketron has sponsored several Tennessee bills aimed at Islam.

The invitation was criticized by Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, who said, “The Republican Party should not be importing foreign anti-Muslim bigots.”

For more, see Nashville Post Politics. Excerpt:

“Mr. Wilders is my guest at the convention. He called me sometime ago and was interested in attending. Like myself, having never attended a Convention before [sic] and he wanted to experience the process!” Ketron said in a text message.

When reached by phone this morning, Ketron said he was surprised that Wilders was a controversial choice of guest.

“He’s well-known in Europe, not here. A lot of people don’t even know who he is here,” Ketron said. “The only reason he is controversial is that he speaks his mind … and I agree with his philosophy.”

That philosophy is, in part, is that Islam is not actually a religion and that it is not compatible with democracy, or as Ketron put it, that his country “is being destroyed by the state of Islam.” Does Ketron think the United States is also being destroyed by Islam? He does, he replied, saying that the flux of Syrian refugees who do not “want to assimilate” and who are bringing tuberculosis past the borders is a crisis.

Yet although Wilders is Ketron’s guest, it seems that he likely won’t be attending many of the delegation’s events. For one, Ketron says, he has his own Dutch secret service accompanying him, adding to the already complex security logistics at the RNC. For another, it seems unlikely that at least one event at which Wilders is a “featured guest” — an LGBT gathering entitled, “WAKE UP! (the most fab party at the RNC)” — would be of interest to most of the Tennessee GOP delegates.

TN Republican Assembly backs (mostly) primary challengers

The Tennessee Republican Assembly — which bills itself as “a socially, morally, and fiscally conservative group of individuals committed to strengthening the Republican party by upholding the traditional, Republican ideals that represent the American founders’ original intent” – has endorsed 28 candidates in state legislative races.

There are seven incumbent House members on the list and no incumbent senators. With a couple of exceptions in open seats, those backed are challengers in GOP primaries.

The group maintains a political action committee (TRA PAC) with a current reported balance of $2,699 and no contributions made to candidates since 2014, when the PAC made donations totaling $1,500.

The TRA website is HERE. It’s endorsement list, as posted on Facebook, is below. Continue reading

Delegate Victor Ashe: Party platform puts GOP ‘squarely on the right’

Note: Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and U.S. ambassador to Poland, will be writing a “Delegate Diary” for the News Sentinel from the 2016 Republican National Convention. The following is an excerpt from his report on a meeting of the Platform Committee, of which he is a member:

The committee-approved platform “certainly marks the party as the most conservative.

Whether social issues or national defense or economic issues, the party is squarely on the right. To the credit of the 112 delegates, there was extensive debate and almost exhaustive consideration given.

The section on foreign policy was titled a “Dangerous World,” and contains the view of how the world looks today. Given the tragic set of attacks across the world, the title is an accurate summary of the situation all of us face.

As an observer, the shortcomings were lack of substantive research on some amendments as there was on occasion an absence of resources to verify or nullify assertions. That is why the committee focused on national security and relationships with foreign allies in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The United Kingdom was recognized as our top ally — whether the U.K. is in the European Union or not.

A quick glance at the composition of the Platform Committee shows a membership overwhelmingly white, with only one African-American woman and one openly gay woman. At some point, the Republican Party must include more nonwhites if there is a serious intent to win future national elections. The makeup of the committees is governed by each state delegation, which chooses one man and one woman on each standing committee.

…An innovative development among committee members was continued discussion on changing to a short, direct statement of principles not to exceed 1,200 words. Such a platform would be much more readable and understandable than the current 33,000-word document.

Led by Boyd Matheson of Utah, the effort to shrink built support as the arcane debate on numerous amendments left delegates wondering how much the American public would ever understand or know about the decisions made in Cleveland. They are right on target: only policy wonks and some media people will ever read such long reports.

Shorter statements of principle for both political parties would enable more voters to be better informed on both parties’ platform. Perhaps it would increase voter turnout. Such a move could not take place until the 2020 presidential election.

Sunday column: On TN bipartisan party dysfunction

When Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini recently ordered the settlement of a Shelby County Democratic Party squabble over financial mismanagement, her Republican counterpart, Ryan Haynes, promptly issued a press release denouncing “Democrat dysfunction.”

“Instead of taking responsibility and cleaning up the mess, the TNDP wants to ignore the problem in the hope that it goes away. It’s part of a disturbing pattern for them: Democrat public officials do something wrong and their Party pretends nothing ever happened. It’s right out of the Hillary Clinton playbook and it spells disaster for them this fall in Tennessee.”

That followed, by a couple of weeks, a TNGOP news release — with the headline “Tennessee Democrats: Corrupt to the Core” — that recited a list of Democratic officeholders who have run afoul of the law, starting with former Gov. Ray Blanton in the 1970s and continuing to Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, who is facing trial on federal tax evasion charges. Continue reading

TN GOP congressmen praise Trump after meeting with him

Tennessee Republican congressmen came out of a meeting with Donald Trump Thursday praising the party’s presumptive presidential nominee and declaring commitment to help him get elected; reports Michael Collins.

“Mr. Trump was well-received by House Republican members,” said Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin. “He focused on his agenda for getting the economy moving and bringing people together. There was great energy and enthusiasm in that room, and with Donald Trump at the top of the ballot, we are all ready to take on Hillary Clinton this November and hold our majorities in the House and Senate.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood described the meeting as positive. “He took questions from many members, addressed the issues, and focused on unity and winning in November,” she said.

With the Republican National Convention kicking off in Cleveland in a little more than a week, Trump made the rounds on Capitol Hill in meetings billed as a chance for lawmakers to get to know the presumptive GOP nominee for president.

In his meeting with House Republicans, Trump spent roughly a half-hour talking about policy and issues such as caring for veterans, strengthening the military and repealing and replacing Obamacare, said Rep. Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg. Continue reading

Winslow quits TNGOP: ‘Our soul rotted away some time ago’

Mark Winslow, former chief of staff for the Tennessee Republican Party, resigned Thursday as a member of the state GOP Executive Committee in a letter posted on Twitter, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“As it’s currently constituted, TNGOP is really nothing more than a small corrupt core group who view our party as their private club and personal piggy bank,” wrote Winslow. “Our soul rotted away some time ago.”

Winslow confirmed that his timing was no coincidence: After losing his job and suing the party and surviving several attempts to kick him off the SEC, he wanted declare his independence in concordance with the national holiday.

“I’ve actually wanted to quit for three years,” Winslow says. “It’s a relief. It’s time for someone else to step in.”

Winslow said his resignation had nothing to do with the battle over delegates for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, nor over a bylaw likely to come before the SEC at its next meeting in August that would automatically remove SEC members from the committee if they have ever worked for a Democrat running for office, which Winslow did.

“They’ve tried to change the bylaws a few times regarding me, and it’s never worked,” Winslow said. “It wouldn’t have worked this time, either.”

But other SEC members — all of whom were surprised by the sudden resignation, though most declined to comment on record — said Winslow would not have kept his position past August, nor were they upset to see him go.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish!” SEC secretary Christi Cross said. “My hope is that a bona fide Republican, with a commitment to the party and its platform, will be appointed to fill his term.”

The state GOP office declined comment, saying they still hadn’t officially received notice of Winslow’s resignation. Winslow said this was intentional on his part, because the party “stopped communicating” with him “long ago.”

“Really, this is a very happy time for me,” Winslow said. “It was the right time for me to do something other than dealing with the bickering of the state executive committee.”

With or without Winslow, the “bickering” on the SEC seems likely to continue throughout the primary and at least until the August board meeting.

Note: TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes notified SEC members that he had accept the resignation, but had no comments on Winslow’s remarks. Says Haynes letter to the committee:

As many of you are aware, Mark Winslow has publicly communicated his resignation from the State Executive Committee. I am accepting that resignation effective immediately. We wish him well with his important work with veterans for Judge Blackburn.

Per the Bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party, I will appoint a special subcommittee to make a recommendation to the full SEC for a new male representative of the 19th District.

I hope each of you has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Text of Winslow’s resignation letter is below. Continue reading

Sunday column: On the primary muddle in legislative campaigns

As campaigns for state legislative seats develop, the themes that will be in play for the handful of November general election contests are pretty clear while the candidate contrasts in the August primary are more difficult to decipher, though arguably far more important from a statewide policy perspective.

Under Republican-engineered redistricting and the Tennessee electorate’s prevailing political mood, there’s no chance that Democrats, as a matter of practical politics, can end the Republican Supermajority reign for the 110th General Assembly that convenes in January, even though Democrats “came out of the woodwork” – to use Democratic Chair Mary Mancini’s phrase – to qualify as underdog challengers in 40 or so seats now held by Republicans.

That’s about twice as many Democrats seeking Republican-held seats as compared to a couple of years ago. The reason? To speculate at bit, it appears that Democrats at the local level are inspired by both irritation and perceived opportunity.

The irritation, apparently held individually by most candidates, is unhappiness with some Supermajority actions. The opportunity is a perception that voters overall are irritated as well, as indicated in polls on matters such as Insure Tennessee, while Republicans are themselves divided on these matters and on the notion of Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. Continue reading

TN Trump delegate advocates death for violators of Constitution

A Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention from East Tennessee was also a delegate to a “Continental Congress of 2009” that advocated replacing the Department of Homeland Security with citizen militias and recently advocated the killing of U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution, according to Richard Locker.

The Trump campaign approved M. David Riden of rural McMinn County as one of its delegates. Voters in East Tennessee’s Third Congressional District elected him as a Trump-committed delegate and his wife Perry Riden as an alternate, in the state’s March 1 Republican presidential primary.

Gov. Bill Haslam will be a Marco Rubio delegate at the convention, although Rubio withdrew after the Tennessee primary. Asked to comment on Riden’s views, Haslam’s press secretary, David Smith, would only say, “The governor has a strict policy against elected officials being assassinated.”

Riden’s views attracted the interest of the national liberal magazine Mother Jones, which published an article on its website Thursday linking him to the murky world of far-right militias and “patriot” groups. (Note: It’s HERE.) Riden did not return repeated calls and emails from the News Sentinel for comment, but the Mother Jones article reported that he discussed his views in an interview with the magazine.

The article quotes Riden as saying that U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution may have to be done away with: “The polite word is ‘eliminated.’ The harsh word is ‘killed,'” Riden reportedly told Mother Jones. And he said all three branches of the federal government are “way off from the Constitution right now.”

Tennessee Republican leaders appeared to be distancing themselves from the delegate they’ll be sitting with on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena next month.

“If true, those views are not reflective in any way of the Tennessee Republican Party. We advocate for reforms by electing smart, principled conservatives and our record proves that. We would refer you to the Trump campaign for any additional information regarding individuals serving as their delegates,” TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes of Knoxville said in a statement.

Note: Another quote from the Mother Jones article:

Riden said his wife, Perry Riden, who is an alternate Trump delegate from Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, also thinks Obama is dangerous. “My wife looks at me and says, ‘Remember, he is one of them.’ Meaning he is a Muslim, he is on the side of the terrorists, he will…let Iran have nuclear weapons, which would destroy Israel and the United States, because his way of thinking is right in line with Iran, North Korea, and Russia.”