Tag Archives: Roberts

Roberts to Challenge Summerville in GOP State Senate Primary (along with others?)

Former State Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield has announced as a candidate for the District 25 state Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Jim Summerville of Dickson.
The district includes Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys and Robertson counties.
From The Tennessean:
Roberts served as state senator for District 18 from March 2011 until November 2012 after being elected to finish the term vacated by Diane Black, who was elected to Congress in November 2010. Roberts left office on Nov. 6, having been drawn out of the district he represented by the legislature.
Robertson County was separated from Sumner County in District 18 and moved into District 25, which is represented by (Summerville, who was not up for re-election in 2012, but will be in 2014.)
…Roberts’ announcement comes days after State Rep. Joshua Evans, R-District 66, confirmed to the Robertson County Times that he is also considering making a bid for the seat.
The incumbent, Summerville, has already announced his intentions of running for reelection. And Wayne White, a Republican from the city of Slayden in Dickson County, has also announced his candidacy.

Ramsey: Axing Roberts ‘Toughest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

Michael Cass has a story on Sen. Kerry Roberts being redistricted out of a run for re-elecction by his fellow Republican senators – starting with the observation that Gov. Bill Haslam hosted a fundraiser for Roberts just a day before the redistricting plan was announced.
The redistricting plan, unveiled less than 24 hours after the fundraiser, left some people wondering where Roberts had gone astray and whose bad side he had wound up on. But Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, speaker of the Senate, insisted Friday that it was legal necessity, not political grudges, that spawned the proposal.
“I am catching a lot of heat over this,” Ramsey said in a phone interview. “But there comes a time when you have to say that all you can do is what’s legal. This is the best we can do.”
“I want to stress that Kerry Roberts is my friend,” added Ramsey, who, with House Speaker Beth Harwell, co-hosted another fundraiser for Roberts in Gallatin on Dec. 12.
Roberts, a certified public accountant and bicycle enthusiast who owns The Bike Pedlar, did not respond to a phone message and two emails seeking comment Friday. He was elected less than a year ago in a special election to fill the vacancy created by former Sen. Diane Black’s move to Congress.
…Ramsey said population shifts and a constitutional requirement to avoid splitting counties between legislative districts forced a move to bring Robertson County, where Roberts lives, into a newly drawn District 25 with Dickson County — which is (Sen. Jim) Summerville’s home — as well as Cheatham, Humphreys, Perry and Lewis counties.
…Ramsey said Senate Democrats split some counties between districts in the last redistricting process 10 years ago, but they were never challenged on it.
However, the state attorney general’s office told Ramsey and the rest of the Senate redistricting team a few days before Christmas that splitting Robertson County into two districts would have left them vulnerable to a legal challenge. So team members went “back to the drawing table” and “lived on a conference call” between Christmas and New Year’s Day so they could find a solution.
Unfortunately, Ramsey said, that solution put Roberts in the electoral wilderness.
“I don’t see another option,” Ramsey said. “This is no doubt the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my 20-year legislative career.”
Ramsey said he had been exploring another potential option for Roberts. Under that scenario, if Roberts moved to Sumner County and could get a waiver of the constitutional requirement that candidates live in a district at least a year before the election, he could run in District 18 again this fall.
Ramsey said the idea was worth a shot since Roberts didn’t have a chance to live in Sumner County a year before the November election. He said he had talked to Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper about the matter twice already.
“It’s hard to get a waiver on the (state) constitution,” the lieutenant governor said Friday afternoon. “But we’re checking into it to see if it can be considered an extenuating circumstance.”
But he said later in the day that Roberts’ chances of making the move and withstanding a legal challenge were slim.

Senate Redistricting Plan To Oust Kyle, Roberts?

Republicans’ state Senate redistricting plan unveiled Wednesday appears designed to effectively oust Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle and Republican freshman Sen. Kerry Roberts from office.
The Senate plan was unveiled though an email news release and the posting of a map of the new plan. No senators on the Senate redistricting committee were immediately available for comment and explanation.
Among the highlights as they appear from the information provided:
-Kyle, a Memphis attorney and the Senate’s top Democrat, is thrown into the same district with Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. Kyle faces re-election this year. Kelsey was re-elected to a new four-year term in 2010. Thus, Kyle, living in Kelsey’s Senate district, lives in a seat that already has an incumbent senator.
John Ryder, a Republican National Committee member and Memphis attorney who advised Republicans on redistricting, said Kelsey could remain in a four-year term in his current district, 31, or opt to seek an entirely new four-year term in the new Senate District 28. He has apparently chosen to run again, colleagues said, and is confident of defeating Kyle in what will be a highly Republican district.
-Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, elected in a special election last year, is paired in new District 25 with Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson. Roberts is up for re-election this year; Summerville’s term runs until 2014. Thus, Roberts will effectively be out of office after the election, since he will live in Summerville’s district.
The news release describes the situaton: “The map pairs four current incumbents into two districts to meet equal population guidelines – three of these four paired incumbents are Republicans, an indication of the fairness of the overall plan.”
-Two new open seats are created in Middle Tennessee.
One is designated as Senate District 33 and includes Maury, Hickman, Lawrence, Wayne and Giles counties.
The other is designated as Senate District 18 and includes all of Sumner County (previously part of Roberts’ district) and Trousdale County and a part of Davidson County.
Sumner County resident Ferrell Haile, who previously held the seat now held by Roberts, recently announced that he will run for the Senate in 2010. He will be a resident of the new District 18 and would not have to oppose Roberts, who lives in Robertson County.
–The plan will have four “majority minority” districts, compared to three under the current plan. The new “majority minority” district, with a majority black population, will include incumbent Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, who is white.
Here’s an initial statement from the Senate Democratic Caucus:
“We are reviewing the maps presented to us and are consulting our caucus members regarding the proposed changes,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney said. “This is the first time that our members have seen any official redistricting maps, and the first opportunity to view this specific map. We are committed to an open and public process as this issue greets us at the beginning of a new legislative session, and we will work to resolve any redistricting issues in a fair and timely manner so that we can move forward to the remaining business of the General Assembly.”
(Note: this expands and updates earlier post.)
The Republican news release and fact sheet are below.

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Former Sen. Haile to Challenge Current Sen. Roberts for GOP Somination

Gallatin pharmacist Ferrell Haile has announced he will next year seek the Republican nomination for the 18th District state Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Kerry Roberts of Springfield, says the Tennessean.
Haile, a lifelong Sumner County resident, co-owner of Perkins Drugs in Gallatin and a cattle farmer, was appointed as interim 18th District state senator by the Sumner County Commission by unanimous vote Nov. 22, 2010 when Diane Black resigned following her election to the U.S. House of Representatives last year.
“I enjoyed serving,” Haile said. “I felt like I was able to do some good and be a positive influence in the process, and I’d like to be able to do that again.”
Haile did not seek the GOP nomination during the 2011 special primary election for Black’s seat. Kerry Roberts of Springfield won the GOP nomination in January and went on to defeat Portland Democrat Ken Wilber by a landslide victory in the special election held in March.

While Governor Comments on Amazon, Revenue Commissioners Won’t

While Gov. Bill Haslam says there are “ongoing negotiations” with Amazon over the internet giant’s collection of Tennessee sales taxes, Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts will not confirm the governor’s statements..
And former Revenue Commissioner Charles Trost, who reportedly handled the Amazon dealing back during former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, won’t say anything either.
So reports Mike Morrow as part of a story on Haslam’s remarks on Amazon Friday, which boiled down to the governor saying he hasn’t changed his position – he’ll honor the Bredesen deal but would like for Amazon to start collecting taxes at some undefined point in the future.
Haslam was asked Friday if, when an arrangement with Amazon is reached, the public would be informed what it is.
“Sure,” Haslam said. “You bet.

But it’s sure bet that officials don’t like to talk about the deal now.
Trost, a Nashville attorney who replaced Reagan Farr as commissioner of Revenue last Sept. 10, would not comment on details of the Bredesen deal.
“I really am not in a position where I can,” Trost said. “The taxpayer confidentiality rules have put me in a position where I just don’t even want to start down the road talking about it.”
Trost said he is not even in a position to confirm that the deal was struck while he was commissioner.
“What’s in the public record out there, if you looked at the timing on it, when I was in office, you can draw your own conclusions,” Trost said.
….Roberts had a similar response.
“I can tell you that the state statutes prohibit me from discussing any taxpayer, whether it be you or Billy Bob’s Bait Shop or an unnamed major Internet retailer,” Roberts said. “Just as a matter of policy we simply can’t comment on individual taxpayers.”
Roberts said he cannot confirm that the administration is talking to Amazon.
“Our policy here requires that we maintain confidentiality. The reason is we have to give any taxpayer the confidence that what they file with us and their dealings with us will not wind up in the public domain. Until the legislature changes that — and I also believe it’s the right policy — I just simply can’t confirm or deny,” Roberts said.
Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, speaking to reporters Friday, picked up on the issue of discussing the talks.
“I can’t quite tell what the governor’s position on this is, but we are making a mistake by talking about our discussions with Amazon without having some kind of firm agreement with them,” Berke said
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TBI Informant Defends Millington Mayor

The “confidential informant” who appeared to be the pivotal witness against Millington Mayor Richard Hodges lashed out Monday against a TBI investigation, saying Hodges is guilty only of gambling in friendly poker games at a local repair shop.
More from the Commercial Appeal account:
The witness, Transmission Doctors owner Marlin Roberts, said Hodges never used his office to solicit bribes or threaten him for money, crimes suggested in a TBI affidavit filed on Friday.
“I love Richard and he is family to me,” Roberts said. “I want Richard Hodges to be vindicated of all charges.”
As of Monday evening, Hodges had neither been charged nor indicted. But Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents laid out a case against him in an affidavit released Friday supporting search warrants for raids on July 27.
“There are truly two questions that you should be seeking the answers for,” Roberts told reporters beckoned to his shop. “Why, hours before I was to appear before the grand jury for questioning, would it be canceled? And why would the TBI ever release the information and whereabouts of a confidential informant?”

See also the Memphis Daily News, which ties the mayor’s difficulties into a ‘brief but volatile’ feud with the local police chief.
Soon after (Chief Ray) Douglas was appointed, Hodges talked openly of Douglas having to adapt to policing in a small town. To Hodges, that meant being less formal and less by the book.
One of the stories he told was of arguing with Douglas about whether a patrol car at a block party had to keep its engine running at all times. Hodges didn’t think so. But the argument ended with him ordering Douglas to have the officer leave the car sitting in the road with its engine and flashing lights turned off.

Haslam Appoints Three to State Board of Education

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced three members of the state Board of Education: Knoxville Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards; former Executive Director of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Tech Prep Programs Carolyn Pearre; and TRH Health Plans CEO Lonnie Roberts.
Edwards, Pearre and Roberts are each appointed to nine-year terms, and for Pearre, this is her second term on the board. Edwards and Roberts are replacing Richard Ray and Flavius Barker.
The Tennessee Board of Education is the governing and policy making body for the state’s public and secondary education systems, affecting accountability, evaluation, curriculum and teacher education, among other areas.
“Improving the education we offer Tennesseans is the best long-term job growth strategy, and I’m confident Carolyn, Lonnie and Mike are up to the task of helping to guide the state’s schools as we seek to positively impact the classroom experience for every student in every school,” Haslam said.
Edwards has been president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber since 2002, and he is also the president and CEO of The Development Corporation of Knox County. He serves on the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Directors of the Public School Forum of East Tennessee, the state Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee and the Board of Trustees for the Great Schools Partnership.
Roberts has nearly 40 years of experience in the health care field and has been the CEO of TRH Health Plans since 1996. He is the immediate past chairman of the Columbia State Foundation Board and has served on the State Health Care Facilities Commission, the Board of Directors of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee and the Advisory Board of Maury Regional Hospital.
From 1972-1999, Pearre worked for Knox County schools, beginning as a speech-language therapist and preschool teacher and finishing at The Center School as a program facilitator. She was on the Board of Trustees for the state’s then-Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation; the Board of Trustees for the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute; and the Board of Directors for Leadership Knoxville. Pearre also won several awards as a teacher and principal.

Governor, NFIB at Odds over Making Revenue Rulings Public

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is at odds with a key business lobby over a legislative effort to make public Department of Revenue rulings on tax issues that have been kept secret since a policy change instituted by former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration in 2008.
The conflict over SB902, pushed by the National Federation of Independent Business, provides at least the third example of how the road to making state government more business-friendly, an oft-stated goal of Haslam and leaders of the Legislature’s Republican majority, is proving not always smooth.
Jim Brown, state director of NFIB, said 180 “letter rulings” by the revenue commissioner have been issued and kept confidential since the policy change instituted under Bredesen. The letters are issued in response to specific taxpayer requests for how the department would interpret the state tax consequences of a given business decision.

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Republican Roberts Wins Senate District 18 Seat, 2-to-1

Republican Kerry Roberts carried both Sumner and Robertson counties by a landslide to defeat Democrat Ken Wilber in Tuesday’s special state Senate election to fill the 18th District seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Diane Black.
From The Tennessean:
“This election was decided on three major points,” Roberts said in a written statement. “First, voters agree that job growth and economic development come through lower taxes, less government regulation and better education.
“Second, voters want a senator who will consistently stand up for the conservative values of protecting the right to life, the right to keep and bear arms, and who believes in and supports the Constitution.
“And third, voters resoundingly rejected negative campaign advertising and personal attacks. We remained positive and the voters overwhelmingly responded.”

The final, unofficial tally: Roberts 8,827; Wilber 4,316.
The results assure Republicans retain their current 20-13 partisan advantage in the state Senate.
Some press releases on the results are available below.

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Senate District 18 Special Election Gives Democrats an Unusual Opportunity

Tuesday’s special election in Robertson and Sumner counties appears to provide at least a long-shot chance for Democrats to gain a state Senate seat in a heavily Republican area.
In early voting, which ended last week, only 3,854 votes were cast, according to the state Division of Elections, a very low turnout. In Robertson County, home of Republican nominee Kerry Roberts, the early vote was 1,541; in Sumner, home of Democratic nominee Ken Wilber, who is mayor of Portland, the early vote was 2,313.
The election is to replace former state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Diane Black, who was elected to the 6th Congressional District seat in November. Roberts was one of her unsuccessful opponents in the GOP primary. The seat has been held on an interim basis by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin.
The scenario causing concern for Republicans, including Roberts was outlined in a Mike Towie column written earlier in the campaign. An excerpt:
Roberts, who lives in Springfield, is feeling a mix of confidence and apprehension. The confidence comes from being a Republican now officially endorsed by Black and running in a district that has voted strongly GOP in recent years. The anxiety? That emanates from the realization there could be enough voters believing either that he has already won or is at least a cinch to win, and therefore they won’t feel compelled to vote.
“One thing I learned from the Congressional race (6th District GOP primary) I ran in last year was that a false sense of security can come from forums and county party meetings,” Roberts said. “You can be well received, but you are touching only a small percentage of voters.”
There’s a more to the equation. Enter the Debra Maggart House Bill 130 factor, especially as it relates to Sumner County. Maggart’s anti-collective bargaining bill is the hottest hot-button issue in Sumner right now. It is effectively pitting thousands of Sumner teachers against the Board of Education and likely any other voter-elected governmental body – or state legislature candidate? – that they perceive as standing in their way.
Look at it this way: if Sumner’s GOP-leaning voters turn apathetic between now and March 8, the resultant light voter turnout combined with a huge, angry bloc of voting teachers could mean good news for whichever candidate’s party is seen as the more union-friendly of the two. These days that clearly is the Democratic Party.
Roberts has Diane Black on his side, but Wilber could conceivably counteract with hordes of conscientious civic-minded educators poised in the starting blocks, ready to sprint to the voting booths and check the box beside the mayor’s name.