Hank Hayes reports on a trio of minor party candidates from Northeast Tennessee:
History suggests Kermit Steck, Bob Smith and Suzanne “Flower” Parker have no chance of being elected to public office, but the three Northeast Tennesseans have won the right to put their names before the electorate.
They all insist third political parties are viable alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties.
On Aug. 9, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tennessee’s ballot access law for newly qualified political parties and ordered the state to put Steck, Smith and Parker on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.
They are among about a dozen candidates listed statewide as “minor party candidates” for the general election ballot.
Steck, 56, is the Constitution Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican incumbent Bob Corker. Smith, 70, is the Green Party’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. And Parker, 40, is the Green Party’s candidate in Tennessee’s up-for-grabs 3rd House District.
Democrats running in their party’s state House District 30 primary say they’re in the contest in part because of concerns over where the Republican-led General Assembly is taking Tennessee, reports Andy Sher. Brock Bennington, Sandy Smith and Brian White of East Ridge are vying for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. They acknowledge that whoever wins will face an uphill fight to unseat Republican Rep. Vince Dean, also of East Ridge, in November.
…They said their focus will be on promoting public education and jobs-related efforts zeroing in on the district, which includes East Ridge, East Lake, East Brainerd and part of Collegedale.
“We need to be looking at real issues and not the evolution bill or the ‘gateway sexual activity’ bill,” said Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, calling those types of issues “red herrings.”
“I just feel we have so many more important things to deal with.”
Bennington, a private investigator for a local law firm, took aim at the 2012 “evolution” law that proponents said was needed to provide a framework to protect public school teachers who address controversies over theories like evolution and climate change.
“To me it’s a waste of our tax dollars [spending hours] debating the issue in committees,” Bennington said. “It just made us a laughingstock when corporations are looking at moving here.”
But Benningston, Smith and White all said they are conservative enough to appeal to voters in the general election. All said they support a controversial guns-in-parking lots bill that would prevent employers and others from barring handgun-carry permit holders’ ability to store weapons in their vehicles on private or public lots.
Smith, however, said schools should be excluded while White said he thinks it shouldn’t apply to universities.
White, who worked as a security guard but said he is now at home caring for his elderly father, also took issue with Dean’s support of two laws, which he contends are Dean’s main achievements. One allowed businesses in East Ridge to sell fireworks and the other bans motorcyclists from popping wheelies.
“There’s a lot of injuries” associated with fireworks, White said. “A lot of elderly people don’t like the noise. I don’t like the noise.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judge has been charged with drunken driving in Knoxville.
Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk told The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/JmbTZi) that 58-year-old Jerry Smith of Nashville was arrested shortly before midnight on Monday.
DeBusk said an officer stopped Smith’s car because the rear hatch was open and luggage was about to fall out.
The officer then found that Smith had slurred speech and unsteady, bloodshot eyes.
Smith refused to submit to a blood alcohol test, bringing another charge for violation of the implied consent law.
Smith was ordered released on his own recognizance after he was sober.
A person answering the phone at Smith’s office said he has no comment.
FedEx President, Chairman and CEO Fred Smith said today that economist Arthur Laffer must have misunderstood him last week in Memphis because Smith said he’s “never taken a position” on Tennessee’s estate tax and has no plans to leave Tennessee.
From the Rick Locker report: Smith, founder of FedEx, responded today to public remarks made Monday by Laffer to a state legislative committee during Laffer’s testimony in support of legislation to phase out Tennessee’s inheritance and estate tax by 2016. Laffer is a leader in the lobbying effort to pass the bill and made a 25-minute talk to the House-Senate Fiscal Review Committee Monday in support of the bill.
Laffer gained fame as a supply-side advocate in the administration of former President Ronald Reagan and moved a few years ago from California to Nashville, where he is chairman of Laffer Associates, a consulting firm. He dropped several names during his presentation Monday, including Reagan and California anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis.
At one point, in response to a question about the economic impact on the state of repealing the inheritance tax, Laffer said: “I spent about two hours with Fred Smith three days ago up in Memphis, and he said he’s gettin’ out of this state if it doesn’t happen. And now we don’t want to lose FedEx. Fred Smith’s a couple of classes behind me at Yale and he’s a good friend.”
FedEx on Monday night said the company doesn’t comment on Smith’s personal matters. But Smith issued a statement today saying Laffer must have misunderstood him.
UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Court of the Judiciary issued a public reprimand against an Obion County judge for ordering the release of his son after an arrest for driving under the influence.
The court that investigates complaints against Tennessee judges posted the reprimand on Monday against General Sessions Court Judge Jimmy C. Smith.
According to the reprimand obtained by the Union City Daily Messenger (http://bit.ly/IkwOMY ), Smith admitted that he had set the condition for release of his son, James Cutler Smith, who was arrested in October 2011 and later pleaded guilty to a violation of the implied consent law.
The court found this was a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which says a judge shall disqualify himself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might be questioned
News release from Smith Harris & Carr, Fisher and Associates:
The Nashville-based government relations firm of Smith Harris & Carr is pleased to announce an alliance with the Chattanooga public policy company of Fisher and Associates.
Smith Harris & Carr (SHC), formerly Smith Johnson Anderson & Carr, dates back to 1980. It is among Tennessee’s most respected providers of professional government relations services and represents a wide variety of clients including HCA, Ingram Industries Inc., Johnson & Johnson and a variety of professional associations.
Fisher and Associates is owned by Doug Fisher of Chattanooga. Fisher is a veteran government affairs professional, congressional district director and business owner. Although Fisher’s time will be split between Nashville, Atlanta and Chattanooga, he will be based in Chattanooga.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the owner of Bristol Motor Speedway discussed potential state assistance for the NASCAR venue Friday, two days after plans were announced to renovate the struggling track, reports The Tennessean. Haslam and Bruton Smith, the North Carolina-based owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., met in Nashville to hold “preliminary discussions” about potential aid. Speedway Motorsports plans to resurface Bristol before its next race in August in response to declining attendance and fan complaints about the quality of racing at the state’s only Sprint Cup track.
“Bristol is a huge part of our state, revenuewise,” Haslam said. “They didn’t have any specific proposals for us, nor did we have any for them, but it’s important for us to be in conversation with them about how they can get their attendance back to where they want it to be and where we want it to be, too.”
…Restoring the track to its original configuration will cost about $1 million, according to The Associated Press.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he had spoken with Haslam about potential aid to Bristol, which lies within Ramsey’s Senate district.
“Attendance was down over 50,000 people, and just the lost sales taxes for two races would be $1 million in revenue,” he said. “We have done things in the past — for tracks, for minor league ball clubs — and Bristol has never asked for anything before.”
Bristol would not be the first NASCAR track to receive state aid, or to struggle with poor attendance.
Tennessee extended $750,000 incentives to the Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County in 2002 and 2003 through its FastTrack program for businesses. But that track has struggled to gain a following, no NASCAR events will be held there this year, and it’s not certain that any will be scheduled there in the future.
Economic aid also has been suggested as a possible savior for the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, which hosted top-level NASCAR events from 1958 to 1984. Its future is also in doubt.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Former state Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith said Friday she won’t make another run for Congress next year.
Smith, who narrowly lost the GOP nomination to the 3rd District to eventual winner Chuck Fleischmann last year, told WGOW-AM in Chattanooga that she wants to focus on business opportunities.
“I don’t wake up every morning with a desire for revenge,” Smith said.
Fleishmann is facing a challenge from 24-year-old Weston Wamp, the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp. The elder Wamp retired from Congress to make an unsuccessful bid for governor last year.
Smith said she doesn’t plan to make an endorsement in the race.
The 3rd District stretches from Chattanooga on the Georgia border north past Oak Ridge before curling east around Knox County and touching the Kentucky border. Redistricting could significantly alter the shape of the district.
“The new district for 2012 will be very favorable for a challenger for this incumbent,” Smith said. “It’s going to be more concise, it’s going to involve most likely just one media market.
“So there were things that were very hard for me to walk away from on a personal emotional level.”
Smith didn’t rule out making a renewed bid for Congress in 2014.
— Note: Robin Smith’s news release is available below
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is now a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that Chip Saltsman, his chief of staff, defamed and slandered an aide for the congressman’s top rival during last year’s Republican primary, according to the Chattanooga TFP.. “As Chuck Fleisch-mann’s lackey, Mr. Saltsman acted only upon the instruction and approval of Chuck Fleischmann and on his behalf,” said a court filing for Mark Winslow, the former aide to Robin Smith.
Financial disclosures show Fleischmann’s campaign has already paid $7,565.38 to the Nashville law firm defending Saltsman, raising the question of whether a sitting congressman can use campaign donations for his own legal defense.
Jordan Powell, a spokesman for Fleischmann, said the congressman “was advised by counsel not to comment on any pending litigation.” Earlier this year,
Fleischmann’s office consulted with the federal agency that oversees election law. In a May 26 advisory opinion, the Federal Election Commission determined the Saltsman legal expenditures were campaign-related and not for “personal use.” The opinion did not address whether a congressman is allowed to use such funds, but it hinted at the issue.
…Fleischmann became a defendant in Winslow’s lawsuit about the same time Smith, the former chairwoman of the state Republican Party, began talking publicly about challenging the congressman again. In an interview, Smith said she’ll make a decision about whether she’ll run in 2012 within the next few weeks. She said she wouldn’t rule out hiring Winslow for a rematch.
In an opinion released this week, the state Court of Appeals is rejecting an elderly Tampa, Fla., woman’s claim that she is the rightful owner of a marriage license issued to Davy Crockett in Jefferson County in 1805 — long before the Greene County native’s death at the Alamo made him a hero.
More from Jamie Satterfield’s story: Margaret Vance Smith, who is in her 90s, has been locked in a years-long battle with Jefferson County officials over the document, which has been in her family’s possession since at least the 1940s. She contends that either her uncle, who then was Jefferson County court clerk, or her father essentially rescued the document from the trash bin at a time when county officials were tossing out unwanted filings.
After all, she argued in her appeal, by the early 19th century Crockett was, historically speaking, all washed up, and Jefferson County officials saw no value in hanging onto a document that memorialized the frontiersman being dumped at the altar. He didn’t become the stuff of legend, she insisted, until Walt Disney made a popular television series about him.
Jefferson County officials countered the marriage license was a valued historical document purloined by the Vance brothers. In a 2010 trial, Jefferson County officials trotted out a slew of historically insignificant documents that the county maintains in its archives to this day.
“(It) defies logic that Jefferson County would keep and store a stud horse license (issued in 1859) and fox pelt receipt (logged in 1860) but not the marriage license of David Crockett, hero of the Alamo and arguably the greatest frontiersman in United States history,” the appellate court opinion quotes the county’s legal counsel as arguing.
In its opinion, authored by Appellate Judge John W. McClarty, the court agreed. Note: the full opinion is HERE.