SMYRNA, Tenn. — While Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney acted as master of ceremonies at an event hosted by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s reelection campaign Saturday, tea party activists held an event nearby to denounce the incumbent lawmaker’s voting record.
The contrast may illustrate the split within state Republican ranks now that the party holds a supermajority in the state Legislature, the governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and seven of nine U.S. House seats.
“We’re just sick and tired of the Republican establishment telling us we can’t have an open debate on Lamar Alexander’s record,” said Ben Cunningham, founder of Nashville Tea Party and Tennessee Tax Revolt, who served as master of ceremonies at the “counter-rally” attended by perhaps 200 persons from around the state — including a small group from Alexander’s native Blount County.
He said Devaney “is not supposed to endorse in a primary” but is effectively doing so by boosting Alexander’s re-election campaign toward a “coronation” by “trying to intimidate” prospective opponents.
“There is no primary now,” said Devaney when asked about the comments of Cunningham and others at the tea party gathering.
See also The Tennessean, which includes this paragraph: Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Alexander, on Saturday night said that more than 500 people showed up for the Alexander campaign event at the Smyrna Air Center to honor Middle Tennessee Republican Party chairmen.
By simply relocating his office space at the Tennessee State Capitol, state Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, learned a whole new side to local history regarding Civil War spy DeWitt Smith Jobe, reports the Daily News Journal. “I asked (Speaker Beth Hartwell) for a new office overlooking the Capitol and the Sam Davis Monument because Sam Davis kind of represents Smyrna,” Sparks said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to do a little research on the Coleman Scouts and I came across (an article) about DeWitt Smith Jobe.”
Sparks, along with several local Civil War aficionados, convened Saturday at Giles Baptist Church on Rocky Fork Road for a program honoring the heroic life of Jobe, who was a member of the infamous Confederate spies known as the Coleman Scouts. About 50 people attended the presentation. Guest speakers included James Patterson, adjutant of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Greg Tucker, Rutherford County historian, and John Moore, a descendant of Jobe.
“Here I was, born and raised in Smyrna and I didn’t really know what all (Jobe) went through,” Sparks said, adding that he also discovered John Bridges’ book, “Three Cousins from Mechanicsville,” chronicling the heroic life of Jobe and his two relatives.
Jobe worked alongside fellow Coleman Scout Sam Davis, who is well-known for having hanged after refusing to betray his source. Sparks compared the scouts’ tenacity to that of the modern-day “A-Team.”
….”He was as much a hero as Sam Davis. He just didn’t have the publicity Sam Davis had,” Bridges said.
Jobe met a much more gruesome fate. Right before being captured by Union troops in August 1864, Jobe destroyed information he was carrying — he swallowed it — and refused to divulge the message. He was brutalized for days. Eventually, his tongue was severed and he died after being dragged by a galloping horse.
Republican state Rep. Mike Sparks, a longtime Smyrna resident and former Rutherford County commissioner, is being challenged in the 49th District of the Tennessee House of Representatives by Democrat Mike Williams, a retired Methodist minister and sociology professor.
From a Tennessean story on the race: Sparks said he has a pro-business platform that seeks to reduce regulation at the state and local levels.
“Small businesses create the majority of the jobs, and not big businesses,” Sparks said. “There are not lobbyists for the small-business people because they can’t afford it and they are too busy working 50 hours a week.”
Sparks also vows to help prisoners who have completed their sentences be better prepared to be productive citizens.
Williams is retired from a career in ministry for the United Methodist Church and as a sociology professor for 23 years for The Ohio State University at Mansfield.
Williams said his key platform is jobs.
“I intend to help create jobs and preserve jobs by helping our small businesses succeed,” Williams said. “Part of helping our small businesses succeed involves working to give them the tax breaks they need, breaks from workers’ compensation charges.”
Tennessee National Guard Soldiers from a 45-man Smyrna-based Air Medivac unit leave Saturday, Feb. 4, on the first leg of a journey taking them to Afghanistan on a one-year deployment.
A deployment ceremony for families and friends will be held at the Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna at 9 a.m. this Saturday at the Guard’s Aviation Support Facility, Hangar 3. Six aircraft and crews are to depart at 10:00 a.m.T
The Medivac unit will be utilizing 15 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters already in Afghanistan. Its mission is medical evacuation of US and NATO Forces as well as civilians.
The helicopter unit, nicknamed “Southern Comfort,” is officially Detachment 1, Co. C, 1-169th Air Ambulance. They will travel to Fort Hood, Texas, for a period of specialized training before continuing on to Afghanistan.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Caucus:
SMYRNA – House and Senate Democrats continued their statewide jobs tour Wednesday with stops in Columbia and Smyrna, as officials discussed technical jobs training and the expansion of one of Middle Tennessee’s largest employers.
“Today’s events were a great reminder that when different groups within the public and private sector come together, we can put people to work faster and more efficiently,” said State Representative Gary Moore.
The morning began with a roundtable at Columbia State Community College, where former State Rep. Ty Cobb updated everyone with the latest news on the reopening of the General Motors plant in Spring Hill. National labor and management officials with GM have reported they are close to a new contract that would create 600 new jobs next year at the former Saturn plant, and another 1,100 by 2013.
Public officials then met with Marvin Sandrell of Sandrell Heating and Air Conditioning and several members of the Columbia State faculty and staff to discuss how Tennessee educational institutions can best prepare students for the workforce – especially nontraditional students training for a new career.
The tour then traveled to Smyrna to visit the Nissan plant, where the all-electric LEAF is expected to go into mass production next year. Nissan executives and directors told the group that the plant’s expansion is a direct result of Tennessee’s economic incentives and infrastructure support.
“I watched the first Nissans roll off the assembly line in 1983, and since Day One our state government has had a great relationship with Nissan,” said Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. “Our cooperation has benefited not only Middle Tennessee, but the entire state.”
Nissan officials also told the tour of the need for increased emphasis on science and technology education and a recommitment to trade schools that prepare Tennesseans for well-paying manufacturing careers.
The jobs tour continues tomorrow morning in McMinnville before heading to Chattanooga for the East Tennessee portion of the tour.