Sen. Lamar Alexander supported President Barack Obama’s positions on Senate bills in 2012 more frequently than any other Republican senator from the South, according to an independent voting analysis noted by Gannett newspapers in Tennessee. A study by Congressional Quarterly shows that on bills where Obama had a clearly stated position, Alexander voted with the president 62 percent of the time. Only Republican senators from Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska and Indiana had higher “presidential support” scores.
Alexander’s presidential support scores in recent years include 63 percent in 2011 and 52 percent in 2010. In both of those years, he also voted with Obama more often than any other southern Republican senator. The study comes at a time when there continues to be grumbling among some Tennessee Republicans — often expressed in blogs and other Internet postings — that Alexander is too moderate.
…Because the Congressional Quarterly study focuses only on votes where the president has a clearly defined position, it covers a minority of Senate roll calls.
In 2012, for instance, the Senate took 251 roll call votes but Congressional Quarterly only found 79 where the president had a clearly stated position. And 40 of those were judicial nominations.
Alexander has a long-stated position that a president of either party should have his appointments barred only in extreme circumstances.
Southern Republican senators close behind in supporting Obama were Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas at 58 percent, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at 57 percent and fellow Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker at 56 percent.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney has announced that National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert of Maryville, Tennessee was elected Vice-Chair of the Republican National Committee’s Southern Region.
“We are proud that Peggy was elected to this position. She has served the State Party for years and has been extremely active with the National Party during her first term as Tennessee’s National Committeewoman. She is well respected by her peers and brings great experience to the role. I am sure that she will represent Tennessee well in her new role,” said Devaney.
This region includes: Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.
Peggy Lambert was re-elected for a second term as Tennessee’s National Committeewoman by the State Executive Committee in March.
By Bill Barrow, Associated Press
ATLANTA — The “Solid South” was a political fact, benefiting Democrats for generations and then Republicans, with Bible Belt and racial politics ruling the day.
But demographic changes and recent election results reveal a more nuanced landscape now as the two major parties prepare for their national conventions. Republicans will convene Aug. 27 in Florida, well established as a melting-pot battleground state, to nominate Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Democrats will toast President Barack Obama the following week in North Carolina, the perfect example of a Southern electorate not so easily pigeon-holed.
Obama won both states and Virginia four years ago, propelled by young voters, nonwhites and suburban independents. Virginia, long a two-party state in down-ballot races, had not sided with Democrats on the presidency since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Jimmy Carter in 1976 had been the last Democratic nominee to win North Carolina. Each state is in play again, with Romney needing to reclaim Florida and at least one of the others to reach the White House.
Southern strategists and politicians say results will turn again this year on which party and candidates understand changing demographics and voter priorities.
“The transformation of the South seems to never end,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic campaign consultant with deep experience in Virginia and federal elections. “Now it’s beginning to emerge, at least parts of it, as solidly purple.”
New citizens, birth rates, and migration patterns of native-born Americans make high-growth areas less white, less conservative or both. There is increasing urban concentration in many areas. African-American families are moving back to the South after generations in Chicago, New York or other northern cities.
Young religious voters are less likely than their parents to align with Republicans on abortion and same-sex unions. Younger voters generally are up for grabs on fundamental questions like the role of the federal government in the marketplace.
“I wouldn’t say the South is any more ideologically rigid than anywhere else in the country. Certainly, it’s complicated,” said former Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. Bredesen, a Democrat, won twice while Republican George W. Bush occupied the White House. Before that, Bredesen was a two-term mayor of Nashville.
By Errin Haines, Associated Press
ATLANTA — Black lawmakers have lost clout in Southern state capitols as their overwhelming allegiance to the Democratic Party has left them without power in increasingly GOP-controlled state legislatures.
The nonpartisan Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies says in a report issued Friday that despite Barack Obama’s election as president, black voters and elected officials in the South have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era.
“Since conservative whites control all the power in the region, they are enacting legislation both neglectful of the needs of African Americans and other communities of color …” writes senior research associate David Bositis in a paper titled “Resegregation in Southern Politics?” The Washington-based think tank conducts research and policy analysis, particularly on issues that affect blacks and people of color.
Bositis points out state legislatures are increasingly divided along racial lines — making Republican synonymous with whites and Democrat and black interchangeable.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Governors and state economic development officials are sharing tips and strategies for how to attract businesses and create jobs
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam noted at a National Governors Association meeting in Nashville on Monday that it’s a “very, very competitive world” when it comes to recruiting investors, both domestically and globally.
Haslam was joined at the conference by Govs. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
The Republican governors said states can help lure businesses by reducing workers’ compensation obligations, making regulations less onerous and limiting damages from civil lawsuits.
Barbour said curbing lawsuit damages was key to Mississippi landing a new Toyota plant in 2007. He said the plant is scheduled to produce its first vehicle on Thursday.
Michelle Rhee, described as “a rock star of education reform,” has moved to Nashville and on Sunday made a speech in Memphis with Mike Morrow on hand to report that, among other things, she praised the state Legislature and endorsed school voucher programs == such as one that would be created in Tennessee under a bill that passed the state Senate last legislative session but failed in the House. Rhee, former chancellor of Washington D.C. schools and founder of StudentsFirst, a reform-minded education organization…. has moved to Nashville so her two daughters can be close to their father, Tennessee’s new education commissioner, Kevin Huffman. The girls will go to school in Nashville.
But Rhee will spend only half of her time in Nashville, with plans to spend the other half in Sacramento, where her fiance lives. Rhee is most noted for her time as head of the D.C. school system, although a published report early this year by USA Today raised questions about the authenticity of some academic gains on her watch.
The two daughters were with Rhee as she spoke to the Southern Legislators Conference, a meeting of legislators from several states, with an audience of about 150 people.
She even used the two girls to make her point about competitiveness. She said her girls have trophies and ribbons galore to show for their participation in soccer. But how do they actually perform on the field of competition?
“They suck,” Rhee said, getting no visible objection to that assessment from the girls, who sat halfway back in the room. She said kids have lost the spirit of competition and that the nation has to regain that in education.
Rhee used the example to get the point across that the idea that everyone performs well is not a healthy way to approach education. Rhee was highly complimentary of the education reforms the Tennessee General Assembly enacted this year, which included tenure reform, charter school expansion and a new way of negotiating with teachers that dramatically reduces the power of the big teachers union.
“I think they made tremendous progress this last year,” Rhee said of the Legislature after her speech. “We had very close partnerships.”
“We feel heartened by the progress that was made in the Legislature in this last session. We also know a lot of those legislators are really interested in continuing to push aggressive reforms next session, so we’re very much looking forward to continuing working with them.”
Rhee dived right into partisan politics and explained she was a Democrat and once held all views one might expect in order to fall into the party line, including opposition to school vouchers. She changed her mind on that.
“Because of partisan politics I really believed that vouchers were not a good thing and that we shouldn’t even ever discuss them,” she said. “That all changed when I became the chancellor of a school district in D.C. and we had a publicly funded voucher program in the city.”
Note: Morrow;s TNReport article is accompanied by videos from Rhee’s speech and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s commentary.
One-third of Tennessee’s state’s lawmakers are planning a trip to Memphis this weekend to mingle with hundreds of legislators from other Southern states, according to Andrea Zelinski. The Southern Legislative Conference, which is closed to the public, is chaired this year by Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, of Collierville.
…State lawmakers attend courtesy of state taxpayers who cover their $200 registration fee, a $176 daily per diem to cover meal and hotel expenses and 46-cents-per mile reimbursement to drive there.
Forty-five members of the Tennessee Legislature plan on attending the conference, which runs from Saturday to Wednesday. The list (provided in full on Zelinski’s post) includes top Republicans like Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell, along with other high-ranking leaders like the top Democrat in the Senate, Jim Kyle, who hails from the Memphis area, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner.
…While the conference is closed to the general public, it is open to the media and is usually attended by lobbyists, according to Norris.
Tennessee’s delegation is almost evenly split along party lines between the 29 representatives and 16 senators who signed up with legislative staff to attend the five-day conference.
By Travis Lollar
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention approved a new resolution at its meeting in Arizona this week advocating a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, in a move that policy leader Richard Land described as “a really classic illustration of gospel love and gospel witness.”
The resolution passed Wednesday also calls on Southern Baptists to minister to all people and to reject bigotry and harassment toward all people, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.
“I think Southern Baptists understand it’s just not politically viable to send an estimated 12 to 15 million undocumented immigrants back where they came from,” said the Rev. Paul Jimenez, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., and chairman of the SBC’s resolutions committee. “It’s not humane either.”
A motion to strike the reference to a path to legal status was narrowly defeated by a vote of 766 to 723, according to the SBC’s Baptist Press.