Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii is retiring and that means Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will become first in the U.S. Senate, alphabetically speaking. The New York Times reports that means change in a decades-old tradition of roll call voting. Mr. Akaka, 88, is retiring, departing not long after the death of Mr. Inouye, who was born just four days before him in 1924. It is a huge change for Hawaii, which was represented in the Senate since 1963 by Mr. Inouye, a legendary figure both in Hawaii and Washington, and since May 1990 by Mr. Akaka after his appointment to an unexpired term and subsequent election to three full terms.
And it will be a change for the Senate as well, not only in the loss of two popular Democratic colleagues, but also for the role Mr. Akaka played in the roll.
“It is almost as if he were part of the Senate procedure,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who is now in line to lead off the roll after Mr. Akaka departs with the start of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3. “It is like a page will be missing from the rule book. It is unsettling, and it is going to take a little getting used to.”
Mr. Akaka has not been No. 1 his entire tenure. Spencer Abraham, a Michigan Republican, came along in 1995 and took over the top spot. But he was defeated in 2000 by a Democrat, Debbie Stabenow, someone way down near the other end of the alphabet, clearing the way for Mr. Akaka’s return to the top of the order.
“I have always been proud about it, and I am going to miss it,” Mr. Akaka said of his alpha-Senate status. “The clerk told me the other day, ‘Wow, I am going to miss calling your name.’ ”
News release from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed secure funding agreements with many federal agencies and regional utilities to enable the agency to continue raising and stocking fish in streams affected by federal water development projects and power generation activities. However, unless a similar agreement is reached soon with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to cover fish rearing and stocking operations in Tennessee and Georgia, the Service will be forced to halt this work on behalf of the TVA.
For more than four decades, the Service has used its own funds to work with state fish and wildlife agencies, tribal governments and other partners to lessen the impact of dams and other water development projects that have contributed to the decline of native fisheries by impairing stream flows and water quality. But increasing costs and budget constraints have made it impossible for the Service to fund this work in the future.
Anticipating this crisis, the Service has worked for more than three years to secure agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration that provide most of the funding needed for this work through the end of fiscal year 2013. Ongoing discussions have yielded no similar agreement with TVA, a federally owned corporation created by congressional charter during the Great Depression to provide navigation, flood control and electricity generation in the Tennessee Valley.
If the Service cannot reach an agreement with TVA by April 1, 2013, to provide nearly $1 million in annual operational funding, the agency will not be able to produce fish for delivery in fiscal year 2014.
Gov. Bill Haslam and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire have sent a letter to two U.S. Senate Finance Committee leaders urging action before the end of the year on legislation allowing states to collect sales taxes on Internet sales. The bill is known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act.”
The letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Sen. Orrin Hatch, ranking Republican on the panel, says the lack of state tax collection on Internet sales has created “an artificial price disparity” between online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, who must collect sales taxes.
“We understand you would prefer to take up the Marketplace Fairness Act next year in the context of wide-ranging, comprehensive tax reform. Frankly, our Main street businesses and states cannot afford to wait. This is our best chance to pass this important legislation and we urge your support for enacting S. 1832 this year,” the letter says.
The letter was distributed to media by the National Governors Association. The full letter is available HERE.
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A federal appeals court on Friday ordered a lower court to reconsider whether Tennessee law makes it too difficult for third parties to get on the ballot.
In February, U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. struck down state rules requiring third-party candidates for high-level offices to be selected through a primary. He also struck down a requirement that the parties and candidates collect about 40,000 signatures and turn them in seven months before the election.
After that decision, the General Assembly changed the law to make it easier on third parties.
Under the new rules, minor political parties can still use the primary process. They also have the option of selecting nominees in accordance with their own internal rules.
If they chose to do the latter, the parties still have to collect signatures, but they don’t have to turn them in until 90 days before the election. The individual candidates don’t have to collect signatures.
The three-judge panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling from Cincinnati, sent the case back to the lower court to re-evaluate the rules in light of the recent changes. The court also overturned the lower court’s determination that a prohibition on the words “independent” and “nonpartisan” in party names was unconstitutional.
Six years ago this month, Bob Corker was huddling in a limousine in Memphis with President George W. Bush and Bush adviser Karl Rover, glumly eyeing polling showing Corker losing the U.S. Senate race to Democrat Harold Ford.
Fuirther from Action Andy’s report on the U.S. Senate campaign:
“We got in this long, black limo, and we all knew I was going to lose the race, and you talk about a depressing ride,” Corker recalled last week to Nashville Chamber of Commerce members.
But instead, the Republican former Chattanooga mayor eked out a 51-48 percent victory over Ford in Tennessee’s most expensive Senate race on record — the two candidates raised more than $33 million all told, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Fast-forward to October 2012 and Corker is merrily chugging along, his re-election campaign almost on autopilot.
His Democratic opponent is Mark Clayton, 36, whose candidacy has been disavowed by state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester for what Forrester called his “extreme” views on gay issues such as same-sex marriage.
So how confident is Corker about this election?
Well, right now he’s stumping not through Tennessee but the Middle East, on a Senate fact-finding trip.
…Clayton couldn’t be happier with Corker’s decision to go out of the country.
“We’re not going to Washington, D.C., to be a special person, fly around to different countries and forget Tennessee,” Clayton said. “We couldn’t ask him to campaign against himself any better by doing what he’s doing. … He doesn’t realize he’s posting negative ads for himself.”
Declaring he is running the “quintessential grass-roots campaign,” Clayton said he is making “practically no-budget commercials” for the Web and contacting voters directly on the Internet.
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has completed its purchase of a large undeveloped tract of land in the Appalachians.
The tract, known as Rocky Fork, is nearly 10,000 acres and lies in Unicoi and Greene counties in East Tennessee. The Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/WvsG15) reported $5 million in funding from the USDA helped it finalized the purchase of 1,200 acres — the last section that was privately owned.
Preserving as much of Rocky Fork as possible became a priority of the U.S. Forest Service when it acquired the first parcel of it in 2008 as the land went up for sale.
In all, the Forest Service has spent $40 million to keep 7,667 acres open for public use. The Conservation Fund owns about 2,000 acres of the tract.
“This final Forest Service acquisition is huge, not only in the number of acres, but in potential economic impacts,” District Ranger Terry Bowerman said in a statement about the purchase. “It will also help conserve and protect many outstanding natural and scenic resources. This is truly a dream come true for many people.”
News release from Shaun Crowell campaign:
Paris, Tennessee – September 13, 2012. At the Henry County Tea Party meeting on Thursday, former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Zach Poskevich endorsed Dr. Shaun Crowell’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Dr. Crowell is running against incumbent Senator Bob Corker as an independent endorsed by the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
“I am deeply humbled and grateful to Mr. Poskevich for his endorsement,” stated Crowell. “Zach fought the good fight in his race, and his fight will continue on in my race. Our mutual principles of fiscal responsibility, downsizing the federal government, a return to limited government under the U.S. Constitution, and respect for human life are critical to the future of our country and I look forward to working with Zach Poskevich as we continue to fight for these principles.”
Dr. Crowell continued, “Senator Bob Corker has driven this country further down the path to fiscal insolvency and big government. With Zach’s help, we can defeat Senator Corker and begin moving both our country and the Great State of Tennessee into a new era of prosperity and governmental restraint.”
Dr. Shaun Crowell was born in Union City, TN and has lived all over the state in the last 38 years. He is a proud Christian husband and father of three. Dr. Crowell is the founder and owner of Agape Pet Hospital, LLC in Spring Hill, Tennessee. To learn more about Dr. Shaun Crowell and his campaign for the U.S. Senate, visit www.ShaunCrowell.com.
— Note: Poskevich was second in the Aug. 2 Republican primary with 28,311 votes. Bob Corker won it with 389,613.
Eleven people have signed up to have their names counted as write-in candidates for the U.S. Senate, but the state Democratic Party has not endorsed one as an alternative to their disavowed nominee, Mark Clayton.
Under state law, a voter can write in anyone’s name at the polls, but the vote will not be counted unless the named individual filed the appropriate paperwork with state election officials.
The 11 candidates who met the deadline for doing so include two losers in the Aug. 2 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, Nashvillians Larry Crim and Gary Gene Davis, and one loser in the Republican primary, Fred R. Anderson of Maryville.
Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker won the Republican nomination for a new term with 389,613 votes. Anderson was third with 15,951. The names of Corker, Clayton, Constitution Party nominee Kermit Steck, Green Party nominee Martin Pleasant and five Independent candidates will appear on the ballot.
Clayton got 48,196 votes in the Democratic primary but was subsequently disavowed by state party officials. Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester cited Clayton’s membership in a organization characterized as an anti-gay “hate group.”
Forrester said Tennessee Democrats should instead vote for “the candidate of their choice” on Nov. 6, though leaving the door open to party officials later recommending another candidate. Brandon Puttbrese, the party’s communications director, said Wednesday there has been no formal move to do so, but the subject could come up at a Sept. 29 meeting of the party’s State Executive Committee.
Davis was runner-up to Clayton on Aug. 2 with 24,214 votes. Crim, who filed a lawsuit challenging Clayton’s nomination only to drop it after a judge ruled against him in the initial hearing, was fourth, behind actress Park Overall, with 17,744.
Internet searches of the write-in candidate names indicate Angelia Stinnett of Hixson is among the more active in promoting her candidacy on social media. She depicts herself as an advocate for the “working class” on her campaign website.
Others qualifying to have their names counted as write-in candidates include Allen Hoenicke of Columbia; Dewayne A. Jones of Memphis; Jacob Maurer of Nashville; Jim Maynard of Memphis;, Margie Nell Penn of Memphis; Christopher Schappert of Nashville; and Mary D. Wright of Memphis.
Larry Crim, fourth place finisher in the Aug. 2 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, indicates in a news release that he’s dropping legal action to void the apparent victory of Mark Clayton, who has since been disavowed by the state Democratic party.
This comes after U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp of Nashville effectively threw the lawsuit out — though telling Crim’s lawyer he could come back and try again.
Instead of litigating, the release says Crim is launching a new organization — he will be chairman — called Democrats United For Tennessee. It’s purpose, says the release, will be uniting Democrats and “providing leadership for a new direction focused on emphasizing the importance of every race for public office and on the vetting, selection, nomination, and general election of Tennessee Democrats dedicated to being a public servant for all Tennesseans.”
The full release is below.
Eric Stewart, Democratic nominee for the 4th Congressional District seat, says he is unsure who will get his personal vote this fall for president of the United States or for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat.
Stewart said that in the Aug. 2, he wrote in the name of state Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, on the U.S. Senate Democratic primary ballot rather than vote for any of the seven listed candidates.
The winner of that primary, Mark Clayton, has since been disavowed by the state Democratic party because of what state party Chairman Chip Forrester calls “extremist” positions and membership in an anti-gay hate group.
Stewart, who is giving up a state Senate seat to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, said he respects Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, the incumbent challenged by Clayton.
“I will say this: Although Bob Corker and I don’t agree on everything, he is willing to listen and willing to start a conversation,” Stewart said. “We need more of that.”
Similarly, Stewart said he disagrees with Obama on some issues, but respects him and stands ready to work with the president as a congressman “whoever it is.”
As for voting on Nov. 6, he said, “I’m going in, and push a button and vote for somebody…. I’m not telling you either way (his inclination on voting for president or Senate).”
Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I stand with the voters of Tennessee,” he said.
Stewart’s comments came in Tuesday before a rally and news conference criticizing DesJarlais for refusing to debate him.
— UPDATE NOTE: The reference to Stewart’s presidential vote has been given a “strike over” after the statement released Friday (posted HERE) stating he will vote for President Obama. Kevin Teets, spokesman for Stewart, says the candidate does not recall saying he was unsure about voting for Obama.