Perhaps on a bipartisan basis, state legislators are moving toward repealing Tennessee’s limits on political campaign contributions while requiring more rapid and complete disclosure.
Rep. Glen Casada, elected House Republican Caucus chairman last week, said Friday that concept is at the core of a “comprehensive” revision of state campaign finance law that he and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron hope to introduce in the 108th General Assembly that convenes Jan. 8.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions, along with the ever-increasing expense of campaigns, mean that contribution limits are no longer needed or desirable, said Casada.
“A campaign is, in essence, getting your message out,” he said. “That is free speech and free speech costs money.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, who was reelected to his post last week, told reporters that he has decided the time has come to “re-think” past support of campaign contribution limits because they are no longer effective.
“I’m coming around to that (repeal of limits),” Kyle said. “What we’ve found is that Republicans are so good at circumventing the law, why go through the effort?”
Republican Mark Green unseats Democratic Sen. Tim Barnes in Senate District 22, HERE.
Republican Steve Dickerson defeats Phil North in Senate District 20, HERE.
Democrat Bo Mitchell defeats Charles Williamson in House District 50, HERE
Republican Todd Gardenhire wins Senate District 10, HERE
Kent Williams, the state’s only independent legislator, wins a new term, HERE
Democratic Rep. John Tidwell wins a new term in House District 74, HERE.
In a radio ad, state Republican Chairman Chris Devaney is declaring the party’s backing for Elizabethton attorney Thomas Gray, who is opposing re-election of former House Speaker Kent Williams, the only independent member of the Tennessee Legislature.
Devaney earlier this year wrote election officials to declare Williams is not a “bona fide Republican” after the 4th House District incumbent picked up qualifying papers to run as a Republican. Williams was initially elected as a Republican, but joined with Democrats in 2009 to elect himself to a two-year term as House speaker and was subsequently booted from the GOP by former Republican Chairman Robin Smith.
The 30-second radio ad, sponsored by the Republican Party, is scheduled to run on two stations in the area, according to Adam Nickas, executive director of the state GOP. It doesn’t mention Williams.
“The election this November is the most important in our nation’s history,” says Devaney in the ad. “In Tennessee, we have a true conservative Republican running for state representative, and his name is Tom Gray.
“For the record, Tom Gray is the only Republican on the ballot in Carter County’s District 4. We need someone who can effectively work in Nashville to create more jobs for East Tennessee. Vote Republican. Vote Tom Gray this November.”
Williams, first elected in 2006, is rated a “probable” winner in the contest by the Tennessee Journal and enjoys a substantial financial advantage.
Gary has reported spending of about $5,700 so far in the campaign and had a cash balance of $3,304 on Oct. 1. He has guaranteed a $5,000 bank loan to the campaign and got $1,400 from Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.
Williams’ reports show spending of more than $36,000 this year and an Oct. 1 cash balance of $47,242.
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.”
The News Sentinel has a flattering profile story on Susan Richardson Williams, a former state Republican chairman and current public relations practitioner who quickly collected more than $40,000 for the Romney campaign just last week.
Williams, naturally, says that Knoxville fundraising success says a lot about how great the candidate is. From the article: It also says a lot about Williams, a sought-after political pundit whose competitive drive and desire to deliver results for things she’s passionate about — including the Republican Party, the state of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee and environmental conservation — have been a hallmark of her 40-year career.
Union County Mayor Mike Williams says he was wrongly excluded from running as a Republican for the state Senate and will not be backing any of the four candidates still seeking the GOP nomination in state Senate District 8.
State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney told the state election officials in an April letter that Williams is not considered a “bonafide Republican” and is thus ineligible under state law to run for office under the party banner. The letter said Williams “renounced his affiliation with the Republican party in March 2007.”
In an interview, Williams said that is not correct.
“I never left the Republican party. I never said that. I did say that I was not going to meet with the Senate Republican Caucus. I think I did say that the Republican party had left me,” Williams said.
Williams was elected as a Republican to the Senate seat, which covers six counties of Northeast Tennessee, but ran for reelection in 2008 as an independent. He lost by by about 200 votes to Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, who is now retiring. Williams had filed a qualifying petition for the Republican primary to succeed him but his petition was rejected after Devaney’s letter.
Williams emailed a copy of his 2007 speech text to a reporter. He said that it was “carefully worded” to leave open a possible return to the party fold.
State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney has moved to block former state Sen. Mike Williams from running as a Republican for the seat he once held, before losing to retiring Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill. Williams had declared himself an independent before the close loss to Faulk in 2008.
Devaney wrote Mark Goins, state election coordinator, to declare that Williams, now mayor of Union County, is not considered a “bona fide Republican” and, therefore, should not be permitted to appear on the ballot in August as a GOP candidate.
Here’s a letter Devaney sent to the Republican State Executive Committee members Friday explaining his action: Dear State Executive Committee Members:
As you might know, former State Senator Micheal Williams of Union County filed this week to run in State Senate District Eight. You may remember that Mr. Williams renounced his affiliation with the Republican Party in March 2007. Later, he ran as an Independent for re-election to the State Senate in 2008 and was defeated by State Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill). Making a ruling on an issue such as this is one that I do not take lightly. In this case, I thought it was clear cut as to the question of Mr. Williams’ status, and it was a decision I thought needed to be made swiftly.
Following Article IX, Section 2 of the TRP By-laws, I have declared Mr. Williams not eligible to run as a Republican for State Senate and have instructed the proper authorities to remove his name from the ballot. That letter is attached with this email.
If you have any questions, please let me know. I greatly appreciate all that you do for the Tennessee Republican Party. I hope you and your family have a great Easter.
Former state Sen. Mike Williams has joined a crowded field seeking the GOP nomination in the race for the renumbered 8th Senatorial District, reports Hank Hayes. Williams is among five people who have filed petitions to compete in the state GOP Primary and want to succeed state Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, who recently announced he would not seek re-election.
Williams’ filing with election officials listed his address as Corryton. Others who have filed include state Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and Rogersville Republican Cynthia Jackson.
Williams narrowly lost running as an independent against Faulk in the 2008 general election, but was subsequently elected as county mayor in Union County in 2010.
Williams was speaker pro tem of the state Senate during the 104th General Assembly from 2005 to 2006.
But, on March 14, 2007, he announced that he was leaving the Senate Republican Caucus and becoming an Independent, leaving the Senate evenly divided at that time with 16 Democrats, 16 Republicans, and one Independent.
The senate district encompasses Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, and Union counties.The state primary will be held August 2.
The developments concerning the Living the Dream project and the Upper Cumberland Development District has now gone to the state level, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. The latest development involves State Rep. Ryan Williams filing a resolution for the comptroller to conduct a statewide audit of each development district and human resource agency in the state.
“There have been reports of other instances regarding similar instances in other communities happening in other areas,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to steward the taxpayers’ dollar better and understand how these (agencies) operate.”
Originally, Williams proposed a bill asking the legislature to create a special joint committee to study issues pertaining to development districts and human resource agencies in the state — including, but not limited to, the sources of funding for, the functions of and the community services provided by such development districts and resource agencies.
However, that bill was never presented due to the fiscal impact it would have. (Note: A quick check of the legislative website indicates no bill by Williams was filed on the subject; ergo, no fiscal note. Also, I thought they already did audits of HRAs and DDs.)
This new resolution (HJR818) states, “it is the duty of this general assembly to ensure that the UCDD and the remainder of Tennessee’s development districts, and human resource agencies, are being operated upon sound management principles and with fiscal responsibility; now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the 107th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, the Senate concurring, we hereby request the Comptroller of the Treasury to conduct an audit of each development district and human resource agency in this state, including, but not limited to, the sources of funding for, the functions of, and the community services provided by each development district and human resource agency.”
State Rep. Kent Williams, the Legislature’s only political independent after being banished from the Republican party in 2009, has picked up papers from the Carter County Election Commission for qualifying as both an independent and as a Republican in this year’s elections.
The state GOP declared that Williams could not run as a Republican after he joined with House Democrats to elect himself as House speaker. He was replaced as House speaker in 2011 by Beth Harwell after Republicans gained a bigger majority in the 2010 elections.
Williams, who calls himself a “Carter County Republican,” said he is exploring options. But Nickas said Wednesday that the Republican State Executive Committee would have to approve Williams readmission to the party and, “It would be my guess he would find the door still shut.”
The deadline for filing as a candidate for legislative office is April 5.