By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam denied Thursday that the state had lost a case in which a judge ruled that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services must provide the public records of children who died or nearly died after the agency investigated reports they’d been abused or neglected.
The Republican governor told reporters after speaking at an annual meeting of The Associated Press and Tennessee Press Association that the state is simply adhering to a Nashville judge’s ruling last month that it provide the records.
“We’re doing what the chancellor asked us to do,” he said. “We did not lose this lawsuit. I want to be really clear.”
The department has been battling news organizations seeking information about how DCS handled some 200 cases of children. The Tennessean newspaper, The Associated Press and 10 other news organizations sued DCS in state court in December to obtain case records.
Statement issued by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais through his campaign:
“For the second election in a row, my opponents and the liberal media have tried to ignore the problems facing our nation and instead concentrate solely on a 14 year old divorce.
“Last Night’s election results clearly show that Tennesseans want leaders in Washington who are focused on providing solutions that will ensure a brighter future for our country.
“When I first ran for Congress I promised that I would go to Washington and fight to reduce the size of government, end the deficit spending and repeal ObamaCare. I believe that I have kept these promises and I look forward to using this term to build upon the many successes already achieved by House Republicans.
“I want to thank the voters of Tennessee’s Fourth District for once again giving me the honor of representing them in Congress. I also want to thank my family for their steadfast love and support.”
Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville has won a new term while facing charges of domestic assault against his wife, unofficial returns indicate.
The Republican lawmaker, who stepped down as chairman of the House Conservation and Enviornment Committee after being charged in March, had 11,382 votes to 8,124 for former Democratic state Rep. Eddie Yokley, according to unofficial returns with most of the vote counted.
Businessman Brad Staats declared victory in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District on Friday after a count of provisional ballots showed there was no way for his main rival to overcome a 44-vote deficit in Thursday’s tallies, according to TheTennessean. Vote totals compiled by the state showed Staats received 5,459 votes to 5,415 for Bob Ries as they and three others fought for the right to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in November.
Staats’ campaign said just 24 provisional ballots were cast in Davidson, Cheatham and Dickson counties, the three counties in the district.
“I want to congratulate all my opponents on the great — and sometimes spirited — campaigns they ran,” Staats said in a news release. “As I’m sure some of them would agree, this campaign was never about any of us — but rather about changing the direction of our federal government.”
Staats, 43, lives and works in Hermitage, where he owns a security business.
At least six sitting Republican representative – including the chairman of the House GOP Caucus and the Education Committee – were defeated in Thursday’s primary elections and a couple of others had close calls.
On the Democratic side, four incumbents were also unseated, but that was the result of redistrictign that had pitted incumbent-versus-incumbent in four races.
The upset of the evening statewide was the defeat of House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville by Courtney Rogers, an Air Force veteran who benefited by more than $75,000 worth of spending by the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s Political Victory Fund targeted Maggart for attack radio ads and billboards after blaming her for failure of a so-called “guns parking lots” bill that would have allow gunowners to keep their weapons in locked cars, even in the parking lots of companies that ban guns.
House Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, was the second most prominent member of House GOP leadership to lose. He was narrowly defeated by Dale Carr, a Sevierville auctioneer who said the incumbent had lost touch with Sevier County voters.
Both Maggart and Montgomery had outspent their opponents overall by substantial amounts and both had staunch support from Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and other established state Republican leaders.
Also losing bids for reelection in the Republican primaries Thursday were Reps. Julia Hurley of Lenoir City, defeated by Kent Calfee of Kingston, and Dale Ford of Jonesborough, defeated by James “Micah” Van Huss, an Army veteran; Don Miller of Morristown, defeated by Tilman Goins; and Linda Elam of Mount Juliet, defeated by former Rep. Susan Lynn.
The only incumbent Republican state senator to face a serious challenger, Doug Overbey of Maryville, had a win of almost two-to-one over Scott Hughes. The win was tantamount to election with no Democrat on the ballot.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Freshman U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Chuck Fleischmann on Thursday turned back vigorous attempts by Republican rivals to deny them another term in Congress.
Fleischmann defeated dairy executive Scotty Mayfield and Weston Wamp, the son of the former congressman representing the 3rd District in East Tennessee.
“I look forward to returning to Congress to continue to fight for the conservative values I’m committed to,” Fleischmann said in an emailed statement.
With all precincts reporting, Fleischmann had 29,943 votes, or 39 percent, compared with Mayfield’s 23,772 votes, or 31 percent. Wamp had 29 percent.
Edwinea Murray, a retired Tennessee Valley Authority worker who lives in Hixson, said she voted for Fleischmann because she was disgusted by the tone of rival campaigns.
“They were slamming their opponents in the commercials more than anything,” she said. “I think a lot of that is unnecessary.”
News release from National Institute on Money in State Politics:
When it comes to state elections, money and incumbency were key to success during the 2009-2010 elections-although not as much as they used to be. Two new reports from the National Institute on Money in State Politics examine the role that money and incumbency played in the 2009-2010 state elections, as well as how those two factors contributed to a state’s legislative competitiveness.
The reports, The Role of Money & Incumbency in 2009-2010 Elections and Monetary Competitiveness in 2009-2010 State Legislative Races found that 73 percent of legislative seats up for election were contested, up from 67 percent in 2007-08 and 69 percent in 2005-06. Races for 89 percent of the uncontested seats featured an incumbent. When seats were contested in the general election, the success rate of those with the incumbency advantage declined 7 percent from the comparable 2005-06 elections, and 9 percent from the 2007-08 elections. Candidates who had both the money and incumbency advantages dropped from 96 percent between 2005-06 to 88 percent between 2009-10. In the same time frame, the success rate of candidates with neither advantage increased by 4 percent.
Rick Santorum rode a wave of social conservative support to victory in Tennessee’s Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary, overcoming the solid support for Mitt Romney from many state GOP leaders.
The Tennessee results were a disappointment for Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, who finished third in a state he had hoped would help his campaign rebound.
The results were also marked a rare win for a candidate who was hugely outspent in Tennessee campaigning. Pro-Romney forces, including a “Super PAC,” spent about $1.6 million advertising in the state – much of the money going to TV ads that attacked Santorum – while Gingrich’s forces spent about $470,000, according the most recently-reported figures.
Only about $100,000 was spent on Santorum advertising in the state, but the candidate had made trips to the state – the last including an appearance at a Memphis Baptist Church on Sunday. Romney visited Knoxville Sunday while Gingrich campaigned through East Tennessee on Monday.
“I think what he stands for is the closest to how Tennesseans feel about things,” said state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, who is co-chairman of the Santorum campaign in Tennessee.
“He is the candidate who recognizes you have to be both socicially conservative and fiscally conservative because, when morals go down, taxes go up,” said Dunn in an interview after Santorum’s Tennessee victory was clear.
Latest unofficial returns Tuesday night, with about 58 percent of the vote counted, showed former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Santorum with 38 percent of the total, followed by Romney with 28 percent. Gingrich had 23 percent followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 9 percent.
Fifty-five delegates will be sent to the Republican National Convention from Tennessee. It appeared Tuesday night that Santorum had won at least 19 of the 28 delegates that will be allocated on the basis of statewide results. The remaining 27 are based on the voting in each of the state’s nine Congressional districts and the allocation was unclear late Tuesday.
The Associated Press said exit polling of 1,769 Tennessee Republican primary voters found that about seven in 10 identified themselves as born-again Christians.. About three-quarters said it mattered at least somewhat that a candidate shared their religious beliefs.
Romney is a Mormon while Santorum is Catholic.
Dunn, a Catholic who accepts the born-again label for himself, said the born-again majority in Tennessee is not surprising and ties into the belief that “You have to fix your social problems or you’re never going to fix your money problems.”
Dunn was the first state legislator to endorse Santorum, though 11 others eventually joined him. Six backed Gingrich. Twenty-two state legislators backed Romney, including House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Gov. Bill Haslam served as chairman of the Romney campaign in Tennessee and traveled the state last week to urge support for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney was also backed by four of the state’s GOP congressmen – the others did not endorse anyone – along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, former Gov. Winfield Dunn and many of the state’s leading Republican fundraisers.
It remains to be seen how significant Santorum’s victory in Tennessee, one of ten state’s voting or holding caucuses on “Super Tuesday,” will be in the national presidential nomination picture. In 2008, Tennessee Republicans gave a state victory to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who presented himself as the most socially conservative candidate in that year’s campaign. Arizona Sen. John McCain finished as Tennessee runnerup in 2008 and went on to win the GOP nomination. Romney finished third in Tennessee’s 2008 contest.
President Obama was unopposed in the Democratic primary. State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester sent out a statement Tuesday night criticizing Romney, who many Democrats believe will be the ultimate winner of the Republican contest.
“Mitt Romney’s loss tonight shows that he is out-of-touch with Tennesseans and it raises serious concerns about his chances in November — if he can make it to the general election,” said Forrester. “Not only did he and Tennessee’s Republican establishment fail to convince GOP voters to support his candidacy; he also wounded himself among women, moderate and blue-collar workers, without whose support he simply cannot win.”