Former Tennessee Gov. Winfield Dunn, who in 1971 signed a bill into law that changed the way the state selects appeals judges, on Friday said that enacting the bill was a mistake.
From The Tennessean:
“At the time I signed it, I felt constrained by many other issues,” Dunn said. “I regret signing the retention election bill.”
Those comments followed a hearing at the Tennessee Supreme Court in which attorney John Jay Hooker, merciless critic of judicial appointments, presented his argument that state law says appeals judges ought to be elected by voters, not appointed. It’s a position Hooker has championed in court but lost so many times that, some joke, everyone has lost count — even Hooker himself.
“If you want to wear those black robes, not just for this afternoon, you have to run for it, and run the risk of losing,” Hooker said in a theatrical performance, punctuated by finger wags and podium pounds. “It’s not fun to lose. I’ve become a professional at it.”
The judges were not the typical members of the state’s high. Instead, they were appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam after Hooker complained that the usual justices shouldn’t hear the case since they were all chosen through the current system.
Hooker, a former Democratic candidate for governor who lost to Dunn, has sued the state and asked the special court to reverse a 1973 decision, Higgins v. Dunn, which supported the current system.
…Attorney Janet Kleinfelter, representing the state, said it was not the first time but should be the last time the state defends the way appeals judges are elected, known formally as the Tennessee Plan.
Kleinfelter pointed out that the system has twice held up on appeal, and that other state supreme courts, such as Georgia’s, have concluded that appointing appeals judges is constitutional.
“This judicial system is entitled to finality,” Kleinfelter said.
Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy’s first major fundraiser for his 4th Congressional District bid is set for March 14 in Murfreesboro, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn; Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson; and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, are among the honorary hosts. The per-person price of a ticket is $250 while tickets for members of the sponsor committee are $2,500 per person or couple and $1,000 for host committee members.
Dr. Warren McPherson and his wife, Beverly, are holding the event in their home.
Tracy, of Shelbyville, is running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a physician whose past personal controversies have made him vulnerable to challenge, Republicans say. State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, also is weighing a bid, but Tracy has been the first challenger to announce officially
The Commercial Appeal has collected comments from various Tennessee Republicans on the split within party ranks between establishment and tea party types. Some excerpts: So what is the future of this apparently schizophrenic party?
“The bottom line is Republicans should never compromise on what we believe, never waver on our principles, but understand the huge task we have to better communicate with all Americans, not just a select few, our vision for the future generations of this country,” state GOP chairman Chris Devaney wrote a week after the Nov. 6 elections.
Many Tennessee Republicans enlisted to discuss the future of their party rejected the notion that the party is divided between extremist social conservatives and fiscal conservatives who hold moderate social views. It’s a big tent, they say.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a far-right party; I think it’s going to be a mainstream conservative party, which is somewhere between the two,” said East Shelby Republican Club president Arnold Weiner.
…University of Memphis College Republican Club vice president Kristoffer Adams, 30, agrees there are two factions in the Tennessee Republican Party but sees the benefit of such creative friction. “When you argue among yourselves, you make new points. You come up with new ideas.”
A somewhat contrary view is expressed by former governor Winfield Dunn, the first Republican elected to the executive mansion in half a century when he took office in 1971.
“I don’t think we have a divided party or a party separated into factions,” he said. “We have different opinions. We have people from a wide variety of pursuits, all of whom embrace a more conservative approach to government than we witness at the national level …”It behooves every one of us … to be absolutely certain that we avoid, to the degree we can, disagreements that lead to schisms that lead to more ambitious political factions,” Dunn, 85, advised.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — A 78-mile stretch of highway that loops south of Nashville and has taken 26 years to finish will ease traffic congestion and be a boost for the economy, state officials said Friday.
Gov. Bill Haslam ceremoniously opened the final portion of state Route 840, which was to start taking on traffic at 6 p.m. Friday. Former Govs. Don Sundquist and Winfield Dunn and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander attended.
It took about $750 million to construct the divided highway that runs from Interstate 40 near Dickson to Interstate 40 near Lebanon.
The project began during the Alexander administration, but the section through Williamson County was slowed by litigation over environmental issues and regulations.
In making light of the lengthy time to build the highway, Transportation Commissioner John Schroer noted some workers spent their entire careers on state Route 840, then quipped, “some children were born during the building of 840 and now they’re working on the project.”
“We have to have some humor in the fact that this has taken a little longer to get done than we would have liked,” he said.
Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/After-26-years-in-the-works-840-highway-complete-4003782.php#ixzz2BLHL4HmC
Former Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn, former Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis and two members of former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s cabinet appeared at the Legislative Plaza Wednesday to declare support for “Fix the Debt,” an effort to pressure Washington lawmakers to reduce the federal debt.
They said former Gov. Phil Bredesen is also part of the effort, though he wasn’t on hand.
From Chas Sisk’s report: The group has launched a $30 million nationwide advertising campaign meant to build bipartisan support for reducing the nation’s $16 trillion debt through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. The Fix the Debt campaign will urge Tennesseans to sign a petition calling for debt reduction, but it will not donate to any candidates or advertise on their behalf.
“We here in Tennessee want to be absolutely certain that we convey at every opportunity the seriousness of this indebtedness and the responsibility of every citizen to be willing to speak up and speak out,” Dunn said.
Co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform said two years ago that the nation could reduce its debt by eliminating many income tax deductions, reducing tax subsidies and entitlements, raising some taxes and cutting others. The commission said its plan, which it released after more than seven months of deliberations, would put the nation on track to surpluses in seven years.
The recommendation failed an initial vote in Congress and has laid dormant ever since.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Add former Gov. Winfield Dunn to the list of prominent Tennessee Republicans maintaining a careful distance from embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais following revelations the congressman once urged a woman he had an affair with to seek an abortion.
Dunn has been an active campaigner for Republican candidates and causes since leaving office in 1975. But he told reporters after attending the launch of the bipartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt-Tennessee on Wednesday that he had not been asked to campaign on DesJarlais’ behalf.
“He’s got a campaign well under way, but of course he has some matters to deal with that obviously are going to cause him quite a challenge,” Dunn said. “But he’ll make his way.”
Conventional Unity for TN GOP
At a convention where states such as Minnesota, Iowa and Maine have been divided by an insurgency led by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, The Tennessean reports that self-identified tea party activists in the Tennessee delegation have said they want to set their disagreements aside in the interest of party unity. “I think in the state of Tennesee that we address those tea party-type issues in the legislature all the time because we agree with them,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “I just don’t think we see a lot of disunity in Tennessee.”
…”I think if you asked around, you’d have a pretty good representation of the entire spectrum of the Republican Party,” Haslam said of the delegation. “Some of that is maybe they (tea party leaders) didn’t get on the ballot to be a delegate. There’s a process you have to go through. … But I’m not certain I buy that there are no tea party people here.” Brock Credits Tea Party
Former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Tuesday night that he credits the tea party for much of the enthusiasm at this year’s convention. (From a Commercial Appeal convention notebook). “I love it,” he said amid the Tennessee delegation on the convention floor. “There’s a lot of different energy here. I credit the tea party a lot for bringing some real — I’m a grass-roots guy. That’s what I tried to do when I was national chairman and that’s what I tried to do in Tennessee.
Brock, 81, served one term from 1971 to 1977 then was named GOP chairman, Winfield and Beth
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn on House Speaker Beth Harwell (from a Tennessean convention notebook): “As the governor of the state of Tennessee, I had to deal with some interesting people,” Dunn said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d want to go up to the speaker of the House of Representatives in the state of Tennessee and give them a big hug and a kiss.” Ramsey Remembers
While entertaining Tennesseans at the Republican National Convention, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey hopped in the way-back machine and told the story about the day he was elected Senate speaker in 2007.
His lively retelling Monday night featured the role then-Sen. Rosalind Kurita played the day she crossed party lines to vote to, in essence, hand the Republican Ramsey the gavel, according to the Memphis Flyer.
“I walk up the front of the chamber, turn around and come back and make eye contact with her, and she just winks at me. I said, ‘Hot dang, baby. We’re still in the game here. We’re still rocking and rolling.'”
(Above from TNReport, which also has a video.)
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn recalls his first Republican convention and introducing himself to a famous fellow that everybody else was ignoring at the time, namely 1968, in a Tennessean setup story on the GOP convention. “It was Thomas Dewey,” said Dunn, now 85. “So I had an opportunity to meet and visit with him. That was very exciting for me.”
Brushes with history make up some of the appeal for more than 200 Tennesseans who will attend either this week’s GOP conclave in Tampa, Fla., or next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Add to those the opportunities to lobby, socialize and party with some of the nation’s top political leaders, and the conventions become more than just quadrennial pep rallies before the November presidential election.
“High energy,” said state Rep. Ryan Haynes. “If you’re not in politics, a lot of people say, ‘Political convention? Turn on CSPAN and put me to sleep.’ But it really is high energy.” Tennessee Delegation Plans
From the News Sentinel: The Tennessee delegation will hold a breakfast each morning. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican who is running for a second six-year term, will hold a pre-convention fundraiser Sunday night at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The cost to attend the Corker event is $1,000 for political-action committees or $500 for individuals.
Other extracurricular activities — many of which are invitation-only — are open to delegates and include a gun show in nearby Plant City, with concealed weapons training courses; a tribute to the South, featuring a performance by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd; several documentary screenings; panel discussions on everything from energy policy to financial “literacy”; and enough briefings, brunches, receptions and parties to wear out even the most energetic convention-goer.
“I was looking at the schedule, and I was, ‘Oh, my goodness! I’m going to be very tired at the end of the week,'” said Susan Mills, a delegate from Maryville. “I’m going to need a vacation after that.” A Florida Perspective on TN Delegation
From the Tampa Bay Times: During the convention in Tampa next week, nearly 250 delegates from Tennessee will be staying at the historic Safety Harbor Resort & Spa.
So the city will temporarily give Main Street a new name: Tennessee Street.
A proclamation in honor of the Volunteer State will be read. Welcome banners will be hoisted. And there will be live music at the downtown gazebo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
But part of their focus is on what happens once the delegation leaves the Tampa Bay area.
“There are going to be some 250 Tennessee delegates who may have never stepped foot in Safety Harbor,” City Manager Matthew Spoor said. “When they get back to Tennessee, we want them to tell all their friends and family about our city. We want repeat customers. We want the city to shine. We are the jewel of Tampa Bay and we want to show that off.”
The mayor plans to hand the delegation a symbolic key to the city. In welcome bags waiting in delegates’ hotel rooms, the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce will include a pin in the shape of a key. Delegates sporting the pin will receive specials from about 25 participating Main Street merchants, said chamber board chair Marie Padavich.
When it came to matching up state delegations to hotel locations, Padavich said, Safety Harbor came out a winner.
“We are thrilled to have Tennessee,” Padavich said, in part because they hail from the eastern half of the United States, so “it would be a natural for them to come back and visit us once the convention is over.”
Some businesses are looking for ways to capitalize on the delegates’ presence. For example, during the convention week, wine bar and beer garden Tapping the Vine will open Sunday and Monday — days when the business is usually closed, said owner Howard Latham.
The Sen. at the Conven
In his first blog post from the Republican National Convention, Sen. Stacey Campfield reports that hurricane Isaac wasn’t that bad and wonders if a Ron Paul rally could inspire an overreaction from party powers.
News releae from Romeny presidential campaign:
Mitt Romney today announced the support of former Tennessee Governor Winfield Dunn and a group of top Tennessee legislators, led by Romney’s Legislative Co-Chairs, State Representatives Barrett Rich from West Tennessee, and Ryan Haynes from East Tennessee.
“I am proud to have earned the support of these strong, conservative leaders from Tennessee,” said Mitt Romney. “No one is more highly regarded for his love of country and his public service than Winfield Dunn. And I look forward to working with Governor Dunn and these outstanding legislative leaders as we come together to get more Tennesseans back to work and our country moving in the right direction again.”
“Today, our nation desperately needs a strong and principled leader like Mitt Romney,” said Governor Dunn, who serves as the Romney campaign’s Honorary Chairman in Tennessee. “President Obama’s policies have turned our economy upside down, and Americans are suffering because of his failed leadership. But Mitt Romney knows what to do. He is the right man at the right time. I am proud to support him.”
Announcing his support, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick from Chattanooga said, “Mitt Romney has shown his ability to tackle and solve big problems, as a successful businessman, as the rescuer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and as the Governor of Massachusetts. Now we need his strong leadership in Washington to help fix the mess we find ourselves in, and to get our economy moving again.”
“I am proud to support Mitt Romney for President,” said State Representative Mark White from Memphis. “If the Republican Party fails to nominate a candidate who can win, we will not get a second chance. So while I supported Governor Rick Perry early in this campaign, I now support and endorse Mitt Romney for President. I believe he is the one candidate who can beat Barack Obama, with the experience we need to create jobs, pump life into the economy and put America back on strong footing.”
Earlier this week, Romney announced endorsements from Tennessee Congressmen Jimmy Duncan, Diane Black and Phil Roe.
Tennessee Leaders Endorsing Mitt Romney Today:
Former Governor Winfield Dunn – Nashville
State Representative Curtis Halford – Secretary, House Agriculture Committee – Dyer
State Representative Mike Harrison – Vice Chair, House Finance, Ways and Means Committee – Rogersville
State Representative Ryan Haynes – Vice Chair, House State and Local Government Committee, and Assistant House Republican Caucus Chairman – Knoxville
State Representative Julia Hurley – Lenoir City
State Representative Curtis Johnson – Chair, House Ethics Committee – Clarksville
State Representative Pat Marsh – Secretary, House Commerce Committee – Shelbyville
State Representative Gerald McCormick – House Majority Leader – Chattanooga
State Representative Steve McDaniel – Deputy House Speaker – Parkers Crossroads
State Representative Steve McManus – Chair, House Commerce Committee – Cordova
State Representative Richard Montgomery – Chair, House Education Committee – Sevierville
State Representative Barrett Rich – House Republican Whip, and Vice Chair, House Government Operations Committee – Somerville
State Representative Charles Sargent – Chair, House Finance, Ways and Means Committee – Franklin
State Representative Mark White – Vice Chair, House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee, and Assistant House Republican Floor Leader – Memphis