Cooper trounces Briley in Nashville mayor’s race

Metro Council member John Cooper trounced incumbent David Briley to be elected Nashville’s next mayor. The result wasn’t unexpected, but the 39-percentage point margin came as a bit of a surprise.

Cooper is the brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville).

Here’s a release from the Cooper campaign.

NASHVILLE, TN – At-large-Councilmember John Cooper has defeated Mayor David Briley to become the ninth Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. According to the Davidson County Election Commission, unofficial election results show that Cooper defeated Briley by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent.

In a speech at The Nashville Palace, Mayor-elect Cooper thanked the voters and laid out plans on how to build a Nashville that works for everyone. 

Excerpts from the speech are included below:

As Mayor, I will work every day to continue to listen and learn. To put neighborhoods first and make sure that this Administration reflects the values of our city and her people in all of our actions. To restore trust that our people and their needs come first.

In the speech, Mayor-elect Cooper also spoke to the issue of fiscal responsibility:

I’ve been told that I care too much about the numbers. But if we don’t get the money right, we can’t get anything else right. Because in government, to care about finances is to care about people. That is how you make their dreams real.

Paying attention to the bottom line allows us to support people on the front line — our teachers, our police, our firefighters, our bus drivers, our paraprofessionals. And yes: teachers are the real developers we need to support. 

He also expressed gratitude to Metro employees and invited the entire city to come together and move Nashville forward:

And to the great people who work hard for Metro every day, I need your ideas and your help in the work to come. It is my job to support you in our work ahead. 

For everybody who voted for me, thank you. For everyone else, know that I will work every day to earn your trust and respect. This is a city for everybody. 

We’re going to have more growth in the next five years than in the last five years. Those new cranes are lifting up our skyline. We need to lift up our people with it. That is our challenge — using this prosperity to build a better, more livable city. This is the moment to make Nashville work for everybody. 

We started at two percent in the polls. Hundreds of volunteers and more than a thousand donors — from every district — got us here.

But this isn’t the end. I need all of your help. We must not waste this moment. Together, we will make a Nashville for everybody. Thank you!

Dunn won’t seek re-election to House in 2020

House Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) presents school voucher legislation on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville, the longest-serving Republican in the state House, says he won’t run for re-election next year. Dunn was the lead House sponsor of this year’s controversial school voucher legislation. He had already drawn a primary opponent.

“After the 2019 session was over, and we had passed Educational Savings Accounts legislation, as well as one of the most pro-life measures in the country, House Bill 1029, I decided it was the right time to conclude my public service on a high note,” Dunn said in a statement.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) today announced he will not seek re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2020.

Dunn currently serves as Speaker Pro Tempore — the second ranking member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. He recently was the acting Speaker of the House due to the resignation of the previous Speaker. Dunn was first elected to the General Assembly to represent the citizens of House District 16 in 1994, making him the longest tenured Republican House member now serving.

“After the 2019 session was over, and we had passed Educational Savings Accounts legislation, as well as one of the most pro-life measures in the country, House Bill 1029, I decided it was the right time to conclude my public service on a high note.”

Dunn said that he wanted to go ahead and make his plans known so that those interested in running for the seat could start making their own plans.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of our community for the past 26 years as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. I have reached a point in my life where it is time for me to seek new challenges. I am not sure what my future holds, but I look forward to many new and exciting adventures.”

During his tenure, Tennessee students became the fastest improving in the entire nation across math, reading and science. In 2019, Dunn championed an initiative that establishes the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program which gives students and their families the opportunity to select the school that most meets their educational needs.

Additionally, Dunn has been an unwavering and passionate voice for the Right to Life. He has fought to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life laws in recent years and has strongly supported initiatives to protect unborn children and their mothers.  This year, the legislature passed one of the country’s strongest pro-life measures, House Bill 1029, which restores Tennessee’s pre-1973 pro-life laws when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Dunn was tireless in pursuing road improvements in the district, and he will leave office with major improvements to Emory Road in Powell, Highway 33 in Halls, and the I-640/Broadway interchange in Fountain City.

Dunn and his Republican colleagues have also cut more than $700 million in taxes since 2011, and they have supported a business-friendly environment that has led to statewide unemployment rates remaining near historic low levels.

“I will be leaving office with our state in a stronger position than when I first came to Nashville,” said Dunn. “We have vastly improved our education system, our state is ranked number one in fiscal responsibility, and, because of the conservative leadership, we continue to attract quality jobs.  I appreciate my colleagues for their friendship and for their dedication to the citizens of Tennessee. I represent the best people in the state and thank the constituents of the 16th House District for the opportunity they have given me to serve them and the great state of Tennessee.”

Bill Dunn is Speaker Pro-Tempore for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. Dunn is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules, Education, Government Operations, and Naming, Designating & Private Acts and Transportation Committees. He is also a member of the House Curriculum, Testing, and Innovation, and the House Infrastructure Subcommittees, as well as the Judiciary & Government Subcommittee of Joint Government Operations Committee. Dunn lives in Knoxville and represents Tennessee House District 16, which includes part of Knox County.

Hagerty camp touts McConnell endorsement, says he’s under attack by ‘liberal media’

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Newly announced U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty says in a fundraising appeal that he’s been endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and that he’s already under attack by “Washington Democrats and their media allies.”

Hagerty had long been expected to get into the race, especially once President Donald Trump announced his endorsement while he was still U.S. ambassador to Japan. Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi had previously been the only major Republican in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville).

Hagerty’s formal entry into the race hasn’t stirred too much attention in the national media. For example, the Washington Post and New York Times both used the AP’s account out of the Nashville and haven’t written anything further. Politico wrote its own account.

The Tennessean ran what it deemed an exclusive interview with Hagerty on the day of his announcement, but the campaign had been scooped in declaring its launch by enterprising Nashville Scene reporter Stephen Elliott, who spotted Hagerty’s Federal Election Commission filing earlier in the day. Otherwise, there’s not been a ton of media attention — good or bad — to Hagerty or the Tennessee Senate race.

Nevertheless, the Hagerty email calls it critical for the candidate to post a large fundraising haul to “prove the liberal media talking heads wrong.”

Here’s the email from the Hagerty campaign:

Friend,

Bill Hagerty announced his campaign for U.S. Senate this week, and he’s already been endorsed by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Join President Trump and Mitch by making a generous donation right now.

Trump and Mitch know that Bill Hagerty is a strong conservative who we can count on to stand up to the Democrats’ radical socialist agenda. And that’s why Washington Democrats and their media allies are already attacking Bill.

We have to send a message that we have his back. It’s CRITICAL that Bill posts the biggest fundraising haul possible to prove the liberal media talking heads wrong.

SEND A MESSAGE TO THE LIBERAL MEDIA

[…]

Thank you for your support.
Team Hagerty

UPDATE: The Sethi campaign is denouncing the McConnell endorsement. Here’s the release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Manny Sethi’s campaign released the following statement on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement of Ambassador Bill Hagerty for Senate.

“Today, Mitch McConnell–the same guy who brought us runaway spending, failed to repeal ObamaCare and not building the Wall–joined Mitt Romney today, endorsing moderate Ambassador Bill Hagerty,” said Chris Devaney, Campaign Chairman and Senior Advisor.

“Tennesseans want a conservative outsider like Manny Sethi—and we don’t want Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, or any other member of the DC Establishment ‘Death Star’ telling us who to vote for.”

Tennessee GOP wades into Nashville mayor’s race

The Tennessee Republican Party is sending out mailers targeting Nashville Mayor David Briley, who is in a tough re-election battle against Councilman John Cooper. The runoff election is on Thursday.

The mailer seems to align Briley to the so-called Squad in Congress and attacks the mayor for his efforts to limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents. Briley’s recent executive order has also been criticized by new House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). The mailer does not mention Cooper.

The reverse side of the mailer endorses Steve Glover’s at-large Council bid.

Glover has announced plans to sue to block Briley’s immigration policies.

 

National Journal looks into why Dems ‘can’t get it together’ in Tennessee

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks at a rally in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The National Journal is taking a deep dive into why Democrats have largely failed to make recent gains in Tennessee. The piece is written by reporting fellow Kirk Bado, who once interned in the state Capitol bureau for The Tennessean before going to graduate school.

The article examines why Democrats couldn’t make inroads in the 2016 election despite popular former Gov. Phil Bredesen being on the top of the ticket in the U.S. Senate race.

Bredesen failed to ride the blue wave, losing by 11 points as he carried only two counties, despite the same kinds of demographic changes that have helped other Southern states turn shades of purple. According to current projections, 30 percent of Tennesseans will be minorities by 2030. Given national trends of college-educated voters swinging further to the left, and Tennessee could be on its way to swing-state status; instead, its slate of federal officeholders are as red as those in Mississippi and Arkansas.

Democrats were right back where they started the decade: on the outside looking in.

Bado delves into Tennessee’s transition from conservative Democrats to conservative Republicans, dating back to favorite son Al Gore’s losing his home state in 2000 and the state income tax battles that occurred before and after that momentous election.

While a rightward trend since then should present an opportunity for Democrats, it hasn’t worked out that way, Bado writes:

In theory, Democrats should be well positioned to compete in Tennessee as Republicans shift further to the right. The population has increased by nearly 7 percent since 2010 on the backs of the rapid growth of the tech and health care industries, and a growing nonwhite population.

So what’s to be done? Activists like Charlane Oliver formed Equity Alliance want drastic action.

“The Democratic Party needs two things: They need a backbone and grow some balls,” she said. “Because the Republicans don’t fight fair, and you cannot bring a knife to a gunfight.”

State party chair Mary Mancini, who was elected to her third term in January, admits that her party has struggled to build a bench, failed to make Tennessee competitive, and acknowledges the dire straits the party faces. Yet she promised that Democrats are rebuilding in the state.

“We’re building a Democratic Party for the future, not just the elections coming up next November,” she said.

When asked what she will do differently to change Democratic fortunes, she seemed taken aback by the question, pausing for several silent seconds.

“That’s a really good question,” she finally said. “That’s something I’m going to have to think about a little bit.”

Read the full article here.

Voucher sponsor Bill Dunn draws GOP primary challenger

House Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) presents school voucher legislation on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Bill Dunn, the lead House sponsor of this year’s school voucher bill, has drawn a primary challenge from Patti Bounds, a former teacher and Knox County school board member, Knox TN Today reports.

“I opened the bank account today,” Bounds told the publication.  “And now it feels real.”

Bounds opposes the “Education Savings Account” measure enacted at first-year Gov. Bill Lee’s behest. Dunn has been a longtime supporter voucher proposals. He has served in the General Assembly since 1994. He currently serves as speaker pro tem, the ceremonial No. 2 position in the House.

It’s on! Bounds vs. Dunn 2020

Dunn is the second incumbent to draw a primary opponent over the voucher issue. Freshman Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington), who voted for the education savings account bill, has drawn a primary challenge from Lee Mills, a former Shelby County GOP
chairman who opposes the measure..

 

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris endorses Biden

Lee Harris, right, speaks a press conference in Nashville on Jan. 23, 2018. To the left are Reps. John Ray Clemmons and Rep. Dwayne Thompson. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary. Harris, a former state senator from Memphis, said Biden presents a “vivid contrast with the current president.”

Harris in July appeared at a Nashville rally with another Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., another candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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Sethi on Hagerty’s entry into Senate race: It’s on.

Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi in a fundraising email welcomes former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty to the U.S. Senate race, casting himself as the “conservative outsider” versus the “consummate insider.”

The race is now set, and the choice is all the more clear: a political insider, close friend of Mitt Romney, and the choice of the professional political class versus the true conservative outsider who has lived the American Dream in Tennessee.

It’s the consummate insider, versus the conservative outsider.

Like President Trump, I’m a conservative outsider, taking on the establishment, but I can’t do it alone.

The challenge for Sethi will be to try to somehow drive a wedge between Hagerty and his endorsement from Trump without alienating the president’s supporters in the Republican primary.

Blackburn to stay neutral in GOP primary for U.S. Senate

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

First-year U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn plans to stay on the sidelines of the Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Speaking to The Tennessee Journal before Bill Hagerty joined the race, Blackburn said she expected the former U.S. ambassador to Japan to be “a fabulous candidate” if he got in. Also running for the GOP nomination is Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi.

Blackburn noted Hagerty has the benefit of President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

“As the president said when he kind of outed him,  he will have the president’s full support,” Blackburn said. “We will stay out of the primary and let the voters have their say and looking forward to supporting the Republican who’s going to be the next U.S. Senator from Tennessee.”

Surprise! Hagerty joins U.S. Senate race

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty has officially joined the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee:

Here’s Hagerty’s statement:

Serving in President Trump’s administration was the honor of a lifetime, but when I saw the threat to Tennessee and our country from the Democrats’ socialist agenda, I felt called to act.  We must stand up to radical liberals like The Squad and their liberal socialist agenda that would deeply damage the America we know and love. With President Trump’s support, I’m ready to fight for your family in the U.S. Senate. In the coming months, we’re going to be working hard and traveling to every corner of our beautiful state to earn your trust. If you’re looking for a conservative family man with real experience, who will stand with President Trump, we’re running this campaign for you.