Monthly Archives: August 2018

Blackburn agrees to first debate with Bredesen

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a business forum in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has agreed to a Sept. 25 debate with Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen at Cumberland University in Lebanon.

The event is hosted by The Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV, and Nashville Public Television

“There are significant differences between how Phil Bredesen and I will serve Tennesseans in the Senate, and this debate will highlight that contrast,” Blackburn said in a release. “I appreciate the hard work of the event’s organizers and volunteers. I look forward to a substantive discussion about the future of our state and our country as part of our general election debates.”

Bredesen has also urged Blackburn to join him in three further debates in Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.

“In typical D.C. fashion and like the failed gubernatorial candidate Congressman Black, Congressman Blackburn is avoiding Tennessee voters,” Bredesen campaign manager Bob Corney said in a statement. “Each of the grand divisions in Tennessee deserves to hear about issues affecting their regions, starting with Memphis. This year Tennesseans have a choice to do away with the Washington way and that’s why Phil Bredesen is applying for the job.”

Highlights from Bredesen rally featuring Isbell, Folds

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign has put together some highlights from the rally/fundraiser featuring artists Jason Isbell and Ben Folds, whom Senate Republicans famously denounced as members of the unhinged, angry left.  Here it is:

Lee agrees to 3 gubernatorial debates with Dean

Businessman Bill Lee speaks at his campaign headquarters opening in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican gubernatorial nominee has agreed to participate in three debates with Democrat Karl Dean in October.

Lee agreed to debate Dean in Memphis on Oct. 2, Kingsport on Oct. 9, and Nashville on Oct 12. Dean had also called several further debates and forums, but agreed to those three as well.

“I believe Tennessee can lead the nation and that means challenging the status quo and providing conservative leadership to keep Tennessee moving in the right direction,”  Lee said in a release. “I look forward to continuing to share my vision with Tennesseans on the campaign trail and from the debate stage this Fall.”

The Lee campaign noted that the Republican has already shared the state with Dean at eight previous forums, bringing the total joint appearances to 11 in which they will have been “able to share their respective ideas on the major issues facing our state.”

Former Tennessean reporter Trent Seibert dies at 47

Trent Seibert, a former statehouse reporter for the Tennessean, has died. He was 47.

Seibert was the founder and editor of The Texas Monitor, which announced his passing on Thursday.

Seibert and then-colleague Brad Schrade in 2005 broke several stories in the Tennessean about problems with the Tennessee Highway Patrol during the administration of then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, including that prominent people were given “honorary badges” that some saw as get-out-of-jail-free cards and that promotions within the THP predominantly went to troopers with Democratic connections.

Bredesen declared early in the series that he often learned of problems at the THP and Safety Department from reading the newspaper, and that he was “tired of The Tennessean doing out work for us.”

Seibert also had reporting stints at the The Denver Post, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Nashville’s WKRN-TV, and KTRK-TV in Houston. Seibert launched and edited the Texas Watchdog a decade ago and did some work for the defunct TN Report. 

Seibert also had a hand in projects with the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (the predecessor to today’s Beacon Center), in breaking the 2007  story about Al Gore’s home in the Belle Meade area of Nashville consuming more electricity in a month than the average American household did in a year.

Campaign finance registry dismisses complaints against Harwell, Lee

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 29, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Associated Press)

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has dismissed complaints filed against House Speaker Beth Harwell’s gubernatorial bid. The complaints alleged illegal coordination between Harwell and her political action committee, and questioned whether she actually had the $3.1 million she reported loaning her campaign earlier this year.

UPDATE: The Registry also dismissed coordination complaints against Bill Lee, the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Hank Fincher, a Democratic appointee to the panel, called the complaints against Harwell “garbage” and made the motion to dismiss them. The motion received a 4-0 vote.

Harwell came in fourth in the Republican gubernatorial primary this month.

George Will on TN Senate race: ‘Pistol-packing Republican vs. oatmeal Democrat’

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn speaks at a forum on business issues in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Washington Post columnist George Will was in Nashville last week to take in a Senate forum hosted by the Tennessee Business Roundtable, NFIB, and state Chamber of Commerce. His assessment of the race featuring Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen is summed up as “Pistol-packing Republican vs. oatmeal Democrat.”

Here are some of his observations about Blackburn:

Pistol-packing Blackburn — a Smith & Wesson .38 is her preferred accoutrement — in 2009 co-sponsored a bill that would have required presidential candidates to prove they are “natural born” citizens, a propitiation of “birthers.” She promises to be a Trump stalwart, which is dandy if you think that congressional Republicans are insufficiently servile.

And this is what Will has to say about Bredesen:

If you asked central casting to find a Democrat with a contrasting political temperament, you would get Phil Bredesen. He is as exciting as oatmeal, which is said to be better for us than bacon. … A former two-term mayor of this city and former two-term governor, he is experienced in politics as well as governance, so he stresses local worries (e.g., protecting Tennessee waters from Asian carp) more than national Democrats’ current ideological flights of fancy (e.g., rehabilitating socialism’s reputation).

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen speaks at a forum on business issues in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Read the full column here: http://www.dailyindependent.com/opinion/pistol-packing-republican-vs-oatmeal-democrat/article_c627529a-a57c-11e8-afa7-9310a927479f.html

Haslam announces listening tour on student testing

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at the state Capitol in Nashville on Aug. 21, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a multi-phase plan, highlighted by a statewide listening tour, to improve delivery of the state’s elementary and secondary assessments known as TNReady. The goals of the engagement plan and tour are to:

1 Engage in an open conversation about assessment and ways to improve administration;

2 Gather feedback that can inform a smooth delivery of state assessments this school year and beyond, including feedback on the selection of the state’s next assessment partner to be chosen later this school year; 

3 Discuss how to better provide schools, educators, parents and students with meaningful and timely results from assessments; and

4 Distinguish assessment content from delivery in an effort to focus on the value assessments can provide.

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More than 1,500 attend Bredesen fundraiser featuring Isbell, Folds

Jason Isbell headlines a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen featuring musicians Jason Isbell and Ben Folds drew a near capacity crowd at the Marathon Music Works in Nashville on Monday evening.

The National Republican Senate Committee blasted the event beforehand, citing comments made by the artists about President Trump and his supporters in the past.

“Phony Phil partners with the unhinged left,” the NRSC said in a release.

“Despite Bredesen’s moderate act, he continues to embrace people who have made it a habit of insulting the Tennessee voters who proudly supported President Trump,” said NRSC spokesman Michael McAdams. “Today’s fundraiser is the latest example that Phil Bredesen is completely out-of-touch with a majority of Tennesseans.”

Isbell mocked the NRSC commentary during his set, noting that while he may have been unhinged in the past, he is now “hinged as hell.”

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Dean launches first general election ad

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean has launched his first television ad of the general election campaign. Dean in the ad discusses his idea of “limitless libraries,” where students can get any library book delivered to their school.

“But we can do more,” the former Nashville mayor says in the ad. “How about skills training for any student who wants it? Or broadband everywhere? Or online access to doctors in big cities.”

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New effort underway for bottle deposits in Tennessee

A new effort is underway to require bottle deposits as a way to combat plastic waste in Tennessee. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project, which is also known as TennCan, would place a 5-cent deposit on plastic containers that could be recouped by dropping empties off at redemption centers.

Supporters say the program could boost the current recycling rate of about 10% all the way to 80% or more. Bottle bills were once perennial legislative proposals, but had faded in recent years.

“What we’re trying to do is make Tennessee more sustainable by recovering some of the most valuable commodities in recycling stream, which are the beverage containers,” TennCan coordinator Marge Davis told the Times Free Press. “We want to keep them from becoming litter and make sure they go back toward manufacturing at the highest level possible.”

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