Monthly Archives: September 2018

Casada’s PAC running ad defending Rep. Byrd as victim of ‘fake news’

State Rep. Glen Casada is running digital ads in support of Rep. David Byrd’s re-election campaign, likening him to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump and saying the lawmaker is the victim of “lies & fake news” spread by liberals.

Stand with Coach DAVID BYRD for State House!

What does Representative DAVID BYRD have in common with President Trump & Judge Brett Kavanaugh? They’re all being attacked by unhinged liberals & FAKE NEWS with false accusations because they’re fighting for our conservative agenda! Don't buy their desperate lies…

Posted by Keep Tennessee Republican on Thursday, September 27, 2018

Three women alleged in March report by WSMV-TV that Byrd (R-Waynesboro) had inappropriately touched and kissed them as teenagers while he was their 28-year-old high school basketball coach. One of the women secretly recorded a telephone call to Byrd in which he apologized and told her how “hard it has been for me” to live with his actions with the woman who was a 15-year-old student at the time.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) promptly called for Byrd’s resignation. Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) soon followed suit. Byrd issued a statement after the story broke, stating that he has done nothing wrong over his two terms as a state representative and expressing disappointment that Harwell “so quickly turned her back on me.”

Byrd’s image wasn’t helped by revelations that he served as a character witness in 2013 for a family friend who as a 23-year-old teacher pleaded guilty to statutory rape of a 16-year-old student. WSMV reported that Byrd, then the principal of Wayne County High School, told the court that he believed the defendant had learned his lesson and that he would “hire him in a minute” if he were able to teach again.

The AP reports that a national political action committee aimed at preventing politicians accused of sexual misconduct from being re-elected is now targeting Byrd.

Groups work to unseat Republican state Rep. Byrd following sexual misconduct allegations

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) takes a photo during at event in Lawrenceburg on June 4, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

From a press release:

Nashville, Tenn — Indivisible, Women’s March-Power Together TN, and other partner organizations in collaboration with the  #EnoughisEnough Tennessee PAC will attempt to unseat Representative David Byrd (R) in the 2018 election cycle as he stands accused of sexual misconduct by three former high school basketball players whom he coached at Wayne County High School. 

Indivisible, along with Rep. Sherry Jones and one of David Byrd’s accusers will hold a press conference beginning at 1:00 PM Thursday, and a canvass into Rep. Byrd’s district on October 13th to increase local awareness about the campaign. Participating organizations seek to draw a line from the allegations of misconduct at the highest offices with Brett Kavanaugh to the re-election of David Byrd.

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Haslam administration awards $35M in school safety funding, grants

Gov. Bill Haslam delivers his final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s office has announced how it will allocate $35 million in school security funding across the state. About $10 million of the money is in the form of recurring funding, while $25 million is in the form of one-time grants.

“We have made security for children at our schools a priority, so there was an urgency to have all schools assessed and the funding allocated to increase school safety as we started the school year,” Haslam said in a release.

The grants will allow school districts to make various security enhancements, including better door locks, improved visitor screening procedures and shatter-resistant glass. Some districts are using grants to improve mental health services for students and to pay for school counselors and child psychologists. Additional local funding has led to 213 new school resource officers to be hired around the state.

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Blackburn and Bredesen hold first of two Senate debates

Here’s a roundup of the press coverage about the first Senate debate between Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen:

The Chattanooga Times Free Press‘ Andy Sher:

Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen clashed repeatedly here Tuesday night during their first televised U.S. Senate debate in a pivotal Tennessee contest rated as a toss up. Areas where the Brentwood Congress member Blackburn and Bredesen, a former governor, disagreed included the focus of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, how the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court should be handled, addressing the U.S. deficit and the opioid epidemic.

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert and Joey Garrison:

In the combative one-hour exchange that was tense from the outset, Blackburn, a conservative Williamson County congressman, went on the offensive early and often against Bredesen, painting him throughout as an ally of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor, framed himself as an independent who would work with Republicans and look beyond partisan bickering to solve issues. Although his jabs were less frequent, he attacked the firebrand Blackburn as embodying the political divisions of Washington.

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi:

Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen quickly promised not to vote for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as his Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn repeatedly sought to tie the former Tennessee governor to national Democrats in their first debate for U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Blackburn reiterated multiple times that Bredesen’s campaign “is bought and paid for” by Schumer, doubling down later with reporters that Schumer recruited Bredesen to run for the open Senate seat and pointing out that he’s previously donated to and at times has praised Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other leading Democrats. Meanwhile, Bredesen responded he would remain independent should he be elected in the upcoming Nov. 6 election, saying that he wouldn’t go to Washington to be a “political lackey.”

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New Lee ad touts ‘experience that matters’

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee is our with a new ad touting his “experience that matters.”

Here’s what Lee says in the commercial:

When we’re hiring people, the first thing we ask them about is experience. So, let me tell you about mine. I’m a father of four and a grandfather of five. I’m chairman of a company with 1,200 employees that’s been named by the Tennessean as the best place to work. I’m a seventh-generation Tennessean and a third-generation cattle farmer. That’s experience that matters.

On eve of Trump visit, state GOP blasts Dean for ‘out-of-state reinforcements’

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that President Donald Trump is returning to Tennessee next week to campaign and raise money for Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the state GOP has issued a release blasting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean for resorting to “out-of-state reinforcements” in the form of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Among the things the state GOP takes issue with about McAuliffe for are that he:

  • Was the governor of the only southern state to vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump.
  • Presided over more the introduction of more expensive highway tolls and supported higher taxes in northern Virginia to help fund the Metro.
  • Said impeachment of the president “ought to” be looked at.

“While Karl Dean continues to align himself with national Democrats like Ashley Judd and now Gov. Terry McAuliffe who are determined to undermine the president’s agenda, Bill Lee is spending his time meeting with Tennesseans in every county talking about his vision for this state,” state Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said in a release.

Blackburn has had several out-0f-state Republicans rally to her cause beyond Trump. They include Vice President Mike Pence (twice) and Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Asked recently by The Associated Press whether he wanted national Democrats like former President Barack Obama to come campaign on his behalf, Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said simply, “No.”

Trump to headline Blackburn fundraiser and rally in Johnson City

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

President Donald Trump is returning to Tennessee on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the Associated Press reports. The president also plans a public rally.

Tickets to the Monday fundraiser in Johnson City are set at $10,000 per couple (that includes a photo with the president) or $25,000 to attend a roundtable beforehand. Contributions will go to Blackburn’s joint fundraising committee.

Trump’s visit follows two fundraisers and public events in Tennessee featuring Mike Pence, including last week in Knoxville and in Cleveland in July. Trump held a fundraiser and rally for Blackburn in Nashville in May.

Footage from the previous Trump visit has featured heavily in Blackburn television ads in her race against Democrat Phil Bredesen.

UPDATE: The event coincides with the date of a proposed debate between Bredesen and Blackburn in Chattanooga. The former governor still planst to be in the city that day for a “Choose Chattanooga Ideas Forum.”

UPDATE 2: The Trump rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern at Freedom Hall in Johnson City. It’s will be the sixth time Trump has visited Tennessee since he became a presidential candidate and the first time he has appeared in Johnson City.

“With just 44 days from today until the midterm elections, President Trump looks forward to sharing the great news about the booming economy that’s delivered new jobs and bigger paychecks to Tennessee families,” Michael Glassner, chief operating officer for Donald J. Trump for President Inc., said in a release. “The president will also remind Tennesseans of the critical importance to get out and vote for Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate.”

Bredesen takes aim at tariffs in new ad

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has launched a new ad taking aim at $200 million worth of trade tarrifs going into effect on Monday that caused China to slap $60  billion on retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods including soy beans.

“These tariffs are hurting our farmers and costing us manufacturing jobs. That’s not how you get fair trade,” Bredesen says in the commercial. “You use America’s leverage to open markets, not to close them.”

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Onetime rival Fincher endorses Blackburn in Senate race

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate nominee in Tennessee, speaks at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn about being endorsed by former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who dropped out of the race early this year:

Brentwood, TN –  Today, former Congressman Stephen Fincher endorsed Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate.

Speaking about his endorsement, Congressman Fincher said, “Marsha Blackburn is strong leader for Tennesseans. We know Phil Bredesen will be a rubber stamp for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s agenda, and we need to do everything to maintain the Republican majority Senate. Marsha is the only one who will stand up for our Tennessee values in the Senate, and I am proud to do everything I can to ensure she is our next Senator.“

“Stephen is a respected voice for West Tennessee, and I enjoyed getting to know him and working together for Tennessee families in the House of Representatives, ” said Marsha Blackburn. “I am so grateful to have his support and advice as we work to ensure Tennessee has solid conservative representation in the Senate.”

 

New poll has Bredesen edging Blackburn 51-49

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

A new automated poll by Republican polling firm Vox Populi Communications finds Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen with a 51% to 49% advantage among likely voters over the GOP’s Marsha Blackburn.

The poll also found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean 55% to 45%.

Fifty-five percent said they approved of President Donald Trump’s performance, while 42% said they disapproved (40% said they think Trump should be impeached or forced to leave, while 60% said they disagreed).

Among other findings:

  • 25% approve of cutting entitlement programs like Medicare to balance the budget, 76% oppose.
  • 41% support abolishing ICE, 59% disapprove.
  • 44% say Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs are helping the state economy, 56% say hurting.
  • 57% say the support “a single payer healthcare system where the federal government would pay for healthcare for all Americans even if it means raising taxes to pay for it,” while 43% oppose.

The poll included 43% who identify as Republican, 32% as Democrats, and 25% as independents. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Polling site FiveThirtyEight rates NBC/Marist (Bredesen +2) and Fox (Blackburn +3) with an A, and CNN (Bredesen +5) with an A-minus. The site gives Vox (Bredesen +2) a B, with a 77% average of calling races correctly.