Erik Schelzig

Editor, The Tennessee Journal

Harwell’s new TV ad mocks GOP rivals

State House Speaker Beth Harwell’s new ad takes aim at squabbling among her Republican gubernatorial rivals Randy Boyd, Diane Black, and Bill Lee, while calling her “the adult in the room.”

“My opponents are spending a great deal of time arguing over things we’ve already done in Tennessee. We outlawed sanctuary cities in Tennessee even before President Trump’s election,” Harwell said in a release. “We strengthened the law just last legislative session by adding monetary penalties to any local municipality that chooses to defy the law.”

 

Governor’s race becomes costliest in TN history

Republican Randy Boyd speaks during the Gubernatorial Forum on Education at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

Spending in this year’s governor’s race has now eclipsed expenditures in any race in state history, The Tennessean reports.

The four major Republicans and two Democrats seeking to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam have spent a combined $37 million through the first half of 2018. Meanwhile, they’ve raised more than $50 million, with large chunks of that coming in the form of contributions from the candidates themselves.

The 2006 Senate race ultimately won by former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker was the most expensive statewide contest before this year, coming in at about $34 million.

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NRA endorses David Kustoff in 8th District

The National Rifle Association is endorsing Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff in the 8th Congressional District.

The freshman congressman faces a Republican primary challenge from George Flinn, a deep-pocketed perennial candidate. The endorsement was announced by the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox, a Jackson native.

“We greatly appreciate your consistent opposition to attempts to ban lawfully-owned firearms, magazines and ammunition, and for standing strong against the gun control agenda,” Cox said.

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Blackburn returns Club for Conservatives PAC money

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign has returned contributions from a PAC that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators, Roll Call reports.

The Blackburn returned one contribution from the Club for Conservatives PAC for $2,700 and returned another check for $2,700.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler told the paper.

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Boyd’s latest attack ad portrays Black in swamp

Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd’s latest attack ad portrays Republican gubernatorial rival Diane Black as being part of the “D.C. Swamp” and the narrator refers to her as “D.C. Diane” five times in 30 seconds.

Transcript: “A 20-year professional politician, D.C. Diane Black. In the D.C. Swamp, D.C. Diane’s net worth increased by more than $40 million. While enriching herself, D.C. Diane worked to raise our taxes by $160 million, while cutting her taxes by millions. And as budget chair, D.C. Diane let the debt soar to $21 trillion. D.C. Diane Black: Out for herself, no us.”

New Lee spot targets ‘all these dishonest attack ads’

Franklin businessman Bill Lee has a new TV commercial out targeting negative ads running in the Republican gubernatorial primary campaign. Lee says he won’t “go down that road,” and that the attack ads “reveal a lot more truth about the person running the ad than the person in the ad.”

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Black makes another immigration proposal in Congress

With early voting set to get underway in the gubernatorial primary on Friday, Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black has filed a bill seeking to make the act of illegally entering the United States a felony. That would be up from the current misdemeanor level, which is punishable by six months’ incarceration.

Black in May introduced a separate bill to crowdfund the construction of a wall on Mexican border.

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Black lands endorsement from candidate who ‘won by losing’

Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black is touting the endorsement of former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, who famously declared she “won by losing” her bid for Nashville mayor this year after she won 23% of the vote.

“I will be voting for Representative Diane Black for the GOP gubernatorial nomination,” Swain writes in her endorsement. “I believe Diane can defeat Karl Dean and become the next governor of Tennessee.”

After her loss to David Briley in the Nashville mayor’s race in May, Swain said: “We won by losing. Our short campaign ignited a conversation about the real challenges facing Nashville.”

 

Bill Lee on Black attack ads: ‘It’s not what leaders do’

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

Franklin businessman Bill Lee says he will take the high road in response to rival Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black’s attack ads.

“I think negative, deceitful attack ads, it’s everything wrong with politics,” Lee told WKRN-TV’s Chris Bundgaard. “I’m not going down that road because it’s not what leaders do.”

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Haslam to successor: ‘Everything changes now’

Gov. Bill Haslam gives a preview of his State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 29, 2018. (Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam has written an op-ed for the Tennessee Gannett newspapers in the form of a letter to his successor. In it, he warns that  “a lot of what was talked about during the campaign will not be the issues that end up on your desk as governor.”

“You have spent these last months trying to get in front of as many of Tennessee’s 6.6 million citizens as you could to tell them your story. Everything changes now,” he wrote.

“The most important thing you can do right now is start to hire your team. You have 23 commissioners who will lead the agencies and several key positions in the governor’s office,” Haslam said. “Nothing is more important than hiring the right people for those roles…. Hire great people!”

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