Uncategorized

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.

 

Resolution to oust Byrd won’t be on calendar. But is one even needed?

Embattled Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) attends a House Education Committee meeting in Nashville on March 28, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison reports that a resolution seeking to oust state Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) over sexual misconduct allegations dating back to when he was a girls’ high school basketball coach in the 1980s won’t be placed on the House calendar for this week’s special session.

If Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) wants her resolution to be taken up, it would require a two-thirds majority to suspend the rules — the same margin required to oust a sitting member.

But there’s a fairly obvious workaround, if past experience with the ouster of then-Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) is any guide. During the 2016 special session to undo a drunken driving bill that threatened $60 million in highway funds for running afoul of federal guidelines, Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) stood to announce a motion to oust Durham over the sexual misconduct allegations laid out in a state attorney general’s report.

There was no accompanying resolution for the successful effort to remove Durham, which rankled the former lawmaker’s few supporters in the chamber. They included then-Rep. Rick Womick (R-Murfreesboro), who likened the House to a “banana republic” if any member could just stand and make a motion to oust another.

But Joe McCord, the House clerk at the time, cited the following provision in the Tennessee Constitution outlining the power to remove members:

Section 12. Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offense; and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free state.

While the General Assembly is required to stay within the governor’s call for the special session, which are to pass updates to court rules that didn’t get taken up during this spring’s regular session, internal housekeeping matters like leadership elections are also allowed.

Byrd, who was recorded by one of the now-adult women apologizing for unspecified sins in the past, has been urged by Lee not to seek re-election next year.

Will this Trump tweet clear the field for Hagerty?

Will this tweet from President Donald Trump cleat the Republican field for Bill Hagerty’s bid for the U.S. Senate?

Sethi to report $1.5M on hand for U.S. Senate bid

Republican Manny Sethi is expected to report $1.5 million on hand in the first campaign finance disclosure for his U.S. Senate bid.

About $542,000 comes from outside donors, while the remainder is in the form of loans from the candidate to stress his personal commitment to the campaign.

Sethi announced his Senate bid on June 3, meaning he had only 20 business days to raise money before the fundraising period ended. The Vanderbilt trauma surgeon is the only major Republican candidate to announce a bid so far for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) next year.

Others Republicans considering bids include former Gov. Bill Haslam, Ambassador Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Reps. Mark Green of Ashland City and David Kustoff of Memphis.

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2020.

 

Gov. Lee to call special session on Casada replacement in mid-August

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) presides over a floor session in Nashville on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee plans to call a special session for a House vote to replace Speaker Glen Casada in mid-August.

The governor announced his decision to call the special session in a press conference before the state Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner on Saturday.

Casada (R-Franklin) has said he plans to plan resign on Aug. 2 after losing a vote of confidence among members of the House Republican Caucus last month.

House Republicans expect Casada to keep to his original resignation date, meaning Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) would preside until a permanent replacement is elected during the special session.

A House Republican Caucus meeting to nominate the next speaker could be held in the latter half of next month.

Sethi enters Republican race to succeed Alexander

Surgeon Manny Sethi is joining the Republican race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen  Lamar Alexander next year. His announcement comes before other potential candidates like former Gov. Bill Haslam, Ambassador Bill Hagerty, or U.S. Rep Mark Green have announced whether they will run.

Here’s Sethi’s announcement release:

Nashville — Today, Dr. Manny Sethi, a Nashville trauma surgeon, launched his campaign for United States Senate.

“Tennesseans want a conservative outsider who will take on the Establishment, support President Trump, fight illegal immigration and work to repeal ObamaCare,” said Sethi. “That’s why I’m running for Senate.”

Dr. Sethi, 41, is the first candidate to enter the race.  A first generation son of Indian immigrants, Sethi released a video this morning telling the story of his family coming to America.

“My parents taught me to be grateful I was born in America because everything our family has was given to us by this country. I am a product of the American dream. I want to make sure that dream is available to our children and grandchildren,” said Sethi.

Sethi, and his wife, Maya, have been together since they were 16. They were married in 2005 and have two young children.

The Republican Primary is August.

Today’s the day for Casada to sink or swim. Or is it?

The state House Republican Caucus meets Monday afternoon at a Nashville hotel to decided whether embattled Speaker Glen Casada still has their confidence to lead the chamber.

Casada has been furiously lobbying members not to cast him aside. One idea that’s been floated is for the caucus to vote on whether to censure the speaker rather than pass a no-confidence motion, with the former being considered less fatal to his prospects to remain speaker.

Another option is for the caucus to simply vote down the no-confidence motion.

Any outcome, however, is bound to leave the speaker in a severely weakened position.

One of Casada’s major challenges is that just about every rumor floated about him feels like it might have some credence — no matter how outlandish it sounds. That means the Franklin Republican is constantly on the defensive, trying to slap down the latest whispers.

The lastest rumor spreading around the Capitol is that Casada has allegedly promised to support a primary challenger of Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) after she declared the speaker should step aside (and also because she earlier voted against the school voucher bill). Casada aides and House Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville say they are unaware of any such arrangement.

Meanwhile, Republican State Executive Committee member Randy Ellis of Harriman issued a statement calling on Casada resign as speaker:

The continued drama involving Speaker Casada has quickly turned into a National embarrassment it’s time for the Speaker to step aside and allow for new leadership. This ordeal has overshadowed all the hard work and accomplishments our legislature has worked so hard for during the last session.

It is time to end this prolonged drama. For the sake of our great party and the state of Tennessee, I call for Speaker Casada to step down as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

 

Public to be barred from GOP meeting on Casada’s future

Members of the House Republican Caucus vote on a motion during a meeting to elect their nominee for speaker in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The public was invited to attend the House Republican Caucus meeting in November in which Rep. Glen Casada was elected as the nominee for speaker.

Not so for the meeting scheduled for Monday to decide whether members still have confidence in Casada’s leadership amid a scandal involving lewd and racist text messages.

House GOP spokesman Doug Kufner said the meeting will be limited to members of the caucus. That’s at the request of those who called for the gathering, he said. Reps. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) have been identified as gathering the 10 signatures needed to hold the caucus meeting.

Some members have been told they could be required to check their mobile phones at the door for fear of details being leaked to public.

Nashville, Memphis school districts threaten to sue over vouchers

The school districts covering Nashville and Memphis are threatening to sue the state if the General Assembly passes legislation to enact an expanded school voucher program affecting only their students. The so-called Education Savings Account bill passed both the House and Senate last week, but in competing forms.

Here’s the full release from Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools:

State’s 2 Largest School Districts Oppose Education Savings Account Legislation as Unconstitutional

The Education Savings Account (ESA) legislation violates Article XI, Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution because it is arbitrarily limited to only a portion of the state when the Constitution requires any Act of the General Assembly to apply statewide unless approved by a local legislative body or through a local referendum.

The language, in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, reflects an arbitrary application to Shelby County Schools (SCS) and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MPNS), as there are school districts such as Madison and Fayette county with larger or nearly the same percentages of schools performing in the bottom 10 percent. The legislation also applies to only certain districts with priority schools from the state’s 2015 priority school list even though there is a more current list from 2018 that includes schools in Campbell, Fayette, Madison and Maury counties. These districts are arbitrarily left out of the legislation.

Should this legislation be signed into law, an immediate constitutional challenge is likely to ensure equal protection under the law. Shelby County is no stranger to asserting and prevailing on such constitutional challenges as reflected in the November 27, 2012 decision in the case of Board of Education of Shelby County Tennessee et al v. Memphis City Board of Education by federal Judge Hardy Mays which rendered a similar bill void that was local in effect.

“If the Governor and Legislature are determined to pass a general law that would apply arbitrarily only to us or a limited number of school systems, we will be sure to exhaust all of our legal options,” said SCS Superintendent, Dr. Joris M. Ray.

“No matter what you call them, vouchers are a bad idea. They are not what we need for public schools. We owe it to this generation of students — and to all of those who follow them – to fight for a system that is fairly funded,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, the MNPS Interim Director.

If the ESA bill becomes law, Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools stand prepared to evaluate and pursue all legal remedies that ensure that the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law remain intact for the children and families of our districts and state.

 

Carr cleans up: Perennial candidate lands $135K job with Lee adminstration

Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) announces his U.S. Senate bid in January 2013.

Former state Rep. Joe Carr — the failed candidate for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House (twice), state Senate, and state Republican party chairman — has landed a job with Gov. Bill Lee’s administration. The Tennessean reports the job will pay $135,000 per year.

Carr’s new position will be assistant commissioner of the state Department of Environment and Conservation, the Nashville Post first reported.

Carr decided against running for re-election to the state House in 2014 to instead mount a challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Sout Pittsburg). But he abandoned that bid to instead challenge U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville). He did better than expected in that campaign, but still lost by 9 percentage points.

He then mounted a failed challenge to GOP Chairman Chris Devaney (top Lee adviser during the governor’s race and in the current administration). Then came a challenge to U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) in 2016. He lost that one by a 2-to-1 margin.

And last year Carr ran for the Republican nomination to succeed Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville. Carr lost to Shane Reeves 65% to 35%.

Carr made an early endorsement of Lee during the Republican gubernatorial primary as the businessman was still finding his feet in the campaign and staving off claims by rivals that he wasn’t sufficiently conservative.

Carr’s hiring was announced to TDEC employees in a recent email touting his business experience.

“[Carr] most recently served as chief operating officer for Superior Walls, a concrete construction company, where he was accountable for the safety and management of more than 50 employees,” according to the email.