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Kelsey out as Senate judiciary chairman in leadership shuffle

Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) speak on the Senate floor on Jan. 10, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who only narrowly won re-election in November over Democratic challenger Gabby Salinas, is out as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a leadership shuffle by Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

The new judiciary chairman is Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), while Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) takes his place as chairman of Government Operations. Sen. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) is the new  chairman of Commerce, while Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) takes over in his former role as chairman of Transportation. Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) is the new chairman of the State and Local Government committee, which was vacated by Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston), who is now Republican caucus chairman. Sente Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) is the former Chairman of the Commerce Committee.

 

Haslam names state park after Lamar Alexander

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville), left, and Gov. Bill Haslam attend an event at the state Capitol in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

 

Gov. Bill Haslam is renaming Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County after U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has announced he won’t seek another term in Congress in 2020.

Rocky Fork became Tennessee’s 55th state park when it opened in 2015. Alexander had been influential in securing more than $30 million in federal funding to buy the 15-square-mile tract to add it to the Cherokee National Forrest.

Here’s a release from Haslam’s office:

FLAG POND – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam by executive order has renamed Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County as Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park, honoring Tennessee’s senior senator for his record of service and commitment to preservation.

“Senator Alexander has spent a lifetime serving Tennesseans and promoting Tennessee to the world,” Haslam said. “He loves the state from Memphis to Mountain City. His roots are in East Tennessee, and it is fitting that this special place in this special state bears his name. Tennessee’s state parks are indebted to him and his service both as governor and as senator, and visitors to this state park will be reminded of his work every time they visit.”

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Rose names former Rep. Hilleary as chief of staff

Former U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary (R-Spring City), left, was named chief of staff for Rep.-elect John Rose (R-Cookeville), right. (Image credit: Rose’s office)

U.S. Rep.-elect John Rose (R-Cookeville) has chosen former Rep. Van Hilleary as chief of staff.

Hilleary (R-Spring City) represented the 4th Congressional District from 1994 to 2002. He vacated his seat to run for governor in 2002, but fell short to Democrat Phil Bredesen in that race. He came in third in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2006, a race won by former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.  Hilleary has since worked as a lobbyist in Washington.

“Having an experienced person like Van Hilleary agree to serve as my chief of staff will greatly benefit me and my constituents from day one,” Rose said in a release. “He will bring the Washington know-how to our team, but is not a Washington insider. He is my friend and I could not be more proud to have him on board.”

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Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station show biggest population growth in state

The communities of Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station are experiencing the fastest population growth in the state, according to new Census tract data analyzed by the University of Tennessee. Nearly 6,200 people moved to the area between 2013 and 2017, a 19% increase.

Click on the map for a look at the top 20 population increases.

The statistics for the state’s nearly 1,500 census tracts show that 268, or 18%, showed significant population growth, while 90 tracts, or 6%, showed decreases.

 

Of the 20 fastest-growing tracts, 12 were in the Nashville metropolitan area. And the state capital region accounted for 46% of the tracts with population increases. The Memphis area accounted for 28 of the 90 tracts with decreases. Another 29 tracts posting population declines were located in rural areas.

 

 

Richardson named partner at McMahan Winstead lobbying firm

Anna Richardson will become a parter in the lobbying firm founded by David McMahan and Beth Winstead. Richardson joined the prominent contract lobbying outfit in 2011 after serving as a legislative staffer, including for newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin). The firm will be renamed McMahan Winstead & Richardson on Jan. 1.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE – McMahan Winstead today announced Anna M. Richardson will join David McMahan and Beth Winstead as a partner with the firm effective January 1. The firm will officially change its name to McMahan Winstead & Richardson on that date.

“Eight years ago, Anna brought her extensive legislative experience and legal expertise to our firm giving our clients unmatched representation in the Tennessee General Assembly. Her contributions have brought our firm to new heights,” said David McMahan. “Joining Beth and me as a partner is the next logical step for Anna and well-deserved. Our firm is built on honesty, loyalty and hard work. Anna displays all three on a daily basis. We could not be more excited about this new partnership.

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Woodson stepping aside as head of education group founded by Frist

Former state Sen. Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville), who Gov. Bill Haslam recently appointed to the board of the University of Tennessee, is stepping down as head of the head of SCORE, the education group founded former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Nashville). Woodson will remain with the group as a senior adviser, and David Mansouri will be promoted to president and CEO.

Here’s the full email from Bill Frist:

I am writing today to share exciting news about SCORE and steps our Board of Directors have taken to continue the momentum of our organization and the historic educational gains Tennessee students are making.

Without a doubt, the progress Tennessee has made in student achievement has been unprecedented. The state has become a national leader in education improvement. I am so proud that under the strong leadership of Jamie Woodson, SCORE has played such a major role as an advocate for student-focused, research-backed policies that have helped Tennessee educators produce these historic gains for our students.

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Blackburn fundraising appeal cites ‘statistical tie’ in Senate race

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

A fundraising appeal from Republican Marsha Blackburn’s campaign calls the Senate race with Democrat Phil Bredesen a “dead heat” and says she needs to raise the (oddly specific) amount of $22,876 per day through the last 10 days of the month to prevail.

Here’s a copy of the email from Kevin Golden, Blackburn’s campaign manager (note that the link doesn’t bring up any further information, but it does give a link to make contributions) :

Date: October 22, 2018
Re: 15-Day Strategy

Team-

We are now 15 days out from Election Day and 4 days into Early Voting.

As you know, many of the polls coming out have demonstrated a dead heat—a statistical tie—and we are in need of a new strategy to put us over the edge.

Based on the trends we’ve been observing, we need to hit our target audiences harder, so we’re going to push more digital ads and have mapped out a new plan for TV ads. We’re going to need more resources, so we crunched the numbers – huge shout out to the finance team for getting that done.

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NBC/Marist poll has Bredesen leading Blackburn by 2 points

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

A new NBC/Marist poll in the Tennessee Senate race has Democrat Phil Bredesen leading Republican Marsha Blackburn by 2 percentage points among likely voters, and 4 points among registered voters. Both are within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll found the governor’s race is far less competitive: Republican Bill Lee was leading Democrat Karl Dean 53%-40% .

Among likely voters, Bredesen was up 48-46, with 5% undecided.  Bredesen’s margin was 48-44 among registered voters.

Bredesen has near unanimous support among Democrats (97%-0%),  compared with Blackburn, who had an 86%-9% advantage among Republicans. Indepedents were leaning toward Bredesen 49%-45%.

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Leatherwood nominated to succeed late Rep. Lollar

The Shelby County Republican Party has named former state Sen. Tom Leatherwood as the nominee to succeed to state Rep. Ron Lollar, who died less than a month before the primary election.

The decision was made by the three members of the county party’s steering committee who live in the 99th House District, The Daily News of Memphis reports.

“This is new to all of us,” Shelby County Republican Party chairman Lee Mills, who recused himself for the vote because he was also a contender for the nomination. “So it’s a little awkward. I don’t believe we’ve ever done this before.”

Leatherwood served in the Senate from 1992 to 2000, when he was elected register of deeds in Shelby County. He made an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in 2008, saying that “too many Republicans got Potomac fever and became more self-serving.”

Leatherwood, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination for circuit court clerk in August, faces Democratic nominee Dave Cambron in the general election for the state House seat.

Knoxville News Sentinel endorses Boyd

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Belle Meade on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd has been endorsed by his hometown newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The newspaper praises the Knoxville businessman for his “full-blown, thoughtful platform addressing jobs, education, health care and rural development.”

“But he wasn’t about to be torpedoed by more-conservative-than-thou demagoguery,” the paper editorialized. “When U.S. Rep. Diane Black came out with an attack ad questioning his conservative credentials, he fired back.”

The Boyd endorsements comes after the conservative side of the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ opinion pages endorsed Bill Lee in the Republican gubernatorial primary.