O’Hara: GOP takes hard right turn in Tennessee

A guest column from former Tennessean reporter Jim O’Hara:

In calling the misguided immigration bill “a solution looking for a problem” while letting it become law without signing, Gov. Bill Haslam could well have been describing the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

The frontrunners – Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and U.S. Rep. Diane Black – have blanketed the television airwaves with commercials trying to out-Trump each other in anti-illegal immigration rhetoric.  Maybe the next round of commercials will have each of them on the Texas-Mexico border with shovels and bricks in hand building THE WALL!

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Democrat Tate gets endorsement from GOP’s Matheny

As state Sen. Reginald Tate fights to hold on to his Memphis seat in a tight Democratic primary, an endorsement from the likes of state Rep. Judd Matheny, a Republican congressional candidate, might not exactly be high on his wish list.But that’s what Tate got from the Tullahoma Republican, who called him “a fine man that understands the plight of African Americans.” Mantheny, who once questioned whether a mop sink in a Capitol restroom was a Muslim foot bath, also mentions that he and Tate toured Europe to “study Islam.”

Tate has been trying to fend off criticism in his heavily-Democratic district that he has been took keen to work with Republicans in the legislature. He faces Katrina Robinson, a business owner and nurse in the Aug. 2 primary.

Former Chief Justice Anderson passes away at 85

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice E. Riley Anderson passed away last week at the age of 85. He served on the state’s highest court from 1990 to 2006.

“I guess other people are going to select how you’re going to be remembered,” Anderson once said. “But I’d like to be remembered as somebody who was fair and honest and worked hard at the job.”

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21 now charged in motorcycle gang case

Two more people have been charged in the federal case against members and associates of the Clarksville chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle gang.

The indictments returned by the federal grand jury in Nashville brings the total number of defendants in the case to 21.

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Website questions Tennessean story on Boyd

The conservative website Tennessee Star appears torn between its opposition to Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd and its hostility toward The Tennessean newspaper.

The newspaper has broken several important stories recently in the governor’s race, including that Bill Lee’s company has received at least $13.8 million in government contracts since 2012; that Diane Black voted in the Democratic primary in 1996 (when the Clinton-Gore ticket was on the ballot, though her campaign denies she voted for the incumbents); and that Boyd’s company opened offices in Ireland that allowed the business to avoid U.S. taxes.

While the Star has been happy to label Boyd as “La Raza Randy” and claim that the Gov. Bill Haslam is somehow rigging the primary in Boyd’s favor, the report about the “Double Irish” tax arrangement seems to have gotten stuck in the website’s craw.

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Fitzhugh suggests GOP would ‘roll right over’ Dean

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says Democratic gubernatorial primary rival Karl Dean won’t get very far on self-professed “pragmatism.”

The Memphis Daily News reports that Fitzhugh took aim at the former Nashville mayor’s plans to coexist with GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate during a meeting with the Shelby County Democratic Women in Memphis last week.

“If you get up there in that Republican-led legislature and you’re pragmatic, they are going to roll right over you,” Fitzhugh said.

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Memphis Sen. Reginald Tate: ‘I am the message’

State Sen. Reginald Tate, who is locked in a competitive Democratic primary in Memphis, opened his campaign headquarters over the weekend, touting his independence as a lawmakers.

“I’ve never sided with anybody. I don’t side. I was taught better,” the Memphis Daily News quoted Tate as saying. “I don’t approve the message. I am the message.”

Tate faces Katrina Robinson, a business owner and nurse in the Aug. 2 primary. A hot mic incident in which Tate vented to a Republican colleague about his frustration with Democrats questioning his party loyalty has been a major flashpoint of the campaign.

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EPA loophole for ‘glider’ trucks OK’d on Pruitt’s last day

On his last day before resigning amid ethics scandals U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt granted a loophole to allow dealers to sell new trucks with old engines built into them that can pollute at as much as 55 times the levels those covered by modern emission controls, the New York Times reports .

The loophole has been promoted by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Crossville company that has given heavily to Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign. Black has traveled on the company’s private plane to attend campaign events.

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Meth use hits record high in Tennessee

While much attention has been paid to the opioid epidemic in the state, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says meth use is an an all time high.

“Meth is here. It’s everywhere. We’re at the point now where we’re saturated at the street level with methamphetamine,” said Kyle Hixson, the Deputy District Attorney General in Knox County tells WBIR-TV. “It’s still killing people. It still is dangerous as it ever was. Unfortunately here in Knoxville, I’m afraid to say, we probably have more of it than we’ve ever had.”

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Diane Black goes ‘Double Irish’ on Randy Boyd

As some of our commenters have alluded to, U.S. Rep. Diane Black has a new ad out hitting fellow Republican gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd for his company’s decision to open offices in Ireland and the Cayman Islands, a scheme known as “Double Irish” that allows U.S. companies to avoid taxes domestically.

The story was first reported by The Tennessean. The conservative website Tennessee Star has video of the ad.