Don Sundquist

Jerry Adams, budget adviser to 10 Tennessee governors, dies

Longtime former Deputy Finance Commissioner Jerry Adams, who served under 10 Tennessee governors, has died of an apparent heart attack.

Jerry Adams (handout photo)

Adams was hired in 1962 by Harlan Mathews, who was finance commissioner in Gov. Buford Ellington’s administration. He was named deputy commissioner during Ellington’s second term in 1967, and Gov. Winfield Dunn appointed him commissioner for the final months of his term after Ted Welch left government. Adams was acting commissioner for about six weeks under Gov. Ray Blanton, and then settled back into being deputy commissioner under Govs. Lamar Alexander, Ned McWherter, Don Sundquist, and Phil Bredesen.

After officially retiring from state government, Adams remained a consultant on budget matters under Gov. Bill Haslam and Bill Lee.

“In January 2003, I was a brand-new governor, innocent of the details of state finances, and faced with a $300 million shortfall in a state with a strict balanced-budget requirement,” Bredesen said in a statement. “A lot of hours with Jerry Adams in my conference room solved the problem. He knew everything there was to know about the budget, about how things fit together and actually worked.”

Alexander called Adams “the consummate professional as a state employee.”

“Everyone trusted and respected him,” he said. “It was my privilege to know and work with him.”

The Tennessee Journal recounted this incident about Adams in 2005:

About 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, Deputy Finance Commissioner Jerry Adams left his office on the first floor of the Capitol to head home. He took the elevator to the ground floor, where the only exit that can be used on weekends is located. The elevator reached the floor but wouldn’t open. The phone didn’t work. An alarm did, but there was no one in the building to hear it. About 4 a.m. Monday a worker entered the Capitol, and Adams was able to get his attention. By 4:30 the door was open, and he walked out to find three Nashville firefighters. After his 13-hour ordeal, Adams went home and slept. But he was back at work at 9 a.m.

A visitation is scheduled for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the West Harpeth Funeral Home in Nashville.

Here’s the full statement from Bredesen:

Jerry Adams devoted his professional life to making Tennessee’s government be its best, and he was extraordinarily successful.

In January 2003, I was a brand-new governor, innocent of the details of state finances, and faced with a $300 million shortfall in a state with a strict balanced-budget requirement. A lot of hours with Jerry Adams in my conference room solved the problem. He knew everything there was to know about the budget, about how things fit together and actually worked. Legislators from both parties held him in such high regard that his briefings gave them the comfort they needed to take some tough actions that spring.

I loved to work with him. He was a problem-solver, completely honest and without guile, earnest, smart, deeply knowledgeable. He worked hard, had a sense of humor, was completely non-partisan. I would have been a different and inferior Governor without him and I suspect many of my predecessors from Frank Clement on could say the same. When I heard of his death, it was a bittersweet moment: Sadness at his passing, but profound respect and admiration as he wrapped-up a long, constructive, well-lived life.

Here’s your Bill Lee inauguration gallery

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee, bottom left, looks on as his Cabinet takes the oath of office in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig Tennessee Journal)

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On the passing of political reporter Rebecca Ferrar (aka ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Becky Bear’)

Rebecca Lynn Ferrar, who died of a heart attack this week at age 72, was given the joshing nickname ‘Lucifer’ during 11 years in Nashville as a reporter on state government and politics for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

She was my professional colleague for those years and a friend both before the newspaper’s management sent her to the state capitol to beef up reporting on state-level government and after they sent her back to Knoxville to shrink such coverage in accord with nationwide media downsizing trends (and, it’s fair to add, to enhance coverage of East Tennessee government and politics).

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Blackburn touts role in fighting state income tax

Marsha Blackburn in her latest 15-second digital ad touts her rule in fighting a state income tax proposal made by then-Gov. Don Sundquist, a fellow Republican.

“Here in Tennessee I fought my own party to stop a massive, job-killing state income tax,” Blackburn says in the ad. “And we stopped it. We won.”

Sundquist backs Jimmy Matlock in 2nd Congressional District Republican primary

Former Gov. Don Sundquist, who earlier endorsed Randy Boyd in the governor’s race and Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate, is now backing state Rep. Jimmy Matlock in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, reports Tennessee Star.

The Star posts a copy of a fundraiser for Matlock, to be held in Knoxville on June 18, with outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. and Sundquist listed as special guests supporting the state representative – along with their wives. Suggested minimum contribution is $500 per person.

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Conflicting spin on Sundquist’s endorsement of Blackburn

In an op-ed piece published by the News Sentinel and passed along to media via email by the Marsha Blackburn campaign, former Gov. Don Sundquist expands somewhat on his earlier endorsement of Blackburn’s campaign for the U.S. Senate while bashing the ‘intellectually dishonest” Phil Bredesen. The Democratic party, meanwhile, is striving to undermine the endorsement.

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NYT op-ed: Bredesen staff holding ashes of burned 1995 Blackburn expense account

Excerpt from a New York Times op-ed piece (written by Steve Cavendish, former editor of the Nashville Scene):

To understand how Phil Bredesen, a former Democratic governor of Tennessee, has a chance of winning this year’s race to replace Bob Corker as the junior senator from this deep-red state, it helps to know a story making the rounds in Nashville about his likely Republican opponent, Representative Marsha Blackburn.

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With two new nominees, Trump completes TN U.S. marshal appointments (all three previous GOP political appointees)

Former state Rep. Barrett Rich, currently a member of the Tennessee state Board of Paroles, and Denny King, who headed the state Department of Safety under former Gov. Don Sundquist, have been nominated by President Trump to become U.S. Marshals.

Rich (R-Somerville) chose not to seek reelection to the House District 94 seat in 2014 and was appointed after his term expired to the Board of Paroles by Gov. Bill Haslam. King previously served as U.S. marshal for Middle Tennessee, after his tenure as safety commissioner, under appointment of former President George W. Bush.

Trump had previously nominated David Jolley as U.S. marshal for East Tennessee and his appointment has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The King and Rich nominations await confirmation. Jolley also served as U.S. marshal for East Tennessee under former President George W. Bush and is the husband of Jane Jolley, East Tennessee field coordinator for Sen. Bob Corker.

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Don Sundquist endorses Marsha Blackburn

Press release from Marsha Blackburn campaign

Brentwood, TN –  Today, former Governor Don Sundquist endorsed Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate. His endorsement is another clear sign that Tennesseans are rallying behind Blackburn for Senate.

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Sundquist: It’s ‘imperative’ that elected Republicans back Trump

While Gov. Bill Haslam has publicly repudiated Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, former Gov. Don Sundquist is taking an opposite stand.

Here’s a statement the former Republican governor emailed to media Friday:

It is imperative that all Republicans, and particularly elected Republicans, support our nominee for President on Election Day. I do not believe our country can survive an extension of the Obama presidency, which is exactly what electing Hillary Clinton will be.  Moreover, a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court will set this country on a course from which we may never recover. I, too, am disgusted by some of what I have seen Donald Trump say, but none of it compares to the malicious, unscrupulous and perverse corruption of the Clintons.

Haslam on Sunday declared that he will not vote for Trump and instead write in another Republican name for president on election day. Elaborating a bit on Thursday, WPLN reports the governor said he believes his move was for the good of the Republican party.

“We struggle already with women, with minorities and with young people, and we’re on a track where we’re not helping that. Having said that, I have real concerns about Hillary Clinton as president,” Haslam said.

… The governor declined to say whether other Republicans should do the same. So far, in Tennessee, Haslam remains a lone voice among GOP officials. But he says Republican voters should make sure to cast their ballots, regardless of who they support.

Haslam’s original statement is below:  Continue reading