politics

Battleground no longer: Here’s the Almanac of American Politics’ overview of Tennessee

(Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest edition of the Almanac of American Politics declares Tennessee’s battleground days to be in the past. The folks over at the Almanac have graciously given the TNJ: On the Hill blog permission to post this sneak peak at the state profile to be published in the latest edition, which comes out in August. Stay tuned for a profile of first-year Gov. Bill Lee later this week. 

Tennessee, once a political battleground, is no longer. It has become one of the most solidly Republican states in the country, with just a few pockets of blue in its biggest cities. And while Tennessee has long been home to an influential strain of moderate Republicanism, two of the tradition’s prime exemplars — Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — are now out of politics, succeeded in 2018 by harder-edge conservative Republicans. A third, Sen. Lamar Alexander, announced that he would not run in 2020, leaving another seat likely to be filled by a more ideological warrior. Tennessee is almost 500 miles across, closer in the east to Dover Delaware than to Memphis, and closer in the west to Dallas Texas than to Johnson City. It has had a fighting temperament since the days before the Revolutionary War, when the first settlers crossed the Appalachian ridges and headed for the rolling country in the watersheds of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Tennessee became a state in 1796, the third state after the original 13. Its first congressman was a 29-year-old lawyer who was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants: Andrew Jackson. Jackson, who killed two men in duels, was a general who led Tennessee volunteers — it’s still called the Volunteer State –to battle against the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and against the British at New Orleans in 1815. He was the first president from an interior state, elected in 1828 and 1832, and was a founder of the Democratic Party, now the oldest political party in the world. Jackson was a strong advocate of the union, but 16 years to the day after his death, Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy. (Today, Jackson’s own party largely disowns him, while President Donald Trump made a pilgrimage to his gravesite and keeps his portrait in a prominent spot in the White House.)

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O’Hara: 3 ways Tennessee lawmakers could honor McCain

Gov. Bill Haslam gives a copy of his final State of the State speech to Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With The Tennessee Journal on break this week, former Tennessean political reporter Jim O’Hara offers some thoughts about how Tennessee might honor the legacy of the late U.S. Sen John McCain through some changes in the General Assembly:

Much was written last week about the best ways to honor the late Senator John McCain, from possibly re-naming the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., to general pleas for more civility and bi-partisanship in our politics.

Let me propose three ways for Tennessee to act, not just talk, about honoring the late senator.

When the 111th Tennessee General Assembly convenes in January, the speakers of the Senate and House should name three committee chairs from the other party. In the Senate that would still leave the majority party with nine chairmanships. In the House that would leave the majority party with 14 chairmanships.

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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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Top posts of 2018 (so far)

Taking a cue from our friends at the Nashville Post, we’ve decided to also take look back our most popular political blog posts through the first half of the year. Tops was a story about a state lawmaker mistaking fake news for the real thing, followed by the termination of radio talk show host Ralph Bristol, and Diane Black’s claimed “surge.”

The full Top 10 follows:

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Gubernatorial candidates queried about soybean prices

At the gubernatorial forum at UT-Martin on Thursday, the candidates were asked by moderator Meg Kinnard, an Associated Press reporter in South Carolina and the granddaughter of the late U.S. Rep. Ed Jones (D-Yorkville), what they would consider the break-even price to be for a bushel of soybeans in light of potential retaliation from abroad to the Trump administration’s trade policies.

Even though the candidates were  interviewend separately and kept out of the room when they weren’t on stage, it didn’t escape notice that the answers seemed to get more specific as it became clear it would be a recurring question. Not that we’d suggest some of the candidates might have been fed the questions or anything!

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