presidential campaign

Early voting up slightly compared with 2016

About 3,000 more early ballots were cast through the first four days of early voting in Tennessee compared with the same period in the 2016 presidential primary.

Republican voting was down by 3,456 votes, while Democratic voting jumped by 6,465 ballots. It’s not an entirely unexpected result given President Donald Trump isn’t facing serious opposition in the GOP primary. And even then, Republicans have accounted for 60% of the early ballots cast so far.

The biggest increase in Democratic primary votes has so far occurred in Shelby (+3,248), Knox (+1,490), Hamilton (+661) and Rutherford (+404) counties.

Shelby County also saw that largest increase in Republican voters with 1,314, followed by Washington (+707), Blount (+412), Knox (+391), and Wilson (+315) counties.

Davidson County saw the biggest drop in both Democratic (-1,602) and Republican (-1,564) votes. The next biggest GOP drops were in Rutherford (-883), Monroe (-743), and Sumner (-433) counties. Democrats’ next biggest losses were votes in Monroe (-192), White (-133) , and Stewart (-108) counties.

(95-county breakdown after the jump)

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Photo gallery of Bloomberg visit to Tennessee

Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg visited Chattanooga and Nashville as part of his campaign strategy of targeting states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond. Here are some photos of the former New York mayor’ appearance in Chattanooga on Wednesday.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg meets with supporters after speaking at a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks during a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg waits backstage to speak a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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Bloomberg to campaign in Chattanooga, Nashville on Wednesday

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to appear in Chattanooga and Nashville on Wednesday, the first day of early voting for Tennessee’s Super Tuesday presidential primary.

Bloomberg previously visited Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville in December and January, while most of the other candidates have been focused on the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primaries. Bloomberg decided to sit those contests out in favor of concentrating on the far larger number of delegates available on Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg’s Tennessee events are being held at the  Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga at 2 p.m. Eastern and at Rocketown in Nashville at 7 p.m. Central. The latter was a favorite among Republicans running for president in the 2016 cycle, including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich.

Here’s the release from the Bloomberg campaign:

NASHVILLE — Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will be in Chattanooga and Nashville on Wednesday, February 12 to hold rallies marking the start of early voting in the state ahead of the Super Tuesday primary.

This is Mike’s third trip to Tennessee since announcing his candidacy in late November.

In late December, Mike announced his national healthcare policy in Memphis and kicked off the grand opening of the state campaign headquarters in Nashville. He returned to the state on January 10 to open the Knoxville regional field office.

“The time, resources and attention Mike gives Tennessee shows his care and focus on Tennessee voters,” said Courtney Wheeler, Tennessee state director for Mike Bloomberg 2020. “We are glad to see he cares about our voices and are looking forward to giving him another big welcome this week.

The campaign’s deep presence in Tennessee is part of Bloomberg’s  campaign to engage voters, win delegates on Super Tuesday and defeat Donald Trump.

 

Elizabeth Warren names Tennessee staff

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren announced her senior Tennessee staff  includes Elizabeth Henderson as state director, Robin Alberts-Marigza as organizing director, and Sara Burklin as regional director for East Tennessee. (Henderson’s appointment was first reported by the Nashville Post’s Stephen Elliot in October.)

“Our campaign is committed to organizing everywhere and visiting parts of the state that are often overlooked in a Democratic primary. We are investing in communities from Memphis to Mountain City, connecting with Tennesseans on what Elizabeth Warren’s plans would mean for them,” Henderson said a statement.

The hires come on the heels of former New York Mayor Bloomberg naming Courtney Wheeler as the Tennessee director
for his Democratic presidential bid. Holly McCall is his state spokeswoman, and state Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis) will serve as outreach director. Additional staffers include political director Ashford Hughes, digital director Spencer Bowers, and senior adviser Carol Andrews. Bloomberg visited Nashville and Memphis last week.

Billionaire Tom Steyer hired Tequila Johnson of The Equity Alliance and the Tennessee Black Voter Project as his state director.

Here’s the full release from the Warren campaign:

Nashville, TN – Today, Tennessee for Warren announced three senior staff hires, with over a dozen paid staff on the ground in Tennessee. The announcement follows months of outreach to voters across the state.
 
Elizabeth Warren was the first candidate of the primary cycle to visit Tennessee in March of 2019 when she held a town hall in Memphis. Over the past several months the Warren campaign became the first to open a field office in the state, and has held organizing events in every corner of Tennessee — including barnstorms in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Team Tennessee for Warren has already organized canvasses and house parties in over two dozen counties. The team has been on the ground since October 2019.
 
“Our campaign is committed to organizing everywhere and visiting parts of the state that are often overlooked in a Democratic primary. We are investing in communities from Memphis to Mountain City, connecting with Tennesseans on what Elizabeth Warren’s plans would mean for them,” said State Director Elizabeth Henderson. “Our team includes not just experienced campaign hands but also rural organizers, teachers, social justice organizers — grassroots leaders that have been on the ground fighting for working families in their communities for years. Together, we are building a grassroots movement to fight for big, structural change and put power in the hands of all Tennesseans.”

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Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris endorses Biden

Lee Harris, right, speaks a press conference in Nashville on Jan. 23, 2018. To the left are Reps. John Ray Clemmons and Rep. Dwayne Thompson. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary. Harris, a former state senator from Memphis, said Biden presents a “vivid contrast with the current president.”

Harris in July appeared at a Nashville rally with another Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., another candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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David Kernell, who as UT student hacked Sarah Palin’s email account, dead at age 30

David Kernell,  the son of a former Tennessee legislator from Memphis who guessed his way into Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s personal email account in 2008, has died in California at age 30, reports the Commercial Appeal.

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Corker for president? ‘It’s way too early to be thinking about those things’

Retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Friday wouldn’t rule out a possible 2020 challenge to President Donald Trump, but stressed his primary focus remains on completing his third and final term in the Senate, reports the Times Free Press.

“The only thing I’m talking about now over the next 14 months truly is doing the best job I can as a senator,” the former Chattanooga mayor told reporters in Gatlinburg after a state economic and community development conference.

Asked whether he was thinking about or ruling out a Republican primary challenge to Trump in 2020, Corker said: “If you even begin thinking those things, everything you do becomes viewed through a different lens. I’ve got 14 months to do the best job that I can.”

“It’s way way too early,” Corker later noted. “Does [Trump] even run again? It’s way too early to be thinking about those things.”

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TN man’s conviction upheld, sentence vacated in Mitt Romney tax returns case

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Franklin man’s conviction for trying to extort $1 million from an accounting firm working for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, but vacated his four-year prison sentence, reports the Nashville Post.

A Nashville federal jury last year found Michael Mancil Brown guilty for a 2012 scheme in which he falsely claimed that he had gained access to then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, threatening to release them unless the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers paid a $1 million Bitcoin ransom, according to testimony at trial.

Brown, represented by Bone McAllester Norton attorney Alex Little on appeal, argued that the Secret Service did not have probable cause for the search warrant that led to key evidence in the case and that a sentencing enhancement triggered by an obstruction of justice charge was improperly applied. Little declined to comment when reached by the Post Monday.

The appeals court panel rejected the first argument in upholding the conviction, while accepting the second argument, in turn remanding the case to the Nashville district court for resentencing.

According to court proceedings, Brown had sent a letter to the Franklin offices of PwC in the months ahead of the 2012 election demanding the accounting firm pay $1 million, or else he would release the tax returns. Similar letters were sent to local Republican and Democratic party offices, though no evidence that Brown ever possessed the tax documents ever surfaced.

TN electors ignore protesters to cast votes for Trump

Tennessee’s 11 Electoral College votes all went to Republican Donald Trump today despite calls from protesters to ignore a state requirement to support the candidate who wins the popular vote, reports Andy Sher.

Republican electors here said they had been blitzed by thousands of letters, emails and phone calls, some of them threatening and nearly all from out-of-state groups aiming to deny an expected Electoral College victory by Trump.

But Tennessee’s vote was not without some side drama. Protesters in the state Capitol’s House gallery twice interrupted proceedings. One woman shouted Trump was “nuts,” prompting state Election Coordinator Mark Goins to bang his gavel and demand order. She was escorted out.

A man later sought to read a Bible verse, prompting Goins to tell him: “We certainly appreciate the Scripture, but this is a procedure the Electoral College can only proceed in. The answer is no.”

On Election Day in Tennessee, Trump won 1,522,925 votes while Democrat Hillary Clinton garnered 870,960.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam presided over portions of the meeting.

“Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States; I want to do everything I can to make him and Mike Pence be successful in that role,” Haslam said.

“While some people don’t like the result, and obviously, we had protesters today who didn’t like that, ultimately, you have to love the process that we’re a part of in this country,” he added. “It’s the best process there is.”

Note: Nationally, seven electors voted against their state mandates, a record number of so-called “faithless” electors, reports Politico. The previous record was set in 1808 when six electors refused to vote for James Madison.

Cohen proposes constitutional amendment for popular election of president

Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis filed a constitutional amendment Thursday that calls for eliminating the electoral college and allowing for direct election of the president and vice president, reports Michael Collins.

The congressman’s amendment comes as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote in last month’s presidential election topped 2.5 million. Clinton lost the electoral college – and the presidency – to Republican Donald Trump.

“For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, we have a President-elect, who lost the popular vote,” said Cohen, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

“The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s president, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy,” Cohen said. “In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”

The legislation is unlikely to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. It would need two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate and would then have to be ratified by 38 of the 50 states.