Monthly Archives: July 2020

Van Huss releases shoot-em-up campaign video in response to gun group’s mailer

Rep. Micah Van Huss broke out the firepower for a campaign video to denounce a gun rights group for sending out mailers attacking him and other Republicans for not going far enough on efforts to get rid of permit requirements.

The Jonesborough Republican lashed out at the National Association for Gun Rights as a “lying, leftist pitiful excuse for a gun rights group.” And then the video shows the former Marine unleashing a barrage on the mailer pinned to one of his campaign signs.

The video even features an unaccustomed element for the lawmaker: humor.  After showing a picture of a younger and slimmer Van Huss deployed in Iraq, he says, “Out of the way, Skinny Micah.” Interspersed between shots of heavy gunfire, the lawmaker helps his young daughter shoot a bow-and-arrow at the mailer. And later, Van Huss meticulously sets up a long-range sniper rifle, licks his finger to test the wind, and then nearly misses the target which turns out to be just a few feet away.

Few people would call the National Association for Gun Rights, which has clashed with the National Rifle Association for not going far enough, particularly “leftist.”

Here’s what the group had to say about Van Huss’ ad:

Our members and supporters, as well as a large segment of the gun rights community, expected the legislature to advance House Bill 1553, which was a clean and straight forward piece of legislation. Instead, Republican legislative leadership and the Governor opted for House Bill 2817, which was a watered-down compromise that, frankly, would have made Tennessee’s gun laws even more confusing. They attempted to bill HB 2817 as “Constitutional Carry,” but State Rep. Micah Van Huss even admitted that HB 2817 was not Constitutional Carry in committee on May 26th.

They ignored the countless calls and emails from gun owners to fix HB 2817 and now are hearing again from them at a time when they are most sensitive to political pressure, and they aren’t liking it. Many of the Republican lawmakers who are feeling the pressure are claiming that they support Constitutional Carry and are seemingly outraged that they are being called out for settling on HB 2817, but even they recognize that it wasn’t a solid bill. They are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Instead of resorting to name calling and cheap political tricks, lawmakers need to listen to gun owners and support only true Constitutional Carry for Tennessee.

Aside from Van Huss, the group sent out mailers attacking the following incumbents: Reps. Kent Calfee, Ryan Williams, Rush Bricken, Paul Sherrell, Matthew Hill, Curtis Halford, Bob Ramsey, John Holsclaw, and Rick Tillis, along with Sens. John Stevens and Bill Powers.

Reps. Tom Leatherwood and David Byrd were also initially targeted, but the mail program was ended after they returned surveys indicating they support the group’s preferred version of the bill.

Club for Growth ad targets Harshbarger in 1st District

The Club for Growth is out with an ad targeting 1st Congressional District candidate Diana Harshbarger for her own spot demanding medical manufacturing to be brought back from China when her own husband pleaded guilty to mislabeling drugs from that country.

The Club for Growth has said it will spend more than half a million dollars in support of rival Republican candidate Timothy Hill, a state representative from Blountville.

“Harshbarger was the officer of a company busted for selling counterfeit Chinese drugs to treat American dialysis patients, claiming the drugs were American-made and approved,” the narrator says. “Used on innocent veterans and Medicare patients, Harshbarger’s company charged taxpayers full price for cut-rate Chinese drugs. Dishonest Diana Harshbarger, wrong for Congress.”

Former Kingsport Mayor John Clark, another candidate among the 16 Republicans running for the seat, is out with a new ad pledging to stand with President Donald Trump against the “cancel culture.”

Hagerty launches next round of attack ads on Sethi

U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty has another attack ad out on TV this week attacking rival Manny Sethi.

The narrator points out that Sethi, who is now a Vanderbilt surgeon, once served on the b0ard of the Massachusetts Medical Society, a group that later went on to support President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (thought the ad doesn’t take that time element into account). It also blasts Sethi for once applying for a prestigious White House Fellowship while Obama was president. (Hagerty was a White House fellow in 1991-1992 when George H. W. Bush was president.)

The ad also includes a video of Sethi saying it’s a “political statement” to call the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare.”

Sethi has pushed back against the attacks as being deceptive while lobbing his own broadsides against Hagerty for once donating to Al Gore’s presidential campaign and donating more than $100,000 to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

Stay tuned for more mud-slinging.

 

Sethi camp warns of legal action for airing attack ads it calls ‘knowingly dishonest’

Republican Senate candidate Manny Sethi’s camp is calling a new attack ad by a super PAC  ‘knowingly dishonest’ and his lawyers are warning TV stations not to air the spot.

Standing with Conservatives is running an ad attacking Sethi for a $50 donation he made through the ActBlue online donation processing site in 2008. The ad calls ActBlue a PAC that later supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison has a copy of the ad here:

Sethi’s attorneys say the donation was made by the candidate’s wife to a family friend. They argue ActBlue is being mischaracterized as a PAC.

Standing with Conservatives has spent $512,500 on independent expenditures opposing Sethi so far. The PAC was formed on July 3 and there is no public information available about who is behind it.

The full letter from the Sethi campaign follows:

Continue reading

Hagerty goes negative on Sethi over $50 donation in 2008

U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty is attacking GOP rival in a new TV ad over a $50 donation made a dozen years ago. The spot running in West Tennessee says Sethi gave to an organization that is directing money to violent protesters around the country.

“Sethi has donated to the organization that has bankrolled these rioters, aiding liberal extremists,” Joseph James, a veteran from Hendersonville, says in the spot. “Tennessee deserves a senator who respects our sacrifices and honors our flag. That is why I support Bill Hagerty. ”

The organization in question is ActBlue, an online fundraiser for liberal candidates and causes. ActBlue has seen a flood of donations pour in amid the Black Lives Matter protests around the country, according to the New York Times. 

Sethi gave $50 through the group in 2008 to support Virginia congressional candidate Tom Perriello, a Democrat who narrowly defeated inclubmetn Republican Rep. Virgil Goode. Sethi has since made $33,584 in GOP contributions, including to Rick Perry, Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Donald Trump.

So how long will be it be until the Sethi camp hits back with a spot about Hagerty once giving $1,000 to Al Gore?

UPDATE: Looks like the Sethi campaign was ready for attack ads:

UPDATE II: Here’s a response from the Hagerty campaign:

Of course, Bill worked to defeat Barack Obama in 2012, unlike Massachusetts Manny Sethi who applied to be in the Obama Biden White House. Manny Sethi’s Never Trumpers have been attacking Bill since the day President Trump endorsed and announced his run for Senate. President Trump looked at all the candidates in this race, and he endorsed Bill because he trusts Bill to stand with him to protect conservative values, get our economy going again, hold China accountable, and stand up for life.

Sethi was a finalist for a prestigious White House Fellowship in 2009, when Obama was president. The fellowships are “awarded on a strictly non-partisan basis,” according to the White House. Hagerty was a White House fellow in 1991, when Republican George H.W. Bush was president.

Here’s who the TSEA isn’t endorsing in the primaries

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee State Employees Association has announced its endorsements in legislative primaries around the state. The TSEA gave the nod to the 11 incumbents running for re-election in the Senate and 58 sitting members in the House.

The group endorsed former Rep. Page Walley in the Republican primary for the open Senate 26 seat against former Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. It also gave the nod to former Rep. Scotty Campbell over National Guard Lt. Col. Neal Kerney in the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville).

The list of members who did not receive a TSEA endorsement includes some prominent members like House Majority Leader William Lamberth, House Minority Leader Karen Camper, House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Yager.

The TSEA said further endorsements will follow after the primary.

The early voting period for the Aug. 6 contests begins on Friday.

Here’s the full list of incumbents who didn’t get the TSEA endorsement (for the ones who did, click here):

SENATE:

  • District 8: Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains)
  • District 10: Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
  • District 12: Ken Yager (R-Kingston)

HOUSE:

  • District 1: John Crawford (R-Kingsport)
  • District 5: David Hawk (R-Greeneville)
  • District 9: Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)
  • District 10: Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown)
  • District 11: Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)
  • District 12: Dale Carr (R-Sevierville)
  • District 21: Lowell Russell (R-Vonore)
  • District 26: Robin Smith (R-Hixson)
  • District 28: Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga)
  • District 29: Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah)
  • District 33: John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge)
  • District 39: Iris Rudder (R-Winchester)
  • District 41: John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)
  • District 44: William Lamberth (R-Portland)
  • District 46: Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon)
  • District 47: Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma)
  • District 50: Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville)
  • District 51: Bill Beck (D-Nashville)
  • District 53: Jason Powell (D-Nashville)
  • District 55: John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville)
  • District 58: Harold Love (D-Nashville)
  • District 59: Jason Potts (D-Nashville)
  • District 62: Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville)
  • District 68: Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville)
  • District 81: Debra Moody (R-Covington)
  • District 87: Karen Camper (D-Memphis)
  • District 89: Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville)
  • District 92: Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg)
  • District 94: Ron Gant (R-Rossville)

Prominent Tennessee businesses laud Lee effort to move Forrest bust

A group of prominent Tennessee businesses is lauding Gov. Bill Lee’s efforts to move the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest out of the state Capitol.

The Monday letter was signed by 34 companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Bridgestone, Cracker Barrel, FedEx, Google, HCA Healthcare, Nissan, Unum, Vanderbilt, and Volkswagen. The letter was also signed by Pilot Co., the truckstop chain controlled by the family of former Gov. Bill Haslam.

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Governor Lee:

We, the businesses listed below, wish to applaud you and the State Capitol Commission for taking an important first step towards the removal of the bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest 
from the Tennessee State Capitol building.

This controversial bust was installed in the Capitol in 1978 despite widespread objections and remains a symbol of oppression for many Tennesseans. A statue of a man who was the first Grand Wizard of the
Ku Klux Klan should not be granted a place of honor in the State Capitol, a building that must remain a beacon of hope, liberty, and democracy.

As leading businesses and corporations in the state, we recognize our  obligation to stand for equality and justice — not just for our employees, but for all Tennesseans. Honoring those who propagated racism and prejudice only serves to further divide our communities and reinforce inequities in our society.

We strongly urge the Tennessee Historical Commission to vote for the prompt removal of the Forrest bust from the Tennessee State Capitol building and ask all Tennessee policymakers to consider additional avenues to recognize wrongs against the Black community and make racial justice a priority. 

Sethi blasts ruling by Trump-appointed judge who is son of RNC member

It didn’t take Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi long to blast a federal judge in Nashville for issuing a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the new abortion ban Gov. Bill Lee signed into law on Monday.

According to Sethi, “an activist judge barely waited until the ink was dry to promote his own pro-choice view.”

There’s two problems with Sethi’s logic. First, U.S. District Judge Chip Campbell was appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate on a 97-0 vote. And second, Campbell’s mother, Beth Campbell, is a Tennessee representative on the Republican National Committee and served as host to a Sethi fundraiser in Nashville in September.

Sethi wasn’t alone in in criticizing the judge. Rival Republican candidate Bill Hagerty also spoke out against the ruling.

Tenn. abortion ban in effect for less than an hour before it is halted

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A federal judge on Monday granted an temporary restraining order against enforcing Tennessee’s sweeping abortion ban less than an hour after Gov. Bill Lee signed it into law.

U.S. District Judge Chip Campbell, an appointee President Donald Trump, found  “plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong or substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims that the restrictions …  are unconstitutional under current law.”

“Like the Seventh, Eighth, and Fifth Circuits, this Court is bound by the Supreme Court holdings prohibiting undue burdens on the availability of pre-viability abortions,” he wrote in the ruling.

Read the order here.

The bill seeking to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected passed in a last-minute deal between the House and Senate the night the General Assembly adjourned for the year.  If any part of the bill was found to be unconstitutional, the law seeks to impose successive abortion bans eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks of gestation. That “ladder” approach didn’t appear to keep most of the law from being enjoined.

 

Company tweet causes tempest in Tennessee Senate race

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty speaks at Nashville event on Dec. 3, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty has resigned from the board of R.J. O’Brien & Associates over social media posts sent by the futures brokerage firm voicing support for the African American community and Black Lives Matter.

The National Pulse, a project of the American Principles Project, first wrote about Hagerty’s role with the company based on a financial disclosure the candidate filed with the Senate on Friday.

The company said in a May 31 tweet (since deleted):

R.J. O’Brien stands proudly with the African American Community in support of EQUALITY & PEACE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

Rival Republican candidate Manny Sethi’s campaign quickly seized on the National Pulse item:

The Breitbart website quickly moved to publish Hagerty’s letter of resignation to R.J. O’Brien CEO Gerald Corcoran:

I cannot in good conscience remain affiliated in any way with the promotion of a radical political movement that seeks to use this moment to overthrow the government and usher in Marxism. This movement wants to rip apart the fabric of our country and destroy many aspects of what makes America exceptional. I vehemently oppose their calls for violence and relentless march towards socialism. Please accept this as my resignation from R.J. O’Brien effective immediately.

Unsurprisingly, the Sethi camp wasn’t impressed, issuing the following statement:

This is simple: Bill Hagerty has been making money from a company giving money to Black Lives Matter, while his campaign has been spending millions of dollars pretending to oppose Black Lives Matter. He only resigned once he was caught. He’s a hypocrite and a fraud, just like his buddy Mitt Romney.