Monthly Archives: October 2020

One comes out, one goes in: Gardenhire misses fundraiser featuring Gov. Lee due to quarantine

Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) attends a floor session to adjust the course of the legislative session in response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) has missed a fundraiser for his re-election campaign because he was exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. The event was headlined by Gov. Bill Lee, who only emerged from his own two-week quarantine after a member of his security detail came down with the coronavirus.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports it’s the fifth time Gardenhire has gone into isolation over a potential exposure to the virus. The senator watched the fundraiser via a videostream provided by fellow Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson).

“I wear a mask all the time. All it takes is a split second and Bam, you got it,” Gardenhire said in a Facebook post. “Very GRATEFUL for all my friends and supporters. Thank you. Going to get tested Monday.”

Gardenhire is being challenged by Democrat Glenn Scruggs, an assistant police chief in Chattanooga.

One minute past midnight: Online sports gambling kicks off in Tennessee on Sunday

Tennessee’s sports gaming program goes live at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. The state has approved four sportsbooks to begin taking online wagers within state boundaries: BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Tennessee Action 24/7.

Here’s a release from the Tennessee Lottery detailing the final approval:

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) today announced final approval for online sports betting in Tennessee to begin on Sunday, November 1, at 12:01 a.m. Central Time.

At that time, authorized licensees can begin taking wagers from customers at least 21 years old and physically located in Tennessee at the time the wager is placed.

All four operators are close to being ready to launch Sunday. Three have completed all requirements to launch. The fourth is currently in the field for system testing, which is scheduled to be completed tomorrow, October 31.

“This Sunday will represent the culmination of an enormous amount of work and due diligence to bring online-only sports wagering to Tennessee, the only state in the nation to do so,” TEL President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said. “As the regulator, today also represents the beginning of a new stage as we establish and support a responsible and competitive program here. We will continue to work with all licensees, registrants and applicants to protect the consumer, promote fairness in sports and regulate this new Tennessee industry that provides critical funds to the state and local governments.”

Tennessee state law permits wagering on sporting events via the internet, mobile device or other telecommunications platforms. The TEL is responsible for the licensing and regulation of online sports wagering in Tennessee.

The TEL serves as the regulator of sports wagering in Tennessee and does not serve as an operator, in accordance with the law.

Thursday is last day to vote early

Campaign signs outside an early voting location in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The early voting period for the Nov. 3 election ends on Thursday following what has been a record turnout.

In-person and absentee voting through the first 12 days had already exceeded the total turnout during the entire early voting of the last presidential election in 2016 period by 16%.

Only five counties had seen decreases with two days of results left to report: Haywood (-12%), Carter (-11%), Franklin (-8%), Madison (-4%), and Knox (-1%).

The biggest increases in early and absentee balloting have occured in Shelby (+44,914), Davidson (+40,278), Rutherford (+25,177), Williamson (+25,177), and Hamilton (13,573).

Here is the statewide breakdown:

County2020 through
12 Days
Compared with
all of 2016
Anderson23,70510%
Bedford12,47220%
Benton4,91810%
Bledsoe2,18439%
Blount43,46226%
Bradley31,97514%
Campbell7,3613%
Cannon3,35622%
Carroll7,03325%
Carter10,295-11%
Cheatham14,45828%
Chester4,77212%
Claiborne7,83217%
Clay2,06128%
Cocke9,07229%
Coffee14,68915%
Crockett3,71517%
Cumberland20,55815%
Davidson218,78723%
Decatur3,30817%
DeKalb4,2719%
Dickson13,83521%
Dyer9,75010%
Fayette13,8146%
Fentress5,54312%
Franklin8,922-8%
Gibson12,73722%
Giles7,4088%
Grainger5,57021%
Greene12,87212%
Grundy2,96923%
Hamblen13,8554%
Hamilton88,32418%
Hancock1,20022%
Hardeman6,0967%
Hardin6,63613%
Hawkins14,0928%
Haywood4,051-12%
Henderson7,45210%
Henry9,30014%
Hickman6,09831%
Houston2,32615%
Humphreys5,4019%
Jackson2,73833%
Jefferson15,44523%
Johnson4,75213%
Knox140,685-1%
Lake1,34512%
Lauderdale5,78413%
Lawrence10,03022%
Lewis3,55021%
Lincoln8,0426%
Loudon21,91716%
Macon6,28419%
Madison24,788-4%
Marion6,68726%
Marshall9,96135%
Maury26,1918%
McMinn13,81014%
McNairy6,30011%
Meigs3,33224%
Monroe13,27820%
Montgomery42,13214%
Moore2,31926%
Morgan4,37019%
Obion8,3986%
Overton6,16823%
Perry1,92336%
Pickett1,55413%
Polk4,69340%
Putnam18,3383%
Rhea8,38023%
Roane16,69412%
Robertson19,19017%
Rutherford104,59332%
Scott5,67035%
Sequatchie4,27229%
Sevier23,26912%
Shelby288,56018%
Smith5,49315%
Stewart4,04514%
Sullivan46,6452%
Sumner55,59521%
Tipton18,7328%
Trousdale2,58418%
Unicoi5,47213%
Union3,45033%
Van Buren1,57621%
Warren8,9603%
Washington35,95416%
Wayne3,46612%
Weakley9,03918%
White6,79910%
Williamson107,07528%
Wilson54,03828%
TOTAL1,962,90016%

GOP ad hits Trump in attack on Dickerson rival

An attack ad paid for by the political action committee of state Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) takes a swipe at an unusual target: President Donald Trump.

“Are you tired of rude politicians who don’t treat others with respect?” the narrator says to open the ad while images of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Trump flash on the screen.

The ad then moves on to a video of former Oak Hill Mayor Heidi Campbell raising her voice at someone during a Board of Commissioners meeting and threatening to have the person removed. The context of the encounter is not made clear in the ad.

Campbell is challenging state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) in next week’s election.

The ad also alleges Campbell has been arrested three times, including twice for drunken driving. The spot calls her “disrespectful, unhinged Heidi Campbell.”

Sen. Roberts released from hospital

Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) speak on the Senate floor on Jan. 10, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) has been released from the hospital after suffering an aneurysm. Here’s an update from the Senate Republican Caucus:

Senator Kerry Roberts has been released from Skyline Medical Center and is now at home. Although he will be on bed rest during the upcoming days, his medical team continues to anticipate a full recovery from the subarachnoid hemorrhage he experienced on October 9th.

Senator Roberts continues to express his appreciation for the encouraging messages and prayers for his recovery. He is also extremely grateful for the support shown to his wife, Dianne, and his children

Biden endorses Brashaw

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw has received the endorsement of her party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Bradshaw faces Republican Bill Hagerty, who has carried President Donald Trump’s endorsement since before he even officially entered the race.

Here’s the release from the Bradshaw campaign:

Nashville, Tenn. (Oct. 26, 2020) — After taking the stage in Nashville for the final presidential debate last week, former Vice President Joe Biden is lending his support to the state’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Marquita Bradshaw. 

“Marquita is a proven leader who will fight for the needs of working families — needs she understands because she’s faced the same struggles they have. I am proud to endorse Marquita’s candidacy for U.S. Senate,” Biden said.

Bradshaw is a working-class single mom from Memphis who has dedicated her life to advocating for environmental justice, workers’ rights, education reform, tax reform and trade policies that help local communities. She won the Democratic primary with a surge of grassroots support against a well-funded opponent with only $22,000 in her campaign budget.

Bradshaw’s people-powered campaign is now rewriting the political playbook in Tennessee with the state on pace to have its largest voter turnout in history. With another week of early vote still to go, more Democrats have already early voted in this election than in 2018 or 2016. Bradshaw’s campaign is proving that Tennessee is not a “red state,” but instead, a low-turnout state — a historic trend that this election is changing with nearly 1 million new active voters since 2018.

Bradshaw became an advocate for environmental justice after growing up near a military landfill that poisoned her community with the remains of chemical agents and nuclear weapons. Her volunteer advocacy efforts led her to a career as a paid organizer for labor rights. Like many Americans, she faced job loss and foreclosure during the Great Recession in 2008.

“I know what it’s like to be living one paycheck away from poverty, and to feel the crushing weight of student loan debt and medical bills, while trying to care for your family,” Bradshaw said. “There is so much divisiveness in this country, but at the end of the day, we all want the same things — wages we can live on, good schools for our kids, and communities that are safe and healthy. I look forward to working as a Senator with the Biden administration to accomplish this vision for our country together.”  

In just the last few weeks, the campaign has opened seven offices across the state and received key endorsements from U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Courage to Change PAC, and held a virtual fundraising event with former presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg. On Tuesday last week, a telethon-style fundraiser hosted by Third Man Records featured performances by more than 50 musicians and artists. The average donation to Bradshaw’s campaign is less than $25.

Here’s what Trump told donors at his Nashville fundraiser

The Washington Post has the details of what President Donald Trump told donors at a high-dollar fundraiser in Nashville before the final presidential debate last week.

The president said he expected Republicans to have a difficult time keeping control of the Senate, though he expressed confidence the GOP would claw back a majority in the House. He repeated the latter prediction (which isn’t shared by polls or conventional wisdom) during the debate itself.

“I think the Senate is tough actually. The Senate is very tough,” the Post quoted Trump as saying at the event at the new J.W. Marriott in downtown Nashville. “There are a couple senators I can’t really get involved in. I just can’t do it. You lose your soul if you do. I can’t help some of them. I don’t want to help some of them.”

Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said there’s no evidence the president isn’t supporting certain Republican candidates.

“The Republican-led Senate and President Trump have had a great partnership over the last four years, highlighted by the fact the chamber is poised to confirm a third Trump Supreme Court nominee in the coming days,” Hunt told the paper. “Nancy Pelosi has turned the House into a liberal nightmare and if Chuck Schumer gets control of the Senate, he’ll do the same thing.”

Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, meaning Democrats would need four seats to take control if Trump wins next, or three if the Biden prevails as the vice president serves as a tie-breaking vote.

The Post says Trump aslo bashed the news media, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Democrats for being obsessed with Russian disinformation. Nobody asked any tough questions from audience members, one of whom praised the president for taking on the “medical swamp” over COVID-19.

Poll: Trump holds 56% to 42% advantage over Biden in Tennessee

Campaign signs outside an early voting location in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican President Donald Trump leads Democrat Joe Biden by 14 percentage points, according to a new SurveyMonkey-Tableau 2020 poll.

The online poll of 4,642 likely voters had Trump with 56% and Biden with 42%. Trump won Tennessee 61% to 35% against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Among men, 65% preferred Trump, while 34% backed Biden. Women were split 49% to 49% between the two candidates.

Biden was ahead in Tennessee among younger voters (65% of those 24 or younger and 55% of those between 25 and 34), but Trump held a wide advatage among older voters (62% of those between 45 and 64).

Trump led by a margin of 70% to 29% in rural areas, though that advantage dropped to 53% to 45% in the suburbs. Biden led 60% to 37% in urban areas.

The poll is co-sponsored by the political news site Axios. But polling site FiveThirtyEight.com doesn’t hold the survey in particularly high regard, giving it a D-minus rating.

Sen. Kerry Roberts hoping to be released from hospital next week

Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Sprinfield) speak on the Senate floor on Jan. 10, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

An update from the Senate Republican Caucus on the health status of state Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), who suffered an aneurysm earlier this month:

Many of you have asked for an update regarding Senator Roberts related to the subarachnoid hemorrhage he experienced on Friday, October 9th. Senator Roberts remains in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit and continues to experience vasospasms, placing him at risk for a stroke and requiring him to be under careful monitoring. Wednesday marked the first day of significant decline in vasospasms. With further improvement, he is expected to be released as early as next week. His medical team continues to anticipate a full and complete recovery and his recovery timeline remains within expectations for a brain hemorrhage.

Sen. Roberts said, “I am very thankful for all of the prayers, calls, cards, and texts from those who have expressed their concerns. Due to the severity of headaches, I have not been able to take phone calls, text messages, and emails, except to communicate with family members who are not able to visit because of COVID-19 protocols. I have been touched by so many kind messages and look forward to responding soon.”

And I will advertise it: Dickerson talks marijuana in latest spot

Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson’s latest ad touts his leading role in efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. Dickerson is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Heidi Campbell this year.

“This is a marijuana plant,” Dickerson says in the ad the camera zooms in on an image of a sparkling cannabis flower.

Here’s what Dickerson says in the rest of the spot:

As your state senator, I’ve led the fight to legalize medical marijuana so our veterans and sickest Tennesseans can deal with chronic pain. But this same life-saving plant has led to mass incarceration, with non-violent marijuana possession resulting in lengthy prison sentences. I think that’s wrong. That’s why I’ve been pushing for criminal justice reform. I’m Dr. Steve Dickerson, and I put people before politics.