Monthly Archives: October 2022

Internal poll for Yes on 1 campaign finds wide support for ‘right to work’ amendment

As first reported in the print edition of The Tennessee Journal, internal polling for supporters of enshrining the state’s “right to work” law into the Tennessee Constitution shows 58% said they plan to vote in favor, compared with 22% who were opposed and 20% who were undecided.

The survey of 500 likely general election voters was conducted for the Yes on 1 campaign by Cygnal, which gets a B+ rating from The poll also found 61% of Tennesseans have an unfavorable opinion of Democratic President Joe Biden. Fifty-four percent said Tennessee is headed in the right direction, while 37% said the state is on the wrong course.

Here’s the full polling memo:


DATE: Wednesday, October 12, 2022

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: John Rogers, Director of Client Strategy

RE: Survey of 500 Likely General Election Voters in Tennessee, conducted October 7 – 9

Amendment One with 58% support as early voting begins in Tennessee. A recent survey by Cygnal shows that Tennessee voters overwhelmingly favor passage of Amendment One and the support holds true across partisan lines and education and income levels. 58% of voters overall say they plan to vote “Yes” on the amendment, only 22% plan to vote “No,” and 20% of voters are undecided.

Crucially, among voters who say they “always” vote on state constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives, support is even higher (60% Yes / 24% No / 21% Undecided) than among voters overall.

Support for Amendment One strong across party lines and education and income levels. Support for Amendment One is broad and deep: 59% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 56% of Independents plan to vote “Yes” on the initiative. There is no dip in support when looking at education or income levels, either: 59% of voters who make under $50,000 annually support the amendment, 55% of middle-income earners ($50k-$99k annually) are going to vote “Yes,” and 61% of voters earning
$100k or more plan to vote for the amendment.

Likewise, the amendment has 60% support among college graduates, 57% support among non-college graduates, and 62% of voters who have earned a technical degree support the initiative.

Biden is unpopular (-27 net image), majority think TN headed in the right direction. The Cygnal survey found that 61% of Tennesseans have an unfavorable opinion of President Joe Biden, compared to only 34% who have a favorable view. Biden’s image is net -34 among Independent voters.

A majority of voters are optimistic about the state of things in Tennessee, with 54% saying thatTennessee is headed in the right direction, to only 37% who think the state is going down the wrong track (9% are unsure).

METHODOLOGY: This probabilistic survey was conducted October 7 – 9, 2022, with 500 likely general election voters. It has a margin of error of ±4.34%. Known registered voters were interviewed via IVR and SMS. This survey was weighted to a likely general election voter universe.

ABOUT CYGNAL: Cygnal is an award-winning international polling, public opinion, and predictive analytics firm that pioneered multi-mode polling, text-to-web collection, and emotive analysis. Cygnal consistently ranks as the most accurate firm, and clients rely on Cygnal’s ability to create intelligence for action. Its team members have worked in 48 states and 17 countries on more than 2,700 corporate, public affairs, and political campaigns.

Hemmer ad takes aim at ‘dangerous’ Foreman

In a state House race for the open District 59 seat comprising Nashville’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Democrat Caleb Hemmer is out with a TV ad attacking Republican Michelle Foreman as “Tennessee’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

Hemmer is a former staffer in then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration. Foreman until recently was a member of the state Republican Party’s executive committee.

Here is the script:

Michelle Foreman’s extreme political views are dangerous. Foreman wants more assault weapons on Nashville streets and no background checks. Foreman defends the traitors who stormed the U.S. Capitol and injured 140 police officers. She spreads the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Tennessee’s Marjorie Taylor Greene. A court even fined Foreman $1 million for breaking a federal law. Risky. Dangerous. Extreme. That’s Michelle Foreman.

John Rich to host Boebert fundraiser at his Nashville mansion

Country singer John Rich is hosting a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert at this Nashville home this week. Also featured on the invite is former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

Tickets start at $2,000 and run to $12,900 for “gold sponsors,” who get two tickets to a cocktail reception and access to the photo line.

Trump endorses Republican Ogles in 5th District

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Andy Ogles in his 5th Congressional District race against Democrat Heidi Campbell.

Here’s what Trump said in a statement released by his political action committee on Saturday morning:

As the former and outstanding Mayor of Maury County, Andy knows how to Create Jobs, Grow the Economy, Keep our Neighborhoods Safe, and Protect our Constitutional Rights.

In Congress, Andy will Secure our Southern Border, Stop Inflation, Uphold the Rule of Law, and Defend our Second Amendment.

Andy Ogles is a tireless fighter for our America First agenda, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

Campbell was quick to point out that Trump’s original choice for the nomination was Morgan Ortagus, who was booted from the primary. Ogles was among those prodding lawmakers to pass a law seeking to create new residency requirements for congressional candidates, but Gov. Bill Lee slow-walked the bill to have it take effect after the field had been set. The Republican Party’s executive committee then voted to declare Ortagus and two others ineligible for the GOP nomination.

“Andy Ogles wasn’t even Donald Trump’s first choice,” Campbell said. “He shouldn’t be yours.”

UPDATE: Nashville mayor strikes stadium deal with Titans

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has struck a deal with the Tennessee Titans over the city’s share of funding for a new $2.1 billion stadium. Under the proposal, Metro Nashville would issue $760 million in revenue bonds.

The General Assembly previously approved $500 million in bonds, authorized 1 percentage point increase in the hotel tax in Davidson County, and allowed sales tax dollars collected nearby to help finance the new facility, which would be located next to the current stadium that opened 23 years ago. The Titans, the NFL, and season ticket holders would pay for the remaining $840 million.

While GOP lawmakers are mulling ways to punish the Nashville Metro Council for rejecting an agreement to host the Republican presidential convention in 2024, the football stadium is not believed to be among the areas they will seek to target.

New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey now flying solo, 3rd quarter fundraising totals, senators back Ogles

Brian Kelsey, center, awaits Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— And then there was one: Kelsey’s codefendant to plead guilty.

— Campaign finance roundup: Martin neck-in-neck with Lee in third quarter fundraising totals, but far behind in cash on hand.

— From the campaign trail: Blackburn and Hagerty headline fundraiser for Ogles with Cruz waiting in the wings; Lee channels the pope in his latest TV ad.

— Obituary: Larry Cole, former House clerk who wrote novel about a real statehouse romance.

Also: Internal polling points to wide support for “right to work” amendment, Tre Hargett strikes plea agreement in DUI case, John Rich hosts a fundraiser for a firebrand congresswoman in Nashville, and Cameron Sexton declares war on “political gibberish.”

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Secretary of State Hargett convicted on DUI charge

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Secretary of State Tre Hargett has entered a ”best interest” plea on a drunken driving charge following a visit to the Bonnaroo music festival earlier this year. He has served his 48-hour sentence and attended a victim impact course. Hargett last month gave up access to his state car for at least a year. He has no plans to resign.

A best interest plea, which is also known as an Alford plea, is one in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the prosecution’s case would have likely resulted in a guilty verdict.

Here’s Hargett’s statement:

Today I offered a best interest plea to the charge of DUI. My counsel believes I had a strong case to argue before the court, and I have been surprised by some events and actions during this experience. However, my desire is to accept responsibility for my actions and move forward and to focus on how God can use me to make something positive from this difficult time.

The last few months have been humbling and at times very dark for me. I am deeply grateful to my wife and family for their support. Additionally, I have been overwhelmed by the kindness, grace, and forgiveness offered to me by so many people. Your consideration and courtesy will always be remembered.

It is wrong to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and rest assured this is a mistake I will never make again.

Heidi Campbell launches first TV ad in 5th District race

Democrat Heidi Campbell has launched the first ad of the 5th Congressional District general election campaign. Campbell faces Republican Andy Ogles in the contest for the newly drawn seat comprising parts of Davidson, Williamson, and Wilson counties along with all of Marshall, Maury, and Lewis counties.

Here’s the script of the Campbell spot:

CAMPBELL: My opponent likes to argue.

OGLES: We’re at war… political war, culture war, spiritual war.

CAMPBELL: I like results. In Congress, I’ll work with anyone to put freedom for families first. That’s the freedom to our own health care decisions. Strengthening the promise of Social Security and Medicare. Tools for every hardworking family to build a good life. That’s freedom worth fighting for.

My name is Heidi Campbell. I’m running for Congress and I’m asking for your vote. I’m Heidi Campbell. I approve this message.

Kelsey codefendant Smith to plead guilty

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, attends a Senate Education Committee meeting in Nashville on April 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Josh Smith, the proprietor of The Standard social club in Nashville, has struck an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to one charge of funneling soft money to state Sen. Brian Kelsey’s unsuccessful congressional bid in 2016. Kelsey, a Germantown Republican, remains a defendant on all five counts.

Smith’s attorneys say he plans to plead guilty to Count Two of the indictment, which alleges Smith had “solicited, received, directed, transferred, and spent” more than $25,000 while acting as an agent for Kelsey’s campaign for the GOP nomination in the 8th District in 2016.

According to the indictment, Kelsey funneled money from his state campaign account through political action committees controlled by Smith and Andy Miller Jr. to the American Conservative Union (ACU), which then spent $80,000 on radio ads supporting his bid for federal office. It was all for naught, as Kelsey finished a distant fourth in the Republican primary.

Kelsey has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. He isn’t seeking re-election this year.

The trial is scheduled for January.

Gant undergoes surgery to repair arms, hip

Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) has undergone “successful surgeries” to repair injuries to his arms and hip sustained in a fatal car wreck last week.

According to the preliminary accident report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Gant was traveling south on Highway 18 in Hardeman County on Wednesday evening when another SUV crossed the center line and struck him head-on. The driver of the other vehicle, Marcus Cheairs, died in the crash. Both men were wearing seat belts.

Here are statements posted to Gant’s Facebook page:

Thank you for all the messages and prayers! Ron is in intensive care in stable condition. He has had two successful surgeries to repair his left and right arms and shattered left hip. He is still waiting to know if the left leg and knee need an operation. The broken sternum and ribs will heal on their own. The second CAT scan showed no increased  brain trauma or swelling, the damaged spleen and bruised intestines are not causing major concern. We are grateful to the ICU team of doctors and nurses at Regional One along with the Campbell Clinic surgeons for the critical and exceptional care. We will give further updates as we move forward. Ron is seeing your messages and is encouraged by them and says “Thank You!”

He is resting comfortably in the ICU in stable condition. His pain is being managed by his team of doctors and nurses. He has a long road to recovery with the injuries that he sustained, but is thankful to just be alive. He is in good spirits surrounded by family and friends. He mourns the loss of the other party involved in the accident and ask for everyone to pray for them during this time.


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