Lamberth hires California GOP aide, Farm Bureau political director as top adviser

State House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) is hiring his new chief adviser from California. Mike Zimmerman, a former aide to three Republican leaders in the Golden State’s legislature, will succeed James Dunn, who is now executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

Zimmerman’s most recent position has been political director for the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento.

Here’s the full email from Lamberth to members of the House Republican Caucus:

Dear Friends, 

I am pleased to announce Mike Zimmerman will be joining our Caucus as Chief Advisor to the Majority Leader. 

Mike is extremely well qualified with more than 20 years of legislative experience serving as Political Director, Deputy Chief of Staff and as Chief of Staff for three different Republican Leaders in the California General Assembly.  As Chief of Staff, Mike managed more than 80 employees who worked in policy, communications, and constituent services. His areas of expertise include public policy, state government, fiscal oversight, and political campaigning.  

He is leaving his current position as director of political affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento where he has served since 2018. Mike is moving to Tennessee with his wife and 8-month-old son to be closer to family in Williamson County and to raise his son in a state that shares his conservative values. His first day with us is Wednesday, Sept. 8th.

Having served in leadership support positions for the minority party in a blue state, Mike brings an invaluable and unique perspective. I am confident he will serve you well and will send his contact information once he officially begins this new role. Mike will be reaching out to every one of you to meet within the next few weeks whenever you happen to be in Nashville. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and thank you for all that you do every day to strengthen our great state. 

Harshbarger says she will get Trump endorsement, backing from Club for Growth

A year ago, the Club for Growth was buying copious amounts of TV advertising time to bash Diana Harshbarger, the frontrunner (and eventual winner) in a crowded Republican primary for the open 1st Congressional District seat. Fast forward to last week, and Harshbarger was boasting of gaining former President Donald Trump’s help in getting the Club for Growth to endorse her re-election bid in 2022.

Harshbarger said in a meeting with Trump last week he promised to deliver a public endorsement of her. She said he also called Club for Growth President David McIntosh to to tell him to get behind Harshbarger as well. Per Harshbargers telling at the Greene County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, McIntosh’s response was “Yes, sir.”

Here is what Harshbarger said about her encounter with Trump, according to a recording obtained by The Tennessee Journal:

“He said, ‘I am going to call David McIntosh.’ And I said, ‘By all means do that.’ And he said, ‘David, I have Diana Harshbarger here and I heard you didn’t like her last time. I think you are going to like her this time. She has voted with me 100% of the time.’ And he said, ‘Let me get her in the room.’ And I came in the room and he put it on speakerphone and he said ‘David, here’s Diana.’ I said ‘Well hey, David’ — because he wouldn’t return my calls.

“President Trump said ‘I’m going to give her my full and complete endorsement … I want to tell you to tell her you are going to give her a full and complete endorsement.’ I said, ‘That’s awesome.’ He goes ‘Yes sir, I’ll do it.’ He said, ‘Thanks Dave.’ I said ‘Thank you, David.’

Anyway, what he said was that ‘we don’t want this lost in the fervor of all this news and everything.’ And he goes, ‘I want to make sure this goes out next week.’  And he said,  ‘I want people to know that I’ve endorsed you. I’m 128 and 2.'”

Page to take over as chief justice of Tennessee Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court has elected Roger Page as its new chief justice. He succeeds Jeff Bivins, who has presided over the court since 2016. Both justices were appointed to the state’s highest court by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The change in leadership comes as the state prepares for judicial elections in August 2022, followed by the Supreme Court’s appointment of the state’s next attorney general. Current AG Herbert Slatery hasn’t said whether he will apply for another eight-year term.

Here’s the full release from the Adminstrative Office of the Courts:

Nashville Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Roger A. Page has been elected Chief Justice by his colleagues for a term that begins September 1, 2021. Justice Page succeeds Justice Jeff Bivins, who has served as chief justice since September 2016.

“It is an honor to serve as chief justice and a responsibility that I do not take lightly,” Justice Page said. “Our Supreme Court has over 100 years of judicial experience and is well-prepared to take on the serious and complex issues as the law continues to be amended and revised, to grow and evolve.” 

Justice Page will be sworn-in by Justice Connie Clark in a small ceremony to be held in the courtroom he presided over in the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex on September 1 at 1:30 p.m.  In order to accommodate members of the judicial family, the bar, state leaders, and policymakers, the event will be livestreamed at: https://www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts/featured.

The location and day are not without personal meaning.  Justice Page was ceremoniously sworn-in as a trial judge by federal Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, for whom he clerked after law school, in the same courtroom exactly 23 years ago to the day.

“I began my judicial career in that courtroom and served the community I grew up in as a trial judge for more than thirteen years,” he said. “It means so much to be able to step back into that courtroom to take the oath as chief justice in front of my family. They have given me unconditional support every step of the way.” 

Justice Page graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist in Memphis before he  earned his law degree from the University of Memphis, graduating fourth in his class.  He began his judicial career when he was elected Circuit Court Judge in 1998 for the 26th Judicial District, which includes Chester, Henderson, and Madison counties.

He was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by former Governor Bill Haslam in 2011.  In 2016, Governor Haslam appointed him to the Supreme Court.  For the first time in thirty years, a rural West Tennessean will serve as chief justice.

Justice Page was raised on the family farm in Mifflin,  Chester County, Tennessee, with West Tennessee  roots going back seven generations. His mother and his aunt will join his wife, retired Chancellor Carol McCoy, and two sons and their spouses for the swearing-in ceremony. He also has three grandchildren with another one expected in January 2022. 

“The Supreme Court serves the entire State, and the judiciary significantly reflects the diverse collection of viewpoints, backgrounds, and perspectives at all levels of justice,” Justice Page said. “From big cities and urban neighborhoods to sprawling suburbs to rural farms, small river towns, and communities settled atop mountain ridges, our State encompasses all views.” 

Across the state, the court system is still responding to and recovering from the pandemic, during which jury trials were postponed. On a positive note, judges and their court staff quickly adopted new technologies to ensure courts always remained open and accessible and that cases moved forward as much as possible. New and expanding technologies, together with strategies to increase the use of senior and retired judges as well as alternative dispute resolution, have provided judges with an array of resources.

Justice Page will continue to emphasize the Supreme Court’s prized Access to Justice initiative.  It focuses on civil actions when litigants do not have the right to an attorney and  is critical to the state’s economic growth and the personal stability of its citizens.  

“Courts need to be open, fair, efficient, and accessible to everyone in our state,” Justice Page said. “We have made strides by shoring up the guardian ad litem program and creating the appellate public defender’s office, but there is more work to be done. The equitable, effective, and professional administration of justice benefits everyone from litigants to victims to defendants to taxpayers to communities. Our present opportunity to invest in efficient changes will promote a positive effect on generations to come.”

Expanding access to the courts in rural communities is an issue Justice Page will stress during his term as Chief Justice. One aspect of Access to Justice is expanding high speed internet access into all rural counties of the State.  Justice Page supports judicial efficiency and recognizes that Governor Bill Lee’s efforts in that area will allow courts to expand remote hearings and e-filing, allowing every citizen in the State to have equal access and participation in the judicial system.

“Chief Justice Bivins did a tremendous job leading the Supreme Court and the judiciary,” Justice Page said. “It was extremely challenging at times, and he rose to the occasion, providing clear direction and effective and innovative solutions. While there is uncertainty about where we are headed, I am confident we have a solid blueprint to work with going forward.”

Biden declares major disaster following Tennessee flooding

Damage from heavy flooding in seen in Waverly on Aug. 22, 2021. (Image credit: State of Tennessee)

President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster following the fatal flooding in Humphreys County over the weekend.

Here’s the release from the White House:

Yesterday, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Tennessee and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe storm and flooding on August 21, 2021.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Humphreys County.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in Humphreys County.

Lastly, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Deanne Criswell, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Myra M. Shird as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT THE FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@FEMA.DHS.GOV.

Sexton hires Arnold as chief of staff

Rep. Cameron Sexton presides over his first session as House speaker on Aug. 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has hired Sammie Arnold, an assistant commissioner at the Department of Economic and Community Development, as his chief of staff.

Arnold’s wife, Laine, is Gov. Bill Lee’s communications director. His first day in Sexton’s office is Sept. 1.

The chief of staff position has been open since Scott Gilmer left in January 2020. Holt Whitt served as interim chief until he was questioned by FBI agents in connection with a raid on three lawmakers’ homes and offices in January 2021. Whitt was placed on leave while the investigation was underway. He was hired as a senior adviser in the state Department of Human Resources in July after obtaining a letter from prosecutors saying he was considered a witness.

Here’s the full release from Sexton’s office.

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) today announced Sammie Arnold as his new Chief of Staff in the Tennessee House of Representatives.  

“I am excited to announce Sammie Arnold as my new Chief of Staff,” said Speaker Sexton. “I’ve known Sammie and his family for several years and have worked with him extensively throughout his time as a staffer with former Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as in his roles with our Department of Economic and Community Development. Sammie’s extensive knowledge of our Tennessee communities, experience in public policy, and working with the General Assembly over the years not only makes him a great choice for the position but will ensure a smooth transition without missing a beat.”  

A native of Dyersburg, Arnold most recently served as Assistant Commissioner of Community and Rural Development for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). In this role at TNECD, Arnold was tasked with overseeing the department’s efforts to boost investment and development in the state’s rural communities, emphasizing Tennessee’s distressed and at-risk counties.  

“It is an incredible honor to join Speaker Sexton and his team as Chief of Staff in the Tennessee House of Representatives,” said Arnold. “I have known and admired Speaker Sexton since he was first elected to the General Assembly, and no one is better equipped than he is to lead this body during this moment of unprecedented opportunity for our state. I look forward to working with him to ensure he and all of our members continue to serve their constituents with the utmost success.”  

Before joining TNECD, Arnold served as legislative liaison for former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. He was also a staffer on former Gov. Haslam’s successful gubernatorial campaign. Arnold earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He lives in Nashville with his wife Laine and daughter Magnolia.  

His first day as Chief of Staff is Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.  

Cameron Sexton is the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A former Republican Caucus Chairman, Majority Whip, and House Health Committee Chairman, Sexton resides in Crossville. He is in his sixth term serving House District 25, which includes Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties.  

Martin announces Democratic bid for governor

Physician Jason Martin is seeking the Democratic nomination for Tennessee governor. The Nashville pulmonary critical care specialist has been an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 policies.

UPDATE: Martin says he has raised $100,000 since forming his exploratory committee. Greeneville minister Casey Nicholson has also also made his Democratic bid official, per Stephen Elliott a the Nashville Scene. A third Democrat expressing plans to run is Carnita Atwater of Memphis.

See Martin’s fundraising email sent out Monday morning:

I’m Dr. Jason Martin, a father, husband, doctor, business owner, and advocate for Tennesseans.

Some of you have met me personally in the halls or waiting rooms of hospitals as I have cared for you or your loved ones in my ICUs. Some of you have probably seen me on your nightly news urging our elected officials to take the necessary steps to save lives in Tennessee. Some of you are my family, friends, and neighbors. And some of you may not know me at all!

I’m reaching out to you today to announce not my but our campaign for Governor, because now is the time for a leader in Tennessee to stop the division and start working to meet all of our needs. And yes, I said our campaign, because unlike most politicians, this campaign is not about my personal fame or popularity — our campaign is a collective movement for the people of Tennessee to reclaim what is ours.

I’m running for Governor of Tennessee because I want to help create a state that puts people first regardless of where they’re from, what they look like, or how they were raised. Will you join me on this journey by adding your name in support of our campaign today?

I have been in middle Tennessee for twenty years now, but I was raised in Southern Alabama in a place much like many of our communities in Tennessee. We had the same sweltering summers, spent on front porches, laughing with family, and swatting mosquitoes.

And just like many families in Tennessee, my family raised me through values rooted in hard work, faith, and community. My parents and step-parents worked long hours to give me every opportunity they were never afforded. And while they labored, my many aunts, uncles, and grandparents stepped in to raise me. Because of their sacrifices, we were able to change the story of our family in a single generation. Their hard work afforded me the opportunity to attend the best public schools and earn scholarships to propel me all the way to and through medical school at Vanderbilt University.

From there, I went on to serve those who served our country at Nashville Veteran Affairs Medical Center, train new healthcare professionals at Meharry Medical College, and treat ICU patients at Nashville General Hospital and now Sumner Regional Medical Center.

My experience as a doctor in cities and rural communities has made it abundantly clear to me that Tennessee’s health care system is incompetent, our economy isn’t supporting people to afford their families’ needs, and Governor Bill Lee is failing our students.

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout which Governor Lee has continued to abandon Tennesseans, fail to rise to the occasion, and refuse to meet the moment. Rather than leading with policies to keep children in schools, businesses open, and families safe, Lee went on a fringe extreme rampage, firing top COVID officials, eliminating the power for local school boards to protect their vulnerable students by requiring masks, and lying about the protections needed against the virus.

Before the pandemic and unfortunately during the pandemic, our leaders have sown division through culture wars and social issues to distract from the fact they have abandoned us.

As a critical care physician, I took an oath to “do no harm.” Right now, there are too many politicians out there like Governor Lee doing more harm than good for the people of Tennessee, and I’m running to change that.

Tennessee once had a reputation for our hospitality, volunteerism, and how we cared for our neighbors. However, for more than a decade now, our corrupt leaders have worked to divide us so that we abandon our values. That ends today with our campaign.

We can thrive with improved education for ALL Tennesseans.
We can thrive with better healthcare.
We can thrive by growing businesses that strengthen families.
And we can thrive by fortifying rural Tennessee and modernizing our infrastructure.
Together, Tennessee thrives.

Thanks so much,

Dr. Jason Martin

Complaint filed against Harshbarger for failing to make timely stock disclosures

The Campaign Legal Center has filed a complaint against freshman Rep. Diana Harshbarger for failing to report hundreds of disclosures about stock transactions within the 45-day requirement. The Kingsport Republican’s chief of staff, Zac Rutherford, told Insider the congresswoman self-reported the transactions after realizing her advisers had failed to do so.

Here’s the release from the Campaign Legal Center:

WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Diana Harshbarger for failure to comply with the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.

In a periodic transaction report filed earlier this week, Rep. Harshbarger acknowledged over 700 trades that violate the STOCK Act due to the fact that they were not disclosed within the proper window of time. While the stocks are assets of her trust, this is not a blind trust, and the report concedes that she was notified of the transactions soon after they occurred.

“The reason we have the STOCK Act is to allow voters full, real-time awareness of interests held by elected officials that may conflict with their official duties. But we don’t currently have meaningful enforcement,” said Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of ethics at Campaign Legal Center. “Members of Congress cannot continue to shirk their responsibility and see a nominal fine as their only repercussion for denying voters transparency when it comes to their financial interests.”

The actions of Rep. Harshbarger follow a troubling, bipartisan trend. Already this year, CLC has filed similar complaints over violations of the STOCK Act by Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Tommy Tuberville as well as Reps. Pat Fallon, Blake Moore, and Tom Malinowski.

This is just one more example of an elected official ignoring the STOCK Act by failing to report a large volume of stock trades and facing little consequence. Because ethics proceedings lack significant transparency, it is next to impossible to determine what consequences, if any, members who commit such violations face.

What we are witnessing is the dismantling of the STOCK Act as members wait until their annual financial disclosures to reveal stock trades and are thus not held accountable for failing to provide real-time disclosure under the law. It is clear that the current ethics enforcement system, built on a foundation of self-policing in which members of Congress are responsible for enforcing their own ethics rules for their own colleagues, is not working.

As elected officials craft laws that directly impact the lives of all Americans, the public must be able to trust that their representatives are acting in the public’s interest, and not for their own financial gain.

New edition alert: Lee order snubbed, GOP introduces fees to run, 3-judge panels named

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks to a Chamber of Commerce event in Memphis on Dec. 6, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Big school districts ignore Lee’s executive order for opting out of masks

— That’ll cost you: State GOP approves fee schedule for candidates, bona fide updates.

— Money matters: Tennessee ends budget year with $2.96B surplus in its general fund.

— A three-judge tour: Supreme Court names first three-judge panels, two headed by Lyle.

— Also: Lee gets the Trump endorsement, Harshbarger late on stock disclosures, Haslam and Sundquist as new radicals, and was Fiscus barking up the wrong tree with her muzzle complaints?

Access the your TNJ copy here or subscribe here.

U.S. education secretary questions legality of Lee’s mask opt-out order

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt out of universal masking rules at Tennessee public schools may infringe on federal laws requiring districts to adopt policies “to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans,” according to a letter from U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The letter comes as public schools in Nashville and Shelby County have refused to adopt Lee’s opt-out order as they look into whether he has the legal authority to require the change.

Read the full letter dated Aug. 18 below:

Dear Governor Lee and Commissioner Schwinn:

As the new school year begins in school districts across Tennessee, it is our shared priority that students return to in-person instruction safely. The safe return to in-person instruction requires that school districts be able to protect the health and safety of students and educators, and that families have confidence that their schools are doing everything possible to keep students healthy. Tennessee’s actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts these goals at risk and may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law.

We are aware that Tennessee has adopted an Executive Order prohibiting local educational agencies (LEAs) from adopting requirements for the universal wearing of masks. This State level action against science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 appears to restrict the development of local health and safety policies and is at odds with the school district planning process embodied in the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) interim final requirements. As you know, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act) requires each LEA that receives Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds to adopt a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. (See section 2001(i).) The Department’s interim final requirements clarify that such plan “must describe…how [the LEA] will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policies, on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC…” The safety recommendations include “universal and correct wearing of masks.”

The Department is concerned that Tennessee’s actions could limit each LEA’s ability under the ARP Act to adopt a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services that the LEA determines adequately protects students and educators by following CDC guidance. The Department stands with the dedicated educators who are working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction.

The Department also emphasizes that it is within an LEA’s discretion to use ARP ESSER funds for implementing indoor masking policies or other policies aligned with CDC guidance. Section 2001(e)(2)(Q) of the ARP Act explicitly gives LEAs the authority to use ARP ESSER funds (as well as ESSER funds granted through prior relief funding) for “developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff.”

We are eager to partner with Tennessee on any efforts to further our shared goals of protecting the health and safety of students and educators. In addition, the Department will continue to closely review and monitor whether Tennessee is meeting all of its Federal fiscal requirements. It’s critical that we do everything in our power to provide a safe environment for our students and staff to thrive.

Sincerely,

Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D.

Ascendant GOP, rump Democrats: Read the Almanac of American Politics’ Tennessee profile

The folks over at the Almanac of American Politics have graciously given the TNJ: On the Hill blog permission to post this sneak peak at its latest political profile of Tennessee:

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, the tradition’s most recent exemplars—Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam—are now out of politics, succeeded by more solidly conservative Republicans.

Tennessee is almost 500 miles across, closer in the east to Delaware than to Memphis, and closer in the west to Dallas 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 Donald Trump lionized him.)

Tennessee is a state with a certain civility: Both Confederate and Union generals paid respectful calls on Sarah Polk, the widow of President James K. Polk who stayed carefully neutral, in her Nashville mansion. Yet it was better known as a cultural battleground for much of the 20th century. On one side were the Fugitives, writers like John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate, who contributed to “I’ll Take My Stand,” a manifesto calling for retaining the South’s rural economy and heritage. (Today, the state ranks third in tobacco production and ninth in cotton.) Tennessee is also known for the momentous 1925 trial in Dayton in which high school biology teacher John T. Scopes defied a state ban on teaching evolution in public schools. In 1959 and 1960, Vanderbilt divinity student James Lawson trained a generation of student civil rights activists, notably John Lewis, a student at Nashville’s Fisk University; they organized sit-in protests at segregated lunch counters at Kress, Woolworth and McClellan stores. The protests sparked confrontations, arrests and ultimately a bombing that destroyed the home of the defense attorney for the protestors. That prompted Nashville Mayor Ben West to make a public appeal calling for an end to discrimination in the city. Within a few weeks, stores began to integrate their lunch counters and Nashville later became the first major city in the South to desegregate public facilities. The campaign became a template for student-run civil rights efforts throughout the South that Lewis, who eventually became a Georgia congressman, would heroically lead. (Lewis died in 2020.) Against this backdrop were business leaders who created the first supermarket, Piggly Wiggly, as well as brands as varied as Holiday Inn, FedEx, and Moon Pies. The New Deal-era creation of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority also provided the state with bountiful energy, from a mix of coal, nuclear and hydropower plants.

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