bill hagerty

Here’s who has been vaccinated among the TN congressional delegation

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Both of Tennessee’s U.S. senators have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the state’s nine House members are more divided.

According to reporting by States Newsroom and the Chattanooga Times Free Press, four House members from Tennessee have gotten the shot: Democrats Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville, and Republicans Scott DesJarlais of Winchester and David Kustoff of Memphis.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) is holding off for the moment.

“Because I was diagnosed with COVID-19 in January, I am waiting to be vaccinated until those who are at a greater risk for the virus are able to be vaccinated first,” he told the Times Free Press. “I continue to strongly urge all Americans to get vaccinated.”

The four remaining Tennessee members, all Republicans, did not respond to the survey or newspaper: Tim Burchett of Knoxville, Mark Green of Ashland City, Diana Harshbarger of Kingsport, and John Rose of Cookeville.

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) responded they had already been innoculated.

Oh, Chihuahua! The announcer and the senator

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

Tim Hagerty is a radio play-by-play announcer for the El Paso Chihuahuas, a minor league baseball team in Texas. Bill Hagerty is a freshman U.S. Senator from Nashville who is keeping the Donald Trump dream alive in Congress. So other than their last names, there’s little reason to get the two men confused.

But leave leave it to social media users not to be able to distinguish between @tdhagerty and @BillHagertyTN. The radio announcer has been on the receiving end of vitriolic comments by people unhappy with the senator’s actions in Washington.

Things may get a little more confused when minor league baseball returns following a halt caused by the pandemic. The Chihuahuas play in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, which is also home to the Nashville Sounds.

Hagerty’s staff to be led by former Corker, Haslam aide Rader

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

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) has named John Rader, an onetime aide to former Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, as his chief of staff. Rader also worked for Hagerty on former President Donald Trump’s transition team in 2016.

Hagerty’s state staff, led by former Haslam chief of staff Jim Henry, was announced previously.

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

WASHINGTON – United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today announced the appointment of a team of experienced professionals to his staff. In addition to the State office appointments announced earlier, Hagerty has appointed Cookeville, Tennessee native, John Rader, as his Chief of Staff, as well as other exceptionally qualified men and women who will make up his administration, communications, and policy teams in Washington, D.C.

“Not only does the team I have assembled in my Washington office augment the strong on-the-ground state organization announced this month, they also bring a wide array of experiences and qualifications that will serve our state and the country well,” said Senator Hagerty. “Under John Rader’s leadership, and with the senior team I have assembled, I am confident this talented group will work above and beyond to serve the needs of Tennesseans and our Nation.”

Administrative

John N. Rader will serve as Chief of Staff. Rader, who brings legislative and executive branch experience, at the federal and state level, most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives at the White House. Rader also served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Policy Advisor to the National Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategy. Prior to his time in the administration, Rader served as Deputy Director of Presidential Appointments on the 2016 Presidential Transition Team. Rader previously served as counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and as Acting Deputy Counsel and Assistant Deputy Counsel to the Governor of the State of Tennessee. He received his B.A. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Rader is a native of Cookeville, Tennessee.

Clark Milner will serve as Chief Counsel to Hagerty. Milner was previously Deputy Counsel to Governor Bill Lee, a role in which he advised the governor and governor’s staff regarding legal, legislative, ethical, and other matters, assisted in the development, drafting, and implementation of legislation, and helped coordinate the legal affairs of the executive branch of state government. He previously served as Associate Deputy Counsel to Governor Bill Haslam, was an associate with Bass, Berry, and Sims PLC in Nashville, and was a law clerk to Judge Thomas A. Varlan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Milner received his law degree from the University of Tennessee and his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia. He is from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Jim Durrett will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. Durrett previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN). He has served in senior staff roles for U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). He is a graduate of Austin Peay State University. Durrett is from Clarksville, Tennessee.

Betsy Van Dam will serve as Executive Assistant and Scheduler. Van Dam has supported Hagerty for the past ten years in the private sector as well as his stateside commitments during Hagerty’s tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. She served with the Presidential Appointments group on the 2016 Presidential Transition Team and as Hagerty’s Executive Assistant in the Department of Economic and Community Development for the State of Tennessee. She is from Franklin, Tennessee. 

Addison Osborne will serve as Assistant Scheduler. Osborne previously held internships in the White House Office of Political Affairs, at the Republican National Convention, and with U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Office. She is a recent graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. 

Legend Brumbaugh will serve as Staff Assistant and Personal Aide to the Senator. Previously, Brumbaugh worked as a Regional Field Representative for Hagerty’s Senate campaign in Knoxville. He is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado, where he played football. Brumbaugh is from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Communications

Judd Deere will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Deere, who will also serve as the Senator’s spokesperson, most recently served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. He also spent time as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs and before that as Director of State Communications. Prior to joining the administration, Deere was Director of Communications for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Director of Communications for the Tim Griffin for Arkansas campaign. Deere brings prior U.S. Senate experience from his time as Press Secretary and Digital Director for U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Correspondence Director for U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR). Before his first stint on Capitol Hill, Deere was a Field Director for the Republican Party of Arkansas during the 2010 campaign in the State’s third congressional district. Deere holds a B.A. in Political Science from Lyon College, and is a native of Benton, Arkansas.

Julia Hahn will serve as Senior Communications Advisor. Hahn most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Communications Director. She also served as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Rapid Response and Surrogate Operations. Previously, Hahn worked in media as the Executive Producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and a reporter at Breitbart News. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as Press Secretary to former Congressman Dave Brat (VA-07). Hahn graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Philosophy.

Bailee Beshires will serve as Press Assistant. Beshires joins Hagerty’s office having previously served as Press Assistant for former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she also served as Communications Assistant at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. She is from Henderson, Tennessee.

Audrey Traynor will serve as Digital Assistant. Traynor most recently served as Communications Assistant for former U.S. Senator David Perdue’s (R-GA) 2020 re-election campaign. Prior to joining the Perdue campaign, Traynor worked in communications for the Georgia Department of Labor. She is originally from Atlanta, and holds a B.A. in Advertising from the University of Georgia.

Policy

Adam Telle returns to the Senate to serve as Hagerty’s Chief Advisor. Most recently, Telle led the White House Office of Legislative Affairs’ Senate team, where he also managed all national security and appropriations matters. Previously, Telle was the chief staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, serving under the chairmanship of U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Boozman (R-AR), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). He also spent 10 years in the Office of Senator Cochran, where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, and the top national security staffer. Telle began his Senate career in the Office of Senator Shelby. He is a native of Northport, Alabama and holds degrees in computer science and communication from Mississippi State University, where he was elected student body president. Telle spent childhood summers in Sevier County, Tennessee, where his parents were married, and Telle himself was married in Nashville on the campus of Vanderbilt University, his wife’s alma mater.

Jonathan S. Greenstein will serve as Senior Policy Advisor. He previously was a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Treasury. In the private sector, he worked in Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Division covering financial institutions. He holds a J.D. from Yale, and a B.A. and MBA from Harvard.

Robert Zarate will serve as National Security Advisor. Zarate most recently served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and advanced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (Public Law 116-76), Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (Public Law 116-145), Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (Public Law 115–272), and the Senate-passed Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act (S. 1, 116th Congress). He earlier served as National Security Advisor to former U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01). Zarate earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago.

Colonel (Retired) Joel D. Rayburn will serve as Special Advisor for Middle East Affairs. Rayburn has almost three decades of experience as a diplomat and military officer. Most recently, he has served two-and-half years as the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria in the U.S. Department of State. Previously, he was Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon on the National Security Council. Along with numerous deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans, Rayburn taught history at West Point and became a published scholar of the Middle East. His 26-year Army career culminated in his 2013-2016 directorship of the Army’s Iraq War Study Group and the publication of a two-volume history, “The U.S. Army in the Iraq War” (2018). Rayburn also authored a book on Iraqi politics, “Iraq After America” (2013) and numerous articles on Middle Eastern affairs. He holds master’s degrees from Texas A&M University and the National War College.

Natalie McIntyre will serve as Deputy Legislative Director. McIntyre was formerly Deputy to the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where she handled the Senate portfolio and was the primary contact to Senate offices and OMB components. Before that, she was a Senior Policy Advisor and White House Liaison at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Prior to her time in the administration, McIntyre was a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and handled the healthcare, transportation, and the budget portfolios. Natalie holds a M.P.P from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and a B.S in Financial Economics from Centre College.  

Andrew H. Hogin will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for State Relations. He will focus on Tennessee-specific projects in Washington D.C. Previously, Hogin served as Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative David Kustoff (TN-08). He also served as Legislative Liaison for Hagerty during his tenure as Commissioner of Economic and Community Development for the State of Tennessee and prior to that as an Aide to Governor Bill Haslam. Hogin is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. 

Lucas Da Pieve will serve as Projects Director. Da Pieve most recently served as the Deputy Legislative Director and Projects Manager, supervising all appropriations requests for former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Previously he was the Director of Digital Response in the Office of Presidential Correspondence at the White House. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has worked in government and politics since 2013. Da Pieve is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. His family has lived in Blount County since 2008.

Kevin Kim will serve as the National Security Fellow. Kim previously served as the Senior Advisor to Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, where he participated in multiple rounds of United States-Russia arms control negotiations. He was also the Chief of Staff to Special Representative for North Korea. Kim was previously an analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State, focusing on East Asia, non-proliferation, and Western Europe. Prior to joining the Department of State, Kim worked at the World Bank Group and the U.S. Korea Institute at SAIS Kim. He holds a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Catholic University of America.  

Shane Harris will serve as Special Projects Coordinator. Prior to joining Hagerty’s team, Harris was Associate Director for the White House Office of the Staff Secretary. He also previously served in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. Harris holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wittenberg University.

Riley Stamper will serve as a Legislative Correspondent and Personal Aide to Hagerty. Stamper most recently served as Personal Aide to Hagerty during his 2020 campaign. Previously, he served in former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) Office. He is a graduate of Wofford College. Stamper is a ninth-generation Tennessean, originally from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nick Elliot will serve as a Legislative Correspondent. Previously, he served as Deputy Field Director for Hagerty’s campaign. Elliot is a graduate of Georgetown University. He is from Nashville, Tennessee.

Rachel Leong will serve as a Legislative Correspondent. Leong previously worked in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, first as a Staff Assistant on the Senate team and later Special Assistant to the Director of Legislative Affairs. Leong holds a B.A. from Texas A&M University, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in International Business at George Washington University. 

Shea Throckmorton will serve as a Legislative Correspondent. Previously, he served as West Tennessee Field Representative for Hagerty’s campaign. Throckmorton is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He is from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Tennessee senators praise Alabama HQ for Space Command

Republican Marsha Blackburn speaks to reporters at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee U.S. senators are praising the choice of neighboring Alabama for the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) say the decision to locate the headquarters in the Tennessee Valley will bring skilled jobs to the region. Huntsville is about 20 miles south of the Tennessee state line. A new Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing plant is also under construction in Huntsville. The $2.3 billion facility is projected to employ about 4,000 people once it goes online next year.

Here’s the joint release from Blackburn and Hagerty:

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Today, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the announcement that the United States Space Command will be headquartered in Huntsville, AL.  

“The new Space Command Center in the Tennessee Valley is an important investment in both the future of our military and in the skilled workforce of the region,” said Senator Blackburn. “This base will bring over 1,600 new jobs in the area and more as the command grows.”

“The new United States Space Command headquarters in the Tennessee Valley will be the primary entity for providing strategic direction to the U.S. military to deter space-based threats globally,” said Senator Hagerty.  “Space Command’s future headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, will bring hundreds of new jobs to Tennesseans and further our state’s rich history of contributing to our national defense.”

Hagerty names Jim Henry as state director

Deputy to the Governor Jim Henry speaks with Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) has named Jim Henry, a former top deputy to then-Gov. Bill Haslam, as state director. Michael Sullivan, a former executive director of the state Republican Party, will serve as deputy to Henry.

Here’s the full release from Hagerty’s office:

NASHVILLE – United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today announced the appointment of Jim Henry as his State Director and the appointment of the other dedicated public servants who will serve in his Tennessee state offices. The offices will be located in Nashville, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis, and Tri-Cities.

“Having Jim Henry, someone who has spent his career serving our state, as my state director will bring tremendous experience to our state team and will help ensure that Tennesseans know my offices are available to help in their communities,” said Hagerty. “The men and women who will make up these seven offices bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding of Tennessee-specific issues that will serve our state and our citizens well.”

Nashville

Jim Henry will serve as State Director. Henry most recently served as the Deputy Governor and Chief of Staff to Governor Bill Haslam. He has served Tennessee as the Commissioner of Children’s Services, was the first Commissioner of the Department of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, and was the Republican Leader in the House of Representatives. Jim is also a past Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. He ran for Governor in 2002, and is a former mayor of the city of Kingston.

Michael Sullivan will serve as Deputy State Director. Sullivan most recently served as Hagerty’s Campaign Manager. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Tennessee Republican Party. He is a graduate of Hanover College and has worked in government and politics since 2007. His experience includes work in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. He moved to Nashville in 2011, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Preston Cooper will serve as Special Projects Coordinator. Previously she served as a Political Coordinator for Hagerty’s campaign, her first job in politics. She is a graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South. Cooper currently lives in Nashville.

Tammy Pierce will serve as Special Assistant to the State Director. Pierce previously served as Executive Assistant for Special Projects at the Tennessee Department of Child Services Institute. Prior to her work in the social services and government sectors, Pierce worked with Kenny Rogers and others in the music and entertainment industry. She has one son, a high school teacher and coach, and a daughter-in-law who is a registered nurse at Vanderbilt Hospital. Pierce is a fourth generation Nashvillian.

Braden Stover will serve as a Field Representative. Stover most recently was Hagerty’s Deputy Campaign Manager. Prior to that, he served as Director of Operations and Campaign Manager for Congressman John Rose. He is a graduate of Belmont University and currently resides in Gallatin with his wife Gracie

Rachel Jackson Jones will serve as a Constituent Services Representative. Jones has been a Registered Nurse since 1989. She has been a County Commissioner in Trousdale County since 2017 and was the first woman Chairman of the Trousdale County Republican Party. Jones is an active member of the Rotary Club and a member of the Hartsville Church of Christ. Jones is from Trousdale County, where she lives with her two daughters.

The Nashville office is located 3322 West End Avenue, Suite 120 and can be reached by calling 615-736-5129.

Chattanooga

Stan Settles will serve as a Field Representative. Settles most recently served as Hagerty’s Chattanooga Regional Field Director. Previously, he was a Field Organizer for Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where he was the Student Body President. Settles has worked on several local and state-level campaigns in the area. Settles moved to Chattanooga in 2016, where he lives now.

Tonya Johnson will serve as Constituent Services Representative. Johnson recently served as a Constituent Services Representative for 10 years in Chattanooga for Senator Lamar Alexander. She is a graduate of Bryan College. Johnson is from Chattanooga where she still lives with her husband and two daughters.

The Chattanooga office is located in the Joel E. Soloman Federal Building at 900 Georgia Avenue, Suite 260 and can be contacted by calling 423-752-5337.

Cookeville

Tanner Cox will serve as a Field Representative. He was most recently Campaign Manager for Congressman John Rose’s campaign. Previously, he was a Regional Field Director for Hagerty. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University. Cox is originally from Fentress County and lives in Cookeville.

Bonny Warren will serve as a Constituent Services Representative. Warren has 10 years of constituent service experience with the U.S. House of Representatives. Having previously worked in Tennessee state government, Warren has a background serving constituents. Warren lives in Cookeville with her husband and enjoys her large family.

The Cookeville office will be located in the L. Clure Morton Federal Building at 9 E. Broad Street, 3rd Floor and can be contacted at this time by calling the Nashville office at 615-736-5129.

Jackson

Matt Varino will serve as a Field Representative. Varino most recently served as a Field Representative in Jackson for Senator Lamar Alexander. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi where he studied Political Science. He is married and has three children.

The Jackson office will be located in the Ed Jones Federal Building at 109 S. Highland Avenue, Suite 216 and can be reached at 731-664-0289.

Knoxville

Joe Bailey will serve as Regional Director. Bailey has most recently been managing his own consulting business. He was Vice Mayor for the city of Knoxville and a member of the City Council for eighth years. He is a veteran of multiple campaigns, including President Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984 and President Bush’s 1988 campaign. Bailey served in the Reagan and Bush administrations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy. Additionally, he worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Bailey lives in Knoxville with his son and two daughters.

Riley Lovingood will serve as a Field Representative. Lovingood has spent the past year working for Hagerty’s Campaign as a Regional Field Director in Knoxville. He recently graduated from the University of Tennessee where he was a football player. He received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. Lovingood is an eighth Generation Tennessean originally from Hendersonville.

Keith Abraham will serve as a Constituent Services Representative. Previously he served as a Constituent Services Representative for Senator Lamar Alexander. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Abraham is from Knoxville, where he lives today with his wife and two daughters.

The Knoxville office is located in the Howard H. Baker, Jr. U.S. Courthouse at 800 Market Street, Suite 112 and can be reached by calling 865-545-4253.

Memphis

Chris Connolly will serve as a Field Representative. Connolly was most recently a Field Representative for Senator Lamar Alexander. He was previously an aide to Congressman Stephen Fincher. He is a two-time graduate of the University of Memphis. Connolly is from Memphis and lives with his wife in Bartlett.

Mary Wooldridge will serve as Constituent Services Representative. Since 2011, Wooldridge has been a Constituent Services Representative for Senator Lamar Alexander. She was previously employed by BellSouth (now ATT) and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. Wooldridge attended the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College. She is a lifelong Memphian, where she lives with her husband. Wooldridge is the proud mother of two children and four grandchildren.

The Memphis office is located in the Clifford Davis-Odell Horton Federal Building at 167 North Main Street, Suite 1068 and can be reached by calling 901-544-4224.

Tri-Cities

Nick Castle will serve as a Field Representative. Previously, he served as Hagerty’s Tri-Cities Field Director. He attended East Tennessee State University, where he studied history and political science. Castle is from Kingsport.

Tracie O’Hara will serve as a Constituent Services Representative. Previously, she served the First Congressional District for eleven years, working for Congressman Phil Roe. She resides in Jonesborough with her husband Scott.

The Tri Cities office is located in the Tri Cities Regional Airport at 2525 Highway 75, Suite 101 and can be contacted by calling 423-325-6240.

Blackburn and Hagerty issue statement on Capitol riot

Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty have issued a joint statement on Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol:

Yesterday was a shocking day of lawlessness. We watched in horror as rioters breached the security of both Houses of Congress and inflicted significant property damage upon those historical halls.

Our Republic will rise above the chaos that ensued yesterday in the Capitol. These violent assaults on our democratic processes threaten to unwind the fabric of this country. As Americans, we must unite in our commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.

We are grateful for the heroic law enforcement officials who helped restore peace, allowing us to complete our work. Last night we reconvened with our Senate colleagues to fulfill our constitutional duty to certify the 2020 election results and prepare for a peaceful transition of power. On January 20th, we will prove to the world that America is still the shining city on the hill.

Tennessee congressional delegation recoils at Capitol incursion

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville), who called for active duty troops to be activated to quell social unrest during last year’s campaign, is denouncing the breach of the U.S. Capitol by demonstrators supporting President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his electoral loss.

“What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is not peaceful, this is violence,” Hagerty said in a tweet. “I condemn it in the strongest terms. We are a nation of laws and this must stop.”

Fellow Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) soon followed suit:

Other members of the Tennessee delegation have also been tweeting about the events:

Blackburn, Hagerty to join effort to challenge presidential election

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Both Tennessee senators are joining an effort among 11 Republicans to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. While all allegations of voter fraud have been thrown out in the courts, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Sen.-elect Bill Hagerty of Nashville said in a statement they will oppose the certification of the vote on Wednesday.

“American democracy relies on the consent of the governed,” Hagerty and Blackburn said in a joint statement. “Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.) along with Senators Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun, (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.), Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) announced they will vote to oppose the results of the 2020 election. They are also calling for Congress to immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.

“On behalf of Tennesseans, we are taking a united stand against the tainted electoral results from the recent Presidential election,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn and Senator-elect Bill Hagerty. “American democracy relies on the consent of the governed. Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process. Protecting the integrity of the electoral process is paramount to preserving trust and legitimacy in the final outcome.”

“For critical moments like these, the Constitution reserves the right to challenge the Electoral College results to members of Congress. On January 6, we will vote to oppose certification of the 2020 election results.”

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.) Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) released the following statement:

“America is a Republic whose leaders are chosen in democratic elections. Those elections, in turn, must comply with the Constitution and with federal and state law.

“When the voters fairly decide an election, pursuant to the rule of law, the losing candidate should acknowledge and respect the legitimacy of that election. And, if the voters choose to elect a new office-holder, our Nation should have a peaceful transfer of power.

“The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided. The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.

“Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.

“And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are wide-spread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’ That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%).

“Some Members of Congress disagree with that assessment, as do many members of the media.

“But, whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democrat-ic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations.

“Ideally, the courts would have heard evidence and resolved these claims of serious election fraud. Twice, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so; twice, the Court declined.

“On January 6, it is incumbent on Congress to vote on whether to certify the 2020 election re-sults. That vote is the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud.

“At that quadrennial joint session, there is long precedent of Democratic Members of Congress raising objections to presidential election results, as they did in 1969, 2001, 2005, and 2017. And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged.

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—were alleged to have been conducted illegally.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy. Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission—consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices—to consider and resolve the disputed returns.

“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit—conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20—would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

“These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.

Year in Review: The most viewed TNJ blog posts of 2020

Republican Bill Hagerty speaks to a reporter before casting his early vote in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the Top 10 most viewed stories on the TNJ: On the Hill blog this year.

1. June 11: Sethi seeks to make political gain out of coronavirus pandemic.

2. May 11: Things get interesting in the open 1st District race.

3. Aug. 5: Hagerty does some creative accounting to obscure Romney donation.

4. March 30: Lee’s stay-at home order in detail.

5. April 20: Protest leader demands free refills.

6. April 20: The lockdown ends.

7. July 16: Hagerty launches the negative ad barrage.

8. Dec. 15: We’re No. 1.

9. Jan. 19: In like Flinn.

10. Nov. 13: Most signed, some didn’t.

Golden to seek third term as state GOP chair

Republicans hold a unity event in Franklin following the primary election on Aug. 8, 2020.

Scott Golden will seek another term as chairman of the state Republican Party following an election year in which President Donald Trump matched his Tennessee winning percentage from four years ago, former Ambassador Bill Hagerty was elected to the U.S. Senate, and Republicans lost just one seat in the General Assembly.

The former aide to then-U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher was first elected to the job in 2016.

Here’s an excerpt from Golden’s letter to the party’s State Executive Committee announcing his latest bid:

Both 2021 and 2022 will get off to a fast start, including the fight to save America beginning in mid-December with the defense of the two Georgia senate seats to determine which Party has the majority in the United States Senate. After, we should all expect to be attending the inauguration of President Trump in January. County party reorganizations, county bylaws, and county calls for local primaries will be happening throughout 2021 as we prepare for redistricting and what will be a great election year of 2022. Of course, our bylaws committee has been working and will continue to refine our policies as we approach this huge election year.