bill haslam

Lee named policy chairman of Republican Governors Association

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a groundbreaking event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has been named policy chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Lee’s predecessor, Bill Haslam, served two stints as chair of the group.

Here’s the release from the RGA:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Republican Governors Association announced today that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was elected to serve as RGA Chair and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was elected to serve as RGA Vice Chair for 2021. Both assume the positions immediately and will serve for a one-year duration.

“Governor Doug Ducey’s exemplary leadership in the great State of Arizona has prepared him well to assume the role of Chairman of the RGA, and I look forward to his accomplishments on behalf of our nation’s Republican Governors,” said outgoing RGA Chairman Governor Greg Abbott. “Following the RGA’s widespread success in the 2020 election, Republican Governors can count on Governor Ducey to maintain the organization’s effectiveness and help expand their majority even further.”

“I am honored to serve as the next Chairman of the RGA for this upcoming year. I look forward to building on the RGA’s momentum as we work to expand the Republican majority. In Arizona, we’ve put forward bold policy solutions and meaningful reforms that’s made our state one of the fastest-growing in the nation and we look forward to leading Republican Governors in bringing these reforms to the rest of our country,” said incoming RGA Chairman Governor Doug Ducey. “I want to congratulate my friend Governor Greg Abbott on his successful tenure, and I am excited to work with him and the Executive Committee to build a strong foundation for success in the 2021 and 2022 elections. I also am excited to serve with my good friend Governor Kim Reynolds, who has been a mentor for myself and my colleagues.”

“If the challenges of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that leadership matters. Republican Governors across our country stepped up during an unprecedented time and I am honored to be a part of this incredible team,” said incoming RGA Vice Chairwoman Governor Kim Reynolds. “Across the nation, Republican Governors are leading America’s economic comeback, working to grow jobs, expand opportunity, and keep our communities safe. I look forward to partnering with RGA Chairman Governor Ducey to grow our ranks and elect more Republican governors across the country.”

Joining Governor Ducey and Governor Reynolds on the RGA’s Executive Committee for 2021 are Governors Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Greg Abbott of Texas, who served as RGA Chair in 2020. Additionally, Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee was elected Policy Chairman, and Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi was elected Policy Vice Chairman.

Trump taps Haslam as Wilson Center chair

Then-Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at an event at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville on Aug. 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

President Donald Trump is appointing former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as the chairman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center was founded in 1968 and describes itself as “the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.”

Haslam served as governor from 2011 to 2019.

Wilson Center board members are appointed to six-year terms. Haslam will succeed fellow former Republican Gov. Scott Walker as chair.

Walker took over following the death of businessman and GOP fundraiser Fred Malek last year. Malek was the finance chair of the Republican Governors Association from 2008 until his death. Haslam was elected chairman of the RGA in 2015 and 2018.

Haslam backing Tennessee Tutoring Corps to tackle enhanced ‘summer slide’

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in Nashville on March 1, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former Gov. Bill Haslam is backing an effort to recruit college students to tutor children in kindergarten through sixth grade whose education has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the full release:

Knoxville, Tenn. – The Bill and Crissy Haslam Foundation, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee and other youth-serving organizations across the state, today launched a new statewide Tennessee Tutoring Corps (TTC) to provide summer learning opportunities for rising K-6th grade students whose education has been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
“The ‘summer slide’ is a very real problem each year, and, with students being out of school for so long because of the coronavirus, this year could be more of a summer avalanche,” Bill Haslam said.  “We know that younger students and low-income students are especially vulnerable to summer learning loss, and we want to help address the problem.”
 
The Tennessee Tutoring Corps, which will run from June to August, aims to recruit at least 1,000 qualified college students to serve as tutors to students entering K-6 grade this fall. Eighteen Boys & Girls Clubs organizations representing nearly 90 clubs across the state will join with locally-run, youth-serving nonprofits in several counties to help facilitate the program.  

Recent research predicts the pandemic will significantly worsen the summer slide, with learning loss affecting students nationwide. Estimates suggest students could return in the fall retaining only 70 percent of typical learning gains in reading and less than 50 percent of usual learning gains in math. In some grades, students could be nearly a full year behind. 
 
Additionally, news reports suggest that as many as 30 percent of college students have lost summer internship opportunities due to COVID-related economic distress. Recognizing that many college students are experiencing financial strain or loss of employment opportunities due to the pandemic, tutors will be compensated with a stipend of up to $1,000 for their work through the duration of the summer program. 
 
“In creating this program, we hope to attract college students who care about their communities, about making a difference during this difficult time, and about helping younger students learn and grow,” Crissy Haslam said. “Many of these college students thought they would be doing something else this summer and have suddenly found themselves available.  Both the college students and younger students will be in extraordinary circumstances this year.”  
 
Qualified tutors must be current college students and must pass a background check. Preference will be given to those who have a 3.0 GPA or higher, have at least completed their freshman year, and are Tennessee residents. Interested candidates can learn more and submit an application on the Tennessee Tutoring Corps website at www.tntutoringcorps.org. The deadline for applications is 11:59am EST on Friday, May 29.
 
TTC is a pilot project that will be evaluated for effectiveness and feasibility in considering future opportunities. More information is available at www.tntutoringcorps.org.

Kustoff won’t run for Senate

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Memphis) has decided against running for the Senate next year. President Donald Trump has tweeted that U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty will seek the seat being vacated by Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville). Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi joined the race before former Gov. Bill Halsam announced he wouldn’t run.

Meanwhile, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports another doctor, Josh Gapp, is running as a Republican.

Former lawmaker, ex-GOP chairman, and current lobbyist Ryan Haynes was surprised to see his name floated among potential Senate candidates. He’s not running.

 

Haslam talks about Senate race, Gov. Lee, and UT in wide-ranging interview

Former Gov. Bill Haslam has tackled a wide variety of issues in one of his first extensive interviews since deciding against running for the U.S. Senate. In his sit-down with WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Haslam discusses how he came to that decision, as well as about his successor Bill Lee’s performance through the first six months of his time as governor, the ongoing saga surrounding the honoring of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Randy Boyd’s job as interim president of the University of Tennessee.

Take a look here:

Haslam announces he won’t run for Senate

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at an event at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville on Aug. 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former Gov. Bill Haslam has decided against running for the U.S. Senate, according to a letter submitted to Tennessee Gannett newspapers.

Haslam said he came to the realization that following in the Senate footsteps of his mentors Lamar Alexander and Howard Baker was “not my calling fo the next period of my life.”

“Since leaving office in January, I have wrestled with the possibility of running for the United States Senate,” Haslam wrote in the letter. “I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and helped me think and pray about this decision.”

“I also apologize to all those who think it has taken me an exceedingly long time to make up my mind!” he said.

The decision throws open the doors to a contested Republican primary. Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi is already in the race. Other potential candidates include U.S. Reps Mark Green and David Kustoff and U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty. Others could give the race a fresh look with Haslam on the sidelines, including two failed gubernatorial candidates from the last cycle: former U.S. Rep. Diane Black and interim UT President Randy Boyd.

UPDATE: Black is out. So is Green. Kustoff still considering.

Haslam to decide on Senate bid within 3 weeks

Former Gov. Bill Haslam (right) and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander attend the state Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019.

Republican Bill Haslam plans to make up his mind about a U.S. Senate bid within the next two or three weeks, the former governor told reporters at the state GOP’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner fundraiser.

Haslam said it’s been his intention to decide about whether to make a bid to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) within six months of leaving the governor’s office.

The former governor sat a table alongside Alexander, junior Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), and U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty.

Hagerty would be expected to give the race some serious consideration if Haslam doesn’t run. U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Ashland City) is also mulling a campaign. Surgeon Manny Sethi of Nashville announced his candidacy earlier this month.

Haslam said he enjoyed being back in political circles.

“I loved the job, and when you come back and see a lot of people you haven’t seen, you miss that,” he said. “But being a private citizen has its upsides, too.”

Devaney, Gehrke to head up Sethi’s campaign team

The timing of physician Manny Sethi’s announcement that he plans to run for the Republican nomination to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) caught many political observers off guard because most had been waiting to hear what former Gov. Bill Haslam planned to do on the race.

But Sethi and his team apparently ran out of patience and decided to pull the trigger, using “outsider” themes echoing those made by similarly little-known Bill Lee when the latter was making surprise march toward the governor’s office last year.

So it may come as little surprise that a Lee consultant, Jordan Gehrke, is reprising that role for the Sethi campaign. Chris Devaney, a former state Republican Party chairman who served as Lee’s campaign manager, has agreed to run the day-to-day operations of the Sethi campaign. Devaney had been working as a senior adviser to the Lee administration.

Fred Davis, who produced Lee’s TV ads during the governor’s race, has been in talks with the Sethi camp, but is believed to be awaiting word about Haslam’s intentions before taking the plunge. Davis did the advertising for Haslam’s 2010 governor’s bid.

Gehrke and Blake Harris were the general consultants for Lee’s gubernatorial bid. Harris now serves as the governor’s chief of staff.

Club for Growth launches website targeting Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam gives his farewell address before the inauguration ceremony for Gov. Bill Lee in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Club for Growth, a conservative Super PAC, is taking aim at former Gov. Bill Haslam’s potential candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The Knoxville Republican is expected to make a decision about whether to run this spring.

The group has expressed support for U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Ashland City) to jump into the race to succeed Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) next year. Club for Growth agitated on Republican Marsha Blackburn’s behalf in her successful bid for the Senate last year.

“Deciding to run for the United States Senate would be different than deciding if I am going to go work for this bank or that insurance company or whatever,” Haslam said a Freed-Hardeman University forum last week.  “At the end of the day, for all of us, it’s about where can we be the most useful. Where can our gifts and the world’s needs intersect.”

The Club for Growth ad and the related DirtyBillHaslam.com website take aim over the scandal at the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain controlled by the former governor and his family.

“Governor, don’t run,” Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh said in a release. “You have a legacy as governor and clearly don’t have the fire in the belly nor desire to serve in the U.S. Senate.”

Haslam grants final set of 20 pardons, 3 commutations

Gov. Bill Haslam delivers his final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam has granted his final set of clemency orders, issuing 20 pardons and three commutations. That brings his total to of nine commutations, 35 pardons, and one exoneration before he leaves office on Saturday.

Here is the full release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today granted executive clemency to 23 current or former Tennesseans.

“These individuals receiving pardons have made positive contributions to their communities and are worthy of the forgiveness that may help them restore their rights or obtain employment. Those receiving commutations will gain another chance to become contributing members of society,” Haslam said.  “Clemency requires attempting to balance mercy and justice, and my legal team and I have taken this responsibility seriously during a thorough review of many cases.”

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