Bill Ketron

He’s back! Joe Carr making another run for political office

Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) announces his U.S. Senate bid in January 2013.

Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) is taking another stab at running for public office. This time it’s for Rutherford County mayor, where incumbent Bill Ketron may be vulnerable after legal problems related to his former insurance business and a $135,000 civil penalty he received for numerous campaign finance violations.

Since leaving the General Assembly, Carr has unsuccessfully run for two different U.S. House seats, the U.S Senate, state Republican Party chair, and the state Senate. He was hired to work in Gov. Bill Lee’s administration after endorsing the Republican during the 2018 gubernatorial primary, but left after about a year. Carr was also a prominent backer of Manny Sethi’s U.S. Senate bid last year. The latter lost to now-Sen. Bill Hagerty of Nashville in the Republican primary.

Former GOP executive committee member indicted

Kelsey Ketron, a former member of the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party and daughter of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, has been indicted.

The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro reports Kelsey Ketron was arrested on three sealed indictments (UPDATE: the indictments were later unsealed. See below). She was being held a $100,000 bond at the Rutherford County jail on Tuesday.

Ketron has been the subject of an investigation into allegations of insurance fraud. State and federal agents raided her home and her father’s insurance company in July. The mayor told the newspaper at the time he was shocked by the warrants. Bill Ketron is facing an audit into his campaign finance filings. His daughter was his PACs’ treasurer.

Ketron was the state Senate Republican Caucus chairman before he was elected mayor. Kelsey Ketron resigned from the GOP’s executive committee in late July.


Kelsey Ketron faces dozens of charges, according to the Daily News Journal. They are:

  • 30 counts of impersonating a licensed professional.
  • 14 counts of money laundering.
  • 12 counts of aggravated perjury.
  • 5 counts of fraudulent insurance acts of $250,000 or more.
  • 5 counts of forgery of $250,000 or more.
  • two counts of fraudulent insurance acts between $60,000-$250,000.
  • one count of a fraudulent insurance act between $10,000-$59,999.
  • one count of theft of property between $10,000-$60,000.
  • one count of theft of property $60,000-$250,000.

Ketron wins GOP nomination for Rutherford County mayor (with no Democrat running)

State Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron won his party’s nomination to become Rutherford County mayor Tuesday in a three-candidate race. There’s no Democrat  the ballot for the general election, virtually assuring he will succeed current mayor Ernest Burgess, who is running to succeed Ketron in the Senate.

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Ketron announces run for county mayor; two announce runs for Senate District 13 seat

State Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron has announced he will not seek reelection to the Senate next year and instead will seek the office of Rutherford County mayor, reports the Daily News Journal. It will be his fourth try to become mayor.

The senator says he has the proven leadership to seek better transportation, a solid waste solution for the pending closure of Middle Point Landfill and the “best education we possibly can.”

“We’re blessed now with two school districts (Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City),” said Ketron, who worries about appropriating the needed funding to build at least a new school each year to keep up with growth. “It’s a challenge.”

A Republican from Murfreesboro, Ketron ran for the office (once called county executive) in 1990, 1994 and 1998. He served on the Rutherford County Commission from 1990 to 1998 and has served in the state Senate since 2002. Ketron’s current term ends in November 2018.

County Mayor Ernest Burgess has served since 2006 and will be finishing his third term in August 2018.

In a separate story, the DNJ reports that Burgess and state Rep. Dawn White of Murfreesboro say they’ll run for the Republican nomination in Ketron’s Senate District 13 seat since he’s not seeking reelection.

“I believe that it is extremely important to ensure that our next state senator is a proven conservative leader who has a record of standing up for hardworking Tennessee families,” White said in her news release.

… “All of us know the complexity of county government, especially Rutherford County, which has been the fastest growing county in Tennessee and requires experienced leadership with strong analytical skills and skilled employee relations,” said Burgess, who has served as county mayor since winning the seat in 2006.

“I have earlier said that Rutherford County needs and deserves strong, talented and committed leadership at both the county and state level. Now that we have Sen. Ketron announcing his candidacy for mayor, this will give an opportunity to focus on my last year as mayor and also consider my future role of service to Rutherford County.”


Gas tax hike of 9 cents per gallon, diesel 12 cents, ‘kicked around’

During informal discussions with Republican lawmakers, Gov. Bill Haslam and state Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have “kicked around” a proposal for increasing state gasoline taxes by 9 per gallon and diesel fuel by 12 cents per gallon, reports the Times-Free Press.
“Those are the numbers that the governor and TDOT have kicked around — but not in a formal proposal,” Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro said in a recent interview. “It may be in his proposed budget.”

Other lawmakers have cited similar figures, sometimes a bit lower, but spoke on condition their names not be used.

Ketron said whatever figure Haslam, also a Republican, eventually settles on, the fuel tax increase proposal “is going to be the biggest issue the governor tries to pass” during the 110th General Assembly which begins Jan. 10.

Asked about the figures cited by Ketron and others, Haslam Press Secretary Jennifer Donnals would only say “the governor continues to have meetings and discussions with legislators and as he has said, will announce a comprehensive proposal at the appropriate time.”

Tennessee’s gas tax, created in 1924 solely to pay for roads, is now 21.4 cents per gallon while diesel is 18.4 cents per gallon. There has been no increase since 1989.

Each penny of the gas tax raises $30.7 million for the state and local government. Each penny of the diesel tax raises $10.1 million. The state Department of Transportation’s total state revenue is $844.5 million, according to the TDOT website, and, according to legislative documents, includes vehicle registration taxes and some other levies.

UPDATE/Note: Asked about Ketron’s comments Wednesday, Haslam demurred: “We’re in the middle of conversations with legislators to see what will work…. “We haven’t arrived at a number we’re ready to present yet. But we obviously plan on doing that in the next couple of weeks.”

Ketron eyes run for Rutherford County mayor

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron and Pettus Read, a Rutherford County Commissioner and former communications director for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, are both considering a race to succeed Ernest Burgess as Rutherford County mayor in 2018, reports the Murfreesboro Post.

“I am looking at it. I have had several people ask me to,” said Read, 68, who is retired from the Farm Bureau after 44 years.

…Ketron, meanwhile, said he is considering a run and noted his decision would likely depend on what happens by January in Tennessee political circles, largely based on U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and whether he takes a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

…Ketron paints this possible scenario: If Corker were to become secretary of State under Trump, Gov. Bill Haslam could elevate himself to the U.S. Senate seat, leaving his position to be filled by the lieutenant governor, either current Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey or the likely successor, Sen. Randy McNally, who was recently elected as the Republican Caucus nominee for Senate speaker. Ramsey is not scheduled to leave his post until Jan. 10.

Such moves could put Ketron in a different situation, potentially elevating him to Senate Majority leader from caucus chairman or to Senate speaker, a post he expressed interest in seeking earlier this year when Ramsey announced he would not run for re-election.

…Owner of Universal International Insurance, Ketron served on the Rutherford County Commission from 1990 to 1998 and ran as a Democrat against former County Mayor Nancy Allen but was unable to defeat her. He ran as a Republican in 2002 for state Senate in a former district that included western Rutherford County and several other more rural counties, beating Bobby Sands of Columbia.

Note: Haslam has said he is inclined to appoint a “caretaker” as U.S. senator if Corker leaves for the Trump cabinet — one who would serve only until the 2018 election and not seek election to a full term — and that he does not intend to appoint himself to the position if an opening develops.


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