Donald Trump

Trump endorses Harshbarger’s re-election bid

President Donald Trump has endorsed freshman Rep. Diana Harshbarger’s re-election bid.

Here’s the full statement put out by the former president’s Save America PAC:

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger is doing a fantastic job as the Congresswoman from Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. She is a tireless advocate for the People of Tennessee, and she fights in Congress for Strong Borders, Secure Elections, the Second Amendment, and our incredible Vets and Military. As she often says, she is an “unapologetic conservative Trump Republican,” and she will always put America First. Diana has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

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.'”

Poll finds GOP voters happy with GOP in Tenn.

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new poll finds Republican primary voters are largely pleased with GOP politicians and policies in Tennessee.

The survey was conducted by ARW Strategies, which is run by Andrew Weissert, who previously ran We Ask America, a pollster that received a B-minus rating from FiveThirtyEight.com.

Here’s the release:

Tennessee Statewide Survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters

ARW Strategies, a national polling firm, today released a statewide public opinion poll of likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee. The poll took the pulse on Republican voters’ opinions about party leaders, Governor Lee’s job performance, and recent legislation signed into law by the governor.

While the Republican Party in Tennessee remains dominated by former President Donald Trump, Republicans are also nearly as enthusiastic about their governor, Bill Lee. From his handling of the pandemic to recent legislation signed into law, Lee’s support among his base looks impenetrable heading into his re-election next year.

ARW Strategies was founded by Andrew Weissert, former Chief Pollster for We Ask America. His work has been featured and covered by national publications like The New Yorker, Forbes, Politico, The Hill, National Review, Newsweek, and numerous local news organizations. This poll was not commissioned or paid for by any candidate or committee. ARW Strategies conducted this poll from its own resources to discover the current state of opinion among GOP Primary Voters in Tennessee

Key Takeaways
Donald Trump remains the face of the Republican Party. A massive 90% of likely Republican primary voters have a favorable opinion of the former president, with nearly three-quarters (72%) having a very favorable opinion of him. Just 10% say they view Trump unfavorably. Additionally, of those surveyed, 75% consider themselves to be Trump/America First Republicans, while just a quarter consider themselves to be some other form of Republican – traditional, social conservative, Tea Party, Libertarian.

Republican voters overwhelmingly like Governor Bill Lee and approve of the job he’s doing. 85% of Republican primary voters have a favorable opinion of Lee, while 86% approve of the job he’s done as governor. Just 14% disapprove of his job performance and only 11% view him unfavorably. 88% of self-identifying Trump/America First Republicans approve of Lee’s job performance, with just 9% disapproving.

Governor Lee’s strong image and job performance can be directly traced to his record and recent legislation. Republicans are highly supportive of Governor Lee’s recent actions, with 83% approving of his handling of the pandemic. 86% are more likely to vote for his re-election for the recent transgender athlete bill he signed into law. 82% are more likely to vote for his re-election for the law he signed allowing Tennesseans to carry firearms without a permit, and 81% support his school choice scholarship program.

Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty also enjoy exceptional images with Republican voters. For Senator Blackburn, 79% of Republicans view her favorably, while 17% have an unfavorable opinion of her. 78% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Senator Hagerty, with just 12% having an unfavorable one. Among those who call themselves Trump/America First Republicans, Senators Blackburn and Hagerty are even more popular where their images are 84% Fav/12% Unfav and 82% Fav/9% Unfav respectively.

Republicans want heavy emphasis on crime, illegal immigration and election integrity. The number one issue that Republican primary voters want the party to focus on heading into 2022, at 28%, is stopping crime and supporting law enforcement. In second, chosen by 23% of voters, is fighting illegal immigration and opposing sanctuary cities. In third, with 19%, is ensuring election integrity and preventing voter fraud.

Methodology
This poll was conducted between June 26th and 27th, 2021. In all, 600 interviews were achieved among likely 2022 Republican Primary voters in Tennessee. 324 of these responses came from cell phones. The Margin of Error for this survey is +/- 4% at a Confidence Interval of 95%.

Feds rescind effort to lock in Medicaid changes made by Trump administration

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following his address to a joint convention of the General Assembly on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A little over two weeks before President Donald Trump left office, the Republican administration sent out a letter to states like Tennessee to declare it was locking in any approved changes to Medicaid programs for a period of at least nine months. Democratic President Joe Biden is now rescinding that guidance, meaning that previously approved demonstration projects or waivers could be withdrawn at any time.

The most immediate effect of the move could be a cancellation of work requirements for Medicaid recipients that had been approved in several states. But Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation block grant could also be on the chopping block.

“We’re the first state in America that just got a federal waiver for Medicaid that allows us to share savings with the federal government,” Gov. Bill Lee told the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of partisan squabbling about that, but that was a business deal that was negotiated over a year-and-a-half that will allow Tennessee to have more money to spend on its Medicaid population than it would have underer a traditional Medicaid agreement.”

Read the full letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to TennCare Director Stephen Smith below.

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Tennessee Dems send Medicaid block grant objections to Biden

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State House and Senate Democrats are asking President Joe Biden to halt a Medicaid block grant for Tennessee.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration approved the block grant shortly before he left office. Republican state lawmakers rushed to OK the waiver before Trump left office last week.

Here is the full letter:

Dear President Biden,

We, the House and Senate Democrats of the Tennessee State Legislature, are writing you to request that you rescind the Medicaid block grant waiver that the Trump Administration granted, and our Republican colleagues in the General Assembly hastily voted to approve.

This waiver gives Tennessee more control over spending Medicaid dollars, in exchange for a cap on those funds. There’s a number of significant problems with this approach.

First and foremost, the state has proven themselves unable to handle the responsibility of being given more control over federal dollars. In addition to refusing to expand Medicaid for nearly a decade, our state government allowed a $732 million surplus of TANF funds to accumulate, rather than spend that money on what it was intended for – helping families in need.

The waiver allows for reducing the population of the 1.4 million Tennesseans eligible for Medicaid if there are problems re-registering beneficiaries. It also hands near-total oversight of the funds over to TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid program), which has a history of disfunction and unnecessary barriers to enrollment.

Since the outgoing administration first introduced the block grant proposal in 2017, Tennessee has been the only state to take up the offer. Even the most conservative legislatures across the country knew this was a bad deal. The New York Times referred to Tennessee’s undertaking of the block grant as a “structural experiment,” and the test subjects are working Tennesseans, families, and seniors.

The state GOP, which pushed the approval of the block grant through at the Eleventh Hour prior to Inauguration Day, refused to work with Democrats to ensure the proposal would be fair, legal, and appreciated by all Tennesseans. If they did, we would have pointed out the issues we saw with the deal, including the fact that it might not even be legally sound. Had they consulted with us, we could have come to a solution that better served people of Tennessee.

We know that they don’t want this program for the purpose of serving Tennesseans: they want this program for future political campaign purposes. Millions of Tennesseans will remain uninsured, this program will end up costing our taxpayers hefty legal fees, and the end result will likely be that a court will overturn it – unless your incoming administration can stop this waiver before it starts.

Thank you for your consideration.

Former commissioner reports Rep. Weaver to DC police

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) attends a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A former commissioner in then-Gov. Ned McWherter’s administration has reported state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) to law enforcement for taking part in Washington protest that turned into a riot.

“I respectfully inform you that Terri Lynn Weaver… was a participant,” Dudley Taylor wrote to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. “She posted photos and informed The Tennessean, the daily newspaper in Nashville, that she was ‘in the thick of it.’ She claimed to be a ‘patriot,’ of course.”

Contee in an email thanked Taylor for his report.

“I will ensure our FBI partners have this information,” Contee wrote.

Taylor is a Knoxville attorney who served as revenue commissioner for McWherter. He is also a former member of the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance and was the Democratic nominee in the open 2nd Congressional District won by Republican Jimmy Duncan in 1988.

Taylor wrote in his letter that if his report qualifies for a $1,000 reward, he will donate it to the family of the U.S. Capitol Police officer who was killed in the riot.

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:

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.

Slatery joins states’ legal effort to overturn presidential election

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is joining an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the result of the presidential election to sway it in President Donald Trump’s favor.

“The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has consistently taken the position that only a State’s legislature has the authority to make and change election laws,” Slatery said in a statement. “This Office pressed that argument in cases defending Tennessee’s election laws against pandemic-related challenges and in amicus briefs in cases involving similar challenges in other courts. This is not something new.”

Slatery’s office this year fought efforts to allow anyone afraid of contracting COVID-19 to cast absentee ballots. The state lost at the chancery court level, allowing the looser restrictions on mail-in balloting to take effect for the primary. The state Supreme Court later overturned the the decision, but only after the AG’s office reversed course to say anyone with an underlying health condition making them more susceptible to COVID-19 (or anyone living with someone who did) could cast absentee ballots.

A Trump-appointed federal judge also ruled Tennessee couldn’t enforce its rules this year requiring first-time voters who registered online to cast their ballots in person.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) called Slatery’s move a “low point in the history of the office of the Tennessee Attorney General. “

“Here’s the context: The Attorney General in Texas is under FBI investigation and widely assumed to be fishing for a pardon” Yarbro said on Twitter. “Now the Tennessee Attorney General is spending Tennessee resources to help?”