Eddie Mannis

Tennessee Equality Project rescinds Dickerson endorsement over Senate speaker’s ad

The Tennessee Equality Project has rescinded its endorsement of Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville over an ad being run on his behalf by the Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s political action committee.

The ad targets Dickerson’s Democratic challenger, Heidi Campbell, for saying supportive things about Gideon’s Army, which the spot describes as an extremist group calling for “revolutionary changes to our way of life.” Democrats have pushed back against the ad presenting Gideon’s Army as supporting rioting. They point to the group’s efforts to mentor young people and de-escalate violence in predominantly black North Nashville. The organization was also heavily involved in cleanup efforts after a tornado wrought heavy damage in the neighborhood in March. The Tennessee Equality Project denounced the spot as a “disgusting, racist ad.”

“Although he has an exemplary record on LGBTQ rights in the Legislature, elected officials are called to speak out against racism in politics,” TEP executive director Chris Sanders said in a blog post.

Here’s the ad:

The decision to withdraw the Dickerson endorsement means the group is now backing just one Republican candidate for the General Assembly: Knoxville businessman Eddie Mannis, who is running to succeed retiring state Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville).

Tennessee Equality Project endorses two Republicans (and 19 Democrats)

The Tennessee Equality Project has endorsed Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson over Democratic challenger Heidi Campbell. And in the open House District 18 race, the LGBTQ advocacy group has given the nod to Republican businessman Eddie Mannis over Democrat Virginia Couch.

Nineteen other TEP endorsements went to Democrats nominees, plus one independent, and one write-in candidate.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Tennessee Equality Project – they are at the forefront of protecting the rights for the LGBTQ community in Tennessee,” Dickerson said in a release. “I have always fought for equal rights for all Tennesseans, and I will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community.”

Here’s the release from the TEP:

Tennessee Equality Project lobbies the Tennessee General Assembly and local governments around the state on behalf of the LGBTQ community.  We are pleased to endorse a strong group of candidates for state and local government this year, including a number of LGBTQ candidates who can significantly change the conversation about our issues in Tennessee.  The Slate of Hate, which is a set of vicious anti-LGBTQ bills, looms as a threat when the Legislature reconvenes in January. On the other hand, we have important opportunities to advance equality in many of our cities.  The candidates we have endorsed can play a vital role in fighting discrimination and making life better for LGBTQ Tennesseans.  

TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENDORSEMENTS

TN Senate District 6-Knox County

Jane George

TN Senate District 10-Bradley and Hamilton Counties

Glenn Scruggs

TN Senate District 14-Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, and Rutherford Counties

Chase Clemmons

TN Senate District 20-Davidson County

Sen. Steven Dickerson

Our endorsement goes to Sen. Steven Dickerson, who has spoken passionately on the floor of the Senate against discriminatory bills and voted against them every time. In addition, as Chair of the Senate’s State & Local Government Committee, he has been a strategic partner in helping us navigate the legislative process to the significant benefit of our community. 

We also wish to offer our thanks to candidate Heidi Campbell for her strong statement of support for the LGBTQ community during our survey process and for her outreach to our community.

TN Senate District 22-Houston, Montgomery, and Stewart Counties

Ronnie Glynn

TN House District 4-Unicoi and Carter Counties

Bobby Harrell

TN House District 6-Washington County

Brad Batt

TN House District 13-Knox County

Rep. Gloria Johnson

TN House District 18-Knox County

Eddie Mannis-LGBTQ candidate

TN House District 25-Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties

Robyn Deck

TN House District 37-Rutherford County

Mariah Phillips

TN House District 38-Clay, Fentress, Macon, Pickett, and Scott Counties

Carol Abney

TN House District 40-DeKalb, Smith, Sumner, and Trousdale Counties

Paddy Sizemore

TN House District 48-Rutherford County

Matt Ferry

TN House District 49-Rutherford County

Brandon Thomas-LGBTQ candidate

TN House District 56-Davidson County

Bob Freeman

TN House District 63-Williamson County

Elizabeth Madeira

Our endorsement goes to Elizabeth Madeira for her strong outreach to the LGBTQ community. We also wish to commend candidate Brad Fiscus for his clear expressions of support for our community.

TN House District 82-Crockett, Haywood, and Lauderdale Counties

Andrea Bond Johnson

TN House District 83-Shelby County

Jerri Green

TN House District 89-Knox County

Keri Keeling (Write-in candidate)

TN House District 90-Shelby County

Torrey Harris-LGBTQ candidate

TN House District 96-Shelby County

Dwayne Thompson

TN House District 97-Shelby County

Gabby Salinas

Republican executive committee rejects challenge of Mannis’ primary win

The Tennessee Republican Party’s executive committee has voted 43-18 against a motion to remove Eddie Mannis as the Republican nominee in state House District 18.

Mannis won the primary by 99 votes over real estate agent Gina Oster, who challenged the outcome based on allegations of crossover voting by Democrats.

Mannis will face Democrat Virginia Couch in November.

Here’s a statement from Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini about the GOP proceedings:

Republicans are scrambling to find a candidate who can beat Virginia Couch and all they had to choose from is a political flip-flopper and a far right extremist, both are wrong for the district and neither of them are the candidate House District 18 needs, wants, or deserves.

Tennessee GOP to decide whether to overturn result of Knoxville House primary

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee Republican’s Party’s state executive committee is scheduled to hold a conference call Wednesday evening to decide a challenge of businessman Eddie Mannis’ 99-vote win over real estate agent Gina Oster in the GOP primary for an open state House seat in Knoxville.

Oster, who had the backing of conservative activists, claims Democratic crossover voting made he difference for Mannis. Of course, there’s no way to say from whom voters cast their secret ballots and a counter-argument is that they might have been voting for Oster to give Democratic nominee Virginia Couch an easier path toward victory in November.

Local party activists had sought to keep Mannis off the ballot entirely because of moderate positions and his vote in the Democratic presidential primary in March. But Party Chairman Scott Golden turned back that challenge after Mannis was vouched for by Republican luminaries such as Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, and state Sen. Richard Briggs.

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe has been keeping a close eye on proceedings, and reports in his column that Knox County executive committee members Jane Chedester and Michele Carringer (herself the GOP nominee to succeed retiring Knoxville Rep. Bill Dunn) have indicated they support retaining Mannis’ nomination. So has incumbent Rep. Martin Daniel, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Here’s Ashe’s take:

Defeated GOP legislative candidate Gina Oster keeps trying to snatch a win from Eddie Mannis…. It is hard to believe that a committee in Nashville would discard the valid election result. Oster previously lost a school board contest to Doug Harris. If Oster is handed a nomination she did not win fair and square at the ballot box, the Democratic nominee, Virginia Couch, would become the odds-on favorite to win in November.

As The Tennessee Journal reported recently, the district is no longer a lock for Republicans. Daniel won just 51.5% of the vote in 2018, slightly underperforming the 53% received by Bill Lee in the governor’s race and by Burchett in his bid for Congress. And fellow Republican Marsha Blackburn got just 46% of the district’s vote in the U.S. Senate race against former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen two years ago. While 57% voted for Trump in 2016, the president’s numbers are expected to be far weaker this year.

Given the increasingly swing characteristics of District 18, the GOP attacks on Mannis are all the more perplexing. As a well-respected businessman and founder of a nonprofit organization flying veterans to visit war memorials in Washington, Mannis’ more moderate leanings appear to make him a stronger candidate in the general election. But he clearly wasn’t the choice of hardliners who contributed to Oster during the primary. They included House Majority Leader William Lamberth, and Reps. Daniel, Clay Doggett, Rick Eldridge, Johnny Garrett, Bruce Griffey, and Chris Todd.