micah van huss

Defeated lawmaker appears to pitch former colleagues on constituent service site

Need advice on how to keep constituents happy? Why not ask the guy who lost his primary by 15 percentage points in August? At least that’s what ex-Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) appears to be pitching in a mailer sent to former colleagues this week.

“My office used Happy Constituents for years,” says the mailer featuring Van Huss’ legislative portrait and describing him as a current state lawmaker. “Through the process, we learned what works and what doesn’t.”

Happy Constituents logo.

Happy Constituents’ website lists a 2014 copyright and a phone number with a Tennessee area code used by Van Huss’ re-election campaign last summer. But no business by that name is registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office (where it would otherwise be listed between two defunct companies, Happy Clowns and Happy Cottons).

Van Huss in a disclosure filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission last year only listed income from Marathon Strategies (along with fellow former Republican Reps. Matthew and Timothy Hill) and Airbnb.

Tim Hicks, a Gray developer, defeated Van Huss in the August primary, 58% to 42%.

Rep. Byrd needs ‘miracle’ in COVID-19 treatment

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) attends a House committee meeting on March 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. David Byrd says he “needs a miracle” to keep from being placed on a ventilator during his hospitalization for COVID-19. The lawmaker was airlifted from to Nashville last weekend after being diagnosed with the coronavirus and pneumonia.

“I really need a miracle today!!” the Waynesboro Republican said a Facebook post Thursday. “My doctor said if my oxygen level doesn’t improve then he has no choice but to put me on a ventilator. So please pray that God will breathe His healing spirit into my lungs!!”

UPDATE: Family members and friends posted on Monday that Byrd had been put on a ventilator.

Byrd attended a recent House Republican Caucus meeting while not wearing a face covering. Days earlier, he hosted a dinner for dozens of GOP colleagues attending a caucus retreat at Pickwick Landing State Park.

Byrd has been under fire ever since being accused of — and never explicitly denying — sexual misconduct with high school basketball players when he was their coach in the 1980s.

Byrd was among 55 Republicans who in June voted in favor of a House resolution claiming the “mainstream media has sensationalized the reporting on COVID-19 in the service of political agendas.”

Here are the other Republicans who voted for the measure (names in bold indicate lawmakers who have since retired or, like sponsor Micah Van Huss, were defeated in their primaries; names in italics are those confirmed to have contracted COVID-19):

Charlie Baum, Clark Boyd, David Byrd, Kent Calfee, Mike Carter, Glen Casada, Scott Cepicky, Mark Cochran, John Crawford, Michael Curcio, Clay Doggett, Bill Dunn, Rick Eldridge, Jeremy Faison, Ron Gant, Johnny Garrett, Bruce Griffey, Rusty Grills, Curtis Halford, Mark Hall, Kirk Haston, Esther Helton, Gary Hicks, Matthew Hill, Timothy Hill, Andy Holt, Dan Howell, Bud Hulsey, Chris Hurt, Kelly Keisling, William Lamberth, Tom Leatherwood, Mary Littleton, Susan Lynn, Pat Marsh, Debra Moody, Jerome Moon, Brandon Ogles, Dennis Powers, John Ragan, Tim Rudd, Iris Rudder, Lowell Russell, Jerry Sexton, Paul Sherrell, Mike Sparks, Rick Tillis, Chris Todd, Micah Van Huss, Kevin Vaughan, Terri Lynn Weaver, Mark White, Ryan Williams, Dave Wright, Jason Zachary.

No sleight of hand: The rise and fall of Matthew Hill

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) attends a meeting on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

WJHL-TV’s Jeff Keeling has taken a deep dive into the career of soon-to-be former state Rep. Matthew Hill, from the Jonesborough Republican’s first election in 2004 to his crushing defeat in last month’s primary. Hill, along with his friend Micah Van Huss and brother Timothy Hill made up the core of a bloc of lawmakers who made life difficult for fellow Republican lawmakers and governors.

But Matthew Hill’s ambition for power was also his undoing (as one wag put it, he may have been “flying too close to the sun”), as he first aligned himself with controversial former Speaker Glen Casada and then made an ill-fated bid for the chamber’s top leadership post amid a series of revelations about an unregistered Christian magic company and having his house placed in foreclosure proceedings.

Hill ended up losing the speaker’s race to Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and was then defeated by Rebecca Keefauver Alexander in the GOP primary in August. Van Huss also lost his primary, while Timothy Hill came up short in his bid for Congress.

Keeling’s extensive account features commentary from local politicos and certain editor of The Tennessee Journal. Read the story and watch the video here.

Winners and losers in Tennessee legislative races

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) speaks to reporters in the House chamber in Nashville on April 17, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Reps. Matthew Hill, Micah Van Huss, and Rick Tillis were ousted in Thursday’s primaries, as was Democratic Rep. Rick Staples.

Here is an update to our comprehensive guide to contested primaries for the state Tennessee General Assembly.

(Winners are in red. Incumbents are listed in italics. Open seats are in bold.)

District Party Name City
Senate 6 D Sam Brown Knoxville
D Jane George Knoxville
Senate 20 D Kimi Abernathy Nashville
D Heidi Campbell Nashville
Senate 22 R Doug Englen Clarksville
R Bill Powers Clarksville
Senate 24 R Casey L Hood Obion
R John D. Stevens Huntingdon
Senate 26 R Jai Templeton Stantonville
R Page Walley Bolivar
Senate 30 D Marion Latroy A-Williams Jr. Memphis
D Sara P. Kyle Memphis
Senate 32 R Paul W. Rose Covington
R Scott Throckmorton Collierville
House 3 R Scotty Campbell Mountain City
R Neal Kerney Mountain City
House 4 R Robert (Bob) Acuff Elizabethton
R John B. Holsclaw Jr Johnson City
R Tim Lingerfelt Erwin
House 6 R Tim Hicks Gray
R Micah Van Huss Gray
House 7 R Rebecca Keefauver Alexander Jonesborough
R Matthew Hill Jonesborough
House 15 D Sam McKenzie Knoxville
D Matthew Park Knoxville
D Rick Staples Knoxville
House 16 R Patti Lou Bounds Knoxville
R Michele Carringer Knoxville
House 18 R Eddie Mannis Knoxville
R Gina Oster Knoxville
House 20 R Bob Ramsey Maryville
R Bryan Richey Maryville
House 32 R Kent Calfee Kingston
R Mike Hooks Kingston
 House 42 R Dennis C Bynum Cookeville
R Ryan Williams Cookeville
House 43 R Jerry Lowery Sparta
R Bobby Robinson Sparta
R Paul Sherrell Sparta
House 47 R Rush Bricken Tullahoma
R Ronnie E. Holden Tullahoma
House 52 D Mike Stewart Nashville
D James C. Turner II Antioch
House 54 D Terry Clayton Nashville
D Vincent Dixie Nashville
House 60 D Darren Jernigan Old Hickory
D Grant Thomas Medeiros Nashville
House 71 R David “Coach” Byrd Waynesboro
R Austin Carroll Hohenwald
R Garry Welch Savannah
House 72 R Kirk Haston Lobelville
R Gordon Wildridge Lexington
House 76 R Tandy Darby Greenfield
R Dennis J. Doster Dresden
R David Hawks Martin
R John McMahan Union City
R Keith Priestley McKenzie
House 78 R James Ebb Gupton Jr. Ashland City
R Mary Littleton Dickson
House 79 R Curtis Halford Dyer
R Christine Warrington Humboldt
House 84 D Dominique Primer Memphis
D Joe Towns Jr. Memphis
House 85 D Jesse Chism Memphis
D Alvin Crook Memphis
House 86 D Barbara Cooper Memphis
D Austin A. Crowder Memphis
D Dominique Frost Memphis
D JoAnn Wooten-Lewis Cordova
House 88 D Larry J. Miller Memphis
D Orrden W. Williams Jr. Memphis
House 90* D Torrey C. Harris Memphis
D Anya Parker Memphis
D Catrina Smith Memphis
House 92 R Vincent A. Cuevas Lewisburg
R Rick Tillis Lewisburg
R Todd Warner Cornersburg
House 97 R John Gillespie Memphis
R Brandon S. Weise Memphis
D Allan Creasy Memphis
D Ruby Powell-Dennis Cordova
D Gabby Salinas Memphis
D Clifford Stockton III Cordova
House 98 D Antonio Parkinson Memphis
D Charles A. Thompson Memphis
House 99 R Tom Leatherwood Arlington
R Lee Mills Arlington

(*Longtime Rep. John DeBerry has said he plans to run as an independent in House 90 after being ousted from the primary ballot by the state Democratic Party)

Van Huss releases shoot-em-up campaign video in response to gun group’s mailer

Rep. Micah Van Huss broke out the firepower for a campaign video to denounce a gun rights group for sending out mailers attacking him and other Republicans for not going far enough on efforts to get rid of permit requirements.

The Jonesborough Republican lashed out at the National Association for Gun Rights as a “lying, leftist pitiful excuse for a gun rights group.” And then the video shows the former Marine unleashing a barrage on the mailer pinned to one of his campaign signs.

The video even features an unaccustomed element for the lawmaker: humor.  After showing a picture of a younger and slimmer Van Huss deployed in Iraq, he says, “Out of the way, Skinny Micah.” Interspersed between shots of heavy gunfire, the lawmaker helps his young daughter shoot a bow-and-arrow at the mailer. And later, Van Huss meticulously sets up a long-range sniper rifle, licks his finger to test the wind, and then nearly misses the target which turns out to be just a few feet away.

Few people would call the National Association for Gun Rights, which has clashed with the National Rifle Association for not going far enough, particularly “leftist.”

Here’s what the group had to say about Van Huss’ ad:

Our members and supporters, as well as a large segment of the gun rights community, expected the legislature to advance House Bill 1553, which was a clean and straight forward piece of legislation. Instead, Republican legislative leadership and the Governor opted for House Bill 2817, which was a watered-down compromise that, frankly, would have made Tennessee’s gun laws even more confusing. They attempted to bill HB 2817 as “Constitutional Carry,” but State Rep. Micah Van Huss even admitted that HB 2817 was not Constitutional Carry in committee on May 26th.

They ignored the countless calls and emails from gun owners to fix HB 2817 and now are hearing again from them at a time when they are most sensitive to political pressure, and they aren’t liking it. Many of the Republican lawmakers who are feeling the pressure are claiming that they support Constitutional Carry and are seemingly outraged that they are being called out for settling on HB 2817, but even they recognize that it wasn’t a solid bill. They are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Instead of resorting to name calling and cheap political tricks, lawmakers need to listen to gun owners and support only true Constitutional Carry for Tennessee.

Aside from Van Huss, the group sent out mailers attacking the following incumbents: Reps. Kent Calfee, Ryan Williams, Rush Bricken, Paul Sherrell, Matthew Hill, Curtis Halford, Bob Ramsey, John Holsclaw, and Rick Tillis, along with Sens. John Stevens and Bill Powers.

Reps. Tom Leatherwood and David Byrd were also initially targeted, but the mail program was ended after they returned surveys indicating they support the group’s preferred version of the bill.

Newspaper to local lawmaker: ‘Answer the question’ on no-bid contract

Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), standing,, confers with colleagues as they await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Johnson City Press is taking state Rep. Micah Van Huss to task for refusing to answer its reporter’s questions about a no-bid facemask contract.

The state spent $8 million for North Carolina sock maker Renfro Corp. to produce the masks. The see-through material used for the masks has raised questions about their effectiveness in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The Jonesborough Republican instead cast Republican Bill Lee as the victim of negative news coverage. Van Huss said the Johnson City Press should spend its time “reporting on news that gives Tennesseans hope in our humanity instead of dividing them with a political hit on Governor Lee.”

Van Huss then boasted about his response on social media. According to the paper’s editorial:

If Van Huss actually read this newspaper, he would know that we have published numerous articles about “hope in our humanity” during this crisis. Our reporters repeatedly have written about relief projects, volunteers, creative coping efforts and inspiring people amid this pandemic.

State Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said he supports granting the governor some latitude during times of emergency.

“During a pandemic, we have expectations that things will need to happen that won’t have that usual check and balance of bids, submissions, requests for comment, requests for quotes in that process,” Lundberg told the paper.