mike stewart

Democrat Stewart to retire from state House

Rep Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) speaks to reporters on the House floor in Nashville on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Mike Stewart, a former House Democratic caucus chair from Nashville, announced he is retiring from the General Assembly. Under initial Republican redistricting plans, Stewart was going to be drawn together with fellow Democrat John Ray Clemmons. But the majority party relented in a last-minute change, leaving the two incumbents in their own districts.

Here’s Stewart’s statement:

NASHVILLE — Today Mike Stewart announced in a Facebook Live appearance on the Tennessee Holler that he is not running for the state house seat he has held since 2008.  “I consider the opportunity to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly as one of the great honors of my life and I am grateful to all the people who have helped me along the way,” Stewart said.

Stewart intends to shift his political energy to protecting America’s democratic system, which is under serious internal attack for the first time since the 1850’s.  “We are facing a threat that I never expected to deal with during my lifetime; a former President and his followers attempting to invalidate a Presidential election and with it the system we use in this country to allow the people to choose their leaders.  I was one of those who mistakenly thought that President Trump was just being a sore loser when he made claims of election fraud; now it has been revealed that those claims were part of an orchestrated effort to cancel the 2020 election, thwart the will of the people and retain political control illegally.  It is the sort of thing that I expected to see only in other countries and in science fiction movies,” Stewart observed.

“As a lawyer and a person who has been deeply involved in elections for many years, I hope to do what I can to protect the democratic process in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections,” Stewart observed.  Specifically, I will be working with leaders around the nation to ensure that polling places are adequately monitored to prevent false claims of fraud, working to ensure that state legislatures are not controlled by anti-democratic leaders, and working to develop legal strategies to check those who continue to make false statements undermining our system of elections.”  

“Many citizens I’m talking to are feeling overwhelmed and defeated.  They grew up in the world’s most stable and admired democracy, and now see a former President, as well as Senators and Congressmen, debasing themselves on national television repeating claims they know are entirely untrue.  I plan to do everything I can to ensure that such people are not allowed to tamper further with our sacred system of elections so that the people have a fair opportunity to repudiate such irresponsible and, ultimately, immoral leadership.  Many are talking about the threat; it is time to develop concrete plans to respond to it on a state-by-state level.”

Stewart added, “I’d like to close this chapter by saying it has been a privilege to serve the people in House District 52 and I intend to continue fighting for you, as well as the rest of the country, in my new role.”

Dixie elected chair of House Democratic Caucus

Vincent Dixie.

State Rep. Vincent Dixie has been elected chair of the House Democratic Caucus. He succeeds Rep. Mike Stewart, who decided against running for another term as the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat.

Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis was unopposed in her bid for another term as House Minority Leader.

Dixie defeated Rep. Bo Mitchell in the final round of caucus voting. Rep. John Ray Clemmons was eliminated in the first round. All three candidates (plus Stewart) represent Nashville districts. Vote totals were not announced.

Dixie was elected to his second term in the House last month.

Democratic leader: Harwell’s TennCare work bill is a ‘political stunt’ using financial gimmicks

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart says House Speaker Beth Harwell’s bill to impose work requirements on some people enrolled in the state’s TennCare program is “a political stunt to get votes in the governor’s race” and relies on “fairy tale” financial gimmicks to cover projected costs, reports the Times Free Press.

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Democrat’s lemonade stand fails to sell GOP on gun background checks

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee quickly shot down a bill to require background checks on most private gun sales Wednesday despite efforts of the sponsor, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, to promote the measure by offering to sell a weapon along with lemonade and cookies.

The move was something of a repeat from last year, when Stewart brought a gun to the committee after buying without a background check – and saw his bill similarly rejected. (Previous post HERE.)

From WSMV-TV’s report on this year’s effort:

“I’m selling lemonade, cookies and an AK-47,” Stewart said, sitting at a makeshift lemonade stand outside of the Ben West Library in downtown Nashville. Stewart told anyone who would listen that it’s as easy to buy an assault rifle as it is a glass of fresh lemonade.

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Ethics complaint against Stewart withdrawn

A complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee against House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart has been withdrawn, reports Nashville Post Politics. Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) withdrew the complaint in an email to Ethics Committee Chairman Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads).

Ragan had alleged that Stewart used questioning of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency during a House Government Operations Committee meeting to benefit his law firm, Branstetter Stranch & Jennings, which has a pending lawsuit related to the fires that swept through Gatlinburg last year.

However, when asked for comment, Ragan implied that he could refile the complaint.

“I do not comment on potentially ongoing investigations,” Ragan emailed.

But Stewart says the fact that the complaint was pulled when he asked for a hearing shows that there never was any evidence to move forward with it.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s withdrawn his compliant, and that means it’s over,” Stewart said.

 

Stewart proposes bill declaring AG can investigate harassment

House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart says he’ll introduce legislation next session clarifying that the state Attorney General does have the authority to investigate claims of witness tampering or other harassment, reports the Nashville Post.

The move comes two months after a “Jane Doe” in the AG’s investigation of former Rep. Jeremy Durham received harassing materials at her home shortly after the public release of the investigative report. At the time, AG Herb Slatery’s office said it did not have the authority to investigate further.

Stewart said Friday he thinks the AG already does have that authority, but this new legislation would specifically clarify that the AG’s authority “shall extend to any investigation of claims that a witness involved in an investigation by the attorney general and reporter has been threatened or harassed in connection with the investigation, or any other conduct that might hinder or impair any such investigation.”

Stewart said he thinks the bill will have broad support, because it will be hard to vote against it — as it won’t only imply to an investigation in this particular instance but any future investigation by the AG.

Further, from The Tennessean:

In a statement late Friday, House Speaker Beth Harwell said she would support the idea of giving the attorney general authority to investigate such retaliation.