presidential campaign

Ascendant GOP, rump Democrats: Read the Almanac of American Politics’ Tennessee profile

The folks over at the Almanac of American Politics have graciously given the TNJ: On the Hill blog permission to post this sneak peak at its latest political profile of Tennessee:

Tennessee, once a political battleground, is no longer. It has become one of the most solidly Republican states in the country, with just a few pockets of blue in its biggest cities. And while Tennessee has long been home to an influential strain of moderate Republicanism, the tradition’s most recent exemplars—Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam—are now out of politics, succeeded by more solidly conservative Republicans.

Tennessee is almost 500 miles across, closer in the east to Delaware than to Memphis, and closer in the west to Dallas than to Johnson City. It has had a fighting temperament since the days before the Revolutionary War, when the first settlers crossed the Appalachian ridges and headed for the rolling country in the watersheds of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Tennessee became a state in 1796, the third state after the original 13. Its first congressman was a 29-year-old lawyer who was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants: Andrew Jackson. Jackson, who killed two men in duels, was a general who led Tennessee volunteers—it’s still called the Volunteer State—to battle against the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and against the British at New Orleans in 1815. He was the first president from an interior state, elected in 1828 and 1832, and was a founder of the Democratic Party, now the oldest political party in the world. Jackson was a strong advocate of the union, but 16 years to the day after his death, Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy. (Today, Jackson’s own party largely disowns him, while Donald Trump lionized him.)

Tennessee is a state with a certain civility: Both Confederate and Union generals paid respectful calls on Sarah Polk, the widow of President James K. Polk who stayed carefully neutral, in her Nashville mansion. Yet it was better known as a cultural battleground for much of the 20th century. On one side were the Fugitives, writers like John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate, who contributed to “I’ll Take My Stand,” a manifesto calling for retaining the South’s rural economy and heritage. (Today, the state ranks third in tobacco production and ninth in cotton.) Tennessee is also known for the momentous 1925 trial in Dayton in which high school biology teacher John T. Scopes defied a state ban on teaching evolution in public schools. In 1959 and 1960, Vanderbilt divinity student James Lawson trained a generation of student civil rights activists, notably John Lewis, a student at Nashville’s Fisk University; they organized sit-in protests at segregated lunch counters at Kress, Woolworth and McClellan stores. The protests sparked confrontations, arrests and ultimately a bombing that destroyed the home of the defense attorney for the protestors. That prompted Nashville Mayor Ben West to make a public appeal calling for an end to discrimination in the city. Within a few weeks, stores began to integrate their lunch counters and Nashville later became the first major city in the South to desegregate public facilities. The campaign became a template for student-run civil rights efforts throughout the South that Lewis, who eventually became a Georgia congressman, would heroically lead. (Lewis died in 2020.) Against this backdrop were business leaders who created the first supermarket, Piggly Wiggly, as well as brands as varied as Holiday Inn, FedEx, and Moon Pies. The New Deal-era creation of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority also provided the state with bountiful energy, from a mix of coal, nuclear and hydropower plants.

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Blackburn, Hagerty to join effort to challenge presidential election

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Both Tennessee senators are joining an effort among 11 Republicans to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. While all allegations of voter fraud have been thrown out in the courts, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Sen.-elect Bill Hagerty of Nashville said in a statement they will oppose the certification of the vote on Wednesday.

“American democracy relies on the consent of the governed,” Hagerty and Blackburn said in a joint statement. “Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.) along with Senators Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun, (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.), Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) announced they will vote to oppose the results of the 2020 election. They are also calling for Congress to immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.

“On behalf of Tennesseans, we are taking a united stand against the tainted electoral results from the recent Presidential election,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn and Senator-elect Bill Hagerty. “American democracy relies on the consent of the governed. Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process. Protecting the integrity of the electoral process is paramount to preserving trust and legitimacy in the final outcome.”

“For critical moments like these, the Constitution reserves the right to challenge the Electoral College results to members of Congress. On January 6, we will vote to oppose certification of the 2020 election results.”

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.) Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) released the following statement:

“America is a Republic whose leaders are chosen in democratic elections. Those elections, in turn, must comply with the Constitution and with federal and state law.

“When the voters fairly decide an election, pursuant to the rule of law, the losing candidate should acknowledge and respect the legitimacy of that election. And, if the voters choose to elect a new office-holder, our Nation should have a peaceful transfer of power.

“The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided. The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.

“Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.

“And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are wide-spread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’ That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%).

“Some Members of Congress disagree with that assessment, as do many members of the media.

“But, whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democrat-ic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations.

“Ideally, the courts would have heard evidence and resolved these claims of serious election fraud. Twice, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so; twice, the Court declined.

“On January 6, it is incumbent on Congress to vote on whether to certify the 2020 election re-sults. That vote is the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud.

“At that quadrennial joint session, there is long precedent of Democratic Members of Congress raising objections to presidential election results, as they did in 1969, 2001, 2005, and 2017. And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged.

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—were alleged to have been conducted illegally.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy. Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission—consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices—to consider and resolve the disputed returns.

“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit—conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20—would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

“These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.

Check out these precinct-level maps of the presidential election in Tennessee

Our favorite political mapmaker Don Johnson has put his considerable talents to work with these maps of the presidential election in Tennessee based on the results certified by the state this week.

The level of support of for Republican Donald Trump is through the roof in much of the state. But the relatively small blue areas signifying support for Democrat Joe Biden still make up 1.14 million votes, showing how concentrated the state’s urban population is.

Here is another set of maps showing the changes in presidential party voting:

Keep up the good work, Don!

7 Republicans decline to sign state House letter demanding litigation over presidential election

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The House Republican Caucus is getting in on the letter-writing campaign to support President Donald Trump’s lawsuits over having the outcome of the presidential election called against him.

“When there are alleged software glitches, lost or destroyed ballots, and questionable practices implemented in some areas of the country, litigation must have a day in court to decide the outcome of this election process,” according to the letter signed by 66 of 73 House members.

Just as with an earlier letter written by state Senate Republicans, there were holdouts. Seven members of the lower chamber declined to affix their signatures to the communique: Reps. Michael Curcio of Dickson, Johnny Garrett of Goodlettsville, Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain, Justin Lafferty of Knoxville, Eddie Mannis of Knoxville, Bob Ramsey of Maryville, and Sam Whitson of Franklin.

Here’s the letter:

To all Tennesseans,

The Tennessee House Republican Caucus unequivocally and staunchly stands with President of the United States Donald J. Trump in demanding that all legal ballots, and only legal ballots, be counted in the 2020 presidential election.

Voting is one of the most fundamental pieces of our American republic. One person equals one vote in a system that grants justice and equality for all in deciding our government. In an election where there are alleged examples of voter fraud and malpractice, Tennessee Republicans stand with the rule of law.

We shall not accept the idea that the national media or the political elite have the official say on the winner of any election, let alone the presidency. It is up to the official systems put in place by the constitution and by the people. When there are alleged software glitches, lost or destroyed ballots, and questionable practices implemented in some areas of the country, litigation must have a day in court to decide the outcome of this election process.

We uphold the idea of protecting the rights of all Americans, liberal or conservative, to have their voices heard. After all legal ballots are counted and any illegal ballots are removed, we support confirming the victor. A peaceful transition to the next term, whether it be the incumbent or the challenger, is paramount to our system of government.

We stand with all Tennesseans in defending the integrity of elections. We are asking for the election process to have the ability to finish before prematurely declaring a winner.

It matters who governs,

/signed/
Speaker Cameron Sexton
Chairman Jeremy Faison
Leader William Lamberth
Rebecca Alexander
Charlie Baum
Clark Boyd
Rush Bricken
David Byrd
Kent Calfee
Scotty Campbell
Dale Carr
Michele Carringer
Mike Carter
Glen Casada
Scott Cepicky
Mark Cochran
John Crawford
Tandy Darby
Clay Doggett
Rick Eldridge
Andrew Farmer
Ron Gant
John Gillespie
Bruce Griffey
Rusty Grills
Curtis Halford
Mark Hall
Kirk Haston
David Hawk
Esther Helton
Gary Hicks
Tim Hicks
John Holsclaw
Dan Howell
Bud Hulsey
Chris Hurt
Curtis Johnson
Kelly Keisling
Sabi Kumar
Tom Leatherwood
Mary Littleton
Susan Lynn
Pat Marsh
Debra Moody
Jerome Moon
Brandon Ogles
Dennis Powers
John Ragan
Jay Reedy
Tim Rudd
Iris Rudder
Lowell Russell
Jerry Sexton
Paul Sherrell
Robin Smith
Mike Sparks
Bryan Terry
Chris Todd
Ron Travis
Kevin Vaughan
Todd Warner
Terri Lynn Weaver
Mark White
Ryan Williams
Dave Wright
Jason Zachary
 

24 of 27 Senate Republicans agree: Trump should challenge outcome

The Tennessee Senate meets on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate Republican Caucus is voicing support for President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge his re-election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. A letter to this effect has been signed by 24 of 27 GOP members — all but Sens. Richard Briggs of Knoxville, Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, and Brian Kelsey of Germantown.

Briggs and Kelsey face potentially tough re-election campaigns in two years. Gardenhire just won another four-year term last week.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Tennessee Voters,

The Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus stands absolutely and unequivocally with President Donald J. Trump as he contests the unofficial results of the Presidential Election of 2020.

While this election may have been “called” by various media outlets, the election process is far from over. This election was extremely close in multiple states across the country. The coronavirus pandemic led to an extraordinary amount of absentee ballots and voting by mail. We believe that, due to unprecedented mail-in voting and razor-thin margins in multiple states, the ultimate result remains uncertain.

There have been reports of irregularities in many critical states such as Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Until these irregularities have been thoroughly investigated and court appeals have been exhausted, no winner should be declared.

This is not an unprecedented situation. In 2000, the Presidential election result was not clear until December 13. This was after several recounts and court challenges. President Trump has at least another month to contest this election through recounts and litigation, as Al Gore did. We support him in this effort to ensure the integrity of our election process is preserved.

This is an important election. There is no reason to come to a premature conclusion with this many lingering questions. While the results of most presidential elections are clear on or around election day, the results become official only when the presidential electors vote in December. President Trump has a right to challenge the results of this election until at least that point.

We support him in doing so and encourage all Tennesseans and Americans to be patient until the result of this election can be determined.

Sincerely,

/signed/

Lt. Governor Randy McNally

Jack Johnson

Ken Yager

Ferrell Haile

Paul Bailey

Mike Bell

Rusty Crowe

Becky Massey

Steve Southerland

Bo Watson

Janice Bowling

Joey Hensley

Ed Jackson

Jon Lundberg

Frank Niceley

Mark Pody

Bill Powers

Shane Reeves

Kerry Roberts

Paul Rose

John Stevens

Art Swann

Page Walley

Dawn White

Biden wins Democratic presidential primary in Tenenssee

Former Vice President Joe Biden rode a wave of momentum from his South Carolina win on Saturday to big victories in Tennessee and other Southern states on Tuesday.

With more than three-quarters of precincts reporting, Biden had 42% of the vote, compared with 25% for Bernie Sanders, 16% for Mike Bloomberg, and 10% for Elizabeth Warren.

Biden won or was leading in 91 of the state’s 95 counties, with is top vote totals coming in Shelby, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Hamilton, and Rutherford counties.

Sanders had his biggest vote total in Knox County, home of the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville, but ended up being edged by Biden by 161 votes. Sanders carried Washington County, where Eastern Tennessee State University is located, and Putnam County, the home of Tennessee Tech, plus Unicoi and Lewis counties.

Bloomberg showed solid results around the state as early votes were tallied, but began to fade as primary-day ballots started flowing in.

Chattanooga Mayor Berke backing Biden after Buttigieg drops out

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has switched his endorsement to Joe Biden after Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race.

“In 2015, when a gunman attacked two military facilities in Chattanooga and senselessly killed five brave servicemembers who proudly served our country, Joe Biden, who has lost too many loved ones, showed up to console the heartbroken families,” Berke said in a release. “In a moment of horrific tragedy, Joe Biden helped heal our community. That’s the type of leader Joe is and it’s why I believe he is uniquely positioned to bring our nation together.”

As recently as Saturday, Berke was at a Nashville rally supporting Buttigieg, who dropped out after a disappointing finish when the the South Carolina primary results were released later that day.

“Let’s put someone in the White House who will unite all Americans, bring dignity to the most powerful office in the world, and fight every day for hardworking families in Chattanooga and across the nation,” Berke said. “I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States.”

Tennessee’s presidential primary is on Tuesday.

Here’s what Democratic candidates have spent in Tennessee before the Super Tuesday primary

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg meets with supporters after speaking at a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has made up three-quarters of the more than $10 million Democratic candidates have spent in Tennessee in advance of the Super Tuesday primary.

According to spending tracker Advertising Analytics, Bloomberg has dropped $7.7 million on broadcast televisions, cable, digital, and radio ads. Bernie Sanders has spent about $567,000, the Elizabeth Warren-supporting Persist PAC $446,000, and Joe Biden $179,000.

Among former candidates, Amy Klobuchar had spent about $817,000,  Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer $604,000, and Pete Buttigieg $40,000.

Here’s a breakdown from Advertising Analytics:

Advertiser Broadcast Cable Digital Radio Total
Bloomberg 5,305,465 451,482 1,438,611 474,386 7,669,944
Klobuchar 543,013 225,375  –  – 816,859
Steyer 446,931 42,848 79,705  – 604,057
Sanders 398,681 94,054 74,432  – 567,167
Persist PAC 371,415 74,971  –  – 446,386
Biden 166,141  –  – 12,697 178,838
Buttigieg  –  – 39,926  – 39,926
TOTALS 7,231,646 888,730 1,632,674 487,083 10,323,177

(This post has been updated to reflect Klobuchar dropping out of the race)

The weekend in Super Tuesday campaigning in Tennessee

Two Democratic candidates have dropped out of the presidential race after campaigning in Tennessee over the weekend.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew a big crowd for  a rally in downtown Nashville on Saturday, just hours before the results of the South Carolina primary would spell the end of his bid for the  nomination. City officials estimated more than 2,700 people attended the event outside the Metro Courthouse.

Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race on Monday Amy Klobuchar. The U.S. senator from Minnesota had held events in Nashville on Friday and Knoxville on Saturday. Neither were affected by the sort of protests that caused the Minnesota Democrat to cancel a St. Louis rally on Sunday.

South Carolina winner Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, headlined a fundraiser in Belle Meade on Sunday evening. Per the pool report by The Tennessean’s Emily West, the event was hosted at the home of Andrew and Marianne Byrd. The Byrd family founded the Iroquois Steeplechase horse race in the 1940s.

Here are some of Jill Biden’s comments at the event:

I am going to take you back to the last election, 2016. I want you to remember how you felt when Florida went red and watching the results. Think about that sick feeling you had when you realized Donald Trump was president. I went to bed figuring, ‘Hillary has it,’ and I am going to bed. Then I got up and they said Trump had one. I went and turned the TV up louder. I couldn’t believe he had won. We all felt horrible.

So now think about the election 2020. I want you to think about those that went from red to blue. They aren’t liberal. They weren’t won with promises of revolution, but they are on the front lines of progress. Moderate democrats are doing the hard work of building coalitions and common ground. They don’t compromise their values. They can’t get anything done unless they appeal to Democrats, independents, and, yes, Republicans. It’s not by taking an all or nothing stance. It’s not by making promises you can’t keep. It’s by building the bonds of community and community is what this is all about. Not just to win elections but to make this world a better place.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg campaigned in Memphis, Clarksville, and Blountville on Friday.

“I’m running to restore honor to our government and to build a country that we’re proud of and to start getting things done — and to start putting ‘united’ back in the United States of America,” Bloomberg at a rally at the Tri-Cities airport, according to the Johnson City Press.

(This post has been updated to reflect Klobuchar dropping out of the race.)

Klobuchar, Buttigieg join Bloomberg in campaigning in Tennessee

Mike Bloomberg won’t be the only Democratic candidate campaigning in Tennessee in the run up to Super Tuesday. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is holding a rally and fundraiser in Nashville on Friday and another event in Knoxville on Saturday. And former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is holding a town hall in Nashville on Saturday.

Klobuchar’s downtown Nashville event is at the Bell Tower starting at 4:30 on Friday. The Knoxville event  is scheduled for the Hilton Hotel starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Buttigieg’s town hall is scheduled for the public square outside the Metro Courthouse in Nashville at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Bloomberg is making his fourth visit to Tennessee on Friday. He starts the day with a rally in Minglewood Hall in Memphis at 8:15 a.m., followed by an event at the Old Glory Distilling Co. in Clarksville at 12:45 p.m., and concluding at a Blountville event at the Tri Cities airport at 5:45 p.m.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms campaigning on behalf of former Vice President Joe Biden in Nashville on Friday. Her events are a Women for Biden event with state Sen Brenda Gilmore at the City Club at 9:15 a.m., a healthcare roundtable at Nashville General Hospital at 11:30 a.m. , and a meet-and-greet along with state Rep. Harold Love JR. at Swett’s at 1 p.m.

Biden’s wife, Jill, is scheduled to headline an event at Loflin Yard in Memphis on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and a fundraiser in NAshville that evening.

Tennessee’s presidential primary is on Tuesday.

(This post has been updated to add Buttigieg’s and Jill Biden’s appearances)