presidential campaign

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)

Bloomberg to return for three Tenn. stops Friday

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to reporters after a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is returning for another three stops in Tennessee on Friday.

The former New York mayor will campaign in Memphis on Friday morning, Clarksville in the early afternoon, and Johnson City that evening.

“Tennessee is often ignored by Democratic presidential contenders, so we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mike back for his fourth trip to the state,” Bloomberg state director Courtney Wheeler said in a release. “Our field team connects with voters every day, and it’s clear that they want a president who is committed to working with our local leaders to solve our biggest challenges.”

Bloomberg last visited Chattanooga and Nashville on Feb. 12. He’s also made previous stops in Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville.

Bloomberg won’t be the only Democratic candidate in the state that day. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is planning a fundraiser in Nashville on Friday.

Tuesday is last day of early voting in Tennessee

Image: Secretary of State’s office.

Early voting for Tennessee’s presidential primary ends on Tuesday.

About 199,000 people voted early through Saturday, down from 208,000 through the same period in 2016. There had been 29,228 fewer Republican ballots casts through the first 10 days, compared with an increase of nearly 20,000  Democratic ones. GOP voters still accounted for 55% of the early votes cast, but that was down from 66% in the 2016 primary.

Democrats have seen their biggest gains in Shelby County (+4,116 votes), Hamilton (+2,023), Williamson (+1,961), Davidson (1,808), and Knox (+1,417) counties.

Republican turnout has been most depressed in Davidson (-4,087), Knox (-3,907), Rutherford (-2,359), Shelby (-2,202), Monroe (-1,681), and Sumner (-1,459) counties.

Wilson County has had the highest increase in turnout compared with 2016, with 2,560 more voters casting ballots (1,423 Republicans and 1,083 Democrats).  The next highest increases were in Shelby (+1,914), Washington (+1,766), Blount (+891), and Williamson (+783).

Tennessee’s Super Tuesday primary is on March 3.

Continue reading

Early voting up slightly compared with 2016

About 3,000 more early ballots were cast through the first four days of early voting in Tennessee compared with the same period in the 2016 presidential primary.

Republican voting was down by 3,456 votes, while Democratic voting jumped by 6,465 ballots. It’s not an entirely unexpected result given President Donald Trump isn’t facing serious opposition in the GOP primary. And even then, Republicans have accounted for 60% of the early ballots cast so far.

The biggest increase in Democratic primary votes has so far occurred in Shelby (+3,248), Knox (+1,490), Hamilton (+661) and Rutherford (+404) counties.

Shelby County also saw that largest increase in Republican voters with 1,314, followed by Washington (+707), Blount (+412), Knox (+391), and Wilson (+315) counties.

Davidson County saw the biggest drop in both Democratic (-1,602) and Republican (-1,564) votes. The next biggest GOP drops were in Rutherford (-883), Monroe (-743), and Sumner (-433) counties. Democrats’ next biggest losses were votes in Monroe (-192), White (-133) , and Stewart (-108) counties.

(95-county breakdown after the jump)

Continue reading