republican primary

Early voting down 26% in GOP primaries compared with last gubernatorial election

Republican early voting was down 26% compared with the last gubernatorial election cycle in 2018, according to data compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The difference between the current election and four years ago is that there is no competitive GOP primary going on at the top of the ticket, as Gov. Bill Lee is unopposed for the the nomination to second term. But the race for the open 5th Congressional District doesn’t seem to be generating much enthusiasm either, as GOP voting in the six counties the seat is located in has been down 31%:

  • Davidson*: 10,724 votes (-51%)
  • Lewis: 1,241 votes (-13%)
  • Marshall: 2,560 votes (-7%)
  • Maury: 5,962 votes (-16%)
  • Williamson*: 14,369 votes (-3%)
  • Wilson*: 6,881 votes (-46%).

(*Note the 5th district includes about 75% of the population of Wilson, 65% of Williamson, and 50% of Davidson).

Here are the early voting totals:

County20222018Change
Anderson3,6635,347-31%
Bedford1,8933,558-47%
Benton1,5071,752-14%
Bledsoe429658-35%
Blount6,1747,929-22%
Bradley5,1868,227-37%
Campbell2,8993,618-20%
Cannon1,1171,240-10%
Carroll1,7852,224-20%
Carter2,5884,381-41%
Cheatham2,1012,618-20%
Chester1,4461,542-6%
Claiborne2,9743,366-12%
Clay7727641%
Cocke3,6213,692-2%
Coffee3,7654,224-11%
Crockett380953-60%
Cumberland4,0785,292-23%
Davidson10,72421,722-51%
Decatur1,3631,3084%
DeKalb1,9341,29649%
Dickson2,6542,745-3%
Dyer2,5112,867-12%
Fayette1,7243,494-51%
Fentress2,2452,692-17%
Franklin3,1272,84010%
Gibson2,1093,003-30%
Giles2,0452,681-24%
Grainger7031,297-46%
Greene1,6984,905-65%
Grundy89868132%
Hamblen2,0773,341-38%
Hamilton10,99311,913-8%
Hancock275459-40%
Hardeman1,0471,369-24%
Hardin1,3382,592-48%
Hawkins2,0003,535-43%
Haywood9211,125-18%
Henderson1,4742,862-48%
Henry1,8573,042-39%
Hickman2,0341,8599%
Houston898928-3%
Humphreys1,1991,265-5%
Jackson8968209%
Jefferson1,6633,860-57%
Johnson2,0852,511-17%
Knox19,46532,108-39%
Lake549639-14%
Lauderdale1,7231,10356%
Lawrence3,3422,67325%
Lewis1,2411,425-13%
Lincoln1,9821,79510%
Loudon4,2086,851-39%
Macon2,3993,548-32%
Madison4,1535,778-28%
Marion1,0101,223-17%
Marshall2,5602,753-7%
Maury5,9627,113-16%
McMinn2,0253,582-43%
McNairy1,4211,898-25%
Meigs7421,031-28%
Monroe2,5734,252-39%
Montgomery5,7346,205-8%
Moore9071,046-13%
Morgan1,2231,771-31%
Obion2,1893,021-28%
Overton1,6221,46011%
Perry6381,030-38%
Pickett489533-8%
Polk1,0371,0152%
Putnam3,2304,883-34%
Rhea2,7132,910-7%
Roane4,6135,103-10%
Robertson2,9524,680-37%
Rutherford10,58314,531-27%
Scott2,3402,806-17%
Sequatchie9431,855-49%
Sevier1,5404,538-66%
Shelby31,25833,089-6%
Smith1,8132,297-21%
Stewart1,6941,715-1%
Sullivan3,32110,312-68%
Sumner4,7427,993-41%
Tipton2,8523,905-27%
Trousdale9098517%
Unicoi6811,574-57%
Union8701,310-34%
Van Buren72340579%
Warren3,7713,36312%
Washington4,7297,116-34%
Wayne1,9441,8137%
Weakley2,1842,756-21%
White1,9562,456-20%
Williamson14,36914,861-3%
Wilson6,88112,739-46%
Cumulative293,675398,111-26%

Harwell attack ad, Winstead’s ‘dumb vote,’ and Ogles’ liens

A new set of ads are flooding the airwaves before Thursday’s 5th Congressional District primary. House Speaker Beth Harwell has a negative ad out about Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, whom she labels as a lobbyist backed by “amnesty-loving RINOs who sell out America.”

Here’s the transcript:

HARWELL: I’m Beth Harwell and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: Who’s behind lobbyist Andy Ogles’ campaign? A D.C. special interest group that smeared Donald Trump and another shady special interest group that supports amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. They’re spending big bucks on Ogles, because Ogles will vote for their pro-amnesty agenda. Bought and paid for by never Trumpers and amnesty-loving RINOS who sell out America. Lobbyist Andy Ogles would make the D.C. swamp even worse.

Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Wintead has an ad out trying to blunt criticism that he voted and contributed to Democrats.

RETIRED MASTER SGT. MARK HARRIS: Someone called Brigadier General Kurt Winstead a liberal Democrat. This Davy Crockett conservative got fired up mad and called him. I served under General Winstead for five years. Turns out he cast dumb vote and a donation of two over 10 years ago. Never question General Winstead’s integrity or conservative values. I guarantee those with my life.

WINSTEAD I’m retired Brigadier General Kurt Winston and I approve this message.

And the Conservative Americans PAC is hitting Ogles for allegedly failing to pay taxes on his businesses and have the state place a lien on them.

NARRATOR: You fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me. Andy Ogles already fooled us. He campaigned against tax hikes. “I don’t like taxes, all taxes are evil.” Then, he got elected and backed a tax hike. The same Andy Ogles whose businesses didn’t pay their own taxes — the state had to file liens to collect. Now , Andy Ogles is trying to fool us again. Don’t get burned again. Conservative Americans PAC is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

GOP chair denies endorsement in Davidson primary

Tennessee Republican Party Chair Scott Golden is stressing he has not endorsed either candidate running for the GOP nomination in the open House District 59 seat in Davidson County. The statement came after a mailer by Michelle Foreman included a laudatory quote by Golden on a mailer listing her endorsements.

“A recent mailer was sent out implying I endorsed a candidate for state House in your district,” Golden said, according to Facebook post by rival candidate Wyatt Rampy. “Let me set the record straight. That is inaccurate. As chairman, I have not, and will not endorse any Republican candidate in a contested primary.”

The new seat comprises several wealthy communities in southern Davidson County, including Belle Meade, Oak Hill, and Forest Hill. The General Assembly redrew the lines of retiring Democratic Rep. Jason Potts’ district earlier this year to try to make it more favorable to Republicans. Caleb Hemmer, a former aide to then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, is the lone Democrat running.

Foreman is a member of the state GOP’s executive committee. It’s not the first time her mailers have been problematic. A previous one urged people to scan a QR code to find their voting locations. But doing so led to the website of the election commission in neighboring Williamson County, which is outside the district. The primary is on Thrursday.

Larry Arnn’s ‘dumbest’ teachers remark gets weaponized in state House race

The Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, is sending out mailers in a key state House primary featuring the likeness of Larry Arnn, the Hillsdale College president who recently said some unkind things about teachers and the colleges that educate them.

Arnn, whose school has designed a charter school curriculum backed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, said at recent event in Franklin that teachers “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Lee, who sat alongside Arnn at the closed-door meeting, didn’t say anything about the comments at the time. Lee has since insisted he supports public school teachers but refused to repudiate Arnn’s remarks.

The mailer is in support of Bob Ravener, a retired Navy submarine officers who is running against trial lawyer — and school choice supporter — Gino Bulso in the Republican primary in District 61 in northern Williamson County. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) who famously declared during his first election campaign in 2018 that he was opposed to school vouchers only to vote for a bill creating the private school tuition subsidies the following year.

Here’s the other side of the TEA mailer backing Ravener:

Challenger drops the boom on embattled Rep. Todd Warner

Forget beating around the bush. Freshman Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) is getting the full treatment from Republican primary challenger Jeff Ford, a former Williamson County commissioner. A mailer sent out to voters in District 92 notes that Warner is under investigation by the FBI, with the agency’s initials appearing in bright yellow letters. “We deserve better!” the piece says.

The mailer notes that Warner’s home and office were raided by federal agents — “along with disgraced former speaker Glen Casada.” The latter lost his bid for Williamson County clerk by a 3-to-1 margin in March.

Here’s the other side of the mailer:

Dave Ramsey endorses Ogles for GOP nomination in 5th District

Personal finance advice guru Dave Ramsey is endorsing Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles for the Republican nomination in the open 5th Congressional District race.

Here’s the Ogles campaign:

Columbia, TN – Conservative Mayor Andy Ogles, Republican candidate for Congress for the newly-drawn 5th District, today announced that he has been endorsed by nationally syndicated, award-winning radio talk host and 5th Congressional District resident Dave Ramsey and his wife Sharon.

“Sharon and Dave Ramsey are great assets to our community and country, and I am thrilled that they have endorsed me in my race for Congress,” Ogles said. “Their Christian, conservative, and fiscally responsible leadership reflect the values we share and those I will fight for in Washington.”

“Andy Ogles is a man who courageously stood for freedom and individual rights while others cowered in the corner of their offices. His strong stand for real common sense values and conservative beliefs make him the person we need in Congress,” Ramsey said in announcing his support for Ogles in the August 4th Republican Primary and November General Election. “Sharon and I are proud to back and endorse our friend Andy for Congress.”

Dave Ramsey started his media career on one radio station in Nashville in 1992, sharing practical answers for life’s tough money questions. Today he’s joined by his co-hosts reaching 18 million combined weekly listeners nationwide. (www.ramseysolutions.com)

“If President Biden could convince Dave to serve as his Treasury Secretary and then follow his lead on economic and fiscal policy issues, we would quickly recover from the economic disaster we are suffering and be on a path to dramatically reducing the national debt,” Ogles noted. “Sadly, getting Biden to cut up the national credit card as Dave has helped millions of families to do with their personal finances is too heavy of a lift even for him.”

Tres is out on leave: Wittum joins 5th District race

A sign in the Senate Finance Committee office in Nashville indicates aide Tres Wittum is on leave while running for Congress. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tres Wittum, an aide to state Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga), has joined the field seeking the Republican nomination for the open 5th Congressional District Seat.

Other candidates seeking the GOP nod include Beth Harwell, Baxter Lee, Andy Ogles, Morgan Ortagus, Robby Starbuck, and Kurt Winstead — though some of those have having their Republican bona fides challenged with the party.

Here’s Wittum’s release:

Nashville, TN – Tres Wittum announces bid for the 5th Congressional district. In a video released on Treswittum.com, Tres set a course for the campaign “ “For the first time in nearly 150 years, the Tennessee 5th Congressional District has an opportunity to pick a new kind of leadership. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been out talking to Tennesseans, listening to their concerns – but also hearing their vision and hope for the future.”

In the announcement Tres also outlined the next steps in the campaign, “In the coming weeks, I’ll be out traveling the district. If you see me, I hope you’ll stop me and share your Tennessee story, so together we can go to Washington and let them know that the Tennessee Volunteer spirit is alive and ready to lead this country in the right direction.”

Tres announced that the campaign will be sharing many of those “Tennessee stories” on the campaign website TresWittum.com as well as the campaign’s social media.

Tres Wittum has been active Tennessee politics for over 15 years. Wittum also has served the Tennessee Senate since 2011, in the Senate Speaker Pro Tempore’s office as well as the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee. Tres came to Nashville from Cleveland, TN in 2008. He is a graduate of University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Tres is a bona fide Republican whose credentials are unchallenged and will be on the ballot in the Republican primary on August 4th.

Starbuck raises $104K in quarter, $350K to date in 5th District

Robby Starbuck’s quarterly fundraising trails top-tier candidates in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District. The music video producer brought in $104,524 through the most recent reporting period, well behind Morgan Ortagus (nearly $600,000), Kurt Winstead ($520,000), Beth Harwell ($350,000). and Baxter Lee ($317,000).

But Starbuck got into the race long before his rivals and has raised $349,386 since last summer. About a quarter of Starbuck’s haul in the first quarter came in form of small, unitemized donations. He spent $71,000, bringing his total to $179,979. He had $172,265 remaining on hand as of March 31.