state senate races

One comes out, one goes in: Gardenhire misses fundraiser featuring Gov. Lee due to quarantine

Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) attends a floor session to adjust the course of the legislative session in response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) has missed a fundraiser for his re-election campaign because he was exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. The event was headlined by Gov. Bill Lee, who only emerged from his own two-week quarantine after a member of his security detail came down with the coronavirus.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports it’s the fifth time Gardenhire has gone into isolation over a potential exposure to the virus. The senator watched the fundraiser via a videostream provided by fellow Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson).

“I wear a mask all the time. All it takes is a split second and Bam, you got it,” Gardenhire said in a Facebook post. “Very GRATEFUL for all my friends and supporters. Thank you. Going to get tested Monday.”

Gardenhire is being challenged by Democrat Glenn Scruggs, an assistant police chief in Chattanooga.

GOP ad hits Trump in attack on Dickerson rival

An attack ad paid for by the political action committee of state Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) takes a swipe at an unusual target: President Donald Trump.

“Are you tired of rude politicians who don’t treat others with respect?” the narrator says to open the ad while images of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Trump flash on the screen.

The ad then moves on to a video of former Oak Hill Mayor Heidi Campbell raising her voice at someone during a Board of Commissioners meeting and threatening to have the person removed. The context of the encounter is not made clear in the ad.

Campbell is challenging state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) in next week’s election.

The ad also alleges Campbell has been arrested three times, including twice for drunken driving. The spot calls her “disrespectful, unhinged Heidi Campbell.”

Teachers’ union endorses Republican Dickerson over Democratic challenger Campbell

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

The Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, has endorsed incumbent Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) over his Democratic challenger, Oak Hill Mayor Heidi Campbell.

“Davidson County is home to the best educators in Tennessee, and I will continue to support meaningful legislation that will fully fund our schools, empower school principals and support our teachers,” Dickerson said in a statement.

Here’s the TEA’s endorsement letter:

Dear Sen. Steve Dickerson:

You have received the TEA endorsement for re‐election to the Tennessee State Senate for District 20. Your strong legislative record of supporting and defending Tennessee’s public schools and the dedicated professionals who work in them is the basis of the unanimous endorsement by the members of the TEA Fund for Children and Public Education, our political action committee. Congratulations, for it is well deserved.

In the many legislative battles over public education, your advocacy and care have stood out to educators here in Nashville and across Tennessee.

Fighting privatization. You have a long history as an ardent opponent of vouchers, not only when they targeted your senate district in the most recent legislative fight, but in any and every manner privatization schemes have been proposed. Your opposition has been vocal and effective and based on your knowledge that public schools are the foundation of our communities.

Defending the profession. When teachers’ careers have been threatened or attacked by misguided policies and proposed legislation, you have been a stalwart defender and advocate for educators. When the State Board of Education passed a policy to revoke teaching licenses based on the fuzzy numbers of TVAAS, you stepped in to help pass legislation outlawing the practice. You recognize teaching as a profession—one as important as your own—and treat it with the respect and support it deserves.

Improving student outcomes with community schools. All of us who are dedicated to improving student outcomes in schools with high poverty rates know we must address the barriers to learning that accompany the economic insecurity of families. It is why TEA has worked closely with you to increase efforts to expand and enhance community schools in Tennessee. Community schools have a proven track record and are grounded in the knowledge that the emotional, social, and physical needs of students must be addressed for them to succeed academically.

It is critical to keep effective and respected advocates for public schools in the state senate. That is why we fully support your re‐election and ask every voter who supports public education to cast their vote for you.

Good luck in your campaign. Sincerely,

Beth Brown

President, Tennessee Education Association