TN political reading list, 10/23/2016 (with some observations)

Tennessee elections rigged?

Commercial Appeal columnist Otis Sanford suggests, tongue in cheek it seems, that there’s evidence of rigged elections “right there under our noses” on the state election ballot where Republican candidates are listed ahead of all others – and Donald Trump is the first name a voter sees. (That’s in accord with a state law, enacted when Democrats dominated in the state, giving the “majority party” top billing on the state ballot.)

He goes on to observe that two of 11 cases of documented voter fraud nationwide 2000-2014 – according to one often-cited study – occurred in Shelby County and both were cast against Republican Terry Roland, now a county commissioner, in a 2005 race for a state Senate seat.

Yet, Roland downplays Trump’s claims that the presidential election is being rigged. “I don’t think there is a consorted effort to manipulate the ballot,” Roland told me last week.

In fact, Roland, like most of us, is sick and tired of the whole campaign. “I can’t wait for it to be over,” he said. “I’m watching Sanford and Son, Andy Griffith and The Jeffersons on TV now rather than the news.”


Obama and state legislative campaigns

President Obama, for the first time, is getting involved in state legislative races as his approval ratings rise nationally (57 percent in a recent Gallop poll) from prior poor showings, according to an interesting Politico piece. He started with 13 races in Florida and intends to expand into a “far larger” list, including some in “states far from competitive territory for the presidential election.”

Conceivably, I guess that could include Tennessee – not mentioned in the article – and an Obama blessing might help in a couple of urban Democratic candidates (say House hopeful Gloria Johnson in Knoxville, Senate hopeful Erin Coleman in Nashville) contests, though it likely would be a negative in more rural areas (say for the reelection campaigns of Reps. Kevin Dunalp of Sparta and John Mark Windle of Livingston). Excerpt from the article:

Six years ago, Democrats felt they couldn’t even get Obama interested in (U.S.) House races. But now, after years of the Democratic bench being depleted on his watch, Obama’s looking to build it back. On top of all that: a concern within the Oval Office and through the West Wing with how much policy is being crafted in state capitals, from laws on reproductive health to climate change to voting rights.

“While Congress has been obstructionist and there’s been no substantive legislation moving under Republican control, what you see in the states is very, very different,” Simas said. “This has not been a focus of presidents in the past. But given what’s happening in state legislatures throughout the country, it has to be.”

Hargett on campaign finance

The Council of State Governments website has an article on Secretary of State Tre Hargett, including some commentary on money in politics. Excerpt:

During the course of the three election cycles he has overseen as secretary of state, Hargett has concluded that the general public is often more concerned with disclosure of contributions than establishing any hard and fast contribution limits.

“People understand that campaigns cost money and they expect candidates to advertise on TV, radio, direct mail and social media,” Hargett said. “ If voters have access to how these campaigns are being funded, that is one more piece of data that may or may not influence their vote.”

Bill Haslam: Smartest Republican in TN?

Robert Houk reports (HERE) on a panel of five East Tennessee State professors who agree the current presidential campaign is unprecedented in several respects. Observing that Donald Trump is likely to lose nationally with resulting further discord within GOP ranks, he concludes:

That means the GOP leadership  (including the Vichy Republican officeholders in our state) will have some tough decisions to make on the party’s direction after the election.  Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision not to endorse Trump could make him the smartest Republican in Tennessee.

For a contrary view on Haslam’s spurning of Trump, see the anonymously-written Rocky Top politics blog, HERE.

Attack of the Trump “trolls”

David French, a conservative writer and lawyer who lives in Columbia, Tenn.,  and gained brief national attention earlier this year as a potential independent presidential candidate, has penned a piece in National Review on the abuse his family has suffered from alternative-right “trolls” who support Donald Trump.

It begins: I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber.

Michael Collins did a report on the article for Tennessee newspapers in the USA Today Network, HERE.

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