News

Today First Day to Pick Up Petitions to Run in County Primaries

Today is the first day candidates for local office are eligible to pick up petitions to run in the May county primary elections. Petitions are available at county election commission offices. For a list of county election offices, visit the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website. For a calendar of important upcoming election dates, visit the TBA website.
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Tennessee Senate Candidates Respond to Roy Moore Allegations

With Republicans nationally, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down amid sexual misconduct allegations, Tennessee’s GOP U.S. Senate candidates are speaking up in response. The Tennessean reports that U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, said that she cannot support Moore’s candidacy if the “extremely disturbing” allegations are true, but that “it’s up to the people of Alabama to ultimately decide." Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher declined to directly address the case, only echoing Blackburn’s statement that it’s “up to Alabama voters.” Current Sen. Lamar Alexander has called for Moore to withdraw, and Sen. Bob Corker has also spoken out against Moore.
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Andy Ogles Quits U.S. Senate Bid

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Andy Ogles has ended his campaign, effective immediately, The Tennessean reports. Ogles entered the race when incumbent Sen. Bob Corker was still considering a re-election run. Ogles said that with Corker out of the race, his situation has changed. He said that he no longer saw a path to victory with two Republican candidates in the race who each have the potential to raise millions. Current U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher have both announced runs for the Republican nomination in the weeks following Corker's decision.
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State Rep. Favors Will Not Seek Re-election

Tennessee State House Rep. JoAnne Favors announced this week that she will not seek re-election for her District 28 seat, Chattanoogan.com reports. Favors has been in office since 2004, representing portions of the city of Chattanooga, and currently serves on the Opioid Task Force, the Health Committee, Health Sub-Committee and the Business and Utilities Committee. She is also the House Democratic Whip and the vice chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. 
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Bankers Association Names New General Counsel

The Tennessee Bankers Association has chosen Amy Smith Heaslet to serve as the organization’s new general counsel, the Nashville Post reports. Healset will replace Tim Amos, who left to start his own legal and government affairs firm earlier this year. She has been with the group since 2009 as associate counsel, and previously worked as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
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Doss Will Face Primary Challenger in House District 70 Race

Rep. Barry Doss, an incumbent Republican in the Tennessee House for District 70, will face a primary challenger in 2018. Humphrey on the Hill reports that Clay Doggett, a businessman from Pulaski, has announced he will seek the GOP nomination for the seat. Doss, of Leoma, currently serves as the House Transportation Committee chairman and served as the House sponsor for Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act last session.
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SCOTUS to Review Law Banning Political Apparel at Polling Locations

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review a Minnesota law that bans political apparel and insignias at Election Day polling places, the ABA Journal reports. The challengers claimed the law violated their rights to free speech. The Minnesota law defines banned apparel as material promoting a group with recognizable political views. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge in February because states have a legitimate interest in upholding “peace, order and decorum” at polling locations.
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Henderson County Mayor to Run for House District 72

Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes officially launched his campaign for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 72 seat yesterday, The Jackson Sun reports. Current representative for the district, Steve McDaniel, announced plans to retire at the end of his term next year. District 72 covers Chester, Decatur, Henderson and Perry counties. Hughes will run as a Republican.
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Freeman to Run for Harwell’s Nashville House Seat

Bob Freeman, a real estate professional and son of former Nashville mayoral candidate Bill Freeman, officially announced over the weekend his run for Tennessee House District 56, the seat currently occupied by departing House Speaker Beth Harwell. The Tennessean reports that Freeman is the only Democrat currently in the race, while Brent Moody, a surgeon, and Joseph Williams, an attorney, are running on the Republican side. Freeman is the co-founder of Freeman Applegate Partners, a consulting and construction firm.
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Toyos Clinics Founder Adds Name to GOP Senate Field

The field of candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Bob Corker grew by one Wednesday, when doctor and eye care entrepreneur Rolando Toyos announced his campaign for the GOP nomination, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. The son of Hispanic immigrants, Toyos grew his eye care business from one location in Jackson to its current five locations. Toyos faces U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former U.S. Rep. Steve Fincher for the Republican nomination. The only Democrat to announce so far is Nashville attorney and Iraq war veteran James Mackler. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke are also exploring bids.

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Legislators to Allow Guns in Their New Offices

People with valid carry permits will be allowed to bring their firearms into the Tennessee General Assembly's new home, the Cordell Hull Building. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally announced the new policy in a joint statement. The Tennessean reports that permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security to gain entry.

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Williamson Commissioner Joins Activist in Race for District 61 Seat

In the wake of state Rep. Charles Sargent’s recent retirement announcement, Williamson County Commissioner Jeff Ford said today he would run for the seat in 2018, The Tennessean reports. Aside from his work on the commission, Ford works as a sales representative for a software company in the workers’ compensation insurance industry. He joins conservative activist Rebecca Burke in seeking the Republican nomination for the District 61 position. Burke announced her run prior to Sargent’s retirement.
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Knox Businessman to Run for 2nd District Congressional Seat

Young Republicans National Federation chairman and Knoxville businessman Jason Emert has begun a campaign for Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional seat, soon to be vacated by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., Knoxnews reports. Already in the race for the GOP are state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Vito Sagliano and Marc Whitmire. For the Democrats, Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos are seeking the position, and William Samples will run as a libertarian. Emert previously ran in the Republican primary for the 13th District State House seat. He was defeated by Rep. Eddie Smith.
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Durham Fined $10K for Inaccurate PAC Disclosures

Expelled former state legislator Jeremy Durham has been fined for the second time in a week over campaign finance violations, The Tennessean reports. The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance imposed two fines on Durham totaling $10,000 for failing to accurately report campaign contributions and expenditures to his political action committee. That brings his total to more than $500,000 in penalties for various campaign finance law violations.
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Country Music Songwriter Aims for Congress

Lee Thomas Miller, a country music songwriter and conservative advocate, is heading towards a run for the 7th district congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the Nashville Post reports. Miller, who has composed hits for the likes of Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, has led volunteer lobbying efforts for the Nashville Songwriters Association International in the past. He says his timeline for jumping in the race is “sooner rather than later.” Currently, the only announced Republican candidate in the race is state Sen. Mark Green.
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Poll: Black, Dean, Harwell Score High Approval Ratings in Gubernatorial Race

According to a recent poll from Middle Tennessee State University, U.S. Rep. Diane Black and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean have the highest approval ratings in the primary race among the announced gubernatorial candidates, The Tennessean reports. When combining results from both parties together, Dean and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell have the highest approval. The same poll tested potential U.S. Senate candidates and found that Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen had “statistically indistinguishable” approval ratings. Notably, announced Republican candidate Stephen Fincher, a former Tennessee Congressman, was not included in the poll.
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TBI Questions House Majority Leader About Possible Durham Bribery

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently interviewed two state legislators about ousted Rep. Jeremy Durham, specifically asking questions about bribery, The Tennessean reports. House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, confirmed they were questioned by TBI agents about Durham related to bribery. Casada said that the agents asked him if he knew anything about Durham receiving favors or money in exchange for sponsoring legislation. He said he did not. 
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11 Tennessee DAs Join Black’s ‘Law and Order’ Coalition

Gubernatorial candidate Diane Black yesterday announced a statewide “Law and Order Coalition” with 23 sheriffs and 11 district attorneys backing her campaign, The Tennessean reports. Among the co-chairs are Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley and 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson.
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Former State Rep. Considers Run for 7th District Congressional Seat

Former state representative and current vice mayor of the city of Bolivar, Page Walley, says he is interested in running for Congress in the 7th District, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Walley served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, in addition to his five terms in the state House. The 7th District is currently represented by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate.
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Nashville Attorney Seeks Beth Harwell’s House Seat

A Nashville attorney will seek the Republican nomination for the state House seat currently occupied by Speaker Beth Harwell, the Nashville Post reports. Joseph Williams is the second Republican to toss his hat into the ring after Harwell announced she would run for governor instead of reelection. Also in the race is a physician, Brent Moody, who will face Williams in the primary. Democrat Bob Freeman is considering a bid for the position as well.
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CLE on Drafting Legislation for the General Assembly: A Pathway to Excellence

CLE on drafting legislation for the General Assembly will be held tomorrow at the Tennessee Bar Center. Attendees will take away templates and samples of legislation, form and style guidelines used by the Tennessee General Assembly, and a very helpful drafter’s checklist. If you have ever wanted to develop your ability to help your firm or a client with a legislative issue, this program is for you.

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Tennessee Ethics Commission Fines Former Rep. Durham $30K

The Tennessee Ethics Commission voted to impose a $30,000 fine on former state Rep. Jeremy Durham, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Durham already faces fines totaling $465,000 from the Registry of Election Finance for violation of campaign finance laws. The new fines were imposed for offenses such as writing a $25,000 loan from his campaign account to his wife, as well as another loan to a prominent Republican donor.
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TBA Hosts Sessions for Attorneys Interested in Seeking Public Office

The TBA today hosted two workshops with information, advice and encouragement for attorneys interested in running for local public office. The events, held in Jackson and Columbia, featured local elected officials sharing their experiences from the campaign trail and beyond. Jackson’s workshop featured Lexington City School Board member Chad Wood and City Council member Scott Conger as guest speakers, with TBA Communications Coordinator Katharine Heriges as the panel moderator and presenter. In Columbia, TBA Young Lawyers Division President-elect Christian Barker served as the moderator to a panel featuring Maury County School Board member Kristin Parker and Spring Hill City Alderman Kevin Gavigan.
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Olsen Announces Run for 1st U.S. Congressional District

East Tennessee State University professor and medical practitioner Martin Olsen has formally announced his bid for the Tennessee 1st District U.S. House seat, the Johnson City Press reports. Olsen, who first indicated his interest in the seat back in August, will run as a Democrat and challenge Rep. Phil Roe for the seat. He said he plans on running on a platform of responsible change, as well as jobs, education and health care.
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Sen. Harris Proposes Tennessee Ban on Bump Stock Possession

State Sen. Lee Harris (D-Memphis) introduced a bill in the Tennessee legislature Wednesday that would ban the possession of bump stock devices, The Commercial Appeal reports. Bump stocks, which speed up the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons, have come under scrutiny since the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting was found to have used them. The National Rifle Association has expressed support for regulating bump stocks since the shooting occurred, but has opposed an outright ban. Harris acknowledged that the NRA’s power over Tennessee legislators would make his bill difficult to pass, but said he’s hopeful to “change the hearts and minds of at least somebody on the other side of the aisle.”
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