News

Former Congressman Fincher ‘Very Close’ to Entering Senate Race

Former U.S. Congressman Stephen Fincher said yesterday that he is “very close” to entering the race to replace U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who announced he would not seek reelection earlier this year, the Memphis Daily News reports. Fincher, a Republican, said he believes voters want Republicans who will “stand up with President Trump, who is right on all of the policy.” He said he will formally announce his decision later this week. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has already announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination, while attorney James Mackler and, potentially, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, will run on the Democratic side.
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Attorney to Run for State House District 89 Seat

Jesse Nelson, a Knox County attorney, has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for state House District 89. Current Rep. Roger Kane previously announced he would run for Knox County Clerk. In a release from his campaign, Nelson touted his experience in starting his own law firm, his conservative beliefs, and his previous work on political campaigns as his qualifications.
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TBA Seeking Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs

The Tennessee Bar Association is seeking to fill the position of Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs. The position will advocate for and organize TBA members to influence public policy as it relates to the law and the legal profession, utilizing research and direct contact with lawmakers and policy leaders. Learn more about the position, including how to apply and the qualifications for candidates, or contact Karen Belcher, administrative assistant to Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson.

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State Legislator to Run for Nashville Juvenile Court Clerk

State Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), has announced she will run for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk next year, The Tennessean reports. She will face former Metro Nashville Councilman and current director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods, Lonnell Matthews Jr., in the May primary election. Jones and Matthews jumped in the race after current Clerk David Smith announced his retirement earlier this year. Jones has served in the House since 1994.
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Interested in Running for Office?

In many parts of the state, attorneys aren’t just legal advocates, they serve as community leaders. In recent years, however, Tennessee has seen a decrease in lawyers seeking local public office. With that in mind, the TBA will host two information sessions to inform and encourage lawyers to run. “Running for Office 101: a Workshop and Q&A” will be held in Jackson and Columbia on Oct. 24. Each will  feature a panel with local elected officials. The event is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is required. There will be no CLE credit offered, but prior to the session in Columbia and after the Jackson session, the TBA will host its annual Court Square CLE programming.
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Blackburn In, Haslam Out for 2018 Senate Race

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn today said she is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, The Tennessean reports. The news broke less than an hour after Gov. Bill Haslam confirmed he would not run. Also ending speculation of a bid for Senate is prominent Nashville donor Bill Freeman, who said he would not run for the Democratic nomination and instead suggested former Gov. Phil Bredesen should throw his hat into the ring.
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Wilson County Attorney Announces Run for Senate in Special Election

Wilson County attorney Mary Alice Carfi announced her candidacy for the Democratic primary in the special election for the 17th district state senate seat, the Lebanon Democrat reports. Carfi said her campaign will focus on the cost of healthcare, jobs and public education. The seat came up for grabs when Sen. Mae Beavers resigned her post in order to run for governor. Carfi is the only announced Democrat, while state Rep. Mark Pody is the only candidate for the Republicans. The primary election is scheduled for Nov. 7, with the general election on Dec. 19.
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Sen. Lee Harris to Run for Shelby County Mayor

Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris (D-Memphis) has entered the race for Shelby County mayor, The Commercial Appeal reports. He confirmed he will not seek reelection for the Senate seat he has held since 2015. Harris is an attorney and serves as a tenured professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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SCOTUS Hears Arguments on Gerrymandering Case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case that could determine whether extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, The New York Times reports. While they all seem to agree that gerrymandering is “distasteful,” as Justice Samuel Alito put it, the justices have differing perspectives for determining when the practice veers into the realm of violating the Constitution. In his remarks, Chief Justice John Roberts worried that the court’s legitimacy would be damaged by a ruling appearing to favor one political party or another.
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McDaniel Retiring from State Legislature

State Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parker’s Crossroads) announced he will retire next year after his 15th term in office, the Nashville Post reports. McDaniel is tied with Beth Harwell as the longest serving legislator in the House and currently serves as deputy speaker. He serves as chair of the House Ethics Committee, the Rules Committee, and the Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. McDaniel also spearheaded the Heritage Protection Act, a law that prevents local municipalities or the state government from removing or renaming anything associated with the Confederacy.
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Haslam, Berke, Blackburn Among Names Considering Senate Run

Several Tennessee politicians are considering a race for the Senate following Bob Corker's Tuesday announcement that he will not seek a third term.  The Tennessean reports that Gov. Bill Haslam is considering the race, telling reporters that he talked to Corker himself about it. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn said she would make an announcement about her potential campaign by the end of the week. On the Democratic side, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said he was mulling a bid for the nomination, and Nashville state Sen. Jeff Yarbro confirmed that he was considering it as well. Currently, conservative activist Andy Ogles is the only announced candidate for the Republicans, while attorney and military veteran James Mackler has been the most active candidate for the Democrats.
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Sen. Corker Will Not Seek Reelection

Sen. Bob Corker will not seek reelection for the Senate next year, The Tennessean reports. Corker has served for two terms and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Conservative activist Andy Ogles has already announced plans to run for the Republican nomination for the seat, and with this announcement more are expected to join the field.
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Diane Black Deposed in Campaign Ad Lawsuit

Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Diane Black faced a deposition yesterday in a lawsuit related to a TV ad that ran during her first campaign for Congress, the Associated Press reports. One of Black’s opponents in the campaign, Lou Ann Zelenik, ran ads critical of state Senate votes Black had cast, which provided $1 million in contracts to Aegis Sciences, a company run by Black’s husband. Aegis sued Zelenik for defamation but the case was dismissed and an appeals court upheld the ruling. Zelenik is now suing for malice and willful intent.
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Nashville Auto Dealer Lee Beaman Forms Super PAC to Back Corker Primary Opponent

Prominent conservative car dealer Lee Beaman announced the creation of a Super PAC to back Andy Ogles, candidate for the U.S. Senate seeking to replace Sen. Bob Corker in a Republican primary, the Times Free Press reports. Beaman, of Nashville, said he plans to raise $4 million to fight for “dependable conservative Senate representation for Tennessee.” Ogles served as the director of the Tennessee chapter of the Koch-brothers’ Americans for Prosperity until last week, when he stepped down to run for Corker's seat. Yesterday, reports surfaced that President Donald Trump was encouraging Corker to run for reelection, but the sitting senator has not yet officially confirmed his reelection bid.
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Burke Announces Run for State House

Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee member Rebecca Burke announced plans to challenge longtime Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, for the Williamson County district seat he has held since 1997, the Tennessean reports. Sargent serves as the head of the State House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Burke served on the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and completes her term on the Republican Party Executive Committee as she competes in the August 2018 primary. 

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Clean Water Advocate Files to Run for 2nd Congressional District

Renee Hoyos, the executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, has declared an intent to run for Congress in the 2nd District seat, currently occupied by Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., the Nashville Post reports. Hoyos is the second Democrat to seek the position, and her entering the race will force a primary with candidate Joshua Williams. The winner will face one of four Republicans vying for the seat: state Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City), Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Ken Gross and Brad Fullington.
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State Lawmakers Cast Doubts on Future Outsourcing Plans

State lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with outsourcing yesterday during a meeting of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on investigations and oversight, the Tennessean reports. Subcommittee members said they would push for a more critical review of outsourcing during the next legislative session. Gov. Bill Haslam has pushed for outsourcing at state properties like universities and parks.
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Tennesseans Can Now Register to Vote Online

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office will officially roll out online voter registration next week across the state, the Tennessean reports. The new option, which gets Tennessee up to speed with the majority of U.S. states that already offer the service, comes as a result of a law passed last year. In addition to registering new voters, the online system will allow current voters to update their contact information. 
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Memphis Councilman Calls for Special Legislative Session On Confederate Monuments

Memphis City Councilman Bill Morrison is urging officials to call for a special legislative session to repeal the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016, which protects Confederate statues and monuments. Humphrey on the Hill reports that Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, has also introduced a bill that would exempt Shelby County from the law, but it would not be considered until the next legislative cycle in January unless a special session is called. Morrison said that the law is “wrong and must be repealed. It doesn’t protect our heritage. It only serves to protect memories of white supremacy and shrines for modern-day followers.”
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Former Trump Delegate to Run for 2nd District Congressional Seat

A fourth Republican has thrown his hat into the ring to run for the 2nd district U.S. Congressional seat, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Ken Gross, a former delegate for President Donald Trump, will seek the GOP nomination in a crowded field that includes Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, State Rep. Jimmy Matlock and Knoxville businessman Brad Fullington, as well as Joshua Williams, who is running for the Democratic nomination. Gross said that if elected, he will “Make Congress Great Again.” The 2nd Congressional District seat is currently filled by U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan, who will not seek reelection.
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Former Ag Commissioner to Run for Congress

Former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture John Rose has announced he will seek Tennessee’s 6th district congressional seat, currently occupied by gubernatorial candidate Diane Black, the Nashville Post reports. Rose, a Cookeville native and graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, is the president of Boson Software, an information technology training company. He served as commissioner during the Sundquist administration, and also owns one of the state’s oldest working farms, located in Smith County. State Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, and Cookeville blogger Christopher B. Monday have also announced they are running in the Republican primary for Black's seat.
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Rep. Craig Fitzhugh to Run for Governor

Tennessee State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) announced his candidacy for governor yesterday, the Tennessean reports, setting the stage for a Democratic primary with former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Fitzhugh is the CEO and chairman of a small bank chain in his hometown of Ripley. He has represented House District 82 for 23 years. He is politically tied to traditional Democratic constituencies like organized labor and teachers unions, separating him from the more business-centered Dean.
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Former State Sen. Albright Dies at 83

Former Republican state Sen. Ray Albright died on Monday, the Times Free Press reports. He was 83. He won a seat in the Tennessee House in 1968 on a promise to battle pollution, and was elected to the Senate in 1970. Thanks to his sponsorship of a bill that made Chattanooga State into a technical community college, a building on that campus bears his name. "You always knew [that] if Ray was committed to a bill you never had to look over your shoulder to see if he was still there. No matter how rough it got, he never flinched,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally.
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Knox Mayor Burchett, State Rep. Matlock to Seek Duncan Seat

After U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan announced this week that he will not seek reelection, Tennessee House Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett both announced they will run for the position, the Knoxville News Sentinel and WATE report. In announcing, Matlock highlighted his experience and conservative credentials in the General Assembly. Burchett has yet to make a public statement on his candidacy, but has pulled the necessarily paperwork to run.
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Appeals Court Hears Arguments on 2014 Constitutional Amendment Vote

A federal appeals court today heard arguments on whether a 2014 vote on a constitutional ballot initiative should be recounted or voided entirely, the Tennessean reports. The dispute is rooted in two interpretations of a single sentence added to the Tennessee constitution in 1953. That sentence mandates a different vote counting method than the simple majority vote required for candidates for office. The decision by the court could throw into question the abortion measure known as Amendment 1, as well as all abortion laws enacted in Tennessee since its passage three years ago removed the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution.
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