News

Hargett Calls for Investigation in Shelby Election

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett formally asked State Comptroller Justin Wilson on Friday to audit the administration of the Shelby County Election Commission and investigate election procedures and returns, where it is estimated that about 1,000 voters got the wrong ballot. State Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris of Collierville and Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester of Nashville called separately Thursday for a state review of election results in the county, the Memphis Daily Journal reports. “This is not a witch hunt. This is not finger pointing,” Norris said. “We need to know the process works.” Forrester called for the review because he said Republican political leaders “have failed over and over again to protect our voting rights.”

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Record Early Voting Turnout; Problems Surface in Shelby

More than 220,000 Tennesseans have voted early or absentee by mail for the Aug. 2 election, but the Tennessee Democratic Party called for an investigation into early voting statewide amid evidence that more than 1,000 people in Shelby County were given the wrong ballots. A Memphis blogger and candidate for the Shelby County Election Commission turned up evidence this week that hundreds of voters in Shelby County were erroneously given ballots for a neighboring district.

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TBI Investigates Rhea County Voting Issues

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday it has launched a probe into whether Rhea County election officials illegally stopped several individuals from voting in the 31st House District Republican primary. The county election administrator said she and other officials did nothing wrong when they blocked known Democrats from voting in the primary, suspecting an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the race. The TBI investigation comes at the request of District Attorney General Mike Taylor. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee law provides an "open primary" system but allows officials to exclude a voter if the person is “deemed not to be a ‘bona fide’ member of the party.”

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Candidate Won't Be Punished for Contempt if She Cooperates

Lou Ann Zelenik may not have to face a contempt of court citation if she testifies in a state senator's lawsuit before Aug. 8. The ruling came down Monday from Wilson County Judge C.K. Smith who said in the order he's "not inclined to punish" the Republican Congressional candidate if she were to give her deposition by the August date. Zelenik was accused last week of criminal contempt for not appearing for a July 12 court deposition. She was subpoenaed in an ongoing lawsuit brought by State Senator Mae Beavers and her husband Jerry against a Macon County newspaper. WKRN reports

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Zelenik Faces Contempt Charge

Republican congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik -– who is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Diane Black -– is facing a contempt charge after not showing up for a deposition. Earlier this month, Zelenik was subpoenaed to give a deposition in a case involving State Rep. Mae Beavers and the Macon County Chronicle. The lawyer who issued the subpoena says Zelenik cancelled at the last minute, saying she was too busy campaigning. Zelenik’s lawyer, however, says the postponement was agreed upon. A hearing on the charges was set for September. WSMV reports

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Interim Judge Ends Tenure Early

Davidson County General Sessions Judge Mike Jameson has stepped down from the bench, taking an unpaid leave of absence through the Aug. 2 election to assist his former law partner Phillip North in his bid for the state Senate. Jameson lost to Rachel Bell in March primary, and although he pledged to serve through August, he now says his allegiance is with his former colleague. Read more in The Tennessean

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Additional Lawyer Candidates Identified

Following publication of a story in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today, two additional lawyers running for public office have been identified. They are state Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams, who is seeking reelection in the 22nd District, and Bristol lawyer Thomas M. Gray III, who is seeking the District 4 House seat currently occupied by Rep. Kent Williams. That brings to 24 the number of lawyers running for legislative office this year. See the full list

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TBA Report: More Lawyers Running for Legislature

A report compiled by the Tennessee Bar Association shows that while the number of lawyers serving in the legislature has declined over the last several years, more lawyers are candidates for the General Assembly this year than in the last two election cycles. The report shows that 25 lawyers are running for 20 seats. In two districts, lawyers are pitted against each other in the primary or will likely face off in the general election. It remains to be seen whether, with the retirement of several lawyer lawmakers, the actual number of lawyers in the General Assembly will increase. See a full list of candidates with links to learn more about their campaigns.

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More Lawyers Running for Legislature

A report compiled by the Tennessee Bar Association shows that while the number of lawyers serving in the legislature has declined over the last several years, more lawyers are candidates for the General Assembly this year than in the last two election cycles.

The report shows that 25 lawyers are running for 20 seats. In two districts, lawyers are pitted against each other in the primary or will likely face off in the general election. It remains to be seen whether, with the retirement of several lawyer lawmakers, the actual number of lawyers in the General Assembly will increase.


Tennessee State Senate

Office Sought Candidate Website
District 2 Doug Overbey www.senatordougoverbey.com
District 12 Ken Yager www.kenyager.com
District 16 Stevie Ray Roller  
District 16 Justin Walling www.wallingforsenate.com
District 20 Phillip North www.north4senate.com
District 22 Tim Barnes www.senatortimbarnes.com
District 24 John Stevens www.facebook.com/JohnStevensForStateSenate
District 30 Jim Kyle www.senatorjimkyle.com
District 32 Mark Norris www.marknorris.org

Tennessee House of Representatives

Office Sought Candidate Website
District 2 Ben Mallicote www.benmallicote.com
District 5 Duncan Cave facebook.com/duncancatescave
District 4 Thomas Gray http://thomgray.org
District 5 Bradley Mercer  
District 17 Andrew Farmer  
District 29 Mike Carter  
District 41 John Mark Windle  
District 44 William Lamberth www.votelamberth.com
District 44 Steven Glaser  
District 52 Michael Stewart www.electmikestewart.org
District 57 Linda Elam www.lindaelam.com
District 65 Jeremy Durham www.votejeremydurham.com
District 65 Kenny Young www.facebook.com/VoteKennyYoung
District 66 Lee Harrell  
District 71 Vance Dennis www.vancedennis.com
District 82 Craig Fitzhugh www.craigfitzhugh.com

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Harwell’s COS Moving to Industry Job

Gregory Gleaves, chief of staff to Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and former executive director of the Tennessee GOP, will leave government service next month to join the public relations firm of Hall Strategies. Beginning Aug. 6, Gleaves will lead the firm's campaign practice as director of grassroots campaigns. The Knoxville News Sentinel has more

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Local GOP Claim Haslam Lacks Conservative Values

A number of county chapters of the Tennessee Republican Party have passed resolutions criticizing Gov. Bill Haslam for showing "a consistent lack of conservative values,' The Tennessean reports today. As many as eight county chapters have called on state Republican leaders to sanction Haslam for policies including the hiring of homosexuals, Democrats and a Muslim attorney. 

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Shelby Race Shows Incumbent With Big Lead in $$$

Fundraising in Shelby County’s district attorney general’s race is heavily lopsided, with incumbent Amy Weirich already bringing in more than $250,000, while her challenger, Memphis lawyer and former state legislator Carol Chumney, has only brought in about $3,500, the Commercial Appeal reports. Political analysts look at whether Chumney’s name recognition will let her overcome the fundraising disadvantage.

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Bradley Co. Bar Helps Bring Candidate Forums

The third and final in a series of debates hosted by the Bradley County Bar Association and the Cleveland Lions Club is set for July 17, with candidates in the 3rd and 4th Congressional district races. The forum will be at the Johnson Theatre at Cleveland State Community College at 6:30 p.m., with a theme of  "An informed vote is the best vote." The Cleveland Daily Banner urges readers to attend the forum and writes that "sometimes it’s just best to hear what [candidates] have to say, and how they say it, in person and up-close in a comfortable, nonpartisan and enclosed atmosphere," and praises the bar association and Lions Club for organizing the events.

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3rd Congressional District Candidates Spar Over Health Care

Six candidates for Tennessee's Third Congressional District debated health care policy during a Monday night forum put on by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society. The four Republican candidates and two Democratic candidates opened the forum with brief statements, some taking immediate jabs at the Affordable Care Act, WRCB reports. Those participating were Scottie Mayfield, Weston Wamp, Bill Taylor, Ron Bhalla, Mary Headrick and Chuck Fleischmann, who is the incumbent. Independent candidate Matthew Deniston did not attend.

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Special Session May Be Needed to Handle Health Care Exchange

The Tennessean says that Democrats and Republicans alike have been kicking around the idea of a special session to handle aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The biggest question is how to deal with a requirement that state governments set up special exchanges where residents can buy health coverage before the insurance mandate goes into effect in 2014. The state faces a critical deadline in January, when officials must demonstrate to the federal government that they’ll have Tennessee’s exchange ready in time.

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Kurita Loses 6th Circuit Appeal

Former state Sen. Rosalind Kurita on Thursday lost a federal appeal of her ouster as the Democratic nominee in her 2008 bid for re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly, the News Sentinel reports. In a brief ruling, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's refusal to reinstate Kurita to the ballot after Democratic officials declared her 19-vote primary win as "incurably uncertain."

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Welfare Drug Testing Among New Laws Taking Effect

A measure to require drug testing as a condition for receiving welfare and the reduction of the sales tax on groceries are among new laws taking effect in Tennessee. The welfare legislation requires new welfare applicants to undergo a special screening process. If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant will be tested for drugs. The proposal differs from an original version that would have required blanket testing. The Tennessean has more [subscription required]

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Opinion: Tenn. Plan a National Model, Don't Change It

In an opinion piece in the Tennessean today, American Bar Association President William T. 'Bill' Robinson explains how Tennessee's system for selecting appellate court judges, the Tennessee Plan, is nationally respected as "an open process that is as free from political influence as possible." He warns that a proposed constitutional amendment would change the system "for the worse" and would "politicize the courts and diminish the perception of appellate judges as fair, impartial and well-qualified." The proposed amendment allows the governor to appoint judges who have gone through no public screening process, with no assurance that a broad candidate pool had been considered, he points out, saying "it is critical for courts to be insulated from undue political influence."

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Editorial: State Should Stop Trying to Pass Immigration Legislation

In an editorial, the Commercial Appeal says the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week in the Arizona immigration law case "should send a message to Tennessee's legislators that they should stop trying to pass similar legislation."

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Cooper Staffer Seeks to Replace Arriola

While a handful of names have been bandied about as potential successors to Davidson County clerk John Arriola, the one getting the most play so far is that of Brenda Wynn, a fixture in Nashville government and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office, according to the Tennessean’s In Session Blog. Wynn is vying for the temporary appointment by the Metro Council in August, and said she would run for the Democratic nomination when voters elect the clerk on a more permanent basis in November. Wynn was the first director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods under then-Mayor Bill Purcell and has been Cooper’s director of community outreach since he took office in 2003.

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Editorial: Attorney-Client Privilege Trumps Public's Right to Know

Tennessee’s Open Meetings Law requires all public business to be conducted in the sunshine, but in an editorial today, the Daily News Journal discusses why the attorney-client privilege is an exception to that. The paper agrees that meetings with counsel should be in private, but cautions as to what topics should and should not be covered behind closed doors.

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Field for Hawk's Seat Increases After Domestic Charges

Two of the three candidates opposing state Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, in this summer's Republican primary acknowledge they had no plans to enter the contest until the incumbent was charged with domestic assault on his wife. Hawk's primary opponents are attorneys Duncan Cave, Bradley Mercer and Ted Hensley, a county commissioner and real estate broker. The News Sentinel has more

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Hurley Reelection Site Redirects to Opponent

The website for the reelection of state Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, sends visitors instead to the website of Kent Calfee, her opponent in the August Republican primary. Both candidates said they were unaware of the website redirect until informed Friday by the News Sentinel. Hurley promptly cast blame on Calfee and his supporters, but Calfee says he was unaware and that apparently the website registration was not maintained. "I would assume that if you're holding office and you had a website, you would maintain the control of it," he said.

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Shipley Starts Campaign for 3rd Term

Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley kicked off his re-election bid for a third term in office Thursday night with testimonials from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, other state lawmakers and local officials, according to the Kingsport Times News. Shipley, R-Kingsport, is again seeking the 2nd House District seat in the GOP primary and faces a challenge from former Kingsport Alderman Ben Mallicote.

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High Court Declines to Review Residency Dispute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Shelley Breeding, who wanted to run for Knox County's new seat in the state House but was ruled ineligible because her home is just outside the district, WATE reports.