News

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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U.S. Rep. Diane Black to Run for Governor

U.S. Rep. Diane Black announced her candidacy for governor today, the Tennessean reports. Black is from Sumner County and is currently in her fourth term representing Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. Black is considered a front-runner, as she has the highest name recognition of the leading Republican candidates. She will face off against entrepreneur Randy Boyd, businessman Bill Lee, Rep. Beth Harwell and Sen. Mae Beavers in the Republican primary in August 2018. The only Democrat to have officially announced plans to run is former Nashville mayor Karl Dean.
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Duncan Will Not Seek Re-election

Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., the longest-serving Tennessean in Congress, will not seek re-election next year, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The move brings to a close the career of one of the state’s most enduring officeholders and ending a family political dynasty that has occupied the East Tennessee congressional seat for half a century. It also came just a few hours after Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said he would disclose his own political plans at an event on Saturday. Burchett is expected to run for Duncan’s seat.

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Nashville Doctor to Run for Harwell’s House Seat

Dermatologist Brent Moody has announced his candidacy for the Tennessee House seat in district 56 which is currently held by Speaker Beth Harwell, the Nashville Post reports. Moody is a skin cancer surgeon who currently serves as chair of the Tennessee Medical Association's PAC, but will step down from that position in order to run. He has named Bradley lawyer Austin McMullen as his treasurer.
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5 Emerge as Potential Candidates to Replace Harwell as Speaker

With Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell running for governor in 2018, five lawmakers have emerged as potential replacements for her as the leader of the House Republicans, The Tennessean reports. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga), Assistant Majority Leader David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) have all confirmed that they will seek the gavel next year. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) has said he will consider the position, while Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City), who ran for speaker in 2016, said it’s too soon to make a decision.
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Senator’s Campaign Account Shows More Money Spent Than Raised

A recent finance report from Sen. Thelma Harper (D-Nashville) showed that her campaign spent more money than was available in the account, The Tennessean reports. Harper’s campaign shows $8,771 in expenses but only $7,637 in the bank. Such a discrepancy could mean the candidate is spending money the campaign never reported receiving on previous statements, an offense which could result in fines.
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Harwell to Run for Governor

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell has announced she will seek the governor’s office in 2018, the Times Free Press reports. She will face Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and state Sen. Mae Beavers in the Republican Primary, which will be held next August. Harwell touts her “proven, practical results record” and nearly 30 years of legislative experience.
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Trump Taps Sen. Norris, 3 Others to Federal Bench

President Donald Trump today nominated state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Thomas L. Parker, William L. Campbell Jr. and Eli J. Richardson to serve as federal judges, The Tennessean reports. Norris and Parker were picked to serve as judges on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Trump nominated Campbell and Richardson to serve in the Middle District. Nominees must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before they can take their seats on the bench.
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