News

Andy Cole to Run for House District 82

Andy Cole, the Republican who challenged House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in 2016, is again seeking to win the House District 82 seat, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Cole is a native of the district, which includes Crockett, Haywood and Lauderdale counties. Fitzhugh has held the seat since 1995 but is now seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Tennessee.
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Maury County GOP Chair to Run for House District 64

Following the announcement that Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, will not seek reelection, Maury County Republican Chair Scott Cepicky announced he will run for the 64th House district seat, the Tennessee Star reports. In his announcement, Cepicky touted Butt’s endorsement of his campaign, and noted the “professional friendship” they share. Butt will retire from the House after six years in the seat.
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Sheila Butt to Retire from State House

Tennessee state House Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, announced this week that she will not run for reelection in 2018, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Butt was first elected to the seat in 2010. She said that after her term is complete next year, she will devote her time to her ministry, called “Sisters, Servants and Soldiers.” Butt’s District 64 encompasses most of Maury County, but excludes downtown Columbia and a sliver of the western portion of the county. 
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Former Gov. Phil Bredesen to Run for U.S. Senate

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen will officially enter the race for the U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Bob Corker will be vacating after his term ends in 2018, The Tennessean reports. Bredesen is expected to make the official announcement tomorrow morning. He will first face a fellow Democrat, attorney and veteran James Mackler, in the Aug. 2 primary. If victorious, he will move on to the general election in November. Current candidates on the Republican side include U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher and Dr. Rolando Toyos.

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Former State House Rep. Spivey Enters Race for Senate District 14

A third Republican has thrown his hat into the ring for the Tennessee Senate District 14 special election, triggered by the resignation of Jim Tracy, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Former state Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg today announced his campaign to serve a district that covers Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and parts of Rutherford counties. Former state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and Shane Reeves of Murfreesboro have already declared their candidacies. The primary election date is set for Jan. 25.

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Chattanooga Businessman to Run for Favors’ Seat

Following the retirement announcement of longtime House of Representatives member JoAnne Favors, Chattanooga businessman Brandon Woodruff has announced his plans to seek the seat in next year’s election, Nooga.com reports. Woodruff is the owner of Brainerd’s Scenic City T’s and is also a licensed sales producer for Allstate Insurance. Earlier this month, former Chattanooga city council member Yusuf Hakeem also declared his intentions to run for the District 28 seat.

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Special Election Dates Set for District 14 Senate Election

Gov. Bill Haslam has authorized a special election to fill the Tennessee State Senate seat recently vacated by Jim Tracy, who resigned to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office, The Tennessean reports. The primary for Senate District 14 will be held on Jan. 25, with the general election on March 13. Current candidates in the race include former state Rep. Joe Carr and Murfreesboro businessman Shane Reeves. The district includes Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and parts of Rutherford Counties.

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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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