Tag Archives: Andraé McGary

Democrats unite behind Paul Smith at fundraiser

Even though some of the local Democratic Party faithful expressed their displeasure with Chairman Paul Smith by refusing to attend, the Choo Choo Imperial Ballroom was fairly filled with cheering supporters on Wednesday at the party’s annual Kefauver Dinner. Organizers said the event was sold-out.

Smith and his longtime friend, former Senate Majority Leader Ward Crutchfield, each received several ovations from the crowd at the urging of speakers ranging from Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis to Crutchfield’s daughter Missy, who heads the Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture, and who emceed the event.

The majority of those in attendance seemed willing to forgive and forget the elder Crutchfield’s 2005 arrest and 2007 conviction on federal bribery charges, though some were seen keeping their seats while the rest stood.

A few party stalwarts privately hinted that Smith may face a leadership challenge at the next re-organization meeting (to take place in Spring 2013), even as they asserted that the current rift is more personal than political. One member expressed a desire to see younger people move into party leadership, but said that the fundraiser is a time to emphasize party unity, adding that the re-organization will be the time to “air the dirty laundry.”

Missy Crutchfield used some of her time at the lectern to rather openly lobby mayoral candidate Sen. Andy Berke to continue the department she administers, which was created in 2005 by current Mayor Ron Littlefield, should he win the March 2013 election. (She also alluded to a common perception that Berke is a shoo-in by referring to the election as a “coronation.”)

D. Bruce Shine, a Kingsport attorney and former staffer for Estes Kefauver, gave a biographical sketch of the Tennessee Congressman, U.S. Senator, and vice presidential candidate. Other speakers included Rev. Kenneth Love, Rep. JoAnne Favors, Sen. Beverly Marrero, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. Collectively they extolled the virtues of organized labor and excoriated Republican-led legislative changes such as the requirement for voters to show photo identification at the polling place.

Candidates in the November election were recognized on the podium: Favors, Frank Eaton, Dr. Mary Headrick, Jim Lewis, Andraé McGary, and Sandy Norris Smith all were declared “winners” by Love. Following their recognition, candidates in the 2013 municipal election were invited to stand.

The annual Kefauver award, chosen by the party chair, was presented to Sandy Lusk, Missy Crutchfield, Jane Bowen-Forsythe, and Roger Graham.

Full disclosure: I was not able to stay through the entire event, and therefore missed the keynote speech by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis). Times Free Press reporter Shelly Bradbury covered it through its conclusion.

Top Tales for Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gentle reader, here are some of the latest stories in Tennessee politics.

The Hamilton County Democratic Party holds its annual Kefauver Dinner fundraiser tonight at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Imperial Ballroom. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, who represents Tennessee’s 9th District. Some party members, including at least one local elected official, are boycotting the event following party chair Paul Smith’s refusal to apologize for a joke he printed on a party board agenda that was seen by some to denigrate women. Admission to the dinner is $60 ($35 for students).

House Speaker Beth Harwell is among the dignitaries expected at a Republican Party campaign rally for area GOP legislative candidates. The event is scheduled from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 11. Candidates and elected representatives from districts in Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, Roane, and Sequatchie Counties will be there. Admission is free.

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is once again the target of some years-old oppo research involving his apparently very messy divorce and surrounding issues. This time, it’s about a phone conversation he taped with a pregnant former mistress (who first had been his patient), and his urging her to proceed with an abortion so that he could mend his broken family. State Sen. Eric Stewart is DesJarlais’s Democratic Party opponent in the November 6 election. DesJarlais was elected in 2010 despite similar efforts by former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis’ campaign to expose unsavory details from DesJarlais’s personal life.

Yes, I know. The voter guide pages on this site are woefully out-of-date, as they still pertain to the August primary elections. Rest assured that changes are underway, hopefully to be launched by October 17, which is the start of early voting. (And, gulp, just one scant week from now.) For the Chattanooga audience, I’m excited to announce that Tennessee Ticket is once again partnering with Nooga.com to produce voter guides in a similar format that you saw this past summer.

There’s no debate that these were forums. Bradley County citizens on Monday had to choose between attending what will probably be the only joint appearance in the entire Third District by incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and his Democratic opponent, Dr. Mary Headrick, or a meeting of 10th Senate District candidates Todd Gardenhire and Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary. From where I sat at the latter, it looked like more chose the former. You can scroll down my Twitter page to see updates posted during the event, or read Joy Lukachick’s TFP coverage. Chris Carroll and James Harrison chronicled the TN-03 event.

How overwhelming will the Republican majority in the General Assembly be? Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has some thoughts. (HT: NPP)

What is ‘nonpartisan’? A view behind the scenes of the Brainerd forum

Tuesday evening’s candidate meet-and-greet and forum was sponsored by the Brainerd Unity Group, which bills itself as a nonpartisan community organization. I am a member of the group, though I confess I’m not regularly active in it, and I’ve slacked a couple of years on dues. (I’m paid-up now.)

When Candy Corneliussen, one of the group’s steering committee members, introduced me as the moderator, she described Tennessee Ticket as a “nonpartisan…or bipartisan” blog.

Media reports both before and after the forum made much of the fact that not many Republican candidates accepted the invitation to attend. The Democrats in attendance also attempted to heap shame on their GOP counterparts for being no-shows.

There are several factors that help round out the story. I want to make sure readers know as much as possible.

  • Todd Gardenhire, candidate for the Senate District 10 seat, was already booked for an event in Bradley County when I contacted the campaign to invite him.
  • That said, Marti Rutherford is Gardenhire’s scheduling person. There is enmity between Rutherford and the Brainerd Unity Group (or certain of its leaders) that dates back to the time Rutherford resigned from the Chattanooga City Council. I asked if a surrogate could attend in Gardenhire’s stead, and Rutherford rightly expressed concern about having someone speak on the candidate’s behalf. I suggested maybe just sending someone to hand out fliers and bumper stickers who wouldn’t participate in the forum.
  • Rep. Gerald McCormick is virtually unopposed in House District 26. (Rodger Cooksey is an independent on the ballot, but I cannot locate any information about his campaign.) The 26th does not really involve the Brainerd area.
  • Mike Carter is the only candidate running in District 29. The 29th does include a Brainerd precinct or two, but for the most part is drawn around the fast-growing Ooltewah area.
  • Rep. Richard Floyd probably feels fairly safe in his reelection effort, which is why he probably didn’t choose to face his District 27 opponent, Frank Eaton.
  • Rep. Vince Dean probably feels fairly safe in his reelection effort, which is why he probably didn’t choose to face his District 30 opponent, Sandy Norris Smith.
  • Since many (though not all) of the Brainerd Unity Group’s leaders are Democrats, it was my responsibility (as an Independent) to contact the Republican candidates. It is possible that I was not diligent or persuasive enough, even though I made every effort, given my schedule, to ensure all candidates knew they were invited to participate, including U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

A few Republicans were at the event (including Oscar Brock, who manned a Romney/Ryan table), but they were greatly outnumbered. This is consistent with what I have observed about many political events in this town, whether explicitly partisan or not—and no matter which explicit or implicit party puts on the show. They are generally lopsided.

And I just wonder if that is all right and good. If we try too hard to sterilize these things, they may just become yawnfests that nobody wants to attend. One of my Republican friends who attended Tuesday acknowledged his ideological minority status, but quickly added that he has fairly “thick skin,” so it didn’t matter. He got to see how the other side thought. I think that’s great, but I don’t expect everyone to act similarly.

Even so, I do wish more GOP candidates had come to the Brainerd forum. As the moderator, my aim was to give voters of all stripes a fair view into the mindsets of candidates of all stripes. And if I were a campaign consultant (which I don’t ever want to be, for the record), I would highly encourage my candidate to make every possible effort to be in front of potential voters, no matter how seemingly “hostile” the political territory. In-person appearances do matter.

For the record, I do not consider Tennessee Ticket to be “bipartisan.” I spend too much time trying to inform citizens that there are often more than the two media-supplied choices for that to be accurate. I am not sure if “nonpartisan” or “unpartisan” is the correct descriptor, but you get the idea. At the same time, I am realistic about the fact that, most often, an election will produce either a Democratic or Republican winner. I try to be fair to that reality as well as to all potential alternatives.

We all have choices to make—even the candidates, on where they will show up. But if any candidate felt like he was not suitably welcomed to the October 2nd event, allow me to extend an apology (though I have no evidence to suggest that is the case).

Aside from all this: please review your choices in the upcoming election as they relate to your personal values, and please vote accordingly.

The calm after the storm

Maybe we haven’t recovered fully from last week’s elections, but here are a few things that have happened since.

Chattanooga elections may move

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Deborah Scott is pushing to have the council, and then the voters, decide on a measure that would move the city’s municipal elections up four months from March to November, so that they would coincide with state and federal elections.

Opponents argue that doing so would dilute attention from the local race, since so much publicity adorns the top of the ticket. Advocates say that turnout would naturally be higher, and thus allow for more participation.

Scott also is proposing limits of two terms for council members. Her fellow council members do not seem too keen on that idea.

Match set in District 10

Following Greg Vital’s concession to Todd Gardenhire in Senate District 10, Democratic Party nominee Andraé McGary announced his general election kickoff message. “The reports of the demise of the Democratic Party in Tennessee, to paraphrase Mark Twain, have been greatly exaggerated,” McGary said. “The upcoming Kefauver dinner here in Chattanooga will show a room filled with the spirit to fight back—and win.”

The race for this open seat is likely to draw statewide attention.

Senator says Clayton in the wrong camp

Sen. Stacey Campfield today blogged about previous encounters with Mark Clayton, the official Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate election. Campfield says the disavowed candidate would be more at home in the GOP, but avers Clayton’s authenticity in considering himself a Democrat.

Green option for Yellow Dogs

After a declaration by state Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins that there is no time for a Democratic do-over, a couple of voices have spoken up offering a candidate whose politics may appeal to the party’s progressive wing.

Martin Pleasant was nominated in June by the Green Party of Tennessee to run in this election. Here’s R.W. Young’s endorsement.

Green ink fading?

But candidates like Pleasant may get yanked from the ballot if a federal court ruling that granted them ballot access were to get overturned. As of right now, we should expect to see Green Party candidates listed along with Democrats, Independents, and Republicans on the Secretary of State website. The finalized candidate listings are due up by Aug. 30.

Fright Ning

A writer at Smart Girl Politics is very concerned that voter fraud (as in deliberate and secret manipulation of electronic vote tallies) might be the reason U.S. Rep. Diane Black won the 6th District primary over Lou Ann Zelenik, and that the total number of votes cast against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the Senate primary amounted to only 12%.

Chief change

House Speaker Beth Harwell on Tuesday announced that she has named Scott Gilmer the new Chief of Staff for the Tennessee House of Representatives. Gilmer is a former research analyst for the House Republican Caucus, during which time he got into a little trouble by illegally using former Rep. Nathan Vaughn’s name in anti-Vaughn website addresses. Gilmer seems to have stayed out of trouble since the incident.