Tag Archives: Gerald McCormick

Harwell headlines Republican rally

Hamilton County Republicans on Thursday gathered at their party headquarters on Chestnut Street for a campaign rally for legislative candidates. Guests mingled with elected officials and candidates over appetizers and iced tea.

The host—a smiling, good-humored House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick—opened the proceedings by telling attendees he was glad for once to have an event “where we don’t have to ask you for money,” although he quickly added that those who wanted to could donate to the county party.

McCormick acknowledged several of the state-level candidates and elected officials present (Rep. Richard Floyd, Johnny Horne, Mike Carter, Sen. Bo Watson; but Rep. Vince Dean and Todd Gardenhire were absent), and also mentioned, but did not name, the candidates who have declared for the March 2013 Chattanooga election (Larry Grohn, Ryan King, and Roger Tuder, among others). Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry and Assessor of Property Bill Bennett also were in the room.

When introducing Beth Harwell, Tennessee’s first woman to be elected by her peers as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, McCormick said she was part of a group of women GOP leaders who put lie to the Democratic Party’s claims that the Republican Party is waging “a war on women.”

Harwell put the recent round of redistricting in perspective by sharing that her former students, when for a game she had her classes play were given the opportunity to modify the rules after winning a round, always made sure that the new rules protected their status as winners.

Looking ahead to the November elections, Harwell cast them as being of the utmost importance. As a former party chair, she acknowledged that she used to say “this is the most important election” every time, but emphasized that voters will be making “a philosophical choice” in the upcoming balloting.

Harwell praised Gov. Bill Haslam and said that he, together with the GOP-led General Assembly, will work to keep government out of the way of small business owners. She cited a recent rating by a business journal that named Tennessee as the fourth best state in which to do business.

Harwell closed by recounting her pride at being able to report to a gathering of 47 other statehouse Speakers that Tennessee had balanced its budget, reduced spending by two percent, eliminated the gift and estate taxes, reduced the sales tax on food, and was recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as a model for other states on education reform.

McCormick faces independent candidate W. Rodger Cooksey in the November election. Harwell is unopposed.

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.

House District 26 candidate leaves race

Larry Miller, who was unopposed in the August Democratic Primary in House District 26, has said he is leaving the race because he’s leaving the state to pursue an employment opportunity.

Miller had said he was running with his given name (Lawrence) to avoid potential confusion with Rep. Larry J. Miller of Memphis. And, presumably, this guy.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick is the Republican nominee, and Rodger Cooksey is an Independent candidate for the November 6 election.

Vital signs

Chattanooga businessman Greg Vital has made it known that he intends to seek the 10th District Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Andy Berke—the same seat that Rep. Vince Dean was thoroughly expected to seek. However, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press also reports, Dean is being encouraged by House Speaker Beth Harwell and Majority Leader Gerald McCormick to stay put.

This would mean a shake-up in the developing GOP primary for House District 30, which would be an open seat if Dean were to run for the Senate. East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert and Larry Grohn have picked up petitions, and there has been talk of a couple more candidates. Not many Republican candidates would be likely to stay in it against the incumbent, though. Two Democrats have also picked up papers to run: Brock Bennington and Brian White.

Collegedale resident Ray Minner, who has also been considering a run in the 30th after redistricting placed him in that district, says there is something telling in the GOP leaders’ actions:

Doesn’t anyone besides me find it very, very curious that “the two top House Republicans,” who have surely known for quite a long time that Vince Dean was planning to run for the Senate, said nothing, and even allowed him to make his announcement and pick up papers. Then suddenly, when Greg Vital decides HE wants that seat, they start to lean on Vince to stay in the House. Coincidence? Only the most naive would think so.

Meanwhile, it looks like voters in the new 28th District will have a contested primary in both of the two major parties. Democratic Reps. Tommie Brown and JoAnne Favors were placed into the same minority-majority district, and each has said she will seek the nomination. Two Republicans have also pulled petitions: Johnny Horne, who has run unsuccessfully for local and state offices in years past; and Basil Marceaux Jr., who previously ran in the old 29th District against Favors.

That’s not, by the way, the Basil Marceaux (“dot com”) you may be thinking of. The elder Marceaux is running for the state House as well, but in the 27th District, where he will challenge incumbent Rep. Richard Floyd in the GOP primary. (Trivia time: can anyone name other instances in which a parent and child were running in neighboring legislative districts in the same election?) Marceaux will be on the ballot on Super Tuesday too, as a candidate for Hamilton County Mayor.

In the new 29th, which covers eastern and northern Hamilton County, former sessions judge Mike Carter has so far drawn no opponents for the open seat. If this stays true, he will have pulled off quite a feat, given the rich swath of Republican votes it holds. The qualifying deadline is noon on April 5th.

The primary elections will be held on August 2nd.