Tag Archives: Mike Carter

Links, what a blog is good for

Here are some additional items of interest in Tennessee politics today:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a confidential investigation of District Attorney General Steve Bebb — TNReport
  • The Washington Post attempts, I think wrongly, to establish Rep. Joe Carr as a 2014 bellwether — The Fix
  • Rep. Mike Carter will try again to get legislation passed that overturns part of a 1998 law that set municipal annexation rules in place — Andy Sher

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.

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.

GOP aspirants eye East Hamilton prize

Although redistricting plans have not yet been made fully public in Tennessee, a few potential candidates in Hamilton County have begun the arduous process of cautiously staking out what they believe (likely on good authority) will be new territory: an open Tennessee House of Representatives district in the eastern part of the county. Given the demographic makeup of the area, such a district would almost certainly be solidly Republican.

Among those the grapevine suggests might be interested are Mike Carter, a former General Sessions Judge, assistant to former County Mayor Claude Ramsey, and 2011 candidate to replace Ramsey; Wes Kliner, an attorney and former election commissioner; Ray Minner, an educator whose political forays include twice narrowly missing being elected to the Collegedale City Commission; and Robin Smith, former Tennessee Republican Party chair and 2010 candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. (It’s not clear whether the new district boundaries would include Smith’s residence; and she is still reportedly deciding whether a rematch with U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is her 2012 focus.)

Attempts to confirm these and other active rumors are underway, and updates will be posted as more information becomes available. In the meantime, let me be clear that the above is simply hearsay at the moment, and is not intended as breaking news. It’s just what we sometimes like to talk about here.

UPDATE 11/23: Robin Smith does not live in the proposed new district, so strike her from the list. Also, there is another potential candidate—more to come.

Ramsey replacement will serve with stigma of secrecy

At 9:30 a.m. the Hamilton County Commission will attempt to decide unevenly between two candidates seeking to replace outgoing County Mayor Claude Ramsey. Two previous votes held on the same day (27 December 2010) resulted in a tie. Four commissioners were for Mike Carter, a top Ramsey aide; and four more preferred Commissioner Jim Coppinger.

The vote itself is the not-so-simple culmination of a process that began when Ramsey was first picked to head Governor-elect Bill Haslam’s administration. Many have commented on the lack of public input to the procedure. A public forum was held on Monday, but it was sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Republican Women, not the county commission—and it followed the initial deadlocked vote. Several have decried the Commission’s apparent preference for keeping their intentions private.

Ray Minner, on Facebook:

It is hard to imagine how Commission Chairman Fred Skillern and some of his colleagues could have mucked up this process any worse if they had deliberately set out to try. Larry, his brother Daryll, and his other brother Daryll would have done it cleaner and quicker, and we would have at least been entertained along the way. As it is, the entire episode from beginning to end (Oh, wait! We’re not AT the end yet, are we?) has exposed the reality of just how much these elected officials care about public input, transparency in government, and accountability. Private interviews of the candidates was an idea that should have been dismissed out of hand at its very first mention.

Minner also speculates that for Commissioner Larry Henry, whose application was submitted and then withdrawn, the “political realities” cited likely included closed-door conversations with his colleagues. Henry cast his vote for Coppinger last week.

David Morton, editor of Chattarati, also found fault with the selection process in general, but was particularly disturbed by reports that a scheme is being hatched to seat Commission Chairman Fred Skillern’s preferred candidate:

The proposed deal, for Skillern to step down and clear the way for Coppinger’s ascension, follows the letter of the law. But not its spirit. And as this whole ordeal has played out over the past month, the County Commission has moved further away from the law’s spirit inch by inch, which is quite alarming considering the weight and duration of this particular appointment.

Only holding private interviews was a serious lapse in judgment. Not only does it rob the public of an opportunity to learn more about the candidates, it’s a political liability for commissioners and the appointed mayor. Were it not for the candidate forum sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Republican Women last night, citizens would have had no direct opportunity to learn about their next mayor.

That’s a troubling reality, but not nearly as troubling as the rumored Skillern-Coppinger deal.

Coppinger is not alone in having elected officials attempt to work behind the scenes on his behalf. Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield at first said he was not lobbying for either candidate, but later admitted that he has made calls in support of Carter.

Most acknowledge that neither candidate is a bad choice, and that the county will muddle through the nineteen months or so until a properly elected mayor is seated. But there is also the unfortunate perception that, no matter which candidate gets the job, the remainder of the term will be clouded by lingering suspicions about how it was gotten.

See also: Stuart James