With the legislature adjourned, in a non-election year, things are a little slow in state politics. There are no bills to fight about, and no campaigns to rev up. But state political parties can't just do nothing, and we have to write about something. So, this happened.
About mid-day yesterday, the Tennessee Republican Party sent out a press release declaring: Knoxville Deserves Better: First-term Lawmaker Gloria Johnson Had a Bad First Year in the Legislature.
The release, copied in full after the jump, included a bullet-point list of the freshman legislator's "embarrassing" record.
Later came a release from the Tennessee Democratic Party: Standing Tall for Knoxville: Johnson Worked to Protect Middle Class Families, Fought Republican Extremism and Corruption; Partisan Republican Attacks Fail Truth Test!
The release, also copied after the jump, aims to "set the record straight" after the TNGOP's "baseless partisan attacks against her" earlier in the day.
From the TNGOP:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—As lawmakers return home following the conclusion of the legislative session, Tennesseans are reviewing the public record of their lawmakers and some of what they are finding is embarrassing.
Take, for instance, the record of Representative Gloria Johnson (D—Knoxville).
In a short four-month period as a legislator, Rep. Johnson:
Spent the last four months harassing and opposing Governor Bill Haslam’s common sense reform agenda for education and spending.
Voted against a bill that protects doctors who provide free medical care to low-income patients who need urgent attention.
Filed a self-serving bill she would personally benefit from.
Supported the implementation of ObamaCare in Tennessee.
Voted to strip worker’s rights protections from Tennessee law.
Stood against Knox County teachers having the ability to protect students.
Chose to not record a vote on a ban of the state income tax that would protect Tennessee families from having more of their hard-earned money taken by government.
Voted against a balanced state budget that meets the needs of our state and cuts taxes for all Tennesseans.
Voted against cutting the sales tax on groceries for all Tennesseans.
Voted against phasing out the death tax to save Tennessee families and farms from being double-taxed on their assets.
Voted against an initiative to find and remove examples of government waste.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney made the following statement about Rep. Johnson’s legislative performance.
“Representative Johnson was sent to Nashville to represent her constituents and this dismal performance was anything but that. It is troubling to see that her priorities were not carrying and passing good legislation, but rather being focused on updating her social media accounts with personal attacks on our leaders. Tennesseans hold their elected officials to a higher standard and expect them to work tirelessly on their behalf. Instead, she put petty personal politics above what’s best for Tennessee.”
He concluded, “I look forward to talking about Gloria Johnson's embarrassing track record with her constituents over the next year and a half.”
And from the TNDP:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — State Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) is setting the record straight today after the Tennessee Republican Party lodged baseless partisan attacks against her.
Worked Together with Governor on Good Ideas, Opposed Efforts that Hurt the Middle Class
Rep. Gloria Johnson worked with Governor Haslam when he was right, like on efforts to provide education scholarships to disabled students and has been a strong supporter of the governor’s “Drive to 55” college graduation initiative.
Johnson opposed him when he was wrong like his bill to divert our tax dollars to private schools and his law to dismantle workers’ compensation in Tennessee, an extreme measure that rewards big insurance and big corporations by cutting benefits for injured workers and their families.
Worked to Provide Reliable Health Coverage to 300,000 Tennesseans, Reward Doctors & Nurses (HB 0938)
Rep. Gloria Johnson supported efforts to expand Medicaid, which would have extended reliable health coverage to 300,000 low-income Tennesseans — including 80,000 children. She also believes doctors, hospitals and nurses deserve to be paid for their hard work in caring for Tennesseans. HB 0938 is no substitute for Medicaid expansion, which Republicans patently rejected denying real health security and coverage to 300,000 Tennesseans.
Fixed “One-Size-Fits-All” Mandate on Teachers that Tied the Hands of Local School Systems (HB 0369)
Inspired by Republican Education Committee Chairman Rep. Harry Brooks, co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Dunn and Republican Rep. Dawn White and sponsored in the Senate by Republican Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, Rep. Gloria Johnson worked with teachers, administrators and local school board officials to fix a law from 2012 that introduced a testing mandate for teachers that local school boards did not have time to comply with. The new reform helps school boards avoid staff shuffling and keeps students with the teachers they know.
Supports More Working Tennesseans Having Reliable Access to Doctors (Medicaid Expansion)
Rep. Gloria Johnson supports expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, as did The News Sentinel, The Tennessean, The Commercial Appeal, the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and many patient rights and citizen groups.
Rep. Johnson firmly believes that working Tennesseans should be able to go to the doctor when they get sick. Expanding Medicaid would help us achieve the goal of reliable health coverage for 300,000 Tennesseans — including 80,000 children.
Stood Up to Wasteful Partisan Politics that Waste Tax Dollars (Income Tax Constitutional Amendment)
Rep. Gloria Johnson refused to play Republican’s political “gotchya” games on the income tax constitutional amendment. The state Supreme Court has ruled an income tax is illegal in Tennessee, but Republicans keep wasting time and tax dollars playing politics on this issue to scare voters. Playing politics doesn’t serve the people of Knoxville or attract good-paying jobs, and Rep. Johnson refused to play their game.
Republicans Dismantled Workers Compensation and Cut Benefits for Injured Workers. (Dismantle Workers’ Compensation bill)
Rep. Gloria Johnson fought tooth and nail to protect middle class families and keep the majority party from driving down wages for workers. She tried to stop big insurance and wealthy special interests from dismantling workers’ compensation in Tennessee. When injured workers and their families don’t have enough income to pay their mortgage or put food on the table, they’ll have special interests and the Republican majority to blame.
Extreme Republicans Voted to Put Guns in Schools. (Guns in school)
As a teacher and a gun owner, Rep. Johnson knows first hand that bringing guns around school children is a terrible idea. To make matters worse, the Republican majority refused to allocate any funding to train teachers who now choose to go armed.
Consistently Supported Eliminating the Food Tax (Budget)
One of Rep. Johnson’s campaign pledges was to work toward eliminating the food tax that punishes working families in Tennessee. She supported its inclusion in the budget and will continue to support legislation that achieves this goal.
However, Rep. Johnson refused to betray 300,000 working Tennesseans — including 80,000 children — living without access to reliable health care by supporting a budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion.
The Republican budget, instead, sends $1.4 billion of our tax dollars that would have created 20,000 good-paying jobs to other states that are choosing to expand health insurance to their working citizens.
In these Hard Times, Tax Breaks for Millionaires and Billionaires are the Wrong Priority (Budget, Millionaire Inheritance tax)
Republicans started phasing out the tax on million and billion dollar estate owners before she took office. Even so, more huge tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires while working and middle class families suffer is not going to build a stronger economy or stronger communities.
Also, Rep. Johnson refused to betray 300,000 working Tennesseans — including 80,000 children — living without access to reliable health care by supporting a budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion.
Republicans INCREASED the Size and Scope of Government to Create a Job for Political Friends (Repealer)
Rep. Johnson knows every tax dollar must be spent wisely — that's why she opposed the Republican bill to spend more tax dollars creating a new government department to perform a task that's already being done. This Republican expansion of bureaucracy is redundant and wasteful.
This sort of trolling has become one of the TNGOP's trademarks, but even still, we're not quite sure why this happened.