Politics

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

For $250, You Can See Mayoral Candidates Audition for the Nashville Business Coalition's Support

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 10:41 AM

The Nashville Business Coalition is hosting a "mayoral candidate panel" on Oct. 9. If you have $250 and can skip work on a Thursday morning, you're invited to attend.

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As of now, the event will feature Megan Barry, Charles Robert Bone, David Fox, and Jeremy Kane (with new candidates presumably to be added). The candidates are the main attraction for a fundraiser, beefing up the NBC's political action committee.

There are a few things about this that feel...weird. For instance, while on the one hand the NBC is simply trying to raise money while also giving its members a chance to hear from the candidates who might receive its support, it's still a bit unseemly to see an entrance fee that would blow a hole in many an average person's budget for a forum featuring candidates for public office. If you feel like politics, even on the local level, doesn't really include you, an event like this isn't likely to dissuade you of that notion.

But here's another thing: in the end, the NBC is presumably going to endorse and/or contribute to one mayoral candidate. The rest will have acted as the main attraction for an event to raise funds that went to their opponent. That might be worth it if it still helped get their name and message to the masses, but see the first point.

For what it's worth, the coalition contributed $500 each to four state legislative candidates earlier this year: Jeff Yarbro (D), Gary Odom (D), Beth Harwell (R), and Thelma Harper (D).

We should also note, that Walk/Bike Nashville has announced their own panel discussion with mayoral candidates on Oct. 8. They'll be discussing sidewalks and walkability in Nashville over coffee.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bill Haslam vs. The Tea Party Wing of GOP

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Last week, Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) called Gov. Bill Haslam a traitor for organizing support against dissident members of the conservative wing of the party.

Haslam's response? I didn't do it, but it wouldn't matter if I did.

Asked whether he denies Womick’s assertion that the governor had a direct hand in targeting lawmakers, Haslam said, “Again, I have folks who have supported us who are concerned about who gets elected to the legislature, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

Haslam said, “I didn’t select one opponent, I can assure you that.” He added he didn’t encourage anyone to run against targeted legislators.

“As you know, contests get very personal. And so you start to hear lots of conversation back and forth about who’s doing this or that, and you know, it’s not always accurate,” he said.

Womick penned a letter earlier this month calling out what he called the administration’s “treasonous targeting, in this month’s primary.”

The primaries may be over — and in Tennessee most of the races in the November election are effectively done, too — but the run-up to the legislative session promises a lot of fireworks.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Haslam to Send Medicaid Expansion Plan to Feds … Soon

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Gov. Bill Haslam says his administration will submit a plan for expanding Medicaid to federal officials sometime this fall.

As our Andrea Zelinski reports, it's a change of course:

The decision for the Haslam administration to craft its own plan comes as a 180-degree turn from six months ago when his staff asked HHS to draft a proposal Tennessee could work from. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius left office less than two months later following political heat from the botched rollout of the healthcare.gov website. Her replacement, Burwell, won confirmation in June.

“They never really came back with anything so we’re proceeding,” Haslam said. “I think we’ll probably go to to them sometime this fall with a plan, ‘Here’s something that we think makes sense for Tennessee.’”

If you've ever heard Haslam answer direct questions, this approach will make sense — i.e., "You see there's this side and then there's the other side and then there's me and I'm working on it." As a politician, Haslam has always seemed like the kind of guy who doesn't want to be the first or the last one to do something or take a position. (Depending on your perspective, he is either wisely cautious or politically gutless.) On Medicaid expansion, his initial no wasn't a total no, and — as evidenced by the slowly materializing Tennessee Plan — his yes wasn't a yes either. Now that other states with initial misgivings have gone ahead, it looks as if Tennessee might as well. It's the Haslam way.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Barry, Cooper to Host Fundraiser for Gordon Ball's U.S. Senate Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Tennessee Democrats have a U.S. Senate candidate they're not running away from.

Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper and At-Large Councilwoman, and 2015 mayoral candidate, Megan Barry are hosting a fundraiser for the Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate campaign, Sept. 4 at Mafiaoza's in 12 South. Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard and banker Kevin Lavender will also host.

Ball, a Knoxville attorney, defeated another Knoxville attorney, Terry Adams, earlier in the Democratic primary earlier this month. He's clearly getting some Democratic support, which is more than the last Democratic U.S. Senate nominee or their current gubernatorial candidate can say. Still, some prominent Democrats quickly announced their support for Sen. Lamar Alexander's re-election after the senior senator defeated Joe Carr in the Republican primary.

Here's an invitation for the event.

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#Mayoralchatter: Linda Rebrovick Setting Up Team, Close To Announcement

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Linda Rebrovick, a local executive and Eskind family member, has been assembling a campaign team and will likely file paperwork and formally join the mayor's race very soon.

"What I'm hearing is that, unequivocally, voters of Nashville are interested in an outsider, that doesn't come with political or government experience or, if you will, brings that viewpoint to this position of mayor," she told Pith on Tuesday. "Rather, they want someone who brings business leadership experience and is driven and able to help shape the future of Nashville."

Rebrovick has spent time in D.C. interviewing campaign firms and has settled on Mark Putnam for media and Fred Yang for polling. Both have extensive experience in Nashville, with Putnam working on Karl Dean's re-election and Yang polling for virtually all of Dean and Phil Bredesen's campaigns.

Memorably, Putnam's firm produced President Obama's "47%" ad in the last election:

Pith asked Rebrovick if hiring Democratic operatives was designed to blunt perception of her as a Republican.

"Well, you know there's always going to be perceptions," she replied. "You know my maiden name. It's Eskind. And so, I believe that's strong in terms of people who are well respected in this community, the Eskind name is very strong across the state in terms of their Democratic belief and support."

Rebrovick will be running against a powerful tide: All of Nashville's mayors since consolidation have been Democrats.

"This is a non-partisan race, right? So declaring a party isn't important from that perspective, to be a candidate," she said. "On the other hand, I have a record that shows I have been willing to look at the person who is running and make a decision based upon what's needed at that time for the particular position. So you're going to find that's how I've leaned. So, my message will be strong to both parties."

With an ever-growing field, and other races demanding campaign cash until November, several candidates have planned to self-fund at least some of their efforts. Rebrovick said she would be no different.

"Part of that [decision-making] process was to be comfortable that I'm not going to let funding impact me through to the finish line," she said. "So, I clearly intend to use my own funds as needed and simultaneously, I want to invest in myself if I'm asking others to invest in me and invest in the city. Yes, the answer is I expect to have some of my own funding and also want to be cognizant of the fact that it's important to raise money from your supporters."

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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Real Question Is, 'Is Lance Frizzell Being Paid Enough?'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 5:30 AM

There's a point in Nate Morabito's story about how Lance Frizzell, Ron Ramsey's chief of staff, makes more than any other person in the country in a similar postion and, in fact, makes almost as much as the governor, when I thought, "Wow, Lance Frizzell's job must suck."

This is that moment:

"I love setting policy for the State of Tennessee," [Ron Ramsey] said. "I think we're doing a great job of running the state and improving education and on and on but when one secretary is fussing, because another secretary's computer is two years newer or we're trying to decide if we should buy 12 ounce Styrofoam cups or 16 ounce Styrofoam cups for the cafeteria, that's the kind of stuff I don't want to be involved in. I'm more worried about whether we can pave our roads in the State of Tennessee...I'm more worried about kids graduating high school and going to college than whether there's a $10,000 difference in somebody's salary somewhere. I think that's the kind of stuff I don't want to be involved in."

I know you saw the sentence that raised the red flag — "but when one secretary is fussing, because another secretary's computer is two years newer" — and tell me you don't know that attitude. Oh, women, always with the fussing about whatever petty jealousies we have.

So, here's poor Frizzell having to translate between Ramsey's 1970s attitudes towards women and the laws of the land here 40 years later, where you can't treat the women who work for you like your pets, where the favorites get the benefits and the people working on outdated equipment are dismissed as complaining frivolously.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ex-Haslam Finance Chief Mark Emkes To Join CCA's Board

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Now comes the news from the Associated Press that Gov. Bill Haslam's former finance chief and will joining the board of directors for Corrections Corporation of America.

Private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America has named former Tennessee finance chief Mark Emkes to its board of directors.

Emkes, a former CEO of Nashville-based tire maker Bridgestone Americas, was one of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's highest-profile Cabinet choices following his 2010 election.

Emkes presided over three annual budget plans before retiring from state government last year.

Emkes is the latest in a long line of political figures from Tennessee and elsewhere who have moved to CCA.

Current CCA chairman John Ferguson was in the Sundquist administration. Current board members also have political pasts: Donna Alvarado was in the Reagan administration; Thurgood Marshall Jr. was in the Clinton administration.

The Sundquist administration sent quite a few to work for CCA, as a 2003 Nashville Post story detailed:

[Tony] Grande is the latest of several Sundquist administration officials to take positions with CCA. Former Sundquist appointee Brian K. Ferrell joined CCA’s office of state government relations last January. The long term plan at CCA is to have Ferrell manage all existing state customer relations and to have Grande take over the work involving prospective new customers.

Former TennCare Director John Tighe recently was named a vice president at CCA in charge of the company’s health services division. In November, Natasha Metcalf, commissioner of the state’s human services department since 1998, was named to the newly created executive position of vice president of local government customer relations.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#MayoralChatter: Will Howard Gentry Enter The Race?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM

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Everywhere Pith goes these days, we hear the same question: Is Howard Gentry running?

After missing the runoff eight years ago by just half a point, a Gentry candidacy would make sense for a number of reasons. First, as the current criminal court clerk, he's a high-profile, countywide office-holder. Second, he would be an African-American candidate in a lily-white field. And third, he's got deep political roots in the community.

So we picked up the phone and called him and got a pretty nuanced answer: Yes, he's interested, but he's always been interested; yes, he thinks he can win; but he's in a great place personally and professionally and doesn't know yet if he wants to run. In fairness, here's the whole conversation:

There are a lot of people mentioning your name as a mayoral candidate right now. Are you interested in running? Will you run?

Well, I wouldn't have run eight years ago if I wasn't interested in it. Losing a race doesn't cause you to lose interest. But I have not made a decision to run yet.

What goes into making that decision? What factors are you weighing?

You could ask that question of everybody running.

Well, that's what we've been trying to do.

The truth is that … [laughs] I hate to do this because I've never been a "no comment" person, but I'm not even in a "no comment" position. I'm in a place where I haven't decided to run for mayor. Any conversation I have with you about those things would just be answers to your questions and not detail about what would or wouldn't cause me to do it or not do it. Because I'm not sure that I know it. If I did, I'd probably be making a statement right now. What I'm trying to say is that I don't want you to write [that] I'm still thinking about running for mayor. The fact is that it just hasn't happened.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#MayoralChatter: Barry Campaign Staffs Up

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Megan Barry's mayoral campaign is ramping up.

Yesterday the at-large councilwoman announced the appointment of Claudia Huskey as her campaign manager and the hiring of a political consulting firm. Huskey will be leaving former vice president Al Gore's office, where she has been a senior aide.

"I am delighted to welcome Claudia to my campaign in a leadership role," Barry said in a release from the campaign. "Claudia has been an adviser and friend since I first ran for office in 2007, and she is a rising star in Nashville political circles. Our campaign will be people-powered with an emphasis on grassroots organizing, and that's one of the things Claudia does best."

Look for every campaign to claim "the people" as their fuel and "the grassroots" as their base — which candidates follow through on it remains to be seen.

On the consulting side, Barry's campaign will work with the Chicago-based Snyder Pickerill Media Group — which has worked with winning mayoral candidates in Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Jersey City and Houston, according to the campaign release — for assistance with campaign strategy and advertising. For public opinion research, the campaign has tapped Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, highlighting the firm's work with mayoral candidates in several other cities (including Peer Cities© Austin and Charlotte) and the Obama campaign.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Charlie Brown Has State's Dems Down

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 2:27 PM

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  • http://www.fivecentsplease.org/dpb/cuesheet.html

This is Charles V. (Charlie) Brown. After last night's state primary elections, he is the Democratic nominee for governor. Here is his platform, which he wrote up in the form of a letter to the editor that found its way to our colleague J.R. Lind this morning. (A sample: He wants to strap Gov. Bill Haslam to Tennessee's newly re-instated electric chair and "give him about half the jolt." Also, he will raise the speed limit to 80 miles per hour.)

As it became clear that Charlie Brown would win the nomination, and that his name is the least embarrassing thing about him, state Democrats — with the Mark Clayton debacle still looming over them, became increasingly distressed.

Continue reading »

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