Erik Schelzig

Editor, The Tennessee Journal

Fincher drops out of Senate race, urges Corker to get back in

Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (Image credit: Fincher campaign)

Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (Image credit: Fincher campaign)

Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, the gospel signing farmer from Frog Jump, is dropping out of the U.S. Senate race and urging incumbent Sen. Bob Corker to reconsider his decision not to seek a third term.

“My campaign has always been about what’s best for Tennessee,” Fincher said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “Tennessee families need a strong conservative voice in the Senate, someone who will stand with President Trump and lead the Republican Party forward.

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GOP gov’s poll shows tight race among top 3

Bill Lee speaks to supporters at his headquarters launch in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Bill Lee speaks to supporters at his headquarters launch in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Rival gubernatorial campaigns scoffed this week when Republican Bill Lee declared “we can win” in a speech to supporters at his headquarters launch. A new Lee poll obtained by The Tennessee Journal appears to lend that statement some credence.

The poll shows the Franklin businessman in a “strong third place” behind Randy Boyd and Diane Black, with Beth Harwell lagging far behind.

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Politico: Poll has Bredesen leading Blackburn 47-45

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood. (Photo credit: Blackburn for Senate campaign)

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood. (Photo credit: Blackburn for Senate campaign)

Politico reports that a late January poll had Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen leading Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn 47% to 45% in a head-to-head matchup in the Tennessee Senate race.

The poll conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies indicates that a generic Republican would be preferred over a Democrat, and that President Donald Trump retains a strong approval rating. The takeaway, Politico says, is that “Blackburn is in for a tough race” even in a heavily Republican state like Tennessee.

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Boyd supporter behind group running toilet flushing ads against Black

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The AP’s Jonathan Mattise has confirmed that the group running those toilet flushing radio ads attacking U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s gubernatorial aspirations is funded by a supporter of fellow GOP candidate Randy Boyd.

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CNN: Corker (maybe) thinking about reversing course on retirement

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tours Mars Petcare on Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo credit: Corker Senate office.)

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tours Mars Petcare on Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo credit: Corker Senate office.)

Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker has been talking to colleagues about the possibility of reconsidering his announced retirement, according to a CNN report.

The details are sketchy, even within the context of the anonymous rumor mongering typical of Washington political reporting. CNN says there’s disagreement about whether Corker has initiated the talks about his political future, or if the subject just came up when it was raised by colleagues who want him to run again.

(Update: The Tennessean has spoken to a top Corker adviser, who says: “It is true that Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision, but at this point nothing has changed.”)

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Gwyn stepping down after 14 years as TBI director

Director Mark Gwyn announced on Thursday that he will step down from his leadership of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on June 1. Gwyn had served as head of the TBI for 14 years.
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Blackburn reserves $1 million worth of ad time on Fox News

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s U.S. Senate campaign has reserved $1 million worth of ad time on Fox News between April 27 and the primary election on Aug. 2.

Campaign adviser Ward Baker says in a memo that it was key to reserve the premium statewide inventory during the 14-week ad run now because of the crowded field of candidates in the governor’s race and various congressional contests will drive up demand for limited airtime.

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Nashville mayor’s office releases statement on travel amid affair

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s office has released a lengthy statement addressing media questions about travel with her police bodyguard with whom she was having an extramarital affair. Spokesman Sean Braisted said the mayor paid for her own hotels and meals on the occasions she spent extra days in cities she was traveling to, but that the city covered the costs for her bodyguard.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Multiple media outlets have requested documents and asked questions related to the travel schedule of Mayor Megan Barry and Sgt. Rob Forrest. Below is a statement from Mayor Barry’s Communications Director, Sean Braisted, outlining the facts and information as best we know them at this time. We will continue compiling information and documents as requested and release them to media in a timely fashion:

“We appreciate the patience of the media and public as we have been working to compile information and records that have been requested by the media. We wanted to get the information out as quickly as possible but also as accurately as possible, and that has taken some time.

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Black picks up candidate petition for governor’s race

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black picked up her petition to run for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Monday. Here are some of her comments made to reporters afterward:

Q: Where does the campaign stand, and what’s on the horizon?

Black: We still have what, five-and-a-half months until early voting starts? So we’ve got a lot of Tennessee still to cover.

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Gubernatorial contributions in one handy chart

Here is a look at the gubernatorial campaign finance reports for the second half of 2017, free of the candidates’ press release spin:

Party Candidate From outside sources From self / transfer Spent On hand
R* Beavers $163,947 $0 $51,931 $167,410
R Black $1,739,523 $1,000,000 $987,761 $1,735,523
R Boyd $1,250,326 $2,000,000 $2,663,897 $4,095,658
D Dean $1,245,245 $200,000 $630,933 $1,807,204
D Fitzhugh $304,513 $500,000 $134,733 $681,856
R Harwell $1,186,398 $4,026,204 $160,898 $5,055,115
R Lee $904,743 $908,000 $595,987 $3,744,430

Beavers suspended her campaign this week. Harwell’s total in the “from self” column includes a $3.1 million loan, plus $918,204 in the form of a transfer from her legislative account and a contribution from her PAC.

This post has been updated to reflect $7,850 in returned contributions from the Dean campaign and $9,500 from the Boyd campaign.