Donald Trump

More on Trump getting a Hawkins County subdivision lot — maybe just a promotional stunt?

Rogersville developer Phillip Henard tells the Kingsport Times-News that he got the “crazy idea” of quitclaiming a lot in a subdivision he owns to President Donald Trump a year or so ago and presidential associates recently agreed to accept it. But he denies speculation by a local utility district official that the move was part of an effort to get water service into the Grandview Estates subdivision.

The newspaper otherwise elaborates on earlier cryptic reports about transfer of the subdivision lot, which were based on a press release issued by Henard, after reviewing the deed and interviews with Henard and Lakeview Utility District Superintendent Tim Carwile.

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Trump reportedly buys subdivision lot in Hawkins County

Through a representative, President Trump bought a Rogersville subdivision lot Friday, according to reports in the Kingsport and Rogersville newspapers based on the seller’s press release. There’s no indication of why or how the property might be used.

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Kustoff invited to White House Hanukkah Party; Cohen (and other Jewish Democrats) snubbed

President Donald Trump invited the two Republicans members of Congress who are Jewish – Tennessee’s Rep.  David Kustoff and New York Rep. Lee Zeldin – to the White House Hanukkah Party but excluded Jewish Democrats including Tennessee’s Rep. Steve Cohen, reports the New York Times. That was break with tradition, which under past presidents has made the gathering non-partisan.

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Bredesen ‘not running against Donald Trump,’ foresees $50M spending

Excerpt from a Tennessean story based on an interview with U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen:

“I’m not running against Donald Trump. I’m running for getting some things done here in Tennessee,” Bredesen said. “The issues surrounding health care are real and they’ve got nothing to do with liking or not liking Donald Trump.

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Trump staffer becomes manager of Stephen Fincher’s U.S. Senate campaign

Thomas Midanek, formerly the White House southeast regional political director, has left the Trump administration and joined former Tennessee Rep. Stephen Fincher’s Senate campaign as campaign manager, reports Politico.

A source familiar with Midanek’s thinking said he left the White House because he “wanted to get back into the campaign world.” Midanek confirmed the new job but declined to comment further.

 Midanek left the White House in late October and joined Fincher’s campaign a week later. In 2016, Midanek was Virginia state director for Trump’s presidential campaign and then went on to manage several states for the campaign, including Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri. Before joining Trump’s campaign, he previously managed Republican Carl Domino’s congressional campaign in southeast Florida.

Fincher, who lists the Crockett County community of Frog Jump as his home town, is one of six declared candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed Sen. Bob Corker – the most formidable being U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The others are Larry Crim, Steven Hughes, Aaron Pettigrew and Rolando Toyos.

James Mackler is the only announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, though former Gov. Phil Bredesen has been thinking about it for a while.

TN poll approval: Haslam 57, Trump 51, Alexander 44, Corker 40

A poll of 625 registered Tennessee voters by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy Inc., conducted Nov. 17-20, found 57 percent approve of Gov. Bill Haslam’s job performance, 51 percent approval for President Donald Trump, 44 percent for Sen. Lamar Alexander and 40 percent for Sen. Bob Corker.

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Alexander keeping U.S. Department of Education on a ‘tight leash’

First paragraphs of a Politico report:

Several months ago, Sen. Lamar Alexander phoned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a message: Back off.

Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, was furious that a top DeVos aide was circumventing a new law aimed at reducing the federal government’s role in K-12 education. He contended that the agency was out of bounds by challenging state officials, for instance, about whether they were setting sufficiently ambitious goals for their students.

DeVos’ agency quickly yielded to his interpretation of the law — and she “thanked me for it,” Alexander told POLITICO.

Alexander’s heavy hand raises questions about who’s calling some of the shots at the Education Department, an agency he once headed — and to which DeVos came with virtually no expertise in running government bureaucracies.

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Pence PAC donates to six TN U.S. Reps — including Black, Blackburn and Duncan

Politico has a list of Vice President Mike Pence’s “first round of political contributions” through a political action committee he has established —  including donations of $5,400 each to six Tennessee members of the U.S. House – Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black, John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., Scott DesJarlais, Chuck Fleischmann and Phil Roe.

Blackburn is running for the Senate instead of reelection to the House, but money donated to her House campaign can be switched into the Senate race. Black is running for governor and, under applicable rules, she cannot shift money from her congressional campaign account into her run for a state office.

Duncan, of course, is retiring and not running for reelection in the 2nd Congressional District.

The only Tennessee Republican congressman not on the list is freshman Rep. David Kustoff of the 8th Congressional District.

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Haslam: Virginia election is ‘a wake up call’ for GOP governors

Excerpt from a New York Times report datelined Austin, Texas:

For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy, affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments.

But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin this past week, as President Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans’ unexpectedly drastic losses in elections earlier this month in Virginia, New Jersey, and suburbs from Philadelphia to Seattle raised the specter of a political reckoning in 2018.

“I do think Virginia was a wake-up call,” said Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, who took over here as chairman of the governors association. “There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”

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Corker reported critical of Secretary of State Tillerson

From a Politico article:

Sen. Bob Corker, having already turned on the president, has a new target for his frustration: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Tennessee Republican and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman has voiced concerns about Tillerson’s management of the State Department and his still-fuzzy plans to restructure it. At a Senate hearing earlier this week, Corker agreed with several criticisms of Tillerson and his team expressed by Democrats, adding that lawmakers need to be “much more focused on holding them accountable.”

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