governor’s race

Nashville ‘sanctuary city’ ordinance shelved amid new legal opinion, Republican howls of protest

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry urged city council members Tuesday to reconsider their support for an ordinance that critics – including most of the state’s Republican politicians, it seems – contend would make the state’s capitol a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

The council members sponsoring the ordinance, meanwhile, announced they are scrapping plans for a final vote on the proposal July 6. They didn’t say when, or if, it will be rescheduled.

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UT chancellor plans to bring back a director for LGBT Pride Center

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport is making plans to bring back a director for its LGBT pride center, reports the News Sentinel.

For the last year, the job has been unfilled after the Tennessee legislature decided to redirect funds from the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the part-time position was eliminated, forcing students to run the center on their own with some administrative oversight from the dean of students.

Student and faculty groups such as the Pride Center Working Group have for the last several months called for UT and Davenport to hire a pride center director and put in place other initiatives aimed at promoting and preserving diversity on campus.

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Black raising money for reelection to Congress, not a run for governor

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who has been mulling a run for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination for months, has scheduled a Washington fundraiser this week — $2,500 admission for a “PAC host,” $1,000 for a “PAC attendee” and $500 for a non-PAC person – with proceeds earmarked for her congressional reelection campaign fund, reports Tennessee Star.

Thursday night’s fundraiser will be held at Ocean Prime, one of the premiere eating establishments on Capitol Hill.

The menu, which features a Ribeye Steak for $52 and Dutch Harbor King Crab Legs for $65, is well suited to Washington lobbyists, but a far cry from the Cracker Barrels that dot the I-40 corridor of the Sixth Congressional District Black represents in Tennessee.

The news of Black’s Congressional fundraiser has veteran political tea leaf readers across the state of Tennessee scratching their heads.

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‘Interested observer’ Haslam eyes would-be successors, recalls ‘personal vulnerability’ of campaigning

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s an “interested observer” in the developing campaign to succeed him and doesn’t have a favorite in the Republican primary, reports the Times Free Press – with a bit of reminiscing about the campaign that led to his 2010 election.

Haslam said he’s spoken with almost all the major announced or expected Republican and Democratic candidates and knew most of them already. The governor said he’s keeping up with the campaign for several reasons.

One is strictly personal and includes empathy for anyone embarking on a statewide campaign, an ordeal he described from experience as a “physically grueling process that has a certain personal vulnerability to it that takes most people a while to get used to.”

Haslam’s other interest deals with his own administration’s legacy. “You know, you do this job for now coming on 6 1/2 years, and you put certain things in place. You’re really interested in who takes your place.”

…Haslam, a billionaire whose father founded what’s now the nation’s largest truck stop chain, Pilot Flying J, was in a four-person GOP primary. Plenty of sharp elbows ere flung, mostly at him.

“There’s a certain vulnerability to being a candidate on the statewide stage for a two-year period that you’re probably not used to,” Haslam said as he reflected. “I’ve been a mayor and so we’d had local media, but it’s a different thing having statewide media.”

…Then-U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, another candidate, repeatedly questioned Haslam’s accomplishments as company president at Pilot. At one point Wamp compared Haslam to the character of nice-guy Bobby Ewing on the 1970s/1980s prime-time soap opera “Dallas.”

“He’s a nice man — Bobby was the nicest guy in that family — but he was never in charge,” Wamp said as he sought to belittle Haslam’s achievements. Wamp also charged that a Pilot Travel Centers subsidiary “operates casinos and other casino games in at least three states” and has ties to “international gaming interests.”

Bill Lee fundraiser collects $1.3M for gubernatorial campaign

News release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Surrounded by hundreds of supporters tonight (Tuesday), Conservative Williamson County businessman Bill Lee announced that his campaign for governor has raised $1.3 million at his first major fundraising event.  The event took place this evening at legendary performer Michael W. Smith’s barn in Franklin.

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Haslam differs with Trump, Beavers on highway funding

Gov. Bill Haslam, who toured the state Monday for ceremonial signings of his “IMPROVE Act,” declared along way that he’s not too keen on President Trump’s infrastructure plans — or on state Sen. Mae Beavers declaring she’ll push to repeal of the IMPROVE fuel tax hikes if elected to succeed him as governor.

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Corker ‘not interested’ in running for governor

Bob Corker says he will not be running for governor and is leaning toward seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate, according to Robert Houk in a column mostly devoted to Corker’s commentary on President Trump.

The senator told me Thursday he is leaning toward running again, but was quick to add that “something else” could come up. He also said that something else will not be running for governor.

“I’m not interested,” he said.

A Corker quote on Trump:  “I’m from the South and he’s from New York, so we communicate differently.”

Some reports from Mae Beavers’ gubernatorial campaign kickoff

Republican state Sen. Mae Beavers formally launched her 2018 campaign for governor Saturday before a crowd of about 150 cheering supporters and a “dozen of so” sign-waving Democrat demonstrators, reports the Times Free Press. In her speech at Mount Juliet, she pledged to bring to the Tennessee governor’s mansion her tea party principles in areas from opposing abortion and transgender rights to fighting to repeal a just-passed gas tax increase.

“I have consistently championed the same conservative values and principles,” Beavers, a 23-year legislative veteran, told a hometown crowd of 150 or more supporters. “I have not wavered one inch.”

…Beavers was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, chairing the Tennessee delegation at last year’s Republican National Convention. She channeled Trump’s “America First” slogan in her announcement speech, saying, “It’s time to put Tennessee first!”

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Green gets out of governor’s race, eyes run for Congress instead

State Sen. Mark Green declared Friday that he won’t resume his campaign for governor and instead will “look to Washington, D.C.” for a next step in his political career.

The Clarksville physician/businessman didn’t say what office he would seek, but speculation immediately focused on the 6th Congressional District seat now held by fellow Republican Rep. Diane Black, who is expected to become a candidate for governor later this year. (Note: Most recent previous post HERE.)  If so, she would not seek reelection to Congress in 2018 and Green would be running for an open seat. He doesn’t actually live in the 6th (Clarksville is in the 7th, represented by Rep. Marsha Blackburn), but the law would allow him to run — subject to moving into the district if he won.

Another possibility would be the U.S. Senate seat now held by Bob Corker. But Green, despite some differences on issues, has recently praised Corker for the senator’s support of Green as President Trump’s nominee to become U.S. Army secretary. Green dropped the effort after coming in for strong criticism from LGBT and Muslim groups.

In the GOP governor’s race, the Green retreat from a run may most benefit Sen. Mae Beavers, who scheduled her formal announcement as a candidate on Saturday. Both Green and Beavers have strong support among tea party folk and a primary clash between the two state senators would have split that vote.

Here’s Green’s statement:

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Black delaying governor announcement until after finishing U.S. House budget work?

Rep. Diane Black will have to step down as chair of the House Budget Committee if she announces as  candidate for governor, reports The Hill, but is still likely to do so later this year – “perhaps as soon as this summer.” The Washington publication quotes “House colleagues and GOP sources.”

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