From ‘Philbert’ to ‘Phony Phil?’

President Donald Trump’s “Philbert” nickname for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen didn’t exactly stick. Republicans are now rallying around a new one: “Phony Phil.” Will it do any better? Only the phuture can tell.

The state Republican Party sent out a release this afternoon calling Bredesen an elitist, essentially because he’s rich. (Here’s hoping nobody over there looks up Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s net worth.)

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Haslam goes to bat for Bill Lee in RGA ad

Gov. Bill Haslam espouses the virtues of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee in a new ad released by the Republican Governors Association — the national group that Haslam chairs.

“We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones,” Haslam says in the ad.

Here’s the script:

For eight years I’ve had the privilege of being your governor. Together, we’ve made a lot of progress. More people have jobs than ever before. Our taxes are lower, our students are improving faster than anywhere in the country. Tennessee is stronger than ever. Bill Lee is the right choice to take Tennessee to the next level. We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones. He’s been doing that his whole life. I’m asking you to join me in supporting Bill Lee for governor.

Leatherwood nominated to succeed late Rep. Lollar

The Shelby County Republican Party has named former state Sen. Tom Leatherwood as the nominee to succeed to state Rep. Ron Lollar, who died less than a month before the primary election.

The decision was made by the three members of the county party’s steering committee who live in the 99th House District, The Daily News of Memphis reports.

“This is new to all of us,” Shelby County Republican Party chairman Lee Mills, who recused himself for the vote because he was also a contender for the nomination. “So it’s a little awkward. I don’t believe we’ve ever done this before.”

Leatherwood served in the Senate from 1992 to 2000, when he was elected register of deeds in Shelby County. He made an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in 2008, saying that “too many Republicans got Potomac fever and became more self-serving.”

Leatherwood, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination for circuit court clerk in August, faces Democratic nominee Dave Cambron in the general election for the state House seat.

Latest Blackburn ad features Trump rally highlights

Marsha Blackburn’s latest TV ad highlights the Republican Senate candidate by President Donald Trump’s side at a recent Nashville rally.

Here’s a transcript of the ad:

President Trump: We need Marsha Blackburn. We need Marsha in the Senate to continue the progress and work that we’ve done over the last year and a half. 

Blackburn: Tennessee needs a Senator who is going to support President Donald Trump. I am going to be there to stand with President Donald Trump and take your Tennessee values to Washington, D.C. to fight with him to get the job done. I am Marsha Blackburn, and I approve this message. 

Blackburn touts role in fighting state income tax

Marsha Blackburn in her latest 15-second digital ad touts her rule in fighting a state income tax proposal made by then-Gov. Don Sundquist, a fellow Republican.

“Here in Tennessee I fought my own party to stop a massive, job-killing state income tax,” Blackburn says in the ad. “And we stopped it. We won.”

Bredesen camp: ‘Status-quo is panicking’

A memo from Phil Bredesen’s campaign manager Bob Corney warns of impending attacks from out-of-state dark money groups which he calls a sign that the “Washington status-quo is panicking” about the Democrat’s prospects in the U.S. Senate race.

“While our opponent and her backers aim to divide and scare Tennesseans with half-truths and misinformation, Governor Bredesen is committed to bringing people together and putting Tennessee first,” Corney said in the memo.

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The stiletto versus the meat ax in the Tennessee gov’s race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee won the nomination by “using a stiletto and not a meat ax,” Vanderbilt professor John Geer told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “And the Republican primary voters like a stiletto much more than a meat ax.”

Fred Davis, who was Lee’s media consultant, said the campaign used the fact that the candidate was little-known to its advantage.

“They’re not going to know him early,” Davis told the paper. “We couldn’t compete. But we knew we had the best candidate, the best person, the best heart. We knew that he would grow well on people. There’s only one day you win or lose. That was [Thursday]. It wasn’t Jan. 1. It wasn’t March 15.”

Davis was behind Bill Haslam’s ads in 2010, and in 2006 he produced ads for Bob Corker (and Jim Bryson). Davis was not Lee’s first choice, according to the Times Free Press, and he had earlier been rejected by the Boyd campaign. That was a mistake, Geer said.

“Boyd would have had a much better campaign had he had Fred Davis,” Geer said.

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Textile mill that planned 1,000 jobs in Pikeville only employs 26

Only 26 positions have been filled more than a year after Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Pikeville to announce that a new textile company would bring 1,000 jobs to Bledsoe County, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. While Textile Corporation of America has received $3 million in state aid, the company has yet to install any sewing or stitching equipment at the site.

The owners of the company are engaged in a court battle about who is in control of the enterprise, and nearly $30,000 in property taxes have yet been paid.

“Somebody got $3 million from the state of Tennessee, and where that money has gone? I don’t know,” Dunlap attorney Tommy Austin said during a chancery court hearing over a proposed foreclosure action

Textile Corp. manager Karim Sadruddin said at the hearing that the company plans to start hiring soon and that it plans to have 300 workers by the end of the year and the full 1,000 within five years.

“We had unfortunate and unforeseen issues, but we are committed to the plant and people of Pikeville,” Sadruddin said.

Bredesen digital ad features praise from Republicans

A new digital ad from Democrat Phil Bredesen’s Senate campaign features soundbites from Republicans heaping praise on the former governor.

The commentary comes from commentator Scottie Nell Hughes, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga), U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), former state Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville), and former Reagan and Bush aide Bill Phillips.

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GOP holds carefully choreographed ‘unity’ press conference

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee speaks at a unity press conference in Nashville on Aug. 4, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican candidates gathered in Nashville on Saturday to profess unity among their ranks following a divisive primary season. The media event preceding a closed-door lunch hosted by Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn featured no speeches from the defeated gubernatorial candidates. No questions were taken and none of the losing congressional candidates were in attendance.

Putting a lid on the unsuccessful candidates avoided a repeat of the 2010 event in which losing gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp took some not-so-subtle swipes at the nominee, Bill Haslam. But keeping the defeated candidates from speaking their minds didn’t exactly project organic unity building within the ranks.