campaign ads

Republican Governors Association bashes Dean; Dean bashes RGA

The Republican Governors Association, apparently concerned that Democrat Karl Dean might actually have a chance of winning the 2018 gubernatorial election, has already begun attacking the former Nashville mayor for supporting a property tax increase. Dean says it’s a case of “Washington politics trying to interfere in Tennessee.”

Gov. Bill Haslam is a past chairman of the RGA, which has election of Republicans as state chief executives as its primary mission. Haslam, who cannot seek reelection next year, still sits on the RGA’s executive committee.

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Randy Boyd running online ad on ‘running all my life’


News release from Randy Boyd campaign

Nashville, TN – Randy Boyd  and his Republican  campaign for Governor today launched the first paid advertisement of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, with a statewide digital buy designed to introduce the Knoxville businessman and state’s  former  economic and community development commissioner to more   than 500,000 proven Republican primary voters across  the state.

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Radio ads tout ‘new and improved’ TN testing of school kids

A statewide radio advertising campaign is underway to promote TNReady, the state’s new standardized test that students in grades 3-11 are about to take, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

The one-minute ads, which tout Tennessee’s test as “new and improved,” are voiced by Jolinea Pegues, a Trezevant High School teacher in Shelby County Schools, and Derek Voiles, the state’s 2017 Teacher of the Year from Hamblen County.

The two-week run goes through next week in conjunction with the state’s April 17-May 5 TNReady testing window. Students in grades 3-11 will test to measure their proficiency in math and English language arts.

The campaign was produced and paid for by Expect More, Achieve More, a coalition of more than 100 business, community and education organizations advocating for high K-12 academic standards in Tennessee. The effort was spearheaded by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, a Nashville-based education advocacy group founded by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist.

This is the second year of TNReady testing, which unraveled last year with the failed rollout of Tennessee’s first online test and led Education Commissioner Candice McQueen eventually to cancel the assessment for grades 3-8. McQueen says students, parents and educators can expect a successful rollout this year under Questar, the state’s new testing company, which this week delivered printed testing materials to schools statewide. Only 25 districts have chosen to take the test online again.

Note: See also a separate Chalkbeat story on TNReady, reporting that state leaders say thing will go well this year but some educators are still anxious after last year’s “testing fiasco.” Excerpt:

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Gas tax supporters buy $127K in radio ads

A group of associations backing Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed IMPROVE Act is launching a statewide radio campaign with ads touting the legislation that raises fuel taxes for transportation while also cutting other taxes, reports the Times-Free Press.

With the legislation heading to the state House and Senate floor as early as next week, the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee plans to begin airing the 60-second spots starting Thursday, going through April 21. The $127,000 buy’s hits the Chattanooga, Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Tri-Cities markets.

Dubbed the “It’s Smart” series, the ads say “it’s smart to support better roads, safe bridges and tax cuts.”

The organization’s news release is below.

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Mailer bashing former Rep. Todd as ‘lobbyist superhero’ wins award


News release from Direct Edge

HUNTINGTON BEACH – Direct Edge Campaigns was awarded two coveted Pollie Awards from the AAPC, the industry’s highest honor bestowed upon political consultants at the national and international level. Direct Edge Campaigns was recognized in the categories of Best Use of Slate Mail – “Morrisey/Mooney 2nd Amendment” (West Virginia Republican Party) and Best Use of Humor – “The Lobbyist Superhero” (Tennessee Federation for Children PAC) in the campaign to defeat (former state Rep.) Curry Todd.

“We are pleased to receive these prestigious awards in two different categories for our work this past election cycle,” said Direct Edge President Gregory Gleaves. “The contest was more competitive than ever this year, so being selected out of the many talented entries is truly an honor.”

The annual Pollie Awards & Conference brings the leading political professionals in the world together to network and hear from top technology innovators, pollsters, pundits and service providers. The bipartisan awards are presented by the AAPC to members of the political advertising and communications industry who have demonstrated superior work on behalf of their candidates and causes.

The AAPC announced this year’s winners at the 2017 Annual Pollie Awards & Conference on March 17 in Huntington Beach, CA. Award winners were selected by a blind jury.

Note: The award-winning mailer was part of about $135,000 in spending by Tennessee Federation for Children’s PAC in attacking Todd, who opposed school vouchers that the federation supports, in last year’s Republican primary. He lost in House District 95 to Mark Lovell, who has since resigned from the Legislature amid sexual harassment allegations.

Harwell TV ad promotes her role in Durham ouster

House Speaker Beth Harwell, who has been criticized in some quarters for her role in the ouster of former Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham, is now promoting her efforts in a reelection campaignn ad. Democrats say the TV ad is dishonest.

Further from The Tennessean:

The 30-second ad, which includes several images used in another ad she’s been running, begins with a narrator saying that Harwell “led the fight to expel Representative Jeremy Durham, who was victimizing women in the workplace.”

The ad then cuts to video of Harwell standing at her podium in the House, declaring Durham expelled from the chamber, moments after lawmakers voted for his removal.

…”As speaker she pushed to make the attorney general’s report on sexual harassment at the legislature open to the public,” the narrator continues in the ad.

The attorney general has not issued a report on sexual harassment at the legislature. Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office did publish a report on Durham in which the attorney general found the ex-lawmaker had sexually inappropriate conduct with at least 22 women.

Days before the report was released, Durham unsuccessfully sued Harwell and the attorney general to prevent its release….

Harwell has been blasted by other Republicans for the way she handled the situation involving Durham.

…Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini slammed Harwell for the latest ad… “When Speaker Harwell found out about Jeremy Durham’s behavior in November of 2015, she sent him to get a ‘talking to’ from Human Resources,” Mancini said, referring to a meeting between the former lawmaker and Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration.

Note: The TNDP press release is below.

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On ‘unrelenting smears’ in House District 13 fight

Democrat Gloria Johnson held a news conference Monday calling attack ads against her “unrelenting smears” and calling on her Republican opponent in House District 13, Eddie Smith, to join her in denouncing them, reports the News Sentinel.  He did not.

She mentioned ads from a group called Tennesseans for Student Success, and efforts by the Tennessee Republican House Caucus against her in the news release. (Note: The House GOP ad may be viewed HERE as posted on the  Caucus Facebook page.)

“I don’t know how many polls they’ve done,” she said. “Today, the poll’s question was ‘how would it affect your vote if Gloria was the most liberal legislator?” They’re trying to hurt … they’re trying to find something to land.”

Johnson wrote that the campaign ads attacking her are “signs of desperation because they know our message of investing in schools, making health care more affordable and strengthening the middle class is winning.”

She demanded that Smith tell the people behind the advertising and polling to stop.

Johnson said Tennesseans for Student Success has claimed to support education, but that ads from that group have attacked her on matters that don’t have anything to do with education.

Smith said he hasn’t seen the material from Tennesseans for Student Success, but had seen a video put out by the Tennessee Republican House Caucus.

“As far as I can tell, nothing in that ad is not true,” Smith said. He added that if she isn’t pleased with the voting record mentioned in the ad, then she could’ve voted otherwise while in office. He previously has said he opposes push polling – the act of conducting a poll during which the pollster will ask bias questions toward or away from a certain candidate.

He also said that the ads didn’t come from his campaign. And he called her move for a press conference “hypocrisy.”

Note: Johnson’s campaign news release is below.

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News from TN legislative campaigns (Coleman-Dickerson; Smith-Johnson, Porch-Reedy)

Democrats accuse GOP of anti-Semitic ad

A Republican Party mail attack on Erin Coleman, the Democratic nominee facing Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson in Senate District 20, is characterized as anti-Semitic by Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini, reports WSMV-TV. State GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes says the contention is ridiculous and Mancini should apologize for making it.

The most recent anti-Coleman mailer accuses her of working for big-time developers and protecting their profits. It also calls her “Crony Cash” Coleman and superimposes her face on a woman’s body holding a bag of money.

Coleman practices Orthodox Judaism and serves on the Akiva School and JCC boards. She was not available for comment Monday because of the Jewish holiday, but the state Democratic Party is slamming the new ad.

“Steve Dickerson says that he’s a different kind of Republican,” said Democratic party Chairman Mary Mancini. “But you look at this piece and the different kind of perceptions that people have of this piece you realize that it’s just like something Donald Trump would do.”

…Haynes denied all accusations of anti-Semitism.

“That’s an absolutely ridiculous assertion and it’s the most ridiculous assertion I’ve heard in my 10 years in politics,” Haynes said… “I applaud her Jewish faith,” he told Channel 4. “As someone who has many Jewish friends, that’s a very offensive statement and I call on her to apologize for it.”

Update/Note: Nashville Scene has more, HERE, including comments from Jews who do see the ad as anti-Semitic.


Durham donations spark squabble in Porch-Reedy race

Democrat Andy Porch is calling on Republican Rep. Jay Reedy to refund $4,500 in donations from ousted Rep. Jeremy Durham in the campaign for the House District 74 seat, reports the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle. Reedy says he donated $3,000 of the Durham money to help abused women and children, but does not plan to return the rest.

“Many of us donate to each other’s campaigns,” he said. “If they want to rag me about that, then so be it.”

Porch suggested Reedy avoided having to vote for Durham’s expulsion when he did not sign a petition for a special session.

Reedy defended himself saying that he was advised not to sign the petition by the Majority Leader and Caucus Chairman because it already lacked enough supporters for the session to be held. They needed 66 but only had about 20 at the time, Reedy said.

Reedy said he has no working relationship with Durham and has no idea of his whereabouts. (He also voted for the motion to expel Durham from the House.)

House District 13 poll gives voters wrong election date

Someone is doing a polling call in the House District 13 race that tells those answering the phone that the election is on Nov. 18 instead of Nov. 8, reports the News Sentinel. A man who got one of the calls says he was immediately disconnected after saying he would vote for Democrat Gloria Johnson over Republican Rep. Eddie Smith.

Both Smith and Johnson say they have no idea who is sponsoring the poll.

Johnson didn’t blame Smith’s campaign. Polls are expensive to conduct, and anybody can issue one if they want. She did say that her campaign had previously held a poll, but it was straightforward and not meant to influence the vote.

“But we just did one poll,” she said.

Smith said his campaign has done no polling by phone, and he also criticized the one this past week with misleading information.

“I don’t know who would have done something that stupid,” Smith said.

He has been the target of a push poll in prior elections, Smith said. One he recalled was a phone poll asking voters who they supported, and if they selected Smith, the poll would say false things about his character, he said.

“Push polls,” he said, “it is all about trying to make up stuff.”

Note: On HD13, see also Sandra Clark’s rundown on Knoxville political people maneuvering in the contest, HERE.



Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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