Craig Fitzhugh

Craig Fitzhugh’s online gubernatorial campaign video

Fitzhugh calls for special session on Medicaid expansion

News release from House Democratic Caucus

Nashville—House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh is calling for Gov. Bill Haslam to convene a special session of the legislature in the wake of the Graham-Cassidy bill failing to garner enough votes in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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UT restores ‘Lady Vols’ title to all women’s teams

University of Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie announced Thursday the return of the Lady Vols name, logo and brand for all women’s sports, reports the News Sentinel.

“We will not allow for the Lady Vol brand to disappear from our athletic department or the university,” Currie said during a press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

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Fitzhugh floats Lady Vols as issue for legislature, guber campaign

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh will bring his campaign for governor to the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus Friday and announce that he’s filing a legislative resolution urging the school to reinstate the Lady Vols name, reports the News Sentinel.

Fitzhugh.. said he plans to introduce the nonbinding resolution during the 2018 session and, if elected governor and de facto chair of the UT Board of Trustees, he will put the resolution before the university’s governing board.

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Fitzhugh launches run for Democratic gubernatorial nomination

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh announced his candidacy for governor Sunday, setting up a contested primary with fellow Democrat Karl Dean, the former mayor of Nashville, for the party nomination. Five Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination.

Dean announced his candidacy in February and reported raising $1.2 million in July. Before his announcement – in an interview with The Tennessean — Fitzhugh said he’s not intimidated by the late start and fundraising gap.

“Not at all… It really fires you up when you start $1.2 million behind.”

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Guber campaign notes: Prayerful Green, Fitzhugh on the cliff; Boyd & Lee on the road

Some notes from media reports on the developing campaign for governor:

Sen. Mark Green in a Tennessean report, after saying he was encouraged by a letter signed by 106 “conservative leaders” urging him to resume his run for the GOP nomination and that he would make a decision within a week.

“I have heard forom these leaders and many others from all parts of Tennessee asking me to run as their conservative candidate for governor,” he said. “I am examining, prayerfully, with the input of friends and family, all of my options including resuming my campaign for governor.”

House Speaker Craig Fitzhugh, Democrat, quoted by the Nashville Post from a speech to the L Club in Nashville on Saturday following an introduction by millionaire businessman Bill Freeman (who said “he’s my candidate for governor, if he decides to run”):

“I think I’m ready to jump off a cliff,” Fitzhugh told the group to loud applause. “I might go splat, but I might also land on my feet.

Another quote: “We’ve been in session, and I got behind on some other things. But we’re out now. And I’ve got some other boxes to check off and some people I want to talk to,” Fitzhugh said. “But I’m moving in that direction. I’ve got a lot of good support, some good encouragement, and my family’s on board, so I’m just almost there.”

Announced Republican candidates Randy Boyd and Bill Lee, both millionaire businessmen, continue their introductory campaign travels through the state, getting some local media attention. Recent samples:

Boyd quote from visit to Dover in Stewart County, as reported by the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle:

“I want to complete some missions I started while special adviser on higher education and while I was commissioner of Economic and Community Development,” Boyd said on a recent campaign swing through Dover. “My goal is to make Tennessee THE State of Opportunity. … When you think of Tennessee, that’s the place you go for a better education, for an opportunity for a better job, an opportunity for everyone. They don’t leave anyone behind in Tennessee.”

Lee quote from visit to the Tri-Cities area, as reported by the Johnson City Press;

The cattle farmer, businessman and family man leads his campaign by letting people know he isn’t a politician, focusing on the fact that he is a native Tennessean with the people and state in mind.

“We have growing cities, a great small business climate and improving schools,” Lee said. “But we also face challenges shared by both our rural areas and inner cities — rising crime, persistent unemployment, increasing opioid abuse and families in turmoil. While we’ve made great strides across our state, we can’t leave these communities behind.”

On Craig Fitzhugh’s prospective run for governor

Excerpt from an Associated Press story on House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh giving serious consideration to a run for governor:

The Ripley Democrat told reporters this week that he would have appeal for voters from both urban and rural areas of the state.

“I’m hopeful I can bring those two factors together if I decide to run, and get some support going forward,” Fitzhugh said.

…Fitzhugh said he would prefer to wait until after the upcoming legislative session to decide about entering the race, but that pending decisions by other potential candidates will likely shorten that timeline.

“We just got through with an election, you know; but here we are starting again,” Fitzhugh said. “I don’t think the public at large is ready for that, but I guess many those that might want to be candidates are.”

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has said he will decide whether to mount a Democratic bid during the first quarter of the year. Real estate developer Bill Freeman, who spent $3.5 million of his own money on an unsuccessful mayoral bid in Nashville in 2015, is also considering a Democratic bid.

Fitzhugh acknowledged that Dean and Freeman would be “totally formidable from a financial standpoint.”

“But I would run the same kind of campaign I’ve been running for the last 12 terms. And that’s a grassroots, to-the-people type deal,” Fitzhugh said. “I think I can get the message out. We have to show that it just doesn’t mean money to get elected.”

Fitzhugh wins Democratic gubernatorial candidate straw poll

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh won a straw poll vote on possible 2018 candidates for governor conducted Tuesday by the Davidson County Democratic Party, reports the Nashville Post.

Congressman Jim Cooper was second with former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. There was a tie for third between Nashville businessman Bill Freeman, a major donor to Democratic causes, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero came in sixth place, followed by Memphis state Sen. Sara Kyle, Kim McMillan and comedian Ralphie May, who has tweeted about running for governor.

Fitzhugh, Dean and Freeman are all thought highly likely to be running in 2018. Berke and Rogero almost certainly are not running. There’s been zero chatter about Cooper leaving his House seat, so if he does run, it will be a bit of a surprise.

The Tennessean reports Fitzhugh had 26 of 103 votes cast; Cooper 24; Dean 20. And there’s a quote from Fitzhugh:

“I’m going to check it out a little bit,” Fitzhugh said. It’s a bit early and it’s a long climb, but I certainly want to have a look at it. I’m just going to talk to a few folks and see what it looks like.”

“It’s been suggested to me and I’ve had some conversations,” he added. “I don’t want to end up like we did two years ago when we didn’t have a viable year at all.”

House Democrats stick with Fitzhugh, Stewart in top leadership posts

News release from House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus today elected its leadership positions for the upcoming 110th General Assembly of the Tennessee House of Representatives.  Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley remains House Minority Leader and Rep. Mike Stewart retains his position as Caucus Chair.  Both were re-elected by acclimation.  Other positions elected today were as follows:

Assistant Minority Leader—Rep. Joe Towns Jr. of Memphis

House Floor Leader—Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis

Minority Whip—Rep. JoAnne Favors of Chattanooga

Caucus Vice-Chair—Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis

Caucus Treasurer—Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis

Caucus Secretary—Rep. Harold Love Jr. of Nashville

Leader Pro Tempore—Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis

In addition to the above, Rep. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville, Rep. Johnny Shaw of Bolivar and Rep. Larry Miller of Memphis were elected to fill the 3 House Democratic positions on the Joint Fiscal Review Committee.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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