legislative campaigns

Jackson faces GOP challenger — a gas tax critic — in Senate District 27 rematch

Dyer County Commissioner Dr. Brandon Dodds, who lost to Sen. Ed Jackson in the 2014 Republican primary, tells the Dyersburg State Gazette he will try again in 2018.

In 2014, Jackson won the primary 11,136 votes to Dodds’ 7,763. He won Dyer and Lake counties and lost by only about 100 votes in Lauderdale. But Dodds’ was trounced by a margin of more than 5,000 votes in Madison County, Jackson’s home and by far the most populous in the district.

The 800-word announcement article is GOP generic – he’s for improving education, against federal government overreach, wants to expand economic development, etc. – doubtless in line with Jackson’s stance on things with one notable exception: Dodds wants to repeal the gas tax increase approved this year. Jackson voted for it.

Raised on a farm in rural Dyer County and son to a lifelong educator, Dodds, a 41-year-old conservative Republican and owner of Dodds Eyecare on Main Street in Newbern, says he understands the needs of the citizens in District 27 and is a proponent of less government regulation in state affairs.

…“I would like to repeal the gas tax,” stated Dodds. “The projected projects for that money is marked for certain counties and we [Dyer] are not one of those counties. There is a $2 billion excess in state funds and they still decided to increase gas taxes. When farmers take grain to the grainery, or anything else, they are having to pay more money, which means they will have to charge more for their products. … The end result is that the grocery stores will be raising prices because it’s costing them more to receive their products, so the sales tax decrease is misleading in the long term. … Again, we should be lessening the tax burden. We didn’t have to raise taxes for infrastructure.”

Nashville surgeon running for Harwell’s House District 56 seat

Dr. Brent Moody, a Nashville surgeon and a Republican, tells The Tennessean he will run to succeed Beth Harwell in the state House seat being vacated by House speaker, who will run for governor instead of seeking reelection there.

“I think the people of the 56th District have been represented well by Speaker Harwell for a long time, so there will be a new choice for the people of the 56th District,” Moody said. “My plan is to get out there in due course and let them meet me.”

The 47-year-old skin cancer surgeon filed paperwork and appointed a treasurer for his campaign Monday.

Although Moody waited for Harwell to publicly announce her gubernatorial run over the weekend before filing his papers, he previously talked to the speaker about his intentions. She was helpful and gave him some advice, Moody said.

Word spread unofficially in the Spring that Moody could be considering the position after he posted a photo on Twitter on April 3rd of him meeting with House Majority Leader Glen Casada and Harwell.

State Sen. Doug Overbey nominated as U.S. attorney for East Tennessee

State Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, was nominated Friday by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Overbey was one of six U.S. attorney nominations announced today by the president. He’s the fourth Republican state senator who now seems likely to be leaving the legislature next year. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been nominated as a federal judge by Trump, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron has announced he will run for Rutherford County mayor rather than seek reelection and Sen. Mae Beavers is running for governor rather than seek reelection.

Continue reading

Nashville state Senate candidate sending campaign emails to school employees

Would-be state senator Howard Jones has been blasting mass emails asking for donations to his fellow Metro Nashville Public Schools employees in violation of school policy, reports the Nashville Scene.

Jones is running for the District 19 seat currently held by state Sen. Thelma Harper; state Rep. Brenda Gilmore is also running.

Jones, a Baptist minister and assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, has been sending emails from his campaign account to staff at many, if not all, schools in the district — although apparently none to anyone in the administration and central offices.

Continue reading

Durham showing ‘total disrespect’ for campaign finance laws with new filing?

Former Rep. Jeremy Durham, who reported to the Registry of Election Finance in January that he had a $109,147.39 remaining in his old campaign account, filed a report Thursday that left blank the space for filling in January amount and instead there’s a handwritten note that reads “Ask Moeck.” In the space for the amount in the campaign fund on June 30 there’s the figure $65,204.94. There are zeros in all the places to be filled in with receipts and expenditures.

The Tennessean got an explanation of sorts from Peter Strianse, an attorney defending the ousted-from-office Franklin  Republican against a Registry finding that he repeatedly violated state campaign finance laws. Excerpt from the newspaper’s report:

Jay Moeck is the registry’s investigator, whose probe into Durham’s campaign finances resulted in the recent record-setting $465,000 fine levied against Durham at a June registry meeting.

… Strianse said Thursday his client hasn’t spent any campaign money since January but wasn’t sure what balance to include on his latest report.

“As the campaign finance report clearly states, Mr. Durham’s campaign account has had no activity this year,” Strianse said in an email.

“Since we have yet to receive anything in writing from the registry regarding the results of the June 7 meeting, we are unable to divine what number the registry expects Mr. Durham to include in the previous balance section of the report pending appeal of their unsupported decision.”

…Registry member Tom Lawless saw Durham’s comment about Moeck as an affront to the state.

“That shows his mindset for an authority that oversees these matters and his total disregard for the law,” Lawless said Thursday.

…“He is either admitting that as a member of leadership he couldn’t file a report accurately or completely, which in and of itself is an indictment against him for just arrogance or disregard for a system he was a part of,” Lawless said.

“Or he has filed false reports, and that in and of itself is another issue that the registry may or may not have to address.”

Ketron announces run for county mayor; two announce runs for Senate District 13 seat

State Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron has announced he will not seek reelection to the Senate next year and instead will seek the office of Rutherford County mayor, reports the Daily News Journal. It will be his fourth try to become mayor.

The senator says he has the proven leadership to seek better transportation, a solid waste solution for the pending closure of Middle Point Landfill and the “best education we possibly can.”

“We’re blessed now with two school districts (Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City),” said Ketron, who worries about appropriating the needed funding to build at least a new school each year to keep up with growth. “It’s a challenge.”

A Republican from Murfreesboro, Ketron ran for the office (once called county executive) in 1990, 1994 and 1998. He served on the Rutherford County Commission from 1990 to 1998 and has served in the state Senate since 2002. Ketron’s current term ends in November 2018.

County Mayor Ernest Burgess has served since 2006 and will be finishing his third term in August 2018.

In a separate story, the DNJ reports that Burgess and state Rep. Dawn White of Murfreesboro say they’ll run for the Republican nomination in Ketron’s Senate District 13 seat since he’s not seeking reelection.

“I believe that it is extremely important to ensure that our next state senator is a proven conservative leader who has a record of standing up for hardworking Tennessee families,” White said in her news release.

… “All of us know the complexity of county government, especially Rutherford County, which has been the fastest growing county in Tennessee and requires experienced leadership with strong analytical skills and skilled employee relations,” said Burgess, who has served as county mayor since winning the seat in 2006.

“I have earlier said that Rutherford County needs and deserves strong, talented and committed leadership at both the county and state level. Now that we have Sen. Ketron announcing his candidacy for mayor, this will give an opportunity to focus on my last year as mayor and also consider my future role of service to Rutherford County.”

 

State Rep. Harry Brooks won’t seek reelection; will donate leftover campaign funds to schools

Republican Rep. Harry Brooks, who has not faced an opponent since winning the House District 19 seat in 2002, announced Wednesday he will not seek another term next year and will donate about $66,000 in leftover campaign funds to four Knox County schools.

Brooks, 70, chairman of the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, made the formal announcement at a news conference where local officials – including Knox County Schools Board of Education Chair Patti Bounds, Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett – were on hand to thank Brooks for the money, reports the News Sentinel.

Continue reading

Two announce as candidates in House District 54 (being vacated by Rep. Brenda Gilmore)

Metro Councilman Scott Davis announced Monday he will run for the House District 54 seat now held by Democratic Rep. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville, who is running for the state Senate instead next year, reports the Nashville Post, and Whitney Pastorek, Davidson County Democratic Party social media strategist, declared shortly afterwards that she’s running, too.

Pastorek has butted heads with Davis over development in her East Hill neighborhood since moving there from Los Angeles three years ago, successfully fighting with neighborhood advocates to kill a high-density development on Elvira Avenue. Davis recently moved into the neighborhood.

Continue reading

Theft charge dismissed against former state Rep. Curry Todd in campaign sign theft

A theft charge against former state Rep. Curry Todd, who last year allegedly stole former state Rep. Mark Lovell’s campaign signs, was dismissed in Shelby County General Sessions Court on Friday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Lovell’s failure to attend the hearing was cited as a reason for the dismissal. Todd was on hand, but declined comment.

Continue reading

Republican Vaughan wins House District 95 special election

Republican Kevin Vaughan defeated Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth with 62 percent of the vote to win a special election Thursday for state House District 95, vacated by former Republican Rep. Mark Lovell after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Vaughan, a business owner and member of the Collierville school board, had 3,099 votes to 1,737 for Ashworth, an attorney, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

There were two independent as well. Robert Schutt got 143 votes and Jim Tomasik 25. And there were three write-in votes.

Since Vaughan replaces fellow Republican Lovell, who resigned in February, the state House’s partisan alignment remains the same as it was at the outset of the 110th General Assembly – 74 Republicans, 25 Democrats.

Continue reading