legislative campaigns

Special election dates set for Senate District 17

Gov. Bill Haslam has set Nov. 7 as the date for a special primary election in state Senate District 17, where Sen. Mae Beavers has resigned while running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The general election date is Dec. 19.

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Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver gets GOP primary opponent

Chad Williams, a Smith County native and Tennessee Tech student majoring in political science who operates a Lebanon antique shop, has announced he will challenge incumbent Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver in the House District 40 Republican primary. He has the same hometown as Weaver, Lancaster.

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Democrat Bob Freeman eyes run for Harwell’s House seat

Bob Freeman, a real estate professional and son of prominent Tennessee Democratic donor Bill Freeman, is considering running in 2018 for the House seat that’s being vacated by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, a candidate for governor, reports The Tennessean.

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State Rep. Marc Gravitt becomes 17th incumbent to announce plans to leave a legislative seat

State Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, has announced he will not run for reelection to his House District 30 seat next year and instead will run for election as Hamilton County register of deeds, reports the Times Free Press.

He becomes the 17th state legislator to publicly indicate plans for a voluntary exit from the 132-member Tennessee General Assembly — a 12.8 percent turnover of seats apparently assured 15 months before the 2018 general election. (Note: This assumes confirmation by the U.S. Senate of President Trump’s appointments of Sens. Mark Norris as a federal judge and Doug Overbey as a U.S. attorney and House members proposing to run for their Senate seats.)

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State Rep. David Alexander won’t seek reelection; will run for Franklin County mayor instead

State Rep. David Alexander has announced he won’t seek reelection to the House District 39 seat next year and instead will run for Franklin County mayor.

Alexander, R-Winchester, made the announcement in an interview on WCDT radio. A video of the interview is posted on Alexander’s Facebook page, HERE.

“I believe strongly in term limits and, since the state of Tennessee does not have term limits, I’m going to impose my own limits,” says Alexander.

Alexander, who was elected to the post in 2010, said he believes his experience as a legislator will help him as a county mayor. Alexander noted he had served on the House Finance Committee, starting in his freshman term, and “the learning curve I had wasn’t a curve – it was more like a rocket ship, straight up.”

House District 39, one of the more oddly shaped districts in the state, covers the northern portions of Franklin County and Marion counties and all of Moore County.

Former TNDP official running in state Senate District 25

Wade Munday, who has served in the past as press secretary and as  treasurer for the Tennessee Democratic Party, has announced he’s running for the Senate District 25 seat now held by Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield, reports the Nashville Post.

Munday is executive director of Nashville-based Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to immigrants. He previously worked for the state Democratic party and was its treasurer until January.

“Together, we can fight to make sure that our government gives back what it owes to the people who need it most — a good education for our kids, a job when they graduate, and just treatment for people regardless of where they live, who they love, or what they believe,” Munday said in his announcement.

Roberts, who won a hotly-contested, four-candidate race for the GOP nomination in 2014, defeated Democrat Tony Gross, mayor of Kingston Springs, by more than 2-to-1 in the general election that year (29,337 to 12,316).

Harwell, Stevens back Rep. Sanderson — criticized for tax vote — in reelection bid

House Speaker Beth Harwell and state Sen. Ed Jackson praised state Rep. Bill Sanderson at a luncheon held in his honor Thursday, reports the Dyersburg State Gazette. Sanderson, facing a prospective challenger in the House District 77 Republican primary, said he’s under attack for supporting a package of tax legislation this year that included an increase in fuel tax levies.

Some excerpted quotes:

Jackson: “I believe in Bill so much, I have written a check to Bill Sanderson for his re-election in the amount of $2,500. We’ve got to keep Bill in Nashville. He does great work for this district.”

Harwell: “Bill Sanderson is one of the finest, highest-quality individuals you can send to Nashville to represent you…. There was no doubt who I wanted to chair one of my most important committees and that was Bill Sanderson. He is that high of quality legislator. You are blessed to have him. I want to extend my appreciation for you.” (Note: Harwell appointed Sanderson as chair of the House State Government Subcommittee.)

Sanderson: “I work hard every day up there, but now this group basically wants to send me home. And some say, ‘Well, don’t take it personal’. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, but I do take it personal. Speaker Harwell, you know, we helped pass the largest tax cut in the state of Tennessee’s history this year. We’ve had industry locate to Dyer County solely because we lowered the franchise and excise tax in Tennessee… But yet, I’m being judged because I voted for the largest tax cut in the state of Tennessee’s history. That one element, a lot of folks said, ‘We don’t need it’. But that’s not true. We do need it.”

Note: The newspaper had an earlier story on Jerry Wright, mayor of Newbern, saying he’s considering a run for the Republican nomination against Sanderson. Wright contended Dyer County and Lake County (also part of the House district) have been shortchanged as compared to other areas in road funding and declared “the bottom line is people want someone that’s going to Nashville and fight for them, and what they want.” Jackson, whose district includes Dyer and Lake counties, faces a primary challenger who has criticized his vote for the tax bill. (Previous post HERE.)

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.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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