Mark Green

Update on Corker successor candidate speculation

Gov. Bill Haslam, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the possibility of trying to succeed Sen. Bob Corker Tuesday. He’s certain to be asked about it at his next scheduled media availability on Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is definitely interested, reports The Tennessean, and will make a decision soon.

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Mark Green, Joe Carr considering run against Corker

State Sen. Mark Green is reconsidering a challenge to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the 2018 Republican primary, reports the Times Free Press, and former state Rep. Joe Carr is thinking about  it, too.

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Mark Green launches group to promote Christians in politics; won’t run for any new office himself

State Sen. Mark Green, who had talked about running for Congress after withdrawing as President Trump’s nominee to become U.S. Army secretary, says he is instead launching a new political advocacy organization that help other Christian conservatives run for office.

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Trump’s latest choice for U.S. Army secretary: Lobbyist who once worked for Bill Frist and Fred Thompson

President Donald Trump’s third proposed nominee as U.S. Army Secretary, is Mark Esper, Raytheon Inc.’s vice president of government relations and previously employed by two of Tennessee’s former U.S. senators, reports Politico.

A Gulf War veteran, Esper is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a 1986 graduate of West Point. He has worked for Raytheon, one of the “big five” defense contractors, since 2010… Esper is a veteran of both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. He has been the policy director for the House Armed Services Committee as well as director of national security affairs for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

He was also a deputy assistant secretary of Defense during the George W. Bush administration and was the national policy director for the late Sen. Fred Thompson’s 2008 presidential bid.

… Trump’s first pick for the Army post, billionaire New York financier Vincent Viola, withdrew in February amid difficulty untangling his complex finances. The second pick, Tennessee Republican state Sen. Mark Green, withdrew amid mounting opposition over controversial statements he’d made about LGBT rights and Muslims.

Facebook page urges Green to run against Corker

A Facebook page has been set up under the title “Draft Mark Green to run for U.S. Senate in 2018” and The Tennessean quotes Rick Williams,  “a tea party-aligned conservative activist,” saying he was one of several people who helped form a group of the same name.

“It’s a group of conservatives from across the state,” Williams said, adding that he and others in the group were supportive of Green’s bid for governor and Army secretary. Some who are part of the online group were among the signatories of a letter encouraging Green to run for governor.

“A lot of us don’t see Bob Corker as supportive of the president as he should be,” Williams said.

The page also gets a mention in rambling Jackson Baker post, wherein the Memphis Flyer sage — also citing Williams as a source — notes that other names mentioned as possible Republican opponents for Corker include Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, State House Representative Andy Holt and Americans for Prosperity Tennessee state director Andrew Ogles.

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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.”

106 TN ‘conservative leaders’ call for Green to resume run for GOP gubernatorial nomination

A group of 106 people, describing themselves as Tennessee conservative leaders and operating under the title “Coalition 2018,” have signed a letter calling for state Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville to resume his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination after withdrawing from consideration as President Trump’s nominee to become U.S. secretary of the Army.

The group includes tea party activists – including, for example, Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham, Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West and Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation – along with at least three current members of the state Republican Party Executive Committee and Joe Carr, a former state representative who unsuccessfully challenged Lamar Alexander in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary and Diane Black in the 2016 6th Congressional District Republican primary.

Green, who filed the paperwork for gubernatorial campaign early this year, decided against seeking U.S. Senate confirmation of his Army secretary nomination after a national criticism from some groups for remarks they interpreted as hostile toward LGBT persons and the Muslim religion – remarks notably including a taped appearance before the Chattanooga Tea Party.

Says the letter: “Throughout the nomination process, Senator Green was attacked by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Elizabeth Warren. Tennesseans disagree, because we know and share Mark’s values. We write today to urge Mark Green to resume his campaign for Governor.”
Green has so far been non-committal about resuming the race, saying only that he’s thinking about it.

(Three other legislators considering a run for governor and widely expected to announce decisions shortly after the legislative session ended — House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris on the GOP side and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh on the Democratic side — have also maintained silence. )

Text of the letter with a list of those signing is HERE.

Green withdraws as Trump’s nominee for U.S. Army secretary

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green has announced he is withdrawing President Donald Trump’s nominee to become Secretary of the Army, blaming the “distraction” caused by “false” attacks on his religious beliefs.

Green, a physician and former Army flight surgeon who lives in Clarksville, had declared himself a candidate for the Republican governor’s nomination in 2018, but put campaigning on hold after Trump nominated him to succeed Eric Fanning as Army secretary. Fanning, serving under President Barack Obama, was the first openly gay military service secretary.

From the Times-Free Press report:

“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” Green said in a statement.

“While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the President the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world.”

…He noted he and his wife, Camie, “look forward to finding other opportunities to use our gifts to serve others and help Make America Great Again.”

There was no specific comment as to whether he would restart his gubernatorial campaign.

From the Washington Post report:

Green pulled out after a month of calls for the Trump administration to choose someone else. Advocacy groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people immediately launched an effort on Capitol Hill to block his nomination after it was announced April 7, saying his history of antagonism toward them made him an unacceptable choice.

… Among the comments that drew concern were Green saying last fall that if psychiatrists were polled, they would say that “transgender is a disease.” He added that while most millennials accept transgender people, he wanted to be a “light” that set the record straight.

“If you really want to bring this back to who’s at fault, I mean we’ve got to look a little bit inwardly,” he said. “I mean, we’ve tolerated immorality and we’re not reflecting light.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also opposed Green’s nomination, citing an appearance before the Chattanooga Tea Party last fall in which Green said that “we will not tolerate” teaching the “pillars of Islam” in textbooks. At that same event, Green responded to a man who said he was concerned about an armed insurrection by people who “don’t belong here, like Muslims in the United States” by saying he’d asked a “great question.”

… Green’s withdrawal marks the latest chapter in the White House’s ongoing turmoil as it tries to fill senior civilian positions at the Pentagon. He was selected after President Trump’s first Army secretary nominee, Vincent Viola, withdrew from consideration in February. Viola, a former Army officer who went on to become a billionaire on Wall Street, cited the complications of getting through the Pentagon’s conflict-of-interest rules.

A nominee for Navy secretary, Philip M. Bilden, also withdrew from consideration in February, facing difficulties similar to Viola’s. No replacement has been named.

…Several U.S. senators this week signaled opposition to Green becoming Army secretary, including Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

Schumer said in a statement that Green’s decision to withdraw is good news for all Americans, “especially those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community and more.” The senator credited advocacy groups with prompting Green to withdraw and said that he hopes Trump will select someone who can represent everyone in the Army.

From The Tennessean’s report:

Congressional Republicans from Green’s home state focused on praising their fellow Tennessean for his service, rather than directly acknowledging any controversy related to his nomination.

“Mark Green has served his country with distinction,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn said in a statement. “He has served his state with honor. I respect his decision to withdraw his nomination and look forward to his continued service in our community.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander also said he respected the decision, but expressed some disappointment that Green didn’t get the nomination.

“This would have been an opportunity for the Army to benefit from his leadership skills, military experience and dedication to service members,” his statement said.

Sen. Bob Corker said he spoke with Green on Friday afternoon to thank him for his willingness to serve and for his commitment to public service.

“Although he has withdrawn from the process, I have no doubt that he will continue to find ways to serve our country and state,” Corker’s statement read.

CNN says Green nomination may be withdrawn; 11 U.S. House Republicans back him

With growing opposition to state Sen. Mark Green’s nomination as U.S. Army secretary and CNN reporting it might be withdrawn, Tennessee’s Republican U.S. House members have come to his support.

From CNN:

Mark Green, Trump’s second pick to be Army secretary, is facing what the sources described as a difficult — if not insurmountable — path to confirmation amid a backlash over his controversial statements on LGBT issues, Islam and evolution.

The sources said that Green’s withdrawal is not finalized, but it’s unlikely he would go forward because “there are questions whether he has enough support from either side of the aisle” to get confirmed, according to one source.

Darren Morris, a political adviser to Green, said the notion he was withdrawing was “completely, absolutely untrue,” and that he’s prepping for the confirmation hearing this week in Washington.

One source said that Green’s politics were “good for the state Senate in Tennessee, not so much to follow a gay Secretary of the Army that Obama had,” a reference to former President Barack Obama’s last Army Secretary, Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person to serve in that role.

From Michael Collins:

“It is our firm belief that confirmation of Mark E. Green to serve as secretary of the Army will only enhance America’s warfighting capability and build on the mutual trust that exists between soldiers and their leaders,” the group (of 11 House Republicans) wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Some DC Democrats criticize Green; some TN Democrats join in praising him

In Washington, 31 Democratic U.S. House members have called for the rejection of Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green as U.S. Army Secretary. But in Nashville, all five Democratic members of the state Senate joined their Republican colleagues in voting for a resolution praising the Clarksville Republican.

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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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