June 30, 2009
I can Haslam gubernors manshun?
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam's campaign says he expects to raise $3.8 million, while U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga says he will come in at about $1.2 million..
Two other GOP candidates, Memphis prosecutor Bill Gibbons and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, have not yet released fundraising totals
Money is not everything, of course. But having a lot of it (non-self financed, to boot) doesn't hurt one's chances in a competitive primary.
Yes, I know; sorry about the title. LOLcats are so 2007. But I had to.
You Say It's Your Birthday
The first post on Chattarati is dated June 30, 2008. But it's just a teaser. The official launch entry is dated July 2.
So perhaps it's fitting that the site's founders chose July 1, 2009 to celebrate its first birthday.
I continue to be amazed at--and, let's be honest, just a tad jealous of (even though that's odd, since it's possible I had some small role in it)--the success of this upstart experiment in citizen journalism. The fact that a group of young (excluding yours truly) writers can exhibit such a fine combination of passion and irreverence toward all things Chattanooga, and have it catch on with readers and "old media" competitors (for lack of a better term), not to mention attract a whole new crop of writers, is one of the most encouraging events of the past year.
Mazel Tov, c-star. This first year of "communal narcissism for the Scenic City" has been great, and here's to many more.
So, Bo A No Go: Sen. Watson Not in Race for Congress
Tennessee Senator Bo Watson (R-11) announced yesterday that he will not seek the Republican nomination for the Third District U.S. House seat being vacated next year by Congressman Zach Wamp.
Of all the rumored and formerly rumored candidates to officially decline, Watson comes closest to bringing a surprise.
That said, it has been apparent for a while that those in the Hamilton County legislative delegation and party leadership have decided to make way for former state party chair Robin Smith, who is expected to announce her intentions tomorrow.
Attorney Chuck Fleischmann and Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble, among others, are not so intent on giving Ms. Smith a free pass. And the third comment at Post Politics raises an interesting point. Many of us expected Robin Smith's announcement sometime in June, as she resigned May 30. The fact that she waited until after the campaign finance reporting deadline could signal a smart move. Let the other guys show their cards first.
This is the first time in quite a while that we will have had an open seat here in TN-3. U.S. Rep. Wamp has been a shoo-in every two years. This should be a fun one to watch, given the new media climate and other factors.
June 11, 2009
Over the next two weeks, this blog will see even lower levels of activity than has unfortunately become normal, as my family and I will enjoy a road trip to points west and back.
Maybe the Legislature will pass a budget and adjourn for the year while I'm gone. Then again, maybe not.
Consider this an open thread while I'm out.
Consumerism Comes to the Voting Booth
Hamilton County election officials hope that state lawmakers will expand "convenience voting" statewide, according to a report by Matt Wilson in Thursday's Chattanooga Times Free Press. Knox County was given an opportunity last year to test the system, which replaces traditional precinct voting with a fewer number of centers at which any registered voter can cast a ballot.
At first glance, such a move would embody a natural progression that began with early voting. In this county, early voting usually involves three locations, and any voter can use any of the locations. Then, on Election Day, voters who did not use early voting must attend their prescribed precinct locations. With convenience voting, the come-one-come-all centers would simply be extended to the actual election day.
Even if we leave cost concerns aside for the moment, the idea has definite pros--and some potential cons. Personal experience at an early voting-only location on election days suggests that a lot of citizens would find it easier to just go to "where they voted last time," or to the Election Commission office, or to the mall. Then there is the matter of properly trained election workers, as mentioned in the article. We'll come back to this.
But on the other hand, what about turnout? In a perfect world, somewhere above 89% of registered voters would participate in elections. In such a world, convenience centers vs. precincts wouldn't matter. But we know the truth: in this year's municipal elections, fewer than one in five bothered to show up. Would changing to fewer locations affect the outcome in some races? I don't know the answer, but it is a question worth pondering.
And perhaps I'm nostalgic, but there is something so essentially patriotic about going to a town hall, church gym, or other community center on Election Day and seeing the familiar faces of voters and election workers alike. I could live without that, I suppose. But could everyone?
This idea will have to be given further thought.
Hat tip: Post Politics
June 4, 2009
Oscar Brock to Audit GOP Books, Resign as Treasurer
In an e-mail message addressed to former Tennessee Republican Party chair Robin Smith and current chair Chris Devaney and obtained by TennesseeTicket, party treasurer Oscar Brock said that he will conduct an audit of the party's finances over the next two weeks, and present the outcome to former and current party leaders.
Following the audit, the letter continues, Brock plans to step down from his post, in order for the new chairperson to recruit new party officers. The State Executive Committee would hold an election to fill this and any other resignations.
In a brief statement, Mr. Brock cited a desire to "clear up the rumors" that arose in recent weeks about past party spending, and to give the new chairman confidence that the accounts are free of any unknown pending expenditures.
June 3, 2009
City Council Approves Audit Committee
Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy of District 9, during discussion of an ordinance that would create an audit committee and an independent auditor position for the city, made a point of thanking his colleague Carol Berz (who was absent from yesterday's session) for her work on getting the ordinance to a vote.
I suppose it would have been slightly awkward for a member of the council to do so, but former Councilman Leamon Pierce also deserves our thanks for bringing the matter to light. The City Charter is unmistakable in its direction; and it's a shame that it took the council almost two decades to fully address the lack of oversight.
It will be interesting to see how the administration responds, given that the current mayor has installed an auditor within the executive branch. I encourage all involved to work together toward a smooth transition.