January 29, 2010
LiberTea debate postponed
The 3rd Congressional District GOP candidate debate (or forum) that had been scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010 has been postponed due to inclement (or, if you ask some, awesome) weather.
Watch for an announcement here and at Chattarati.com when the event is rescheduled.
From Channel 3's (WRCB) Twitter account: Hamilton County public schools are closing early at the following times on Friday, January 29, 2010:
High schools: 11:30
Middle schools: 11:45
Elementary schools: 12:15
Magnet schools: 1:00
Please be safe, everyone.
January 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to TennesseeTicket!
Five years ago today, a search ended. An enthusiastic reader of nationally focused political Web sites for the previous five years, I had set out on a quest to find a blog that covered politics and elections in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Surely there must be at least one, I thought.
I never found it, but I did find a site called Chattablogs. It offered a free blog to anyone (even those not affiliated with Covenant College!). So I asked for one, and here it is. (And, as it ran on Movable Type, it turned out to be way less bug-ridden than the original Blogger, which I had tried.)
Site visitor statistics spiked quickly a few months later when several sitting Tennessee lawmakers were arrested by the FBI on bribery charges in the "Operation Tennessee Waltz" sting. I don't know that I've ever regained that traffic summit—but I want it to be clear that the only reason I care about visitor stats is to be sure I am providing information to as many voters as possible.
In 2006, I partnered with former (excellent) blogger Adam Groves to provide a comprehensive list of all candidates running for every applicable General Assembly seat, with supporting detail and links; and added local, gubernatorial and federal candidates to complete the information.
In 2008, esteemed Knoxville blogger R. Neal created a solution that provided that year's election data, and more, on his TennViews site, so I didn't try to create something else.
For the 2009 Chattanooga municipal elections, I was a candidate, so I didn't do much writing here. The invaluable experience of running for local office showed me, however, that this is what I would much rather be doing.
This year, I have made contact with a blogger who has similar goals to mine; talks have begun about a joint effort, though nothing has solidified. Ideally, we would form a network with writers across the state to provide regional and local information to voters in each county. That's probably a longer-term goal. Check back with me in five years to see what has been developed.
And, seriously, to those of you who have read this blog, whether for months or for years (or you just found it today), you have my heartfelt thanks.
Zach Wamp opens campaign headquarters
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — An estimated 250 supporters and onlookers crowded into a downtown building to celebrate the opening of the first of three statewide offices by the Zach Wamp for Governor campaign. Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey shared the task of introducing Wamp. Each voiced support for the eight-term congressman and asked those in attendance to volunteer to help him win the election.
Wamp began his remarks with a somber nod to the families he has consoled during his tenure who have lost sons or daughters in military service. He said that he is humbled to be where he is, and views his role as a public servant. "I'm not in this for money or power," he said.
The campaign had wrapped up its tour of Tennessee's 95 counties on Friday in Haywood County. While the "Big Red" recreational vehicle sat idling outside, Wamp introduced its crew of drivers and other support personnel and presented them with gifts. He thanked local supporters, including Corky Coker.
Having said that he wasn't going to give his stump speech as "this is a different crowd," Wamp nevertheless emphasized his focus on third grade reading as a way to improve education; and he claimed a unique position in the race at understanding the excesses of federal government, leading to his support for state sovereignty as articulated in the Tenth Amendment. He closed with a rallying cry, saying that his campaign has the most momentum, and that there are possibly only two candidates who have a real chance at winning the election. To ensure it was understood who the other is, Wamp said that he will continue to travel the state and talk to voters between now and August, and isn't sure if the other candidates will stay out on the trail or "hide behind their money."
The campaign plans to open additional offices in Nashville and Memphis next month.
518 Georgia Avenue was the place to be seen on Saturday morning, especially for elected officials and those trying to become elected. Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland led the Pledge of Allegiance. Collegedale Mayor John Turner, who's running for the Hamilton County Commission in District Nine, worked the crowd. State Representatives Gerald McCormick and Richard Floyd were also there, along with Hamilton County Commissioners Curtis Adams (who is not running for reelection) and Bill Hullander (who is running for Trustee), and Chattanooga City Councilman Manuel Rico.
At least two of those seeking to replace Wamp in the U.S. House of Representatives were on hand to honor the occasion. Tommy Crangle and Robin Smith handed out cards and attempted to build enthusiasm about the upcoming primary.
January 17, 2010
'Race to the Top' passed; now what?
On Friday, the Tennessee General Assembly approved legislation that will implement changes in state education practices in hopes of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government for the next several years.
The state's largest teachers union, the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), came to an agreement with Governor Phil Bredesen's administration on the types of data that can be used to evaluate teacher performance. Even so, some of the Legislature's Democratic members voted against the bill, citing concerns over teachers' job security. Additionally, two conservative Republicans, Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Mae Beavers (both from Wilson County), voted against the bill, though Rep. Lynn had her vote changed after the fact.
The deadline has been met; the bill has been sent to Gov. Bredesen and is expected to be signed into law in time to turn in the federal application. But what are the chances of winning the grant?
And what happens if we miss out on the grant? Will the reforms, by themselves, improve the state's education system in ways that engender the dramatic and lasting economic recovery so desperately needed?
These are just a few of the questions. I don't have the answers. Some teachers I know are glad to see reform, yet understandably anxious about using lackadaisical students' test scores to judge their own hard-working performance. Yet most stakeholders agree that the status quo will not work.
As I intend to focus mostly on elections this year, I highly recommend keeping up with Chattarati contributor Aaron Collier's upcoming posts on education. I'll point out others, too, as the conversation continues.
References and further reading:
Nashville Public Radio (WPLN)
Andy Sher's Sunday cover story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Two more conservatives on why they voted for the bill
More on teacher concerns
Education forum follow-up
The Cookeville Times' Lynette Judd asked two questions of the seven gubernatorial candidates who spoke in Nashville on Thursday night.
Question 1: What is your opinion on the “Race to the Top” funding that Tennessee is trying to obtain and how what would you propose we spend that funding?
Question 2: If this funding is received and expires in five years, what would your long term budget goals be to help the Tennessee school system?
Click here to read their answers. An aside: it doesn't seem that the candidates' responses were edited for grammar or spelling. This provides an informative glimpse into the verbal communication skills possessed by each of those who would be your next governor.
January 14, 2010
Which candidates were strongest in tonight's forum?
Granted, it wasn't a debate, so declaring a "winner" doesn't really make sense. But there will be an eventual winner come November, so: which candidates did you think did the best on substance, composure, or any other measure you wish to name?
You can go argue at Post Politics, or weigh in here if you'd like.
Gubernatorial candidate forum tonight
The leading candidates* for governor will address the future of education and economic development in Tennessee in a forum at Belmont University that will be broadcast across the state via CBS television affiliates.
In the Chattanooga area, WDEF (Channel 12) will carry the event. It begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time (7 Central), and will run for an hour.
The forum is presented by Tennessee SCORE.
Watch live or set your DVR.
District Attorney Bill Gibbons (R)
Mayor Bill Haslam (R)
Senator Jim Kyle (D)
Kim McMillan (D)
Mike McWherter (D)
Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (R)
U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (R)
January 11, 2010
Special election in House District 83
Democrat Guthrie Castle, Independent John Andreucetti, and Republican Mark White will each cast a vote for himself on Tuesday, and will each hope that he has enticed a few more voters to the polls in District 83 than the other two.
Prediction: Mark White will win, but the margin isn't very predictable with turnout expected to be so low.
UPDATE: Mark it, Dude.
Parish, the thought: A Democrat explores possible 3rd District candidacy
Matt Wilson noted the exploratory committee announced by Brad Parish, a Democrat from Oak Ridge, in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. The full press release can be found at KnoxViews and other places around the Web.
Parish will face a sharp discrepancy, in financial terms, if he does decide to join the race. Several Republican candidates have a sizeable fundraising lead, including attorney Chuck Fleischmann, who today announced that he is the first candidate to raise more than a half million dollars.
Lopsidedness aside, however, it seems highly unlikely that the Democratic Party will let this open seat go uncontested. Whether Brad Parish will have company or not remains to be seen.
January 10, 2010
Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate in 2012?
Let's see: with six months to travel after leaving office as Governor, that puts him back in town in July 2011. Yep, just in time to formally announce a run for U.S. Senate in 2012.
“I really like the public sector, and if there are some opportunities there, I’d be open,” [Gov. Bredesen] said.
It could happen. Then again, he could decide to wait until 2014, which some think might involve an open seat.
Further reading: Kingsport Times-News
January 8, 2010
Candidates for governor to discuss education next week
Tom Humphrey posted the announcement:
The first gubernatorial candidate forum featuring both Democrats and Republicans is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14, at Belmont University in Nashville, according to a statement from the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).
The forum is to air locally on CBS affiliate WDEF (Channel 12) at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
The SCORE organization is, you'll recall, headed by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist.
January 3, 2010
Precocious Predictions for Twenty Tenn.
Veteran political reporter and columnist Tom Humphrey consulted with a mysterious source over the New Year's holiday, and has presented her predictions for Tennessee politics in 2010.
Bill Haslam will wind up as the GOP nominee, though after an intense primary that leaves the party's conservative/right wing raging, and Mike McWherter will wind up as the Democratic nominee, after a primary that leaves the party's progressive/left wing whining.
Should that be accurate, the clash in November would be between two moderates, Polly predicts. Whining Democrats will be more likely to go with their party guy, figuring things could be worse, she foresees, while some raging conservatives will refuse to go along with their party guy because he is impure in the eyes of those who enjoy having a good Tea Party. The upshot, she says, is that independent voters, as usual, decided the election and, given that Haslam, has more money for message, he wins.
Other Polly predictions, after some extrapolation based on her thoughts about individual races, include:
State House makeup after the elections: 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, 1 independent.
I don't know much about this Dr. Polly Sigh, but I think she's generally on the mark. But looking into it a bit further, I think Mayor Haslam is only guaranteed the GOP nomination if neither Lt. Gov. Ramsey nor Congressman Wamp exits the race. If one of them does, then things could change. Think Bryant-Corker-Hilleary 2006 (with all due respect to Mr. Gibbons).
And on the Democratic side, Sen. Kyle is a possible come-from-behind winner—he has no want for enthusiasm—though I concur that McWherter is currently the man to beat (with all due respect to the woman, Ms. McMillan).
I haven't done enough digging into the individual House races (nor the Senate, for that matter) to cause me to contest or accept the good professor's prognoses, but it will be interesting nonetheless to see how far things vary one way or another.
January 2, 2010
Hale Announces in House District 40
Incumbent Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican, will see a challenge in 2010 from a longtime labor activist and Democrat, James Hale. Here's an excerpt from the Hale campaign's announcement, as published in the Macon County Times:
Hale has a long record of civic leadership and activism, having worked his way from a construction laborer to an influential national voice on behalf of working people. He was appointed to the Council for a New Economy Workforce by Governor Phil Bredesen to develop ideas for creating more good jobs in Tennessee.
Across the Southeast, Hale has fought for economic development and good jobs as an officer and activist of LIUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Starting as a construction laborer in LIUNA Local Union 386 while a teenager, he rose to be the local union’s Field Representative, President and Business Manager. He was later named Vice President and Regional Manager for the union’s International headquarters, overseeing 14 states, including Tennessee.
District 40 comprises DeKalb, Macon, and Smith Counties.
The first entry on this blog, almost five years ago, was a blip about a Chattanooga City Council election. In 2006, TennesseeTicket tracked all the Hamilton County races and has provided information and commentary on local elections throughout its history.
Something has always felt a little strange about that, however, since I don't give much time to local elections outside Hamilton County, yet this site is all about Tennessee elections. The obvious reason is the sheer size such a task would be. There are 95 counties, and hundreds of municipalities, in the state. It would be physically impossible to extend the local layer that far and wide.
But until roughly a year ago, there didn't exist another blog that would have covered the Chattanooga metro area's political scene in its entirety, so I included what I could here. Now, that may be changing.
I will still write about local elections, of course. But I have started a discussion about posting my contributions on those topics at Chattarati, and further turning TennesseeTicket into the clearinghouse I've always wanted it to be for voters interested in deciding among candidates for the General Assembly, Governor, and Congress.
Naturally, there is already an exception. I write about the 3rd Congressional District at Chattarati (sidebar: check out the updated sidebar! Thanks, John Hawbaker!) and the rest of the federal districts here. Since Chattanooga is the de facto "seat" of the Fighting Third (but don't tell Oak Ridge that), this congressional race is of particular interest to Chattarati readers.
A number of daily visitors here hail from domains connected to Legislative Plaza and the U.S. Capitol, and many others are bloggers from Memphis to Morristown who follow statewide politics, and these may not be interested in whether Pam Hurst will have any opposition to her bid to continue as Hamilton County Register of Deeds. I could be wrong. But I hope the likely separation of state from local topics will make sense to all.
Another consideration is that segregating the local elections to another site will imply that they hold a secondary status, and I only bring that up to emphasize the opposite. Giving them coverage in a locally focused outlet will hopefully grow the online conversation about how these elected offices affect our daily lives, and if that conversation happens to draw interest from outside the immediate area, then that's a win-win.