The Mumpower interviewLast night I was finally able to corner Rep. Jason Mumpower via telephone. In the irony of ironies, Mumpower tried to call me first (yet more phone tag), but I was on the air with the Sunday show when he tried to get through. As soon as the show was over, I returned Mumpower's call, and he answered the phone himself.
I'd say we had a good phone call. He got the initial question set that I had sent him, and said that he didn't think that any of the questions I was asking were unfair-Rep. Stacey Campfield had told me that when he spoke to Mumpower about doing an interview with me that Mumpower expressed a fear that I would "submarine" him. I never had any intention of doing so, and I think Mumpower probably figured that out during the course of what I think is a very candid and straightforward interview.
I do come away with the impression that Mumpower is uncomfortable with the blogosphere, but that is a fear that remains unspoken-I think it is something you can hear between the lines. After hearing Mumpower out, I can't help but wonder if this is a fear based merely in the reality that Mumpower doesn't know how to handle the new medium, or the new political influence on State and local politics that comes with it-in this regard he may be no different than many other politicians on both sides of the aisle. Mumpower says he is not a blog reader, and claims never to have seen a blog until he saw Stacey Campfield's.
Whether he is uncomfortable with the blogosphere or not, he was extremely co-operative in setting up the interview. He was willing to accomidate me in every way possible with the exception of writing out written responses, which I had intended to post here when I received them. He was quite clear that he didn't have time for that, but that he would consent to a radio interview-so long as that interview were recorded. Mumpower also invites all bloggers who have questions about him or his tenure as Leader to call him-directly. One thing I'd love to hold him to is the idea of "Blog Day on the Hill." He first mentioned it to me in our phone conversation last night-so I brought it up to him today.
Mumpower also indicated a willingness to return to the show, so look for a sequel-perhaps sometime in March or April.
Oatney On the Air-January 8th, 2007 (Exclusive interview with State Representative Jason Mumpower-Republican Minority Leader)
Here is the original question set I had sent Mumpower which both he and I referenced on the show:
1. What motivated you to run for the House Republican Leadership?
2. As you are probably aware, many grassroots conservatives in Tennessee were disappointed at Bill Dunn’s defeat as House Minority Leader. Conservative bloggers, including myself, former Anderson County Republican Chairwoman Terry Frank, Knoxville Attorney and conservative activist Rob Huddleston, Nashville conservative activist and blogger Bill Hobbs, and even the far more moderate (and some would say liberal) Roger Abramson were all in agreement initially that Dunn’s defeat was bad news for the Republican Party at the State level.
We are not, for the most part, privy to the thought process of all members of the Republican Caucus, however. How would you do things differently than your predecessor?
What could you do differently (aside from the obviously better goal of attaining a Republican Majority in the House) that might better advance a conservative agenda?
3. How do you respond to the rumor circulating in the blogosphere that House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and his cronies in the Democratic Caucus prefer you as Republican Leader to your predecessor?
(Perhaps you might give us an example here of why you think Naifeh is not so pleased that you are running the show for the GOP.)
4. Illegal immigration is one of the most difficult issues facing Tennessee today. In the last session of the General Assembly, Democrats killed a number of good bills-including legislation that required proof of citizenship to vote in Tennessee, and legislation that would have done away with the practice of issuing driving certificates to persons with no proof of citizenship.
How do you, as Leader, plan to move the Republican Caucus in a direction to address this vital issue for the future of Tennessee and the Union at-large?
5. The enactment of laws to protect property owners from seizure due to abuse of eminent domain laws (ex: seizing people’s houses and lands for “economic development” projects, or declaring someone’s property to be “blight” merely so that a government entity can seize it) was also a huge issue in the previous General Assembly. The legislation that was agreed upon, while certainly better than having nothing at all, was viewed by many people as not having done enough to protect private property in Tennessee.
Would you be willing to move legislation forward that would protect private property owners in a much more comprehensive way to insure property is not unjustly seized sans Victor Ashe?
6. Last year, Tennessee enjoyed a very large budget surplus. Many (myself included) would like to see an elimination of the sales tax on food in Tennessee for as long as the State is running such a high surplus. Will the GOP introduce legislation to that effect in this session?
7. Are you open to the introduction of legislation that expands Tennesseans’ right to keep and bear arms-such as laws that allow for greater freedom for concealed-carry?
Would you be willing to consider legislation in the future eliminating the registration of firearms in Tennessee?
8. You’ve made it clear that a State income tax is off the table for the Republican Caucus. Is the proposal that has floated out of some quarters of the executive branch for a Statewide property tax also off the table?
Considering Tennessee’s present fiscal health, should the GOP Caucus allow for any kind of tax increase to be on the table at all?
9. What further ethics reforms, if any, will you be pushing for in the new General Assembly?
10. It is January of 2009 and Republicans have control of both Houses of the General Assembly for the first time in the post-Reconstruction era. You have accomplished the ultimate goal of any Republican Leader-you, Jason Mumpower, are sworn in as Speaker of the House.
What are your first priorities going to be as Speaker of the House?