Call me crazy, but I am not sure I like the new website for the Tennessee General Assembly. Sure, the site looks great, and it appears easier to find specific bills and the sponsors of those bills. There is even a "My Bills" section where visitors can get e-mail updates on the status of legislation that is of interest to them. However, it would appear that the extensive video archive that was available on the old website of legislative sessions dating back to 2005 has disappeared-it is to be found nowhere.
The archive was the tool that many bloggers and internet Youtube archivists used to prove their point about the doings of the State Legislature, no matter which side they happened to be on. It is an affront to open government that the video archive should be removed. This is not a good way for the new regime to start off-then again, Jimmy Naifeh is still Speaker of the House until Tuesday.
Bring back the legislative video archive, and all of the sessions therein-now.
As everyone knows, present Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh slammed Republican candidate for State Treasurer Ira Brody, saying that Brody is attempting to buy his way into the Treasurer's office, and that he has given over $80,000 to Republican candidates in an attempt to do this. Of course, these allegations are rich coming from the likes of Naifeh, who made giving favors and position to political donors an art form during his time in the House Chair. Hence, the Speaker has pointed to the splinter in the eye of the House Republican Caucus while failing to take out the plank in his own eye.
While judging others but failing to judge himself, the Speaker not only shows his true colors, but that he is a shrewd political operator, for he knows that many of us object to Ira Brody in part for the very reason that he appears to be purchasing his way into public life, rather than earning it as a Tennessean in the community who seeks election to office. The idea of Ira Brody as Treasurer creates a massive conflict of interest for the Republican Party in the Legislature at a time when such a conflict is completely unneeded.
Most everyone knows that I strongly support Vance Cheek, Jr. for Treasurer because he has actually run for public office in Tennessee, served in office, has balanced a budget without raising taxes, and he's running for Treasurer to serve for the right reasons. This issue goes so much deeper than my support for Vance Cheek, however.
In a field of qualified Tennessee candidates, what will it say about our new majority if that majority just coincidentally happens to choose the one who gave the most money? I thought we were supposed to bring change, and govern differently from Naifeh, not receive indictments in the press from Naifeh over practices which he himself is guilty of. That isn't change, it is more of the same.
As for Vance Cheek, there are those who are attempting to derail his bid for Treasurer based on a semi-anonymous letter from people whose existance is unverifiable, concerning a Letter to the Editor that cannot anywhere be found, about a personal well-wish in The Jackson Sun in deference to a friend that was miraculously transformed into a political endorsement that never happened.
Will money, lies, rumor, and innuendo govern our caucus' choices for Constitutional offices, or will principles, clear thinking and common sense? Obviously, I'd like my favorite candidate to win, but I know Vance would be pleased-and I certainly would-to know that the people chosen for these offices were picked because they were representative of the wishes of the people of Tennessee, not because they gave the most money or spread malicious rumors.
If we let money and lies choose for us, our party is no different than the regime we replaced.
According to several NashvillePost.com sources, the GOP candidate for Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, Rep. Steve McDaniel of Parker's Crossroads, has a long way to go to get the 50 Republican votes needed to get the job. Republicans have a one-seat majority in the State House and any defections jeopardize their control of legislative offices.
McDaniel was challenged last month for the spot in a Republican caucus meeting by State Rep. Frank Niceley of Knoxville. In that election, Niceley said that he had always "remained loyal to the Republican caucus" and attacked McDaniel for not being a "true believer." He then pointed to McDaniel having voted for Naifeh in the past and carrying former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist's proposed income tax legislation when McDaniel served in the GOP leadership.
While McDaniel carried the day, more conservative members of the caucus were not happy and their dissatisfaction appears to have placed his ascent to the slot of Speaker Pro Tempore of the House in jeopardy.
Ken Whitehouse is probably the best political reporter in Nashville. I didn't merely want to take Whitehouse's story at face value, however, so I did some snooping around of my own. Everyone I talked to didn't want their name mentioned, but based on what I've heard from people on the Hill, I believe Ken Whitehouse's story is spot on. If the vote on the floor for Speaker Pro Tempore were held today, Steve McDaniel would very likely not win, as he does not appear to be close to 50 votes at this hour.
As to who might win, that really is a mystery. Frank Niceley, McDaniel's initial caucus opponent and my own Representative, has said that he will remain loyal to the caucus and that he would vote for McDaniel on the floor. However, it should be noted that Frank might feel that he is relieved of that obligation if it becomes abundantly clear that McDaniel will not have 50 votes even with the exercise of the Niceley franchise in his favor. Mum seems to be the word on who an alternative might be for the Republicans for Speaker Pro Tem if McDaniel simply doesn't have the votes. Some members of the caucus feel that McDaniel was promised the Speaker Pro Tempore post as part of a deal to guarantee McDaniel's vote for Jason Mumpower for Speaker, despite Mumpower's repeated assertions to the contrary. Among those who feel this way, there seems to be the notion that this bargain was something akin to selling one's soul to the Devil.
None of this is to say that Steve McDaniel won't pull out a victory on the floor at the end of the day, but to do so, there may have to be more bone throwing than arm twisting in order to achieve that result.
The Roland Burris saga should give Americans a much needed civics lesson. What does it mean for conservatives to give Barack Obama "a chance?" Are plutocratic family dynasties becoming the political norm in America? Adam Graham of the Truth and Hope Report, Warner Todd Huston of RedState, and Sharon Cobb formerly of NBC News join the show.
It is with no small measure of sadness that Jefferson County Republicans mourn the loss of one of our own. Gladys Price Forgety passed away January 4th-her recieving of friends and funeral was this evening. Ms. Forgety was very active in the Jefferson County Republican Party, in her church, Trentville United Methodist, and she loved to meet and make connections with all kinds of people.
Ms. Forgety was so active in Republicanism that Jefferson County Republican Chairman Hobart Rice and State Senator-elect Mike Faulk were among those to be found at her receiving. My guess would be that others were there also that I didn't know about. See, I didn't know that Ms. Forgety had passed until Nicole told me this evening. She didn't know until her mother called her shortly before she left work, and she just had time to make sure she got there to pay respects for the both of us. I was very sorry that our short notice made it impossible for me to join Nicole.
Nicole came to know Ms. Forgety because she is the mother of one of her Jefferson County High School Teachers, Ms. Linda Phipps. Nicole was involved in INTERACT in high school, and students from INTERACT used to help serve the Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner. When I think of the reality that Republicans now have a majority in this State, this is a tribute to the quiet work of people like Ms. Forgety, who was a fixture in local party affairs almost up to the day she died.
Jefferson County Republicans-and so many in the community-feel a void at her passing.
David Oatney returns to the airwaves and attempts to answer where he disappeared to. The campaign for Governor of Tennessee in 2010 is already underway, and the 106th General Assembly has yet to even convene.
Diane Feinstein, who has always been a member of the "Rules Don't Apply To Me Club" in the Senate, thinks that failure to seat Roland Burris "has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America." Senator Feinstein is correct, in that the rejection of Burris serves as a reminder to Governors and State officials all over America that Senate and constitutional rules must be followed.
There are also those who have called the Senate action "an affront to democracy." One old friend of mine called the refusal to seat Roland Burris " a coup on American democracy." The Constitution says something entirely different:
Article I, Section 5:Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.
The framers of our Constitution did not create a democracy. We do not pledge allegiance to "the democracy for which it stands" or sing "the Battle Hymn of the Democracy." We were given a free government, yes, but not a democracy-the framers thought democracy was equivalent to mob rule. So what kind of government are we supposed to have in this country?
Aricle IV, Section 4.The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.
It is on occasions such as the Blagojevich scandal and the resulting Senate rejection of Roland Burris' appointment that Americans desperately need to be reminded of the kind of government that we are supposed to have.
One of the many things that I admire about Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey is his straightforward-and often blunt-honesty. Ramsey admitted to the Kingsport Times-News that whether he follows through on the notion of running for Governor in 2010 depends on one factor alone:
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s decision whether to run for governor in 2010 will hinge on one prime concern — money. The Blountville Republican, during a meeting Monday between members of the Times-News Editorial Board and Northeast Tennessee lawmakers, wouldn’t say how much money he would have to raise for a possible gubernatorial campaign.
But Ramsey, who expects to be re-elected as lieutenant governor and state Senate speaker by Senate members next week, seemed more concerned with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s anticipated GOP bid for the governor’s job because of his ability to personally finance his own campaign.
“On name recognition alone I probably would be in the lead right now statewide, but it’s amazing what a few million dollars on television can change,” Ramsey said. “If I can’t raise the money that I think would be adequate or enough to win, then there’s no need to be getting into it.”
Should Ramsey choose to run, obviously my support goes to him. However, Ron Ramsey is right that it will take volumes of cold hard cash to beat Bill Haslam in a primary. I would love to see Haslam's clock get cleaned by anyone, and his primary defeat would bring about in me a brief Heathian moment ("Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice!"), but it will likely take someone who can match Haslam dollar for dollar. We already know what Haslam money is capable of, because in 2006 that money helped buy a Republican primary and ultimately a federal Senate seat for Bob Corker.
Ramsey also may be underestimating the incredible power that he already has. In Tennessee, the Governor can do very little without legislative approval, and the General Assembly is so strong-both constitutionally as well as practically-that it can rightfully be said that the Speaker of the House and Lieutenant Governor (Speaker of the Senate) are the people who really run this State. Ramsey's position as Lieutenant Governor looks as though it will be safe for several years at this point, more than long enough for Bill Haslam to have cycled out of politics and Ramsey to have developed the extensive Statewide network that he will need to raise massive amounts of money so that any future Haslam-like threat can be beaten back.
Ron Ramsey has the important ally of time on his side, so it might be well for him to take the time to enjoy what he has achieved and take the years necessary to become a Statewide frontrunner regardless of how much money his opponents might spend.
“After significant reflection and conversations with loved ones, I have decided to remain a private citizen for the foreseeable future," Frist said in a statement. "I will, however, continue serving the people of Tennessee."
There are some who suspected that this might be the end result of the Frist saga for months, and it remains to be seen where this puts the Republican field. One has to believe that in the short term, Bill Frist's announcement will make Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam the frontrunner, only because the Haslams have more money than the late William Blount had land.
Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey is also indicating that he is "very interested" in running. I very much like Ron Ramsey, and will likely give him my personal support should he choose to make a run. However, I think Ramsey's odds are very long. He still doesn't have much name recognition in West Tennessee, and while I think he can be elected Governor-and I would love to see it-I am not so sure that he shouldn't wait out a couple of cycles and build up that recognition Statewide.
Democrats may believe that this gives them a leg up in 2010, but who do they have that can be a credible Statewide candidate? Tim McGraw, who still says that he will not run? Harold Ford Jr.'s star is slowly fading, and it is doubtful that he can win a Statewide race. We already know that former Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke cannot.
The 2010 election looks to be a very wild ride, indeed. Bill Frist is out, but there may be some very interesting candidates who decide to get in and stay in this already-begun campaign.
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