Dark money flows in TN from inside, outside the stateDark money flowed into several Tennessee campaigns in the election season recently ended, some darker than others but all indicating — along with some other factors — a trend toward anonymity in politicking that apparently follows national inclinations.
And maybe it works, so we can expect more in the future.
In other recent election cycles, dark money — funding where the donors are undisclosed to the public — has generally come from national organizations. StudentsFirst, for example, reports in Tennessee only that six-figure chunks of cash came from the national headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., then was spent bashing state legislative candidates or local school board candidates who don’t support the “education reform” organization’s agenda or supporting those who do. Click Here For More from Tom Humphrey
Challenges galore for Haslam as he begins Tennessee budget hearingsNASHVILLE — As Gov. Bill Haslam kicks off his first round of public budget hearings Monday, he finds himself caught between some fellow Republicans who want to reduce taxes and critics who say previous spending reductions have harmed some state services.
Toss in demands from public employees for a pay raise, problems with two major business taxes and other woes, and it looks like Haslam will have his hands full first in shaping and then defending the spending plan he will present to the Legislature early in 2015. LINK
TN voter ID law opponents keep up fightA legendary Tennessee lawyer whose push for voting rights dated back to the civil rights movement died last summer, not long before a new federal report found evidence that he might have had a point about that state's voter identification law.
Now many of those who worked closely with him say they intend to keep the cause alive.
George Barrett died in August, two months before a new report by the Government Accountability Office found that states — including Tennessee — which toughened their voter ID laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not.
While there were few reports of voting problems in Tennessee following the Nov. 4 general election, voter advocates say the report justifies the need to examine the effects of the voter ID law in Tennessee, one of 33 states to enact laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls. In doing so they hope to rekindle the efforts of Barrett, a one-man crusader whose courtroom advocacy dated back to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the early 1960s, when it was rare for a white attorney to take up the cause of black college students. LINK (Subscription)
Pat Nolan: The TNGOP Civil War Rages OnIt's been a quiet week (at least publicly) in the battle over who will be the next Republican State Party Chair between outgoing State Representative and unsuccessful GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr and current State Republican Party Chief Chris Devaney.
Devaney is still considered the favorite but Carr may have more votes than thought on the 66-member Executive Committee that will decide the matter next month. Carr, a Tea Party favorite is taking advantage of the strong unhappiness among some Executive Committee members who feel Governor Haslam unfairly tried to defeat some committee members and GOP state lawmakers in the August primary. They also blame Delaney for being in league with the governor on this matter.
This same estrangement within the GOP is also part of the challenge being mounted by State Representative Rick Womick of Murfreesboro who is trying to defeat House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville. Womick has publicly called Governor Haslam “a traitor” for going after GOP candidates in the primary and he faults the Madame Speaker for doing “absolutely nothing” to help conservatives in her caucus while instead spending her time “supporting the governor's agenda and raising an enormous amount of money for her own personal gain and use.” Womick adds that right now, Harwell “is sitting on $1.3 million that she's raised over three and a half years on the back of her fellow legislators. That's not what we (members of the House Republican Caucus) elected her to do.”
But Harwell is still considered a strong favorite to win another term as Speaker. LINK
Editorial: Common Core battles waste legislators' timeAlthough the convening of the General Assembly still is a few weeks away, battle lines already are drawn over the future of Common Core State Standards.
Womick: Conservatism, not party, most important
Gov. Bill Haslam, who is working to keep Common Core in place, faces the task of replacing Kevin Huffman as education commissioner, and presumably the new commissioner will be as strong a supporter of the standards as Huffman.
Among legislators who have fought Common Core most fervently is state Rep. Rick Womick, a Rockvale Republican who is challenging state Rep. Beth Harwell for the post of speaker of the House.
Womick is hopeful that when the Legislature reconvenes, it will move forward with the ending of state participation in Common Core. Bills already are in place to pursue that goal.
Opponents of Common Core have many contentions in regard to that opposition, and many of those arguments are ideological rather than based on educational philosophy or practice. LINK
Tennessee Campaigns Ran Nearly 23K TV Ads In 2014Political and issue campaigns ran nearly 23,000 television ads in Tennessee to try to sway voters on races including the U.S. Senate and constitutional amendments on abortion and judges.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, the ads cost a total of $16.8 million. Spending was heaviest on the constitutional amendments, with $3.8 million going toward unsuccessful efforts to defeat the measure to give lawmakers more power to regulate abortions in the state. Supporters spent $2 million. LINK
Crockett Policy Institute