Tag Archives: Tennessee

Senate Plans

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2017
— Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two of the Senate’s most elderly members, were at the top of the potential retirement list in 2018. But, as we mentioned in our updates during the preceding 10 days, both are now sending re-election signals.

Below is a re-cap of the 21 senators who have made public comments about their 2018 campaign status (a total of 33 are in-cycle):

California: Sen. Feinstein stated during a radio interview within the past few days that she is “leaning” toward seeking re-election, feeling that her age during the next campaign (85) will not be a particular detriment either to her political ability or in representing her constituents. She stopped short, however, of making a formal campaign announcement.

Delaware: Sen. Tom Carper (D) said in early December that he has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term in 2018. The senator has been in elective office for 40 consecutive years, and will be 72 at the time of the next election.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was also thought to be a retirement possibility, considering that he will be 76 years of age in 2018, and will complete 30 years of congressional service in that same year. Repeatedly, however, Sen. Nelson has said that he will seek a fourth term next year.

Indiana: In what promises to be a hotly contested campaign, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) announced his re-election intention in January, and is beginning to hire political staff.

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Tennessee Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 8, 2016 — Volunteer State voters went to the polls in their unique Thursday primary last week to choose congressional and state office nominees. The evening featured two of the most watched congressional races in the state, the GOP primary challenge to three-term Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg) and the crowded open 8th District from which three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson) is retiring.

Former Mitt Romney campaign official and attorney Grant Starrett challenged Rep. DesJarlais, who had been plagued for two cycles with the past scandal of engaging in extra-marital affairs with several of his female medical practice patients. Yet, he managed to survive in close contests. Two years ago, the congressman nipped former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R) by a mere 38 votes in winning with less than a majority in a multi-candidate field.

On Thursday, DesJarlais’ percentage was much better, defending himself against Starrett’s attacks from the ideological right and winning 52-43 percent, from a vote pool of just under 47,000 cast ballots. Though Starrett talked a great deal about ethics in his ads and public appearances, he did not reference DesJarlais’ affairs. Starrett had a significant resource advantage, possibly outspending the incumbent by 75 percent or more. We will see the final expenditure totals when the candidates soon file their post-election financial disclosure reports. Starrett will have likely spent in the $1.5 million range. Rep. DesJarlais now looks to be a sure re-election bet in the fall.

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Tennessee Primary: Another Upset?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2016 — The country’s only Thursday primary took place yesterday in the Volunteer State of Tennessee. No US Senate race was on the ballot there this year, but competition existed within the House delegation.

The state featured one open seat, the 8th District of retiring three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson), and a total of six primaries in the state’s nine CDs.

The 4th District challenge to Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg/ Murfreesboro) was very serious. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) again drew competition from the legendary political Ford family, but the contest is not attracting much in the way of attention or challenger financial support. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) drew a former state representative and statewide candidate, but he, too, was not expected to be a major threat.

The remaining challenges, those to Reps. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), were minor. Regarding the latter member, this was the first time since his original election in 2010 that Fleischmann had an easy Republican primary run.

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Crowning Too Early?

By Jim Ellis

May 2, 2016 — Are the pundits who are already making Donald Trump the Republican nominee, and those House members rushing to endorse him, and the others like former House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2) calling out Sen. Ted Cruz acting too quickly?

It was only two weeks ago when Trump was reeling and people were speculating that he would lose a contested convention to Cruz as early as the second ballot because he had allowed the Texan to out-maneuver him in the delegate selection process. In Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Dakota, Colorado, and other places, pro-Cruz individuals were being elected as convention delegates. Though most would be legally bound to cast a first ballot for Trump, if a deadlocked convention went more than one ballot these delegates could break away and cause the New York real estate mogul to fall.

Then came New York and the eastern regional primary. Though Trump exceeded expectations and delegate quotas, was it really a surprise that he carried the states in his home region? The after-effect has reinvigorated the Trump campaign and helped send Cruz to the ropes.

The results shouldn’t surprise anyone. Trump was always projected to carry the eastern states, and certainly so when Cruz insulted the whole state of New York with his “New York values” comment in an early debate.

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Are Both Sides Rigged?

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2016
— Earlier in the week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump charged that some GOP officials were “rigging” the nomination process against him. Now that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is beginning to reap the benefits of his campaign laying the groundwork in key places during the past several months, particularly in unbound delegation states such as Colorado and North Dakota, Trump is finding himself on the short end of the delegate selection process.

Because Colorado did not have a primary or caucus but went only to a state convention, Trump is saying such a move is out of bounds. The North Dakota Republicans did the exact same thing a week earlier, but he didn’t levy the same charges toward the Peace Garden State GOP leaders.

Simultaneously, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesman claimed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) is trying to “rig” the Democratic system by attempting to convince Super Delegates who have already announced for Clinton to change their minds.

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