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    Sumner County Democratic Party

    TNDP News April 9th

    April 9th, 2018 by Andrew Hoover

    News clips – April 9th, 2018

    TNDP NEWS

    Tennessee Democrats say 111 contenders for 117 legislative districts a threat to GOP supermajority

    More than 100 Tennessee Dems run to challenge state’s GOP supermajority

    TN US SENATE NEWS

    Former Gov. Sundquist says he’s endorsing Blackburn for Senate

    Congress returns from recess facing hot-button issues

    TN US HOUSE NEWS

    Roe Staff Holding Office Hours Wednesday

    Rep. Black Returns Her NFL Season Tickets, With a Defiant Letter

    TN STATE LEGISLATURE NEWS

    Medicaid Work Debate Gets a Tennessee Twist

    State GOP removes 7 Senate candidates, 1 governor candidate from primary ballot

    TN GUBERNATORIAL RACE NEWS

    Pam’s Points: Only seven shopping months ’til the midterms

    TNDP NEWS

    Tennessee Democrats say 111 contenders for 117 legislative districts a threat to GOP supermajority

     

    Tennessee Democrats believe they have the greatest chance in more than a decade to recapture seats in a state legislature dominated by Republicans.

    Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini, House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, on Friday touted the flurry of Democratic candidates running for office.

    The group said 96 candidates are running for House seats and 15 for the Senate, bringing the total of contenders up to 111 out of the 117 legislative districts up for grabs.

    “We have Democratic candidates who have stepped up to run for office in every part of Tennessee from Mountain City to Memphis,” Mancini said. “We have Democratic candidates who have stepped up to run for every office from county commission all the way up to U.S. Senate.”

     

    Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Fitzhugh are both seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and former Gov. Phil Bredesen is running for outgoing U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s seat.

     

    The Democrats called the turnout of candidates “unprecedented,” at least in recent history, and also said the candidates running are among the strongest that have represented the party.

    “These are highly successful lawyers, doctors, a sergeant major, business people,” Stewart said. “These are people who are prominent people in their communities already, and they have chosen to step up across the state.”

    The party leaders assured reporters that party funds would go behind the candidates as well as help with strategy and spreading the message.

    In particular, the party intends to focus on having candidates separate themselves from Republicans on policy issues that have been hot topics in the state as of late and divided many Tennesseans along political lines.

    Mancini said Democrats would focus on expanding affordable health care, stopping hospital closures and bringing jobs into communities where they are scarce.

    Yarbro said they’ll focus on pointing to issues where the current Republican-led legislature hasn’t moved forward.

    “For too long, too many of the legislators who work in this building have gotten a free pass” he said. “They have not been held accountable. For too long, too many of the districts across the state have not had a meaningful choice on Election Day. But in a 111 of 117 legislative districts, they going to have a choice this November.”

     

    Still, Democrats face a difficult challenge ahead, having seen their numbers dwindle in the Tennessee General Assembly over the last decade. The party hasn’t won a statewide race since Bredesen won a second term in 2006.

    And Republicans, who have preached to their members the importance of the midterm elections since the start of the legislative session, say they welcome the competition and remain confident.

    “Republicans welcome the opportunity to tell the Tennessee success story in each and every district of this great state,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said Friday.

    “The Republican record of success is one of the low taxes, AAA credit ratings, and balanced budgets,” he said. “It is a record that includes the fastest improving students in the nation and the lowest unemployment rate in history. Republicans in Tennessee have done what other leaders only dream of doing.”

    “We feel good about our chances and relish the occasion to make our case to the people of Tennessee,” McNally said.

     

    More than 100 Tennessee Dems run to challenge state’s GOP supermajority

    Tennessee Democrats are running candidates in 112 out of the state’s 117 legislative districts in an attempt to retake seats in a state legislature dominated by Republicans.

    Ninety-seven Democratic candidates are running for state House seats and 15 for Senate seats, according to a statement from the Tennessee Democratic party.

    This marks the lowest number of races that will go uncontested in any recent election in Tennessee.

    “We’re proud, motivated, and excited to have the largest class of Tennessee Democrats stepping up to run for office in recent memory,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini said in a statement.

    Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Mike Stewart touted the backgrounds of the Democrats running in 2018 and said they will act as a foil to Republicans at multiple levels.

    “These are people who are prominent people in their communities already, and they have chosen to step up across the state,” Stewart said during a press conference on Friday.

    The party said it plans to focus on separating candidates from Republicans on policy issues that Tennessee residents care about, regardless of party affiliation.

    Democrats face a challenge in retaking seats in the state legislature. Democrats have not won a statewide election in Tennessee since former Gov. Phil Bredesen won reelection in 2006.

    Bredesen is running this year to replace GOP Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring.

    US SENATE NEWS

    Former Gov. Sundquist says he’s endorsing Blackburn for Senate

     

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Former Governor Don Sundquist says he’s endorsing Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate.

     

    Marsha Blackburn’s campaign released the following statement from Sundquist, saying, “It is time for Tennesseans to rally behind Marsha Blackburn and send her to the United States Senate. While Marsha and I have not always agreed on a couple of issues, we have always agreed on the most critical issues. I trust her, and I know she will work with President Trump to pass his agenda.”

     

    The statement continued, “Let’s unite and elect a leader who shares our philosophy based on our Tennessee traditions, not a candidate who follows the traditions of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. I urge my fellow Tennesseans to support Marsha in any way they can.”

     

    Blackburn said she is “honored to earn Gov. Sundquist’s endorsement.”

     

    “He is a good man and a faithful public servant, and I am grateful for his input as we work to unify the Republican party and defeat Democrat Phil Bredesen in November.”

     

    Congress returns from recess facing hot-button issues

    WASHINGTON — Hot-button issues like border security, Facebook privacy and the confirmation of a new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs will greet lawmakers Monday when they return from a two-week-long recess.

    Little legislative headway is expected as Republicans and Democrats ramp up partisan attacks and tactics with the midterm election looming and control of the House and Senate in the balance.

    Partisan posturing began before Congress recessed to observe religious holidays, and continued while members were out of town.

    President Donald Trump took to Twitter and White House events to blame Congress for failing to reach an immigration agreement to fully fund his border wall in exchange for a deal on so-called Dreamer immigrants.

    Trump angrily announced plans to place National Guard troops on the border after Congress passed a spending bill that provided only $1.6 billion for border wall construction and no extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

    Negotiations between Congress and the White House on his $25 billion request for wall construction and an extension for DACA eligible immigrants broke down before lawmakers left town. Trump blamed Democrats for leaving Dreamers without a solution.

    “They had this great opportunity,” Trump said. “The Democrats have really let them down. It’s a shame.”

    Some, though, saw the president’s action as a move to rally conservative voters after the president was criticized by right-leaning media pundits for failing to secure border funding.

    “He’s upset that Congress negotiated a spending bill without funding his border wall. And he’s upset that he didn’t even realize how boneheaded he had been until Ann Coulter and company lit him up after he signed the spending bill,” said Frank Sharry with America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant advocacy group.

    Republicans rallied to the president’s defense. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the second highest-ranking GOP lawmaker in the Senate, said deploying the National Guard “is a commonsense way to temporarily assist law enforcement along the border.”

    But GOP leaders were noticeably quiet on the president’s call for more border wall construction money. And the Department of Homeland Security scrambled to to lay out a plan to deploy troops in border states.

    Republican and Democratic lawmakers said negotiations on DACA are continuing.

    Concern about privacy

    Despite the partisan division on immigration, Republican and Democrats were united in their concern about privacy abuses of data collected on users of the social media platform Facebook.

    CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before a joint hearing of two Senate committees on Tuesday to explain how information on 87 million users was improperly obtained through Facebook’s search tools.

    “With all the data exchanged over Facebook and other platforms, users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The Senate must also take up the nomination of Adm. Rodney Jackson to replace Dr. David Shulkin as VA secretary.

    Trump fired Shulkin following ethical questions about the former secretary’s travel and acceptance of gifts, including tickets to Wimbledon tennis matches while traveling with his wife on a work trip in Europe, detailed in an inspector general’s report.

    Shulkin claims his firing was retaliation for his pushback on Trump administration efforts to privatize the VA.

    The nomination of Jackson, the president’s personal physician, has left even some Republicans skeptical about his qualifications.

    “I look forward to meeting Admiral Jackson and learning more about him,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

    Balanced budget amendment

    In the House, Republicans are scheduled to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., scheduled a Thursday vote on the amendment, a largely symbolic gesture after Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill projected to add $1 trillion to the debt over 10 years.

    Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has authored the bill that would cap annual spending.

    The bill, championed by fiscal conservatives, would require House and Senate passage and approval from a majority of state legislatures, making enactment unlikely.

    Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who voted against the spending bill over concerns about the debt, said in a Tweet last week that fellow Republicans were resorting to gimmicks “so they can feel good when they go home and face voters.”

    Leaders in both parties are eyeing midterm elections that historically favor the party that doesn’t occupy the White House.

    Republicans, who control the House, Senate, and the White House, were able to pass a sweeping tax cut package last year, giving them an issue to campaign on after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act after nine years of promises.

    Democrats have used their minority in the Senate to block GOP legislation, force a government shutdown and leverage their clout to include funding increases for domestic programs in the spending bill.

    US HOUSE NEWS

    Roe Staff Holding Office Hours Wednesday

     

    U.S. Rep. Phil Roe announced he will send staff to hold office hours in Greeneville on Wednesday at the Greene County Courthouse Annex from 2 to 4 p.m.

    Roe’s staff will be available to assist 1st District constituents.

    Rep. Black Returns Her NFL Season Tickets, With a Defiant Letter

    Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and her husband Dave were “first in line” for season tickets when the National Football League’s Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville, she shared last week in an op-ed. That all changed when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to protest the way minorities in America have been treated by law enforcement. Despite getting booed in subsequent games, he didn’t apologize. He kept kneeling and poured salt in the wound by wearing anti-police socks to practices.

     

    Several players followed suit and the Tennessee Titans were not exempt from the controversy. At a game versus the Seattle Seahawks in September 2017, both teams decided to stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem. They claim it was to “show unity,” but that’s not how some fans perceived it. As for those who were on the field like singer Meghan Linsey, she and her guitarist took a knee during her rendition of the anthem.

     

    Black and her husband didn’t pay to see that. In her op-ed, she rejected the notion that Old Glory represents oppression.

    “The flag represents the freedom we have in this country – freedom unlike any country in the history of the world,” Black explained. “Freedom that was earned in blood and sweat and sacrifice. Freedom that demands respect.”

    She was “so disappointed to see the NFL and its players disrespect our flag and our anthem during this last season,” that she and her husband decided that their season tickets “would remain in a drawer all season and our seats would remain empty.”

    Black, who is running for governor, is so passionate on this issue that she recorded a “Please Stand” campaign ad that aired in Tennessee during the Super Bowl pregame show.

    She is informing the Titans that her family is rescinding their season passes and opting for more quality time together.

    “For now, my family has decided that we’ll spend Sunday afternoons fishing instead of attending Titans games.”

     

    TN STATE LEGISLATURE NEWS

    Medicaid Work Debate Gets a Tennessee Twist

    A growing number of mostly Republican-led states are itching to create work requirements for people on Medicaid, but finding a way to pay for it could prove challenging.

    In Tennessee, lawmakers want to add a Medicaid work mandate, but only if they can use federal — not state — dollars to make it happen. And they think there may be a way to do just that.

    Republicans have proposed taking money from a different government program that provides cash assistance to poor families and instead using it to cover the multimillion-dollar cost of creating and monitoring work requirements in its Medicaid program, known as TennCare.

    Consumer advocates have decried the move, saying money that’s specifically meant to help vulnerable Americans shouldn’t be used to fund a program that could end up doing the exact opposite. People could lose their health coverage because they can’t meet the new work rules or navigate the mass of paperwork necessary to prove they’re working, they argue.

    Supporters say that work requirements are aimed at helping to lift families out of poverty and that using money from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program makes sense because one if its core missions is to promote job preparation and work.

    A bill making its way through Tennessee’s Legislature would require the state to ask the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for special permission to implement work requirements for able-bodied, working-age adults without children under the age of six. In Tennessee, Medicaid doesn’t cover single adults without kids.

    Such a move would cost the state more than $18.5 million annually, according to a state legislative fiscal analysis. And proponents want to pay for the program using reserve funds from its TANF program, which provides cash assistance and work supports to poor parents.

    It’s unclear whether federal officials will approve of TANF funds being used for Medicaid work requirements, but state lawmakers say they’ve had promising early conversations with CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services.

    A spokeswoman for Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell, the Republican who introduced the work requirements legislation, said work supports are one of the key ways TANF funds can be used. Those dollars may be used for things like child care or transportation that make going to work possible for parents.

    “TennCare originally estimated that casework and those supportive services would be the largest expense in implementing a work requirement, so it only makes sense to leverage the federal dollars the state already has for that purpose,” said Kara Owen, Harwell’s deputy chief of staff for communications and policy.

    Another legislator helping to shepherd the bill through had “encouraging” discussions with federal health officials in Washington recently, she added.

    HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, which oversees TANF, has not provided formal guidance to Tennessee on the issue.

    If the state can’t use TANF or other federal dollars, then it wouldn’t move forward with work requirements.

    Reserve dollars

    Part of the 1996 welfare overhaul, the federal TANF program provides roughly $16.5 billion in block grants to states, territories and the District of Columbia.

    It provides monthly cash assistance payments to poor families, as well as work supports.

    Tennessee’s TANF reserve funds grew to more than $386 million in fiscal 2016, while the number of people it serves has fallen by two-thirds since 1996 to roughly 33,000, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which tracks TANF spending nationwide.

    The state’s TANF program has a large reserve even as it has one of the lowest monthly cash assistance payments to families in the country, said Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, an advocacy group that opposes the work requirements legislation.

    Those extra dollars should be used to help lift more children out of extreme poverty, not on a program that could cause parents to lose their health care, Johnson said.

    “It really violates the core purposes of TANF,” she said.

    No other states have so far proposed using TANF money to fund Medicaid work requirements, a process that could cost tens of millions of dollars for new technologies to track hours, hiring more staff and other expenses.

    That’s in part because many states don’t have large amounts of reserve funds like Tennessee.

    States have a long history of using TANF dollars to help fund other programs, such as pre-K and even college financial aid, said Liz Schott, a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    “States are essentially raiding TANF, as they are looking to do here,” Schott said. “It’s really been tremendously abused.”

    Tennessee’s work requirements legislation has passed the state House of Representatives and is awaiting discussion on the Senate floor.

    State GOP removes 7 Senate candidates, 1 governor candidate from primary ballot

    The state Republican Party took action Saturday to remove seven Senate candidates and one gubernatorial candidate from the August ballot because they lacked the voting credentials to justify running as Republicans.

    The political subcommittee of the Republican Party executive committee recommended removing the candidates from the primary ballot for “failing to meet the bona fide standards set” in party bylaws.

    The state GOP’s rules require that candidates be active members of the party and vote in three of four statewide Republican primaries in their counties of residence.

    The Senate candidates wiped off the ballot are David Anderson, Rashard Lamar Coker, Larry Crim, Tommy Hay, Theresa Honeycutt, J Darrell Lynn and Ronaldo Toyos. The gubernatorial candidate removed from the ballot is Eddie Murphy.

    Republican Party chairman Scot Golden must now provide the list of names to be removed to the Tennessee Secretary of State.

    “The Tennessee Republican Party has always been an organization that encouraged new membership and involvement,” Golden said in a statement released to the media Saturday. “However, we do have in place a set of rules for determining who we allow to run as our party’s standard bearers.

    “We want to ensure that the candidates seeking our nomination are active and invested in the Republican Party in Tennessee and today the State Executive Committee followed the process laid out in our bylaws to do just that.”

    U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn addresses theBuy Photo

    U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn addresses the Williamson County Republican Party annual Reagan Day Dinner Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Franklin, Tenn.

    In a statement released after the party’s decision, Lynn said he understands and accepts the action taken by the executive committee.

    “I am obviously disappointed that I will not be a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate for the Aug. 2 primary,” Lynn said. “I don’t like the provision in the state GOP by-laws defining a ‘bona fide’ Republican for purposes of candidacy nor do I agree with any determination that I am not a Republican, especially in view of my donations, fundraising efforts and work for Republican candidates in the past, including President Donald J. Trump.”

    Crim slammed the state party’s decision claiming Golden is trying to rig the election for Blackburn. Golden is a former Blackburn staff member.

    “Choosing a United States Senator is a process for the voters,” Crim said, “not the choice of an appointed hireling for Marsha Blackburn.”

    The Republican primary for governor is hotly contested with U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, state Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee among the top contenders.

    U.S. Sen. Bob Corker decided not to run for re-election and Gov. Bill Haslam is term-limited.

    TN GUBERNATORIAL RACE NEWS

    Pam’s Points: Only seven shopping months ’til the midterms

    The entire body of the House of Representatives is up for election this year, the president is still unpopular and the Democrats already are an easy third of the way toward gaining the 24 seats they need for a majority.

    Since World War II, the party of the president in power has lost an average of 29 seats in the first mid-term after that president’s election, and if the president had a low approval rating his party lost an average of 44 seats, according to Vital Statistics on Congress and Gallup.

    There’s more.

    The Associated Press reported last week on a historic electoral breakthrough: “The number of women running for the U.S. House of Representatives set a record Thursday, most of them Democrats motivated by angst over President Donald Trump and policies of the Republican-controlled Congress.”

    There’s still more.

    The latest Cook Political Report analysis on the 2018 midterms states: “Our latest ratings feature 55 competitive seats (Toss Up or Lean Democratic/Republican), including 50 currently held by Republicans and five held by Democrats. We continue to view Democrats the slight favorites for House control.”

    “Continue” was perhaps a weak verb for that analysis. Cook’s new report found changed ratings for 13 districts, and all 13 moved in the Democrats’ favor.

    Think about it. The House of Representatives that we’ll have this time next year will be entirely the result of how we vote in November.

    Is blue the new orange?

    Did we mention the new MTSU Senate race poll?

    Middle Tennessee State University last week said its newest poll found Democrat Phil Bredesen holds a 10 percentage point lead over Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race.

    The poll found that 45 percent of the 600 registered voters surveyed said they would vote for Bredesen, a former governor if the election were held now, while 35 percent backed Blackburn. Another 17 percent were not sure and the rest declined to say. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

    MTSU’s poll for the governor’s race wasn’t quite so cheery, though still not shabby.

    Among the four Republicans and two Democrats running, the poll’s margin of error effectively put Republican Diane Black, Republican Randy Boyd, Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Beth Harwell all in a statistical dead heat.

    Of course, the primary will change that when the GOP shifts its support to just one gubernatorial candidate.

    Still, a Democratic Tennessee senator would be just fine.

    Trump under pressure

    One wonders whether Trump was feeling midterm pressures or Russia probe pressures or just what when his U.S. Treasury Department on Friday imposed new economic sanctions on senior Russian politicians, companies and business leaders.

    Whatever the prompt, it’s overdue, albeit welcome.

    The sanctions, citing a list of complaints that include Moscow’s efforts to undermine Western democracies and recurring cyber offensives, target 17 Russian government officials, a state-owned weapons trading company and seven oligarchs — some with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The sanctions freeze any assets those individuals or entities hold in the United States and prohibit U.S. citizens from conducting business with them.

    Trump unfiltered and untethered

    Meanwhile, our president prattles about deploying the National Guard to defend the border with Mexico while instructing the military to prepare for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. He escalates a trade war with China that sends the U.S. markets into another dive.

    White House officials scurried to calm fears, saying the administration’s proposed China tariffs were a “threat” that would ultimately help, not hurt, the United States economy. Those officials also jumped quickly to say that the United States was committed to continuing to fight the Islamic State in Syria, signaling Trump’s retreat from the insistence that the 2,000 American forces there would soon return home.

    As for the National Guard “wall?” Well, who knows. Trump got that bright idea when he saw a Fox News story about a caravan of Central Americans headed for the border. He first claimed they were seeking DACA status — never mind that they would have had to be in the U.S. before mid-2007 and been 15 or younger even then. Fake News.

    But, after all, Fox is the original purveyor of scare tactics to rouse Trump’s “American First” credo.

    The trouble is, the impressionable Trump’s actions are moving us (and his party) further and further from being “first” in anything.

    Even the ‘blue wave’ expected to sweep Democrats to power in Congress in the midterm elections, may not be enough to fix the Fox-fanned national social disconnect that gave us Donald Trump in the first place.

    Again, we ask: Where are the Republicans leaders with the backbone to stand up to Trump? And to Fox?

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