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Corker Unveils Bipartisan Gas Tax Proposal to ‘Shore Up’ Highway Trust Fund

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; June 18, 2014:

Tennessee Could See 50 Percent Reduction in State’s Transportation Budget in 2015 if No Solution is Reached

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today unveiled the first bipartisan proposal to shore up the Highway Trust Fund by making changes to the federal motor fuels tax, which funds improvements to roads, bridges and transit systems. The proposal would create a long-term, stable funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund and enact tax relief for American families and businesses.

“Growing up in Tennessee as a conservative, I learned that if something was important enough to have, it was important enough to pay for. That’s how we’ve governed in the Volunteer State, which has resulted in the second best transportation system in the country without having one penny of road debt,” said Senator Corker. “In Washington, far too often, we huff and puff about paying for proposals that are unpopular, yet throw future generations under the bus when public pressure mounts on popular proposals that have broad support. Congress should be embarrassed that it has played chicken with the Highway Trust Fund and allowed it to become one of the largest budgeting failures in the federal government. If Americans feel that having modern roads and bridges is important then Congress should have the courage to pay for it.”

“For too long, Congress has shied away from taking serious action to update our country’s aging infrastructure,” said Senator Murphy. “We’re currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don’t take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund. By modestly raising the federal gas tax, we can address a crippling economic liability for this country—the inability to finance long-term improvements to our crumbling national infrastructure. I know raising the gas tax isn’t an easy choice, but we’re not elected to make easy decisions – we’re elected to make the hard ones. This modest increase will pay dividends in the long run and I encourage my colleagues to get behind this bipartisan proposal.”

The federal Highway Trust Fund provides more than half of the country’s spending on transportation projects and will begin to run dry in July likely halting the construction of any new transportation projects without action from Congress. This will result in a 50 percent reduction in Tennessee’s transportation budget in 2015 and create a $160 billion hole in state budgets nationwide over the next decade at a time when they can least afford it if not addressed.

The federal gas and diesel taxes, which are used to fund this account, have not been updated in over 20 years despite the desperate need for road and bridge improvements. As a result, the purchasing power of the gas tax is approximately 63 percent of what it was in 1993, and continues to decline. A change to the federal gas tax would not only strengthen purchasing power, it would also create thousands of new jobs and allow states to invest in long-term economic development projects.

The senators’ proposal would increase the federal gasoline and diesel taxes by six cents in each of the next two years for a total of 12 cents. This would provide enough funding to offset current MAP-21 spending levels over the next 10 years and replace all of the buying power the federal gas tax has lost since it was last raised in 1993.

The plan would index the gas tax to inflation, using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to ensure that it remains viable into the future.

To offset the revenue raised from increasing the gas tax to pay for roads and transportation projects, Corker and Murphy propose providing net tax relief for American families and businesses. Examples of tax relief could include: permanently extending some of the tax provisions in the “tax extenders” bill that already have broad, bipartisan support, creating potentially billions of dollars in permanent tax relief for American families and businesses over the next 10 years alone; or another bipartisan proposal to reduce taxes by at least the amount of revenue raised from the gas tax over the next decade.

Historically, this proposal has received bipartisan support. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush all raised the gas tax in order to fund the Highway Trust Fund and make infrastructure improvements.

Click here for a summary of the proposal.

TN Federal Lawmakers Release Statements on Obama’s Proposed ACA Solution

Press release from the Office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander; November 14, 2013:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, today released the following statement on the president’s speech announcing a proposal to fix the Obamacare provision leading to millions of canceled health care plans:

“The 5 million Americans – including 82,000 Tennesseans – losing their health care plans know that, after too many broken promises from this administration, the details matter. The president should send his proposal to Congress to consider and give Americans the certainty of law over rhetoric.”

Press release from the Office of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker; November 14, 2013:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., released the following statement today in reaction to President Obama announcing administrative changes to his health care law.

“I’m glad President Obama is attempting to make good on a promise he made repeatedly to the American people, but it only offers temporary relief. Those who have received cancellation notices will likely receive them again a year from now,” said Corker. “So while this administrative action will provide some needed, temporary relief to a number of Americans, the fundamental problems with Obamacare go far beyond a broken website and cancellation notices. Because of the way the law is constructed, this fix may even cause other problematic consequences.”

In an interview on WKIM Newstalk 98.9’s “Talk Memphis” radio show prior to the president’s announcement, Corker discussed a number of problems Tennesseans are facing due to Obamacare.

“Tennesseans and Americans all across this country [are under] tremendous emotional distress as their policies have been canceled. They cannot get on the exchange to buy a new one, but even when they do, in many cases, they are realizing the cost of what they are having to purchase is far more than they ever anticipated,” said Corker.

  • Losing coverage: Millions of Americans who buy their own health insurance are being informed that their policies will no longer be offered because they do not meet Obamacare standards.
  • Enrollment obstacles: Yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced that only 106,185 people have signed up or selected health care plans through Obamacare as of November 2, 2013, with only 922 in the state of Tennessee.
  • Unappealing products: Less than 10% of people who were able to access the federal exchange have actually selected a plan, raising questions about whether or not the actual products offered are acceptable to those seeking a new plan.
  • Increased costs: According to a recent Manhattan Institute study, individuals in Tennessee will, on average, see the following premium increases in the exchanges:

Age 27    Women: 19% increase    Men: 69% increase
Age 40    Women: 6% increase    Men: 39% increase
Age 64    Women: 36% increase    Men: 28% increase

Press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Diane Black; November 14, 2013:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) issued the following statement in response to the President’s announcement regarding the millions of Americans losing their health care because of Obamacare:

“President Obama has zero credibility when it comes to protecting Americans’ existing health care plans. Even though the White House knew back in 2010 that Obamacare would result in millions of Americans having their insurance policies cancelled, the President spent years falsely promising the American people that this would not be the case. Sadly, the President’s sudden change of heart appears to be the result of sagging poll numbers and shifting political winds. The American public knows better than to trust this President to unilaterally fix the mess he has created, and today’s announcement should be taken with a strong grain of salt.”

11/14/13 VIDEO: Black Takes to House Floor to Address Constituent’s Dropped Coverage

Press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn; November 14, 2013:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s announcement today regarding the cancellation notices millions of Americans are receiving as a result of Obamacare.

“We are a nation of laws that requires our elected leaders and citizens to abide by the rule of law. It is of concern to my constituents that we have an administration that repeatedly seeks to change or circumvent the law by executive order. After misleading the American people for four years, it is extremely difficult for anyone to take President Obama at his word. That is why I support Chairman Upton’s Keep Your Health Plan Act that will begin to provide peace of mind to some Americans who want to keep their health care plan. I have worked tirelessly to help craft common sense policies like the American Health Care Reform Act to ensure all Americans have access to affordable care. If the President is willing to work with Congress on real solutions to fix a health care law that even he now admits is plagued with failures, that is a discussion we’d be willing to have.”

Corker Cosponsoring Bill to Provide Relief from ACA Standards for Current Health Care Plans

Press release from the office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker; November 4, 2013:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., today announced that he is a cosponsor of S. 1617, the If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act. The bill, introduced by Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and cosponsored by 37 Republican senators, would provide relief from Obamacare standards for current health care policies, giving Americans the freedom to keep their current health care plans if they so choose.

“A couple in Tennessee contacted me last week to tell me the policy they’ve enjoyed for five years – as self-employed missionaries – is being cancelled because it doesn’t meet the standards of Obamacare. And now they face the stress of losing their health coverage in January despite failed efforts to enroll in a new plan on the federal exchange,” said Corker. “And their story is not unique. Families all across Tennessee are seeing their policies cancelled after being told, ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.’”

Corker strongly opposed the passage of Obamacare and has supported legislation to repeal it.

Jacobs Staying Out of Political Ring, Leaves Alexander to Other Challengers

“Kane” won’t try to lay the smackdown on Lamar Alexander in 2014.

Professional Wrestler and Tennessee Liberty Alliance co-founder Glenn Jacobs, who goes by that nom de guerre when he’s slapping opponents around the ring , had earlier this year hinted at the possibility that he’d grapple with Alexander for the 2014 GOP U.S. Senate nomination.

However, Kane acknowledged to TNReport during a Rutherford County Campaign for Liberty event in Murfreesboro earlier this week that he’s decided against joining the fracas with state Rep. Joe Carr, who last week announced he was abandoning his run for the 4th district U.S. House seat in favor of taking on Alexander.

Jacobs isn’t planning to run for elected office any time soon, but he said he intends to become more involved in state and local politics.

And while he himself doesn’t feel up to taking on the challenge, Jacobs still believes Alexander needs to go.

“One thing I think we all can agree on is that Sen. Alexander has some real problems for small-government conservatives and libertarians,” Jacobs said. “Despite the fact that he calls himself a conservative, if you look at his record it’s not conservative. Sen. Alexander recently released a letter to the media, an op-ed in the Tennessean, in which he rebutted a letter that 20 Tea Party and Conservative groups in Tennessee signed.”

“It was interesting to me that Sen. Alexander didn’t talk about his actual job,” Jacobs continued, “which is supporting, defending the U.S. Constitution. Instead he talked about all of the great things that he had done, which were all really big government things. And, of course this is a philosophical question, and some people are going to say, well, those are important things, and they are. But his primary job is to defend and support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That didn’t make it into his letter.”

Jacobs also took a swipe at Tennessee’s other Republican U.S. Senator, Bob Corker, for referring to Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s efforts to “defund” Obamacare as “silly.” Corker is cut from a conciliatory cloth similar to Alexander, said Jacobs.

“I’m all for compromise, as long as that compromise moves us towards individual liberty and economic freedom,” said Jacobs. “The problem is now…for almost since the inception of the country, we’ve been compromising in the other way, towards statism, towards less individual freedom and towards controlled markets.”

“If our moderate senators would become more moderate in the direction of liberty, I’d be all for compromise. Unfortunately, they are compromising the other way, and are compromising away our rights and freedoms.”

C4L: Corker, Alexander Vote to Continue Aid to Egypt

Press release from the Campaign for Liberty; July 31, 2013:

SPRINGFIELD, Virginia– Today, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) stood with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and against the rule of law to continue sending foreign aid to Egypt. Under current law, the United States is prohibited from providing financial assistance to countries that have experienced a military coup d’état.

“Despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of Americans are against sending foreign aid to Egypt, Senator Alexander and Senator Corker stood with President Obama and Harry Reid to vote against the rule of law and the American people,” said Campaign for Liberty President John Tate.

“Campaign for Liberty will be sure to remind the citizens of Tennessee that Senator Alexander and Senator Corker stood with Obama to send their money to Egypt.”

TN Higher Ed Leaders Join Call for Immigration Reform

Press release from Tennesseans for Immigration Reform; June 6, 2013:

NASHVILLE, TN – Twenty-one chancellors and presidents of Tennessee’s top higher education institutions have sent a joint letter to Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker urging their swift action and support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The letter urges the senators to support a bipartisan solution that would ensure international students educated in American universities will have a clear path to contribute to the American economy and create jobs in the U.S. after they graduate.

“As leaders of the higher education institutions that are preparing the creators of tomorrow’s scientific breakthroughs, we call on you to address a critical threat to America’s preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity—our inability under current U.S. immigration policy to retain and benefit from many of the top minds educated at our universities.”

To help protect America’s lead in innovation and new job creation, the university leaders’ letter calls for swift action on the issue, stating “we simply cannot afford to wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system.”

“The important role immigrants play in American innovation must not be discounted or diminished; their contributions and inventions lead to new companies and new jobs for American workers, and are an enormous boon to our economy.”

Among those signing the letter are: Jimmy Cheek, Chancellor of The University of Tennessee in Knoxville; John Morgan, Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents system; Nick Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University; Shirley Raines, President of the University of Memphis; and Brian Noland, President of East Tennessee State University.

Other signatories include: Dr. Robert Fisher, Belmont University; Dr. John Smarrelli, Christian Brothers University; Dr. Harvill Eaton, Cumberland University; Dr. James Williams, Fisk University; Dr. Greg Jordan, King College; Dr. Gary Weedman, Johnson University; Dr. James Dawson, Lincoln Memorial University; Dr. Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University; Dr. Kenneth Schwab, Middle Tennessee School for Anesthesia; Dr. Bill Greer, Milligan College; Dr. Gordon Bietz, Southern Adventist University; Dr. Richard Phillips, Southern College of Optometry; Dr. Glenda Glover, Tennessee State University; Dr. Philip Oldham, Tennessee Tech University; Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca Nazarene University; and Dr. Nancy Moody, Tusculum College.

A copy of the complete letter follows:

Tennesseans for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Bob Corker
425 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Alexander and Senator Corker:

Thank you for your continued strong support of our colleges and universities here in Tennessee. We are grateful for your focus and leadership for expanded student access, achievement, completion and research success throughout our great state.

That’s why we are writing to seek your help and support on one of the most important national issues directly impacting our institutions—and Tennessee’s future economy—comprehensive immigration reform.

As you know, Tennessee has witnessed significant growth in the number of foreign-born contributors to our society. In fact, more than eight times as many Tennesseans today are foreign born than was the case 50 years ago. We continue to see a growing international presence throughout the Tennessee economy as well.

As leaders of the higher education institutions that are preparing the creators of tomorrow’s scientific breakthroughs, we call on you to address a critical threat to America’s preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity—our inability under current U.S. immigration policy to retain and benefit from many of the top minds educated at our universities.

The United States has historically been the world leader in innovation, invention and creation of ideas that drive economic prosperity. Research shows that in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited contributors on more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the U.S.

It is in our universities, however, where we educate and train the next generation of researchers, innovators and leaders, and we are proud that the United States remains a top magnet for the world’s brightest and most driven students.

Across the U.S., in 2009, students on temporary visas represented 45 percent of all graduate students in engineering, math, computer science and physical sciences—earning 43 percent of all master’s degrees and 52 percent of all Ph.Ds.

The important role immigrants play in American innovation must not be discounted or diminished; their contributions and inventions lead to new companies and new jobs for American workers, and are an enormous boon to our economy.

However, after we have trained and educated these future job creators, our antiquated immigration laws too often turn them away to work for our competitors in other countries.

Limited numbers of visas force American-educated immigrants to leave the country or face untenable delays for a permanent visa. Top American-educated engineers from India and China face wait times of up to 9 years to get a permanent visa, and new applicants from these countries may face considerably longer waits.

Yet, while we turn away American-educated, trained and funded scientists and engineers, there is a growing skills gap across America’s industries. One quarter of U.S. science and engineering firms report difficulty in hiring, and the problem will only worsen as the U.S. is projected to face a shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree workers in scientific and technical fields by 2018.

While we are sending away highly skilled workers trained at American universities, competing economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers with streamlined visa applications and creating dedicated visas to ensure that the foreign students who graduate from their own universities can stay and contribute to the local economy.

We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system.

We hope you will work together with your colleagues in the Senate on a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform solution that ensures our top international graduates have a clear path to stay here to help us create more American jobs and to ensure that America is the world’s leading home for innovators and innovation.

Thank you again for your outstanding leadership—and for your consideration on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Fisher
President
Belmont University

John Smarrelli, Jr.
President
Christian Brothers University

Harvill C. Eaton
President
Cumberland University

Brian Noland
President
East Tennessee State University

H. James Williams
President
Fisk University

Gregory D. Jordan
President
King College

Gary E. Weedman
President
Johnson University

B. James Dawson
President
Lincoln Memorial University

Randy Lowry
President
Lipscomb University

Kenneth L. Schwab
President
Middle Tennessee School for Anesthesia

Bill Greer
President
Milligan College

Gordon Bietz
President
Southern Adventist University

Richard W. Phillips
President
Southern College of Optometry

John Morgan
Chancellor
Tennessee Board of Regents

Glenda B. Glover
President
Tennessee State University

Philip B. Oldham
President
Tennessee Tech University

Dan Boone
President
Trevecca Nazarene University

Nancy B. Moody
President
Tusculum College

Nicholas S. Zeppos
Chancellor
Vanderbilt University

Shirley C. Raines
President
University of Memphis

Jimmy G. Cheek
Chancellor
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Corker, Alexander Comment on IRS Targeting of Tea Party Groups

Statement from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; May 10, 2013:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made the following statement today in response to reports that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election.

“As I said last year, all nonprofit organizations seeking tax-exempt status should be treated fairly and equitably by the IRS,” said Corker. “The IRS’s admission that its employees were specifically targeting conservative groups – including groups in Tennessee – is outrageous, disturbing, and will further erode Americans’ trust in the federal government. Swift and decisive action should be taken to punish those responsible and to assure the American people that these actions will not be tolerated at the IRS or any other federal agency.”

Last March, Senator Corker joined Senate colleagues in asking the Internal Revenue Service to treat all nonprofit groups seeking tax-exempt status fairly in the designation process.

###

Statement from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; May 10, 2013:

MARYVILLE, May 10 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today released the following statement on the IRS’s admission today that it targeted conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election:

“This is the United States of America, where the First Amendment protects our right to organize and speak up and speak out, and it’s shocking to learn that the IRS arbitrarily targeted any peaceful political organization for ideological reasons. I asked the IRS last year to explain its actions, and today we find out it was, in fact, targeting Tea Party groups. Congress needs to investigate this further and make sure those responsible for it are held accountable and that something like this never happens again.”

Alexander joined 11 senators in March 2012 in sending a letter (attached) to IRS commissioner Douglas Schulman seeking assurance that the agency’s string of inquiries toward 501(c)(4) organizations affiliated with the Tea Party “has a sound basis in law and is consistent with the IRS’s treatment of tax-exempt organizations across the spectrum.”

Alexander said at the time: “The extra scrutiny the IRS appears to be giving Tea Party-related nonprofits is disturbing, so I hope we find that the IRS is treating all tax-exempt organizations the same. The government should not have what amounts to an enemies list based on what people or organizations say or believe, and if it turns out the IRS is denying Tea Party groups the proper tax status because of what they have to say, it must stop and those responsible must be held accountable.”

Related: (IRS Letter 501c4 Requests for Information.pdf)

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TN Conservative, Tea Party Groups Condemn National Internet Sales Tax

Press release from Tennessee Campaign for Liberty; March 21, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. – Conservative and Tea Party groups across the state of Tennessee have signed a resolution condemning Senator Lamar Alexander, Governor Bill Haslam, and Senator Bob Corker’s push for a national Internet sales tax scheme, known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act” (MFA). Sources close to the Campaign for Liberty indicate that language contained in the Act will be voted on in the US Senate in the next few days. Read the entire resolution and list of signers at www.TNCampaignForLiberty.org

The MFA would seek to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court decision (Quill vs North Dakota) which ruled that businesses that do not have a physical presence in a state cannot be forced to collect sales tax for that specific state government. The Quill decision protects online businesses from having to collect tax for all 50 states, and also prevents taxation without representation by prohibiting state governments from enforcing their laws on business outside of its borders.

The MFA would force each online retailer to create different pricing structures for every individual customer, a massive burden and significant increase in cost to doing business. It’s assumed that these costs would be passed on to the customer, causing the price of all online purchases to increase on top of the new taxes imposed as a result of this Act. These types of regulation would likely be stifling to online commerce and detrimental to the economy overall.

Matt Collins, a coordinator with the Tennessee Campaign for Liberty discusses the issue: “This is reflective of a bigger question, that of how much authority will the government hold during the Internet Age? Will states get to exercise power outside of their borders, or will there be an unlimited reach available to every government? Taxation without representation is always appealing to the politicians because they cannot be held accountable by the people they are taxing. We are at a fork in the road and can move forward with either more freedom, or move backwards with more government; Internet taxation is one of the first steps in deciding which direction we’ll take.”

Free market groups like Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Nat’l Taxpayers Union, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Reason, and even eBay and the Direct Marketing Association are opposing this measure. Liberty activist and professional WWE Wrestler from Strawberry Plains, TN, Glenn Jacobs, authored an opinion piece earlier this week in which he called the Act “fraudulent” and “anything but fair”: http://lewrockwell.com/jacobs/jacobs12.1.html

Political experts suggest this issue may be a point of contention during any potential primary race against Senator Alexander in the 2014 election season.

Matt Collins also noted that “Republican elected officials who are joining Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Al Franken to support this measure should know that recent polling shows almost half of Americans do not want an expansion of sales taxes on the Internet and 63% of conservatives are opposed to it. When the question is framed about states pushing their laws outside of their borders 61% of Americans oppose it and 77% of conservatives do too. In fact 84% of Republicans oppose any sort of expansion of governmental power over the Internet, especially taxation or regulation. It is likely that any Republican who supports this massive expanse of government power will see a primary challenge because of it.”

The mission of the Campaign for Liberty is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, limited government, sound money, free markets, and a Constitutional foreign policy, by means of education, issue advocacy, and grassroots mobilization. The Campaign for Liberty was formed in 2008 after the conclusion of Congressman Ron Paul’s Presidential bid.

Devaney: TNGOP a ‘Shining Light’ to Nation

A top Republican strategist says his party won big in Tennessee because voters are “gravitating to the message” Volunteer State GOP politicians communicate.

Now, Republicans in Tennessee couldn’t really ask to be in a better position to execute the policy measures they say will propel the state along a path of economic prosperity, fiscal responsibility and social conservatism.

“Tennessee, I think, is a shining light and an example across the country for what we can do,” Chris Devaney, chairman of Tennessee’s Republican Party, told TNReport.com.

In fact, Devaney said he sees no reason his party’s historic supermajorities in the House and Senate won’t continue to grow in 2014.

“It’s about job-creation and education … tax reform, legal reform, all of that, and people just keep gravitating to that message,” said Devaney, who added: “The Democrats, really, in this state have no message.”

Democrats certainly disagree with Devaney on the message issue, but Republican Party dominance at the polls speaks for itself. Bob Corker handily won re-election to the U.S. Senate, the GOP continues to hold seven of nine Congressional seats and in the statehouse have secured walkout proof majorities in both chambers.

Devaney said he did encounter one unpleasant surprise on Election Night. Mitt Romney may have won Tennessee by 20 percentage points, but nationally his Republican message didn’t resonate like it did here.

“I thought Romney would win and that we might pick up a couple of more seats in the House,” he said.

It’s likely that Devaney will be around for at least another two years. He is running for a third term as Tennessee Republican Party chairman. The party’s executive committee will make its decision at a Dec. 1 meeting, and party officials say they are not aware of any challenges to Devaney’s re-election.

That means that those who want to run under the Republican banner will continue to face a strict litmus test.

“We’ve got to make sure… that we have people who are sticking by the core principles,” Devaney said. “One thing I ask people when they walk in here is, ‘Are you for a state income tax?’”

If they are, Deveaney said, they won’t get a dime of state GOP campaign money.

“Second amendment, same thing, pro-life, same thing,” he said.

Trent Seibert can be reached at trent@tnreport.com, on Twitter at @trentseibert or at 615-669-9501.

Policing Parties’ Candidates Not Within ‘State’s Purview’: State Elections Official

The state’s elections coordinator says he doesn’t have the authority to scrap the results of the Aug. 2 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, in which a little-known candidate whose “hatred and bigotry” has prompted the party to disavow his candidacy won the nomination.

Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said there’s no time to hold a new primary, and no grounds to do so, in a letter to Larry Crim who came in a distant third to Mark E. Clayton. Clayton garnered 30 percent of the vote in the field of seven candidates.

Clayton followed all the legal requirements in qualifying to have his name on the ballot, and the state Democratic Party did not move to disqualify him in the seven-day window following the qualification deadline prescribed in state law, Goins says in the letter dated Aug. 7.

The grounds you and (your lawyer) stated to me were that Chip Forrester as chairman of the Democratic Party failed to properly carry out his duties charged to him under the Tennessee Democratic Party’s bylaws. Let me be clear that it is not within the state’s purview to determine whether Chip Forrester is adequately performing the duties assigned to him by the party.

In other words, like deciding who is a “bona fide” member of the party for primary voting purposes, this is an area governed by the parties.

The state Democratic Party has explained the outcome of the election by saying that Clayton’s last name, beginning with a ‘C’, appeared at the top of the list and was therefore the default choice for any voters confused by the array of choices.

His win is a mystery, seeing as how Clayton didn’t play the money game and at last check his website was down. His opponent in November, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, had a cool $6.3 million as of mid-July.

Forrester told the Nashville Scene that Clayton’s affiliation with Public Advocate of the United States, an anti-gay group based in Falls Church, Va., was cause for concern.

“This kind of hatred and bigotry is not a candidate that the Democratic Party can embrace,” Forrester said.

More than 48,000 members of the party’s primary voters cast their ballots for Clayton last week.