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Fitzhugh: ‘Overwhelming Majority’ of House Democrats Support Haslam’s Medicaid Expansion

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; January 30, 2015:

Overwhelming number of House Democrats prepared to support plan

Nashville, TN: House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh issued the following statement on Insure Tennessee after meeting with his caucus members late Thursday afternoon:

“For the last two-years, House Democrats have fought hard to extend health care coverage to the 330,000 Tennesseans who fall in the Medicaid gap. These are able-bodied, working men and women who make too little to qualify for a subsidy on the federal exchange, but earn too much for our traditional Medicaid program.

After 349 days and $872,500,000 lost, Governor Haslam put forward Insure Tennessee as a conservative counter-proposal to traditional Medicaid expansion. Churches and hospitals, business leaders and community activists, chambers of commerce & workers organizations have all expressed their support for this plan.

Insure Tennessee is not traditional Medicaid expansion. This approach is much less generous in terms of coverage and benefits than House Democrats would prefer, but we understand the numbers. While members of both parties still have concerns, we feel strongly that they can be alleviated by giving this legislation a full and fair hearing. Whatever political differences may exist, we can all agree that the lives of the 200,000 Tennesseans this plan covers far outweigh any objection raised by special interest groups.

After studying this waiver, listening to our constituents and meeting together on Thursday, the overwhelming majority of House Democrats are prepared to support the Insure Tennessee plan. It is not perfect; our members have many questions, but the time has come for Tennessee to address this issue once and for all.

Next week our state will mark a sad anniversary as we pass the $1 billion lost mark; the lives lost tell an even greater story of our moral failure to protect the least among us. It is our hope that all members will put aside politics and answer instead to a higher power. That is our prayer and the goal toward which we will work—together with Republicans—over the next week.”

Alexander, Ball to Appear at TN Farm Bureau Candidate Forum

Press release from the Lamar Alexander Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 17, 2014:

Lamar Alexander’s campaign for re-election today released the following statement from the senator on the Tennessee Farm Bureau candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 16:

“I have accepted an invitation from the Tennessee Farm Bureau for a candidate forum at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. This will be a good opportunity to remind Tennesseans that my opponent is just one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda, and that a vote for me is a vote for a new Senate majority that will lead the country in a different and more conservative direction.”

Kyle Seeks AG Opinion on Filling His Senate Vacancy

The Shelby County Democratic Party is preparing to select a nominee to fill the vacancy Memphis Sen. Jim Kyle’s departure from the state Legislature will create. But the outgoing upper-chamber minority leader has concerns about how that process will unfold.

On Friday, Kyle, who is retiring after 31 years in the Senate, requested that the state attorney general issue an opinion that sorts out the legal issues surrounding how to select a nominee to run as his replacement to the General Assembly.

Kyle’s request comes on the heels of Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron, a former state senator, telling local party officials that there was confusion about the local caucus process they’ve indicated they will employ to select the nominee. Herron has concerns about the timing of the caucus, who can vote at the caucus, whether the decision would be made by a majority or plurality of votes and whether it would be a public roll-call vote or by secret ballot, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Kyle won a Shelby County judgeship on Aug. 7. and will resign from the Legislature after he’s sworn-in on Aug. 29. However, state law doesn’t provide for a government-run open primary when the timing of a vacancy in the Senate occurs so close to voters going to the polls in November. Instead, officials from the county parties are authorized to choose nominees for the general election ballot.

Democrats such as Sara Kyle, Sen. Kyle’s wife, and former state Sen. Beverly Marrero, who Kyle defeated in the 2012 primary, have expressed interest in the seat. Additionally, current Shelby County Tennessee House members Antonio “2-Shay” Parkinson and G.A. Hardaway, may also be looking to move to the General Assembly’s upper chamber.

Following the GOP-led redistricting in 2011, Marrero and Kyle found themselves opponents in the 2012 Democratic primary. After her primary loss, Marrero told TNReport that she felt “betrayed” by Kyle’s request to Republicans that he be drawn into a race against her instead of State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Alexander Announces First Round of Democrat, Independent Supporters

Press release from the Campaign for Lamar Alexander for U.S. Senate; August 10, 2014:

First round of Democrats and Independents includes former Congressman John Tanner, seven former or current mayors, former UT football Coach Johnny Majors, an Olympic Gold Medalist and numerous civic and political leaders from across the state

NASHVILLE – The Alexander for Senate campaign today announced the first round of “Tennesseans for Alexander,” a list of Democrats and Independents statewide who are supporting Lamar Alexander’s re-election to the U.S. Senate this fall.

“Every time I’ve run for office I’ve done my best to earn the support of Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans, because it is my job to represent all Tennesseans once I am elected,” Alexander said. “My goal is to get results, and that means working with people who know how to help solve problems for Tennessee and for our country.”

During his 2008 re-election campaign, Alexander announced two rounds of “Tennesseans for Alexander,” totaling more than 50 members. This year’s first round includes 30 members.

Former Congressman John Tanner, a Democrat who represented the 8th Congressional District from 1989 to 2011 and was in the Tennessee General Assembly from 1976 to 1988, joined the group this year. Tanner said he is supporting Alexander after years of working together on roads, the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority and other issues.

“There are times in this business when friendships and loyalties should be more important than politics, and this is one of those times,” Tanner said. “Lamar Alexander has always been a friend and loyal to my old district, helping us do everything we needed to do to be successful and bring jobs to rural West Tennessee.”

This year’s list is geographically balanced across East, Middle and West Tennessee and also includes seven current or former mayors, an Olympic gold medalist, former University of Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors and numerous civic and political leaders. The list includes:

East Tennessee

  • Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan
  • Etta Clark, Eastman executive from Kingsport
  • Jim Hall of Chattanooga, aide to former Gov. Ned McWherter and chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration
  • Jack Fishman, Morristown-based business man, civic leader and newspaper publisher
  • Former University of Tennessee President Joe Johnson
  • Former Chattanooga Mayor Jon Kinsey
  • Johnny Majors, former University of Tennessee football coach
  • Former State Senator Carl Moore of Bristol
  • Former Knox County Mayor Tommy Schumpert

Middle Tennessee

  • Steve Bogard, Nashville songwriter
  • Dave Cooley, deputy and chief of staff to former Gov. Phil Bredesen
  • Aubrey Harwell, prominent Nashville attorney
  • State Senator Doug Henry, longest-serving member of the Tennessee General Assembly
  • Patsy Mathews, political activist and widow of former U.S. Senator Harlan Mathews
  • Linda Peak Schacht, Nashville university professor and former aide to President Jimmy Carter and former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd
  • James Pratt, former staffer to former U.S. Senator Jim Sasser
  • Former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell
  • Fate Thomas, Jr. of Nashville, who recently resurrected the Sure Shot Rabbit Hunter’s Supper, a gathering for Middle Tennessee politicians founded by his father, the late Sheriff Fate Thomas
  • Anna Windrow, Nashville business woman, former aide to former Lt. Gov. Frank Gorrell, former Senator Jim Sasser and former Gov. Phil Bredesen
  • Emily Wiseman, former executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging

West Tennessee

  • Laura Adams, executive director of Shelby Farms Park
  • Former State Supreme Court Judge George Brown, the first African American to serve on the court, appointed by then-Gov. Alexander
  • Brenda Duckett, Memphis business woman and community education activist
  • Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist
  • Bishop William Graves of Memphis, former senior bishop of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and former member of the Tennessee Valley Authority board
  • Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton
  • Cato Johnson, Memphis hospital executive
  • Former Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris
  • Rochelle Stevens, Memphis business woman and Olympic gold medalist
  • Former Congressman John Tanner

The Alexander campaign is chaired by Congressman Jimmy Duncan, with co-chairmen Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Speaker Beth Harwell, as well as Congressmen Blackburn, Roe, Black, Fincher, and Fleischmann.

The campaign’s Honorary Co-Chairmen include former U.S. Senators Howard Baker (1925-2014), Bill Brock, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, as well as former Governors Winfield Dunn and Don Sundquist.
Serving as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Statewide Committee to Elect Lamar Alexander are all 13 living former state Republican Party chairs.

TNDP Hoping for Gains in Nov. After Tea Party Losses in Primary

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 8, 2014:

Radical Republicans’ losses throughout Tennessee have opened doors for Democrats in November.

The Tennessee GOP has long held truth and reality in contempt, and Ron Ramsey’s reckless ploy to undermine the independence of our judiciary with hundreds of thousands of dollars in misleading attack ads was just the latest and most offensive example of this contempt. Tennesseans saw through the distortions and outright lies being pushed by the Lieutenant Governor, and a bipartisan majority voted to retain our eminently qualified Supreme Court justices.

Despite a slate of cherry-picked candidates, nearly half of the non-incumbents in the Republican Red to the Roots program managed to lose their general election race, and of the latest non-incumbent additions to the class, three out of four lost. Voters sent a clear message that the radical Tea Party Republican agenda has no place in Tennessee.

Democratic candidates up and down the ballot will continue to take the fight to Tea Party Republicans and continue to make plain that Tennessee values are Democratic values.  Democrats’ continued successes will lay the foundation for this November and beyond.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron made the following statement on the results of the August 7th elections:

“Yesterday’s election results show that Tennessee is a state that supports common sense values and rejects right-wing extremism.”

Ramsey: The Conservative Case to Replace the TN Supreme Court Justices

Letter from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; August 1, 2014:

Dear Friend,

If you’ve been following the state Supreme Court election, you know that for the first time in decades, Tennesseans are learning about our Supreme Court through the constitutionally-required election process.

You may remember that I began an educational effort to make sure that voters, victims-rights advocates and members of law enforcement knew an important election approached. My goal was to have an engaged and informed electorate so the retention ballot would be a real election rather than a coronation, as in years past.

At that time we knew, based on decisions the Court had made, that their judicial philosophy did not fit the values of most Tennesseans. I believed my role would be limited to raising awareness about the importance of Supreme Court elections.

Today, we know far more about our Supreme Court. Despite asserting that they are nonpartisan, their campaign team is made up entirely of Democrats – and not just any Democrats. Liberal Democrats with direct ties to Obama, Harold Ford Jr., and state Democrat Party chairman Roy Herron.

While their campaign is run by Obama liberals, their fundraising efforts are being executed by trial lawyers who have a vested personal interest in the outcomes of Supreme Court decisions.

The Tennessee Forum, an organization started to oppose Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and fight a state income tax, is doing exceptional work on this replacement effort. They share the same conservative principles and mission as RAAMPAC, the organization I started over a decade ago to push the legislature in a more conservative direction.

RAAMPAC has always been about more than just obtaining numerical majorities — it has been about promoting the conservative cause. I cannot in good conscience sit on the sidelines while Obama operatives distort the record of this liberal Supreme Court and attack the reputations of those who oppose them.

My cause is the conservative cause. And the place for conservatives to be is fully behind the effort to replace a Supreme Court that is out-of-touch and out-of-line with Tennessee values.

That is where I am. If you have already voted REPLACE, thank you. If not, I hope you will join me in voting to REPLACE Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.
Sincerely,

Ronald L. Ramsey
Lieutenant Governor
Speaker of the Senate

1 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 741-4524

TN Forum: Finance Disclosures Show Supremes Campaign Linked to D.C. Dems

Press release from The Tennessee Forum; August 1, 2014:

NASHVILLE — The latest campaign financial disclosures from Supreme Court judges Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade reveal more links to Washington, D.C. Democrats. An examination of the latest documents reveal more money changing hands between Tennessee’s Supreme Court judges and political operatives for Obama and Ford Jr.

“This disclosure eliminates any doubt,” said Susan Kaestner. “These judges are partisan Democrats, period. Tennessee does not need a Supreme Court that relies on Obama liberals to distort their records and make them appear to be something they are not.”

“Tennessee has utterly rejected Barack Obama and D.C. Democrats. It is time for Tennessee to vote replace on Democrats Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade,” Kaestner concluded.

Clark, Lee and Wade spent nearly $25,000 on media production with Democrat firm, Murphy Vogel Askew Reilly, LLC. MVAR bills itself as a “full-service political media firm with experience helping Democrats and progressive causes.” According to its website, the firm was the media team for the 2008 Barack Obama campaign. Other clients include Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz (D-CT).

Clark, Lee and Wade paid $300,000 to a Democrat advertising firm called Buying Time, LLC. The firm’s founder, Cathie Herrick boasts on the firm’s webpage that she handled day to day operations for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996.

Gary Wade paid Hart Research Associates $16,000 for research and polling. Hart Associates is the firm of noted Democratic pollster Peter Hart. Hart has worked for Hubert Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen and Jay Rockefeller. Partners in his firm have represented noted liberals like Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders.

Previous media reports identified three Democrat operatives working for the judges — including one who worked in Barack Obama’s White House and one who led Harold Ford Jr.’s campaign against Sen. Bob Corker. The disclosure confirms Clark, Lee and Wade continue to retain the services of former Obama operative Victoria McCullough, Harold Ford, Jr. communications director Carol Andrews and Democrat lobbyist Brenda Gadd.

TNDP Chair, House Minority Ldr. Condemn Lt. Guv Tweet on Syria, 9/11

Statement from Roy Herron, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party; September 11, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued a statement Wednesday condemning a message broadcast from the Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey twitter page:

“Speaker Ramsey should fire whoever wrote such an outrageous, dishonest, misleading, incendiary, unpatriotic and dangerous attack on our nation’s president and on Republican leaders like Senators Corker and McCain and House Speaker Boehner and even the Military Leaders working with them. Many of us are unsure about how to proceed in Syria, but whoever wrote that Tweet dishonors the victims of 9/11 and our military men and women who are doing all they can to stop more children and parents from being gassed and killed.”

Statement from State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, Tennessee House Minority Leader; September 11, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 10, 2013) – House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh released the following statement in response from an offensive tweet from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey on the anniversary of 9/11:

“September 11th is a day when all Americans come together to remember a solemn occasion in our history. Instead of honoring those who gave their lives 12 years ago, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey decided to take the low-road and accuse our Commander-in-Chief of allying with the very terrorist who attacked our country.

“This divisive rhetoric dishonors the memory of those who died on this day. It is insulting to our President, to Senator Corker who shares the President’s position, to all Americans no matter their position on Syria and to the memory of those we’ve lost. Lt. Governor Ramsey is either grossly misinformed or he has decided to be a partisan, instead of a patriot. He should apologize immediately.”

Oregon Senate Increases Grants to Job-training Programs

Press release from the Oregon State Senate Majority Caucus; July 3, 2013:

SB 498A authorizes grants for students to participate in skills training programs that could lead to careers

SALEM—Today the Oregon Senate voted to authorize additional funding for grants to job skills training programs that help students chart a path to good-paying jobs. Senate Bill 498A approves $7.5 million to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grant Program, and it passed the Senate on a vote of 30-0.

“These workforce development and skills training programs give students a hands-on learning experience. They open the door to a world of job opportunities by introducing students to pathways that can lead to lifelong careers,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland). “We need more career and technical education programs to strengthen Oregon’s workforce and meet the needs of the 21st Century economy.”

The CTE Revitalization Grant Program leverages innovative partnerships with local businesses and labor organizations to provide classes for high school students to gain workforce training opportunities. During the last budget cycle, 21 schools received CTE grants to offer new or improved vocational programs that partner with employers in the community.

“Having these key programs in our schools is essential to preparing students for success in life and developing a career,” said Rosenbaum. “Schools like Sabin-Schellenberg High School in my district offer lots of programs for students to learn technical skills. It’s an example of the type of opportunities every community should have.”

The goal of CTE programs is to meet the very real and immediate challenges of economic development, student achievement, and global competitiveness. Students who concentrate coursework in CTE programs are more likely to go on to higher education and get a four-year degree.

Taken together with an appropriation to the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon will have $9.4 million available for CTE grants in the coming biennium.

“Career and Technical Education is essential to growing Oregon’s economy, supporting the middle class, and getting people back to work,” said Senator Rod Monroe (D-Portland)

Senate Bill 498A now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for a vote.

House Dems Applaud Haslam DCS, DIDD Appointments

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; May 21, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats are applauding the move by Governor Haslam to appoint Interim Commissioner Jim Henry as the permanent Commissioner of the Department of Children’s Services.

“Jim Henry is a great public servant who is unquestionably the best choice to move DCS forward,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “His qualifications, knowledge and professionalism will be a stark contrast and welcome respite from the mismanagement and scandal we have seen from so many other Commissioners in this administration.”

Commissioner Henry assumed control of the Department of Children’s Services in February when then Commissioner Kate O’Day resigned. Since then he has taken positive steps towards fixing an agency that was mired in allegations of secrecy and poor handling of cases.

“We would also like to congratulate Debra Payne for being selected to fill Commissioner Henry’s role as Commissioner of DIDDS,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “This is an extremely important agency and I am confident that Deputy Commissioner Payne will be up to the task of leading this department with the same level of professionalism that Commissioner Henry did.”