Press Releases

August 8 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Gov. Bill Haslam wins GOP primary in Tennessee (Associated Press)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has won the Republican primary. The outcome from Thursday’s election was widely expected. Haslam faced no serious opposition in his bid for the November ballot and a chance for a second term. Unofficial and early results show Haslam with more than 88 percent of the vote, far ahead of his closest rival. This year’s primary was a far cry from Haslam’s first run for governor four years ago, when he faced a spirited nomination fight with U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

No surprise here: Haslam wins renomination (Commercial Appeal/Locker)
Gov. Bill Haslam’s renomination to a second term in Thursday’s Republican primary was such a foregone conclusion that his campaign’s TV ads encouraged viewers to “vote for those who will keep Tennessee moving forward” — without asking for votes for himself. The only question in the governor’s race was which of the four Democratic candidates in Thursday’s primary would emerge as Haslam’s opponent in November. That appeared to be Charles V. “Charlie” Brown of Oakdale, near Knoxville, who was leading the other three in early returns, including the only candidate in the primary who has held elective office, former Sullivan County mayor John McKamey.

Gov. Bill Haslam will face little-known Democrat in November (Tennessean/Sisk)
Gov. Bill Haslam is poised to face a little-known candidate with a famous name, Charlie Brown. The Republican governor has cruised to his party’s nomination for a second term, easily defeating a field of three challengers. Democrats, meanwhile, appear set to nominate an unknown candidate from Oakdale who happened to share a name with a cartoon character and appeared at the top of the ballot. Brown, whose campaign appears to consist of a Facebook page showing him posing with three catfish, leads the four-way race for the Democratic nomination with about three-fifths of the state’s precincts counted.

Survey shows hundreds of state agency employees feel less safe (WSMV-TV Nash)
A confidential survey of more than 300 employees with the Tennessee Department of Corrections shows 70 percent feel less safer in their jobs than they did four years ago. The survey, conducted through the Tennessee State Employees Association, was obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team through a former worker. A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction said the survey doesn’t accurately represent their entire workforce. The TSEA sent out the survey to gauge the feelings about a proposed change in their work shifts and about safety in prisons. Seventy percent of those who responded said they felt safer in their jobs four years ago.

GOP ballot bid fails to oust high court judges (Associated Press/Burke)
Three Democratic state Supreme Court justices withstood a conservative effort Thursday to oust them from the bench and possibly tip the political scales of Tennessee’s highest court. The campaign against Justices Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee — each appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat — turned the normally routine yes-no “retention” ballot question for justices into a political gambit that featured a blitz of TV ads and Republican-led fundraising seeking to sway the makeup of the court.

Tennesseans vote to retain Supreme Court justices (Tennessean/Haas)
In a major defeat for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, voters on Thursday voted to keep all three Tennessee Supreme Court justices in retention elections. Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee all survived to win new eight-year terms on the state’s highest court, maintaining a margin of about 57 percent to 43 percent. While the justices were able to overcome a vigorous opposition campaign by Ramsey and others, who accused them of being “liberal,” “soft on crime” and of helping Obamacare, their retention victories were by some of the smallest margins in recent history.

Three Tennessee Justices Overcome Push To Oust Them (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
The state’s three contested Democratic Supreme Court Justices will serve for another eight years. The victory comes after they collectively spent more than $1 million to defend their seats against an infusion of cash from outside groups. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s political action committee flooded nearly half-a-million dollars into attempting to unseat the justices. And several other outside groups spent untold sums on the effort. It was aimed at replacing the judges with Republican ones, who, Ramsey argued, would better represent the values of the state, specifically by replacing state Attorney General Bob Cooper, a Democrat, with a Republican.

Tennesseans vote to retain Supreme Court justices (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
On Thursday, voters across the state chose to retain three justices who were fighting to hold their seats in a race that saw unprecedented spending and partisan politicking. Any other year, the election to retain or replace Tennessee’s Supreme Court justices would be a ho-hum affair. Not this year. More than $1 million was spent in a battle for the heart of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Three of its five members, Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee, fought to retain their seats in a fight against both grassroots and out-of-state groups sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to make the court more conservative.

Mae Beavers retains senate seat in District 17 (Tennessean/Wadhwani)
Incumbent state Sen. Mae Beavers retained the senate seat she has held for two decades, handily defeating Clark Boyd in District 17, which includes Wilson, Smith Dekalb, Macon and Cannon Counties. With 62 of 83 precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Beavers, who earned 58.9 percent of the vote to Boyd’s 41.1 percent, with 23,002 votes tabulated. Beaver faces no Democratic challenger in the November general election. “We’re just very thankful for all the people who got involved and helped knock on doors and everything else,” Beavers said. “Going forward I just want to see everybody coming together and work for some good causes in November.”

Thelma Harper trounces opponent to win senate primary (Tennessean/Wilemon)
Incumbent Sen. Thelma Harper is poised to serve another term after easily defeating her challenger in heavily Democratic District 19. She had 9,969 votes compared to 1,620 for Brandon Puttbrese with 150 of 162 precincts reporting. She will face two other opponents on the November ballot: Sterlina Inez Brady, a Republican, and George Thomas, an Independent. At a festive party at her restaurant, Harper put down her microphone and did a victory groove. But her speech had a somber tone as she called on Tennessee to do a better job of taking care of at-risk youth citing the recent suicides of two teenagers while in detention facilities.

Jeff Yarbro defeats Mary Mancini in Senate District 21 primary (Tenn/Wadhwani)
Nashville attorney Jeff Yarbro won the Democratic primary race for Senate District 21, defeating Mary Mancini. Mancini took to Twitter to congratulate her opponent on his win late Thursday night Yarbro said he was honored that voters put their trust in him. “Now the real work begins,” he said. “We have to win in November and have to start winning real victories and better outcomes for Tennesseans in the state legislature.” In the Republican primary for the District 21 seat, Diana Cuellar late Thursday night held a strong lead over her two opponents, Quincy McKnight and Mwafaq Aljabarry.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield loses seat in primary (Associated Press/Johnson)
After losing his seat in Thursday’s election primary, Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield posted a blog that said “that was fun” and featured a YouTube video of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way.” It was characteristic of the Knoxville Republican who pretty much marched to the beat of his own drum, no matter how controversial his actions. Campfield, who lost to cardiac surgeon and U.S. Army veteran Richard Briggs, was among five Republican incumbents who were defeated in the primary. One incumbent Democrat in the House, and in the Senate, also lost. But the most notable race probably involved Campfield, who often drew attention and sometimes ridicule for his polarizing comments, as well as sponsoring contentious bills on social issues.

Party makes a point: It’s Briggs over Campfield (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Witt)
Knox County residents dropped two incumbents from the Tennessee General Assembly in an election that some called “historic.” In arguably the county’s most high-profile race, 7th District incumbent Sen. Stacey Campfield lost the Republican primary to Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs. Briggs took 67 percent of the vote in unofficial results Thursday, while loser Campfield finished with 28 percent. A third candidate, Mike Alford, took less than 6 percent of ballots. Excited screams came from inside of the suite where Briggs awaited results in the Crowne Plaza Hotel downtown as early voting figures came through.

Briggs declared winner ahead of Campfield (WATE-TV Knoxville)
Dr. Richard Briggs has been declared the winner against incumbent Rep. Stacey Campfield by a wide margin in the Tennessee Senate District 7 race. As of 10 p.m. Briggs had 68 percent of the vote to Campfield’s 26 percent. Mike Alford had 6 percent. This race has been closely watched in part because of Campfield’s history of controversial remarks including comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust. Briggs will now face Democrat Cheri Siler in November. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield loses to Richard Briggs (WTVF-TV Nashville)
Controversial State Senator Stacey Campfield has been voted out of office. The Knox County Republican lost Thursday night to Dr. Richard Briggs in the state primary elections. Mike Alford finished third in the voting. Briggs will now face Democrat Cheri Siler. Why is Campfield called a controversial republican? He popped on the national scene when he said in an interview that people contracted the AIDS virus after a man had sex with a monkey. His hometown high school in New York had a special meeting to decided whether they should take him out of their hall of fame. But that was just the beginning.

TN House incumbents fend off challengers (Tennessean)
Incumbents mostly held their seats in state House races Thursday, although a few held on by close margins. One longtime lawmaker fell in Nashville. Most who made it through the party primaries overcame their toughest challenges, with less competition anticipated in November. That was the case in heavily Democratic District 51, where Bill Beck won a three-way race and will likely take the seat in November. In Republican-held District 61 encompassing Brentwood and part of Franklin, Rep. Charles Sargent held on and Rep. Courtney Rogers won in District 45. The biggest upset was the defeat of Rep. Gary Odom, a state lawmaker since 1986. He lost to civil attorney John Ray Clemmons, who takes the seat with no general election opponent.

Courtney Rogers keeps House District 45 seat (Tennessean/Lee)
District 45 State House incumbent Courtney Rogers soundly defeated challenger Len Silverman in that district’s Republican primary. She claimed 60 percent of the vote, beating Silverman 4,487 to 2,896. Rogers, 55, of Goodlettsville went from political unknown in 2012 to defeating longtime incumbent Debra Maggart, then the third-most powerful Republican in the state House of Representatives. That primary race drew national attention when the National Rifle Association contributed heavily to Rogers’ campaign. The retired Air Force lieutenant colonel has tried to prove that her win was no fluke, and says tonight’s win further validates that.

Bill Beck wins House District 51 (Tennessean/Gonzalez)
Bill Beck won the Democratic primary for House District 51, a heavily Democratic swath including parts of downtown, the Gulch, Germantown, East Nashville and Old Hickory. The win makes him the favorite to win the seat in the November general election against Republican challenger Brian L. Mason, who also won tonight, and independent candidate Stephen Downs. Beck took 41 percent of the vote, winning by a 341-vote margin. The district has been solidly Democratic, with the seat held most recently by Mike Turner, who rose to prominence as the top House Democrat, the Democratic Caucus chairman.

Dan Howell wins District 22 House seat (Times Free-Press/Leach)
Dan Howell has won the Republican primary for the District 22 seat of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Republican Sandra Donaghy defeated Democrat Judge Amy Reedy in her re-election bid to serve as Criminal Court Judge for the 10th Judicial District. Howell, who will not face a Democrat challenger, defeated J. Adam Lowe in a campaign he described as “focused.” “I am gratified by the support I received from across the district,” said Howell. “I commend the courage of my opponent to putting himself forward in the public arena.”

Kumar wins House District 66 Republican primary (Tennessean/Young)
Dr. Sabi Kumar has won the District 66 House of Representatives Republican primary, defeating three political newcomers to secure a spot on a November ballot that won’t include a Democratic candidate. umar, 67, a Springfield-based surgeon, received 3,538 votes, followed by Chris Orndorff with 2,339 votes, Matt Burnett with 1,360 votes and Brock Brewer with 813. In the weeks leading up to the election, Kumar had been vocal about the issues he would face if elected.

Timothy Hill nonimated, Tony Shipley out in races for House seats (Herald-Courier)
Incumbent Timothy Hill easily captured the GOP nomination for a second term in the state House of Representatives Thursday, but incumbent Tony Shipley handily lost his 2nd District seat. Hill, 32, received 79.5 percent of unofficial votes to claim the 3rd District seat, according to the Tennessee Election Commission. Opponent Kevin Parsons received 1,874 votes, or about 20 percent of votes cast. Because there is no Democratic challenger looming, Hill will be unopposed in the November general election. The district includes parts of Sullivan County — including Bluff City, Blountville and Piney Flats — southern Carter County and all of Johnson County.

Matthew Hill survives challenge from Carriger (Johnson City Press)
Make that six terms. Incumbent state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-7th, bested challenger Phil Carriger in Thursday’s state primary, moving him into 109th General Assembly as the district’s East Tennessee representative. Hill finished with 3,966 votes, or 53 percent, Carriger pulled in 3,214 votes, or about 43 percent, with fellow Republican challenger Todd Franklin receiving 265 votes, or a little more than 3 percent. Hill also just topped Carriger in early and absentee votes, capturing 1,766 votes to Carriger’s 1,718 — a 3-percent margin. The victor did not return calls.

Hulsey ousts Shipley in 2nd House District race (Times-News)
Challenger Bud Hulsey easily upset incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley in the Tennessee 2nd House District GOP Primary on Thursday. With all precincts counted, Hulsey took 5,046 votes to Shipley’s 3,391, according to unofficial returns from the Sullivan County Election Commission. Hulsey, a well-known retired Kingsport police officer, was a late entry to the primary race. He lost his campaign chair, Mike Locke, who was killed this spring by an allegedly drunk driver while placing campaign signs along Fort Henry Drive.

2nd term for Van Huss as he picks off Stout (Johnson City Press)
Incumbent state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-6th, gained sophomore status in the Tennessee Legislature Thursday, besting fellow Republican and Johnson City Vice Mayor Clayton Stout. Van Huss grabbed 4,443 votes, or nearly 56 percent, to Stout’s 3,495 votes, or about 44 percent. “We worked hard,” Van Huss said after the victory at the AmericInn in Jonesborough. “I thank God for the opportunity and my wife for all the hard work. I also want to thank my constituents. It’s been a good campaign, and I look forward to a productive time ahead.” A total of 3,665 early and absentee votes were cast in the race.

Democrats cross over, aid Republicans in another countywide sweep (CA/Veazey)
The cast of challengers was different — and in the district attorney’s race, lively — but Thursday’s Shelby County general election produced much the same result as four years earlier: sweeping Republican success. Incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Luttrell won re-election decisively. So did Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich, Sheriff Bill Oldham and all but one of the Republicans running for countywide administrative offices. The exception was the assessor’s office, which Democratic incumbent Cheyenne Johnson kept. All of this, in what’s perceived to be Tennessee’s bluest county. For local Republicans, it was validation.

Wine in groceries on November ballot in 5 more cities (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Referendums to sell wine in grocery stores will be on the ballot in five more cities this November. Brentwood, Gallatin, Hendersonville, Thompson’s Station and Pleasant View all have enough signatures for a vote. In March, Gov. Bill Haslam signed the law allowing grocery stores to sell wine if voters approve it in local elections. The group Red White and Food has sponsored petition drives to collect signatures for referendums. Statewide, 37 communities have collected the required number of signatures needed for a referendum.

Congressional incumbents hold on to seats (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
Incumbent Chuck Fleischmann narrowly defeated challenger Weston Wamp in the U.S. House District 3 GOP primary on Thursday. It’s not the first time these two have faced off. Wamp challenged Fleischmann back in 2012 for the seat held by his father, Zach Wamp. Wamp left the office in 2010 to run for governor. Fleischmann won that race. This has been a bitter campaign, with shots being fired from both sides and lots of money being spent on television commercials, radio and newspaper ads, and direct mailing. Fleischmann will face Democrat Mary Headrick of Maynardville in the November general election.

Sen. Lamar Alexander fends off tea party in Tennessee (Associated Press)
Republican Lamar Alexander became the latest U.S. senator to fend off a tea party challenge in a primary race Thursday, defeating a state senator who had used a familiar tactic in trying to cast him as an out of touch insider. Alexander’s win dealt another blow to national tea party momentum after the stunning primary win over Republican Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia in June. In Tennessee, State Sen. Joe Carr had high-profile endorsements from tea party-allied figures, but he could not overcome Alexander’s fundraising advantage and 40 years in Tennessee politics. He had about 38 percent of the vote with 24 percent of precincts reporting, compared with about 52 percent for Alexander.

Lamar Alexander will be big favorite this fall (Tennessean/Cass)
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s convincing win over his tea party challengers in Thursday’s Republican primary sets up another battle the two-term incumbent is expected to win. But even though the Tennessee Democratic Party remains undermanned compared with the state’s dominant Republicans, it at least will have a candidate this fall who’s not a national joke — something the party couldn’t say two years ago. Alexander, a former two-term governor and presidential candidate, will face either Terry Adams or Gordon Ball — both Knoxville attorneys — in the Nov. 4 general election. Ball had a slight lead over Adams at press time.

Sen. Lamar Alexander fends off tea party challenge (News-Sentinel/Collins)
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander easily turned back a primary challenge Thursday night from state Rep. Joe Carr, dealing another blow to national tea party activists who had elevated the race to national prominence and who had hoped to send the two-term senator into retirement. With nearly a quarter of all precincts reporting in Tennessee, Alexander led the crowded, seven-candidate Republican field with 52 percent of the vote, while Carr received 38 percent. Memphis radiologist George Flinn was third with 5 percent. One noteworthy return: Alexander lost to Carr in his home county of Blount by 423 votes, according to unofficial, final returns.

Sen. Alexander Accepts Republican Nomination With Bipartisan Message (WPLN)
In this year’s Republican primaries for Senate, tea party challenger Joe Carr repeatedly accused incumbent Lamar Alexander of siding with Democrats and not being conservative enough. Alexander seemed to at least partially embrace that accusation during his acceptance speech. “I want to look to independents and Democrats across the state and say if we want to change the direction of our state, then after we make our speeches, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves, get together, work with each other and get something done.” Rustin Suray, a student at Lipscomb University who volunteered on Alexander’s campaign, says she understands where Carr’s accusations came from, but that they were spun out of proportion.

Alexander’s Win Keeps Senate Incumbents’ Record Perfect (Wall St. Journal)
With most of the year’s competitive Senate primaries now over, here’s one way to score it so far: Incumbents, 20; Challengers, 0. The results have underscored the strong advantages and durability that incumbents carry into elections. The latest example came Thursday, as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee overcame several challengers to win his Republican primary election. His win, combined with that of Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) earlier this week, means no Senate Republican incumbent will lose a fight for renomination this year, a first since 2008.

DesJarlais bid to hang onto seat too close to call (Associated Press)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who has been battered by a series of scandals, is locked in a razor-thin battle to hang onto his seat in Tennessee’s Republican primary. Results from Thursday’s balloting show DesJarlais with just a 33-vote margin ahead of state Sen. Jim Tracy. The race was too close to call and may ultimately be decided on a possible recount. Desjarlais, a physician, won re-election in 2012 despite revelations he urged a patient he was dating to seek an abortion. After the election, court officials released transcripts of divorce proceedings that included DesJarlais admitting under oath that he had eight affairs and used a gun to intimidate his first wife.

Scott DesJarlais, Jim Tracy in nail-biter (Tennessean/Sisk)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was clinging to what appeared to be a narrow victory over challenger Jim Tracy, defeating the state senator by 35 votes. With all precincts reported, the secretary of state’s office reported that DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, had defeated the Shelbyville Republican, 34,787 votes to 34,752 votes. The results are unofficial. Tennessee does not have an automatic recount law, but a candidate can request one from state and party officials. There also could be uncounted absentee or provisional ballots. Earlier in the evening, Tracy declared victory in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District, but late returns from Grundy County, a rural district close to DesJarlais’ home, appeared to push the incumbent over the top.

Tracy Declares Victory, But DesJarlais Ekes Out The Unofficial Win (WPLN-Radio)
It looks as though 4th District Congressman Scott DesJarlais may have defied the political odds. A vote tally from the Tennessee Secretary of State has DesJarlais with a 35 vote lead in his race for re-election against primary challenger Jim Tracy. Tracy, a state senator from Shelbyville, claimed victory just before 9 p.m., raising his fist in the air and declaring, “We did it!” But the last precincts to turn in results came from Grundy County, considered a DesJarlais stronghold. Votes there allowed the two-term Congressman to overtake Tracy in the unofficial results. “There are ballots left to be counted in the Fourth District Republican primary,” a statement released from the Tracy campaign said early Friday.

Too close to call: DesJarlais up by merely dozens of votes (WKRN-TV Nashville)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who has been battered by a series of scandals, is locked in a razor-thin battle to hang onto his seat in Tennessee’s Republican primary. As of late Thursday night DesJarlais was 35 votes ahead of Tracy with all of the precincts reporting. News 2 spoke to Tennessee Secretary of State Blake Fontenay at 11:15 p.m. and learned this is as close to final numbers as we’re going to get until a statement is released by the state on Friday. Polls initially pegged Tracy as the front runner for the race but it remained tight throughout the evening as results trickled in.

Fleischmann beats Wamp; DesJarlais leading Tracy (TFP/Brogdon, Sher)
With a lead of just more than 1,400 votes, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann kept his job in Tennessee’s 3rd District Thursday over Republican challenger Weston Wamp. In the 4th District next door, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was 35 votes ahead of state Sen. Jim Tracy and The Associated Press said the race was too close to call. Unofficial numbers at press time showed Fleischmann had 43,830 votes, or 51 percent, over Wamp’s 42,386 votes at 49 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting. To a room full of supporters chanting “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck,” Fleischmann acknowledged the close numbers, and appealed to Wamp and his supporters’ forces. “I want to congratulate Weston on a well-run race.

Diane Black wins nomination in U.S. 6th District race (Tennessean/Barton)
Rep. Diane Black handily won her bid for the Republican nomination for a third term in the 6th Congressional District, defeating school administrator Jerry Lowery of Sparta. Also in the 6th District race are Amos Scott Powers, 26, of Cookeville, running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and independent candidate Mike Winton, 59, of Manchester. Black, 63, continued in her second term as a member of two high-profile committees: House Budget and Ways and Means.

Marsha Blackburn wins GOP nomination for 7th term (Tennessean/Barton)
Twelve-year incumbent Rep. Marsha Blackburn won the Republican nomination for a seventh term in the U.S. House representing the 7th Congressional District, defeating Jacob Brimm. Meanwhile, in the race for the Democratic nomination for the seat, Dan Cramer was winning over opponent Credo Amouzouvik. Both are Army veterans from Clarksville. Blackburn, 62, of Brentwood, continues to be a fierce Republican partisan, having the highest lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union — 96 percent — of anyone in the Tennessee congressional delegation.

Cohen headed to Democratic nod in 9th District (Commercial Appeal/Bailey)
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, riding incumbency and a reputation for constituent service, thwarted the challenge of Memphis lawyer Ricky Wilkins in the Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District seat Thursday, easily capturing one of the most hotly contested races on a lengthy ballot. There appeared to be little doubt about the outcome after Cohen took a commanding lead with the release of early voting totals. With 171 of 174 precincts reporting, Cohen held 66.1 percent of the vote and will face Republican Charlotte Bergmann, unopposed in the Republican primary for the 9th Congressional seat, and three independent candidates — Floyd Wayne Alberson, Herbert Bass and Paul Cook.

Cohen Prevails in Primary, Republican Incumbents Dominate General (MDN)
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen held off Thursday, Aug. 7, the most serious electoral challenge he’s faced since winning the Congressional seat in 2006, in the form of attorney Ricky E. Wilkins. Cohen won the primary with a decisive two-to-one margin to advance to the general election against Republican Charlotte Bergmann on the November general election ballot. With all 174 precincts reporting the unofficial vote totals were: Cohen 45,366 or 66 percent Wilkins 22,311 or 33 percent Isaac Richmond 872 or 1 percent.

Tennessee spending outpaces U.S. average since recession (AP, Times Free-Press)
Consumer spending in Tennessee outpaced the national average since the Great Recession ended five years ago, according to a government report released Thursday. Per capita spending in Tennessee grew from 2009 to 2012 by $3,411, or 12.2 percent, to outpace the national spending recovery from the depths of the economic downturn. Although Tennessee is yet to recover all of the jobs lost during the recession, spending by Tennesseans has continued to grow, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. But per capita spending lagged behind the U.S. average in neighboring Georgia and Alabama from 2009 to 2012.

Kellogg may change plan to end lockout (Commercial Appeal/Risher)
Kellogg Co. said it was re-evaluating plans to end a lockout at its Memphis cereal plant after an administrative law judge backed the company in a ruling Thursday. Administrative Law Judge Ira Sandron ruled against the National Labor Relations Board, which had lodged unfair labor practice charges stemming from the nine-month-old lockout. The ruling came a week after U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays granted an injunction sought by the NLRB, ordering about 220 workers restored to their former jobs. Kellogg locked out the workers last October after negotiations broke down over a company proposal to broaden use of lower-paid casual workers.

Virginia: Election board makes voter ID requirements more stringent (W. Post)
Inflaming a contentious debate over voter identification laws, the Virginia State Board of Elections decided this week that, to cast a ballot, voters will have to present a current photo ID or one that expired within the past year. The Republican-controlled board voted 2 to 0 Wednesday — with the Democratic member absent — to narrow the definition of valid identification, a move that one board member said would streamline and simplify the rules. “We believe it’s a compromise and gives people a reasonable grace period,” said Donald Palmer, who was appointed to the board by then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).



Editorial: Project to repair trails in Smokies deserves support (News-Sentinel)
Highways and bridges are not the only features of the nation’s infrastructure that need upgrading. Repair work to trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is aimed at keeping hikers using the routes for the next century. This is a major task and deserves a lot of recognition and support. The Smokies’ trails have not seen this much reconstructive work since the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps, organized during President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration to provide young men with an outlet for their energies during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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