Press Releases

TNGOP: Ball Making Excuses ‘Reminiscent of a 6th Grader’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; September 23, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While personal injury lawyer and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Gordon Ball claims he never received a National Rifle Association survey, the NRA points out that’s just not true. The Second Amendment rights organization explained to the Memphis Commercial Appeal the NRA sent the survey to Ball as they do for all candidates.

From the CA report:

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization mailed its survey to Ball at the Knoxville address listed on his candidate registration form. ‘He never returned the questionnaire. We changed his grade from a question mark to an ‘F’ based on an interview he did. Bottom line is he’s anti-gun, and we’ll make sure every gun owner in Tennessee knows it.’

In response to Gordon Ball’s lame attempt at crafting an excuse reminiscent of a 6th grader, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “Gordon Ball blaming the NRA for his own dismal record and F-rating on Second Amendment rights may be the most transparent evidence yet of how far this slick personal injury lawyer will go to distract Tennesseans from the fact that he’d be one more vote for Barack Obama’s anti-gun agenda. The NRA says it sent Ball its questionnaire. Ball should be forthright with Tennesseans about how he earned his F, instead of claiming that the dog ate his homework.”


Press Releases

TNGOP: Union Push for Ball More Proof He’s On Board with the ‘Obama Agenda’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; September 19, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—An extensive ground game and targeting Senator Lamar Alexander. That’s the roadmap for unions in the upcoming November election.

Last night, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” two union bosses highlighted their plans to push Democrats to the polls in the fall.

Leo Gerard, of the steelworkers union, and Larry Cohen, of the communications union, made the comments in response to the host’s question about what unions plan to do. In particular, Cohen discussed making Senator Alexander — who would be chairman of the Senate labor committee in a new Republican Senate majority — the “poster-child” against their efforts because of his strong anti-union stances in the U.S. Senate and defense of Tennessee’s right-to-work laws.

The TNGOP captured the conversation here.

With the news today of his “F-rating” on the 2nd Amendment from the National Rifle Association, Tennessee Democrats’ nominee for the Senate, liberal personal injury lawyer Gordon Ball, is going to need the help from unions in his attempt to defeat Senator Alexander. The AFL-CIO has already endorsed Ball, and now it’s clear union bosses plan to make Lamar Alexander a target this fall.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “Liberals are already starting to circle the wagons—in Tennessee and beyond. They know Senator Alexander is going to be a leader in the new Republican Senate majority and they’re desperate to get their base engaged. Unfortunately for Gordon Ball, this information just proves once more he’d be a vote for the Obama agenda in Washington.”


Press Releases

Ball: Never Been Contacted by NRA, ‘F’ Rating a ‘Hit Piece’

Press release from the Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate Campaign; September 19, 2014:

U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball’s Statement On NRA F Rating

“This comes as no surprise to me as Sen. Lamar Alexander has received NRA money for years,” U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball said today. “The NRA never contacted me, never asked me to fill out a questionnaire and this is obviously a hit piece. I’m a gun owner and strongly support the Second Amendment. I just happen to have a D in front of my name on the ballot.”

“Let me be clear, the NRA didn’t even ask me that question, they went to an online piece on KnoxViews and decided to give me a score for their pal Lamar,” Ball added. “According to the Sunlight Foundation, he is second with Mitch McConnell in receiving contributions from the National Rifle Association.”

“Obviously the senator from Tennessee is taking this race seriously if he is asking favors from all his connections in Washington. If he wants to discuss these issues, let’s debate and not just go to a breakfast forum scheduled for the second day of early voting.” Ball concluded.

Press Releases

Lamar Picks Up Endorsements from 2 Fmr. Chairs of the ACU

Press release from the Campaign for Lamar Alexander for U.S. Senate; July 28, 2014:

Al Cardenas joins former ACU chairman and NRA president David Keene; calls Alexander “ultimate conservative problem solver”

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s campaign today announced that Al Cardenas, the most recent former chairman of the American Conservative Union, has joined former chairman David Keene in endorsing Alexander for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

In a statement, Cardenas said, “Lamar Alexander is the ultimate conservative problem solver. He not only relies on conservative principles, but also on a proven ability to find solutions — a combination that is all too rare in our country today.”

The American Conservative Union is the country’s largest and longest-running conservative organization, and serves as the umbrella for numerous other conservative grassroots organizations. David Keene, who served as chairman of the ACU from 1984-2001 and is a former president of the National Rifle Association, previously endorsed Alexander and appeared in Nashville on Alexander’s behalf.

Keene said of Alexander, “If I were making a scorecard for Sen. Alexander, I would start with his ‘A’ rating from the NRA, his 100 percent rating with National Right to Life, and his 100 percent rating with the United States Chamber of Commerce.”

Alexander said, “Al Cardenas and David Keene are two of our country’s greatest champions of conservative values. I am grateful for their endorsements, along with the support I have received from grassroots Tennesseans and other national conservative leaders. As senator, I will fight to bring to Washington the principles of low taxes, balanced budgets and job growth that I helped to establish in Tennessee.”

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.

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Harwell: Guns-in-Lots Not a Top Priority in ‘13

House Speaker Beth Harwell says she feels little pressure to settle a heated debate over the so-called guns-in-lots bill by next year.

The legislation died this spring after lawmakers could not agree on whether to allow gun owners to stow firearms in their vehicle at their place of work.

“We either can come to the table and work something out that satisfies both interests, or we can’t. And if we can’t, we’ll be back to where we were last session,” Harwell told TNReport Thursday.

“But I have high hopes we’ll be able to work something out,” she added.

The debate over the bill revealed divisions within the GOP-led Legislature and prompted the gun lobby to invest more than $100,000 into unseating a key Republican leader who worked against the bill.

“If we learned anything from last session, we learned that everyone needs to sit down at the table and work together,” said Harwell. “No one can bully. Neither side can push down their agenda at the cost of other agendas and other people’s interests,” she said.

Legislative leaders derailed the bill by sending it to a summer study committee to examine the policy, a maneuver that essentially kills legislation. That group never met over the summer, and Harwell says it won’t try to get together until at least after the November election.

Gun rights advocates have little faith that Republicans will tackle their key issues in good faith next year, said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

“I don’t think that they are looking at the Second Amendment organizations as partners to find solutions but instead are looking at them more as adversaries to appease, to shut us up and throw us a bone right now,” he said.

He said officials with the TFA and the National Firearms Association are already gearing up for the 2014 elections to pressure more incumbents out of office if they snub their noses at the groups’ Second Amendment agenda.

“If their perception is we don’t need to have another 2012 with all this bloodletting, that maybe the NRA and TFA will sit in the corner like we tell them to, that’s an unrealistic expectation to have,” he said.

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Maggart: NRA’s ‘Negative Campaigning’ Led to Her Defeat

Leading House Republican Rep. Debra Maggart hasn’t decided whether she’ll make another go if it in 2014 following her recent GOP primary defeat in Sumner County.

The Hendersonville Republican blamed her loss on the National Rifle Federation and the Tennessee Firearms Association which “dumped over $150,000” worth of political ads into the race, she said.

“To tell the people of my district over and over and over that I am for gun control, which is a total lie, was very effective. People say they don’t like negative campaigning, but negative campaigning works,” she said following a roundtable discussion between Gov. Bill Haslam, legislators and business and education officials about improving higher education while at Tennessee Technology Center in Nashville Tuesday.

A review of contributions by political action committees indicated the NRA and TFA collectively injected $102,000 into the race.

Maggart’s opponent, Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers, enjoyed a 57 percent favorable vote to Maggart’s 43 percent to defeat the incumbent in the Aug. 2 Republican primary election. Rogers now goes on to compete with Democrat Jeanette Jackson in the general.

Maggart, who will serve out her term until the Nov. 6 election, said her loss does anything but call into question public concern over the direction legislative leaders are taking the state.

“Only then did it start getting people’s attention, and according to my polling data, it didn’t get heated until the NRA did what they did,” she said.

Asked whether she would run for reelection in 2014 to reclaim the legislative seat she’s held since 2005, she said it’s too early to tell what the future holds.

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Maggart Releases Video; Critics Respond

Rep. Debra Maggart wants to set the record straight that she has a “100 percent” voting record on Second-Amendment rights legislation despite criticism that she worked behind the scenes to kill key guns bills.

Maggart, a high-ranking Republican leader who is in the middle of a heated election in Sumner County, took her message to the web in a video Monday saying the gun lobby has been trying to “bully” her and other lawmakers into passing bills that violate the property rights of business owners.

However, Maggart’s opponent in the GOP primary race, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers, as well as the Tennessee Second Amendment organization that’s been so critical of Maggart, quickly shot back.

The only reason the incumbent lawmaker can claim she’s never voted against gun-rights legislation, they said, is that she and other House and Senate Republican leaders maneuvered to thwart floor debate on the so-called “Safe Commute” guns-in-parking-lots bill. They did that so they could avoid publicly taking a stand on the question of where an employer’s rights end and a worker’s begin, Maggart’s critics contend.

“Everybody who spends anytime in the Legislature knows that nothing happens that leadership doesn’t sanction, so that bill didn’t get out of committee,” said Jeff Hartline, campaign manager to Rogers who is challenging the House Republican Caucus leader  in the Aug. 2 primary election.

Blame for the legislation’s demise — and for Tennessee voters not getting an opportunity to see where their elected representatives stand on the matter — “has to be laid at (Maggart’s) feet,” Hartline said.

In the ad from the Maggart campaign, the Hendersonville Republican defends her role in working against the gun rights bills. Second Amendment advocates poured at least $75,000 through the end of June into the campaign to unseat her from her Sumner County district. “This attack against me is based on false information in an effort to bully your elected officials and trample your other constitutional rights,” Maggart said during the nearly two-minute video.

Maggart described the House GOP’s political decision to terminate the possibility of floor discussion on the guns-in-lots legislation as an act of “thoughtful governing.”

“It is my aim to protect all of your rights, not just the one that the Second Amendment rights group is promoting,” said Maggart.

In the video, Maggart noted that lawmakers agreed to study the legislation over the summer. However, there’s been no effort on Capitol Hill to schedule any sort of committee to further examine the bill, according to House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office.

Maggart is plainly “misrepresenting to the public what ‘summer study’ means,” said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

“Telling people ‘we’re studying this’ is just lying to them,” said Harris, a prominent critic of the legislative GOP leadership’s handling of the issue. “She killed it and has no intention on bringing it back up.”

Hartline concurred: “If that bill had come to the House floor, it would have passed overwhelmingly. Everybody knows it. So the game was, it can’t make it to the floor.”

For their part, the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus actually took credit for driving the final nail in the guns-in-lots legislation’s coffin for the year. During a press conference just after the Legislature adjourned, minority-party caucus chairman Mike Turner said Democratic leaders “interceded” with the House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, and asked that he not try to bring the matter to the House floor, which was a possibility he’d left open right up until the very end of the session.

Press Releases

Maggart: 2nd Amendment, Property Rights Equally Important

Statement from State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville; July 23, 2012: 

See WWW.DEFENDMAGGART.COM for an important message from Debra.


Over the past few months, a national second amendment rights group, an organization of which I am a lifetime member, has begun a negative campaign against me in the name of the Second Amendment and my opponent.

This attack against me is based on false information in an effort to bully your elected officials and trample your other Constitutional rights.

During this past General Assembly, a bill came before us related to individuals being able to store their gun in their car. I have a 100% voting record on the Second Amendment and support this idea. There were several problems with this bill and we reached out to this group to try to work the kinks out.

My main concern was that this bill as introduced would have mandated what individuals, not just businesses, must do or allow with their property. I hear complaints every day about Federal Government mandates, yet one was almost forced on you by the state if this group would have gotten their way.

Since this group was not willing to work with us, we suggested that we study the legislation over the summer to see how we could make this a better bill for all Tennesseans. Most Members of the General Assembly would like a bill that respects property rights as well as second amendment rights, as both of these are equally important. Let me be clear. I did not vote against this bill, contrary to what you have been told. You can see for yourself by going to and looking at the vote for this piece of legislation.

As a member of House Leadership, blame has been placed at my feet for an attempt at thoughtful governing. We are sent to Nashville to represent you. It is my aim to protect all of your rights, not just the one that this second amendment rights group is promoting.

I hope you will contact me if you have specific questions about this matter that I can resolve. Now that you know the truth, I would appreciate your vote.


Press Releases

NRA Rates Elam A+, Endorses for Re-Election

Press release from State Rep. Linda Elam, R-Mt Juliet; July 19, 2012: 

(Mt Juliet, TN) – State Representative Linda Elam announced today that the NRA has endorsed her candidacy for re-election to the Tennessee State House in House District 57. This endorsement is accompanied by an A+ rating from the NRA, the highest rating possible.

Elam (R, Mt. Juliet) is a strong conservative who dedicates herself to defending the Second Amendment rights of all Tennesseans. Her voting record proves her support of these rights, which has resulted in this NRA endorsement.

“I am very pleased to have the endorsement of the NRA. I believe it is my duty to defend our sacred Second Amendment rights whenever they are threatened. I have had a carry permit myself for many years. I will continue to work so that all Tennesseans retain the right to own, keep and use guns – whether for hunting, self-protection, target practice, or defense of our State and Country,” Elam said.

Elam has previously received the endorsement of the Tennessee Right to Life, has a 100% voting record with the Eagle Forum, and has received endorsements from 58 of her state house colleagues.

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Ramsey May Go His Own Way on Guns-in-Lots

As gun advocates continue dropping political bombs on legislative incumbents this election season, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he’s beginning to think legislative leaders and lawmakers may not be of “a mood” to expand gun laws next year.

At least, not with the help of gun rights groups.

Between the National Rifle Association launching an expensive political war with a top House Republican and the Tennessee Firearms Association firing criticism all over the party’s leadership, Republicans have lately felt themselves unfairly targeted. Ramsey said Thursday those attacks may sour leadership’s plans to consider allowing gun owners to keep their weapons locked in their car while at work, or cause leaders to sideline state and national gun groups from helping hammer out a bill.

“I don’t know what the mood of the General Assembly will be when we come back in, whether it will be a mood to pass a bill or whether it will be a mood that you don’t negotiate with people that threaten you. I don’t know where we’ll be,” Ramsey told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, adding it’s “pretty obvious” guns groups are trying to bully lawmakers.

However, John Harris, Tennessee Firearms Association executive director and a vocal critic of GOP leadership, said actions that may appear like bullying to a politician could more appropriately be described as an effort to add accountability into the political mix.

Statehouse GOP leaders have adopted an attitude of “We’re the rulers, and we’re the ones who make the decisions, and you don’t tell us what to do,” said Harris.

“That’s not being a representative of the people who voted for you,” he said. “If their mentality is, ‘Play with us on our terms or we’re not going to deal with your issues,’ then our response as a grassroots organization is, ‘We’re going to go in your district and find someone who will beat you in the primary or beat you in the general election.'”

That’s exactly what’s being attempted by gun-rights advocates in Sumner County, where the National Rifle Association has poured more than $75,000 into an effort to unseat Rep. Debra Maggart, the House GOP Caucus leader they blame for holding up the so-called “guns in parking lots” bill. They are supporting challenger Courtney Rogers, a former Tea Party organizer and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, in the Aug. 2 GOP primary.

The guns-in-lots issue divided the Republican party this year as they had to choose between two key constituencies: Second Amendment advocates who want the tools to protect themselves and business leaders who say they have a right to ban guns from their property. Firearm advocates eventually agreed to compromise by narrowing the bill to only handgun permit holders, but Republicans stopped the bill just short of a House floor vote.

Ramsey contends the issue is “not about the Second Amendment,” but rather the right of employers to set workplace rules.

“The Second Amendment protects us from the government, from the government taking away our firearms,” said Ramsey. “This is a contract between two people. We’re talking about landowner and an employee.”

Guns-in-lots legislation supporters contend that the property-rights argument cuts both ways, given that an employee’s personal vehicle is involved and the employers are in essence demanding the authority to dictate what’s transported to and from work inside them. Harris said the real issue is essentially one of state-sanctioned discrimination against a certain class of otherwise law-abiding citizens exercising a constitutional right.

“If the employee owns the car, they have a right to have whatever they can legally transport in the car, and the employer shouldn’t have a say in there,” said Harris.

Ramsey, who has delighted in the support of gun-rights enthusiasts in the past, said he’s now grown weary of the TFA and NRA. The lieutenant governor — who like leaders in the House intervened to ensure no vote would be taken on the matter on the chamber floor — said he may try to hammer out a related piece of legislation next session with or without support from gun groups.

He said the bill could include employees putting a copy of their handgun carry permit on file with their employer. Ramsey said he would also like to include language that reiterates that handgun-carry permit holders must have taken a gun safety course, submitted to background checks and allowed the government to keep their fingerprints on file, he said.