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Alexander, DesJarlais Respond to Obama’s Veto of Keystone XL

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; February 24, 2015:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on energy appropriations, today released the following statement on President Obama’s veto of legislation passed by Congress to approve the Keystone XL pipeline:

“There is simply no reason whatsoever for the president not to approve this project that will create thousands of jobs for American workers and put our country one step closer to energy independence. Our Republican majority allowed nearly double the number of roll call votes on amendments to this bipartisan Keystone XL pipeline legislation than Democrats did on all legislation in 2014, which is proof that Republicans are working to get things done. And yet, the president decided to veto this legislation before he even saw it in its final form, instead of working with Congress.”

The legislation, introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and cosponsored by Alexander, all other members of the Republican majority, and six Democrats, would allow TransCanada to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the Keystone XL pipeline. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate’s majority leader, allowed dozens of amendments pertaining to a range of issues, including energy and the economy to be debated and voted on during consideration of the Keystone Pipeline XL bill in January.

Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development.

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Press release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. 04; February 24, 2015:

Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s veto of S.1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which passed Congress with bipartisan support:

“President Obama’s veto of this bipartisan legislation makes it clear the White House is more concerned about partisan politics than American jobs. Not only would building the pipeline create more than 42,000 good-paying jobs, it would provide energy security by reducing our reliance on oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries. After conducting five safety and environmental reviews, the president’s own State Department determined the pipeline’s construction is environmentally safe. I hope Congress will find another way to move this vital jobs project forward.”

In September of 2008—more than six years ago—Canadian pipeline company TransCanada filed an application with the United States Department of State to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Secretary of State in January of 2014 determined that no significant environmental impact would be caused by the pipeline.

Blackburn, Cohen, Cooper, DesJarlais Co-sponsor Bill to End Use of Ticket-purchasing Bots

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; February 4, 2015:

U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), and Jim Cooper (TN-05) today introduced H.R. 708, the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act.

H.R. 708 would make the use of bots to circumvent security measures employed by ticketing sites an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, and a crime under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. It would also create a private right of action whereby parties harmed by bots can sue in federal court to recover damages.

“I am pleased to be working on a bi-partisan basis with the Tennessee delegation on this important legislation,” Rep. Blackburn said. “Scalpers have been taking advantage of computer hacking software (BOTS) to circumvent restrictions put in place by on-line ticketing agents for years. They purchase tickets in mass quantities and sell them at a considerably marked up rate, which hurts fans of live entertainment who get priced out of the market. The Live Entertainment industry goes to great lengths to build relationships with its fans and ensure that they will access to shows. The BOTS Act will allow FTC enforcement, criminal sanctions, and a private right of action to be brought against on-line scalpers. It is time to level the on-line ticket playing field for fans of live entertainment.”

“With many fans already finding ticket prices for their favorite artists and events too high, it is disappointing that scalpers would seek to extract even more money out of consumers by using unfair ticket-purchasing and reselling practices,” said Rep. Cohen. “The BOTS Act would help end these anti-consumer tactics and clarify that using computer programs to snap up all available tickets to resell at a much higher price is, in fact, illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

“I am proud to have cosponsored this commonsense legislation that cracks down on deceptive ticket scalpers,” Rep. DesJarlais said. “For too long, scam artists have used computer hacking software to drastically increase the cost of attending an event. This bill protects American consumers by making the use of BOTS illegal.”

“Computer programs shouldn’t be allowed to cheat people out of fair ticket prices and great entertainment,” Rep. Cooper said.

Organizations supporting this bipartisan legislation include The Recording Academy, Live Nation Entertainment, as well as the Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition.

Daryl Friedman, Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer of The Recording Academy praised the legislation saying: “The relationship that forms when an artist connects to a fan through his or her music is at the core of what makes music special. Artists try to keep their tickets affordable for their fans, but scalpers move in and drive up the price by using automated ticket ‘bots’ to make it harder for fans to buy tickets to see their favorite artist perform live. On behalf of The Recording Academy, I want to thank Congressman Marsha Blackburn, along with Reps. Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, and Scott DesJarlais, for introducing the ‘BOTS Act’ so that artists will be able to offer concert tickets to fans in the manner that they want, ensuring that the special connection between music lovers and music makers continues.”

Tracy Concedes to DesJarlais in 4th District

Letter from State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville; August 25, 2014:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am announcing my decision about whether or not to file a contest of the August 7th Republican Primary for the Fourth Congressional District. When I started this campaign, my goal was to offer the citizens of the 4th District a choice in who to represent them in Congress. I presented my plan to offer conservative, effective leadership, and my opponents offered theirs. And after over 75,000 votes were cast in the Republican Primary, less than 40 votes separated the incumbent Congressman and me.

Our campaign staff and volunteers have been diligently gathering and analyzing information from all 16 counties in the District. Through the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as directly, we have communicated with the County Election Commissions. Our staff has attended many of the meetings at which Election Commissions counted provisional ballots, as well the meetings at which the Election Commissions certified the votes in all of the August 7th elections. A great deal of information has come to me through formal and informal sources.

For example, there were votes by people who were not on the rolls and should have cast provisional ballots, but voted on machines so there was no way to determine whether those were legal votes. There were voters who were not given ballots for the primary election, but only for the General Election. There are counties that are split between the Fourth District and a different district, either the Seventh or the Third, and we know of at least one voter who was given a ballot for the wrong Congressional District. We know of a voter who was told that he had already voted, when he had not, which leads to the inference that other voters were told the same thing and did not take the time to assert their rights.

We have consulted with knowledgeable people, and I have consulted with my family and, most importantly I have prayed for guidance. In the end, the decision of whether or not to file a contest was mine and mine alone.

I have decided to refrain from contesting this election. I am not willing to put the State Republican Primary Board, the Secretary of State’s Office and Division of Elections, the County Election Commissions, the campaign staff, my volunteers, my family and the public through additional weeks of litigation, with uncertainty as to who the nominee will be.

State law provides that ballots must be ready to send out to military, overseas and other absentee voters 45 days before the November election, and I am not willing to put them in a difficult position. A contest would not be the right thing for the Republican Party and the conservative cause in Tennessee. Contests of primary elections are extremely compressed. The Fourth District is geographically widespread. Under state law, if there is a recount, all votes in every county must be recounted, even in counties where we are confident that the counts were accurate. A recount does not uncover votes that were illegal or that were illegally kept from being cast. These factors weigh against a contest.

I assure the public that the Secretary of State’s office, and the Division of Elections in that office, have been responsive, fair and objective and have done their job in an exemplary way. That office is in the best of hands. Chairman Chris Devaney, the staff and the counsel for the Tennessee Republican Primary Board went into action immediately after Election Night to prepare for a contest, and I thank them. I am forever grateful to my family, staff, volunteers, contributors, and the voters who placed their faith in me and have encouraged me throughout the campaign and in this decision-making period. I also want to comment that the press has reported fairly, neutrally and calmly, and I sincerely appreciate their demeanor.

I have called Rep. DesJarlais to inform him of my decision to concede and congratulated him. One reason why I am at peace about my decision is that I am devoted to my service as the Senator from the Fourteenth Senatorial District of Tennessee. Serving the people of the Fourteenth District and helping to make Tennessee a better place to live, work, do business and go to school is a high honor. I will continue to serve in the Senate with dedication, energy and integrity. Much is at stake for our country and our state; I look forward to helping us meet the challenges ahead.

God bless and Thank you,

Jim Tracy

DesJarlais Win Looking Likely

The ballot-counts aren’t yet certified and there’s just a few dozen votes separating the top two contenders, but the battle to represent the Republican Party in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District this November looks to be all but won for incumbent Scott DesJarlais.

Provisional ballots in all of the district’s counties have been counted, and the gap between the two candidates hasn’t changed much the past few days. In fact, DesJarlais gained five votes while his challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy, earned just two. The Franklin County Election Commission met Friday afternoon to examine a single provisional ballot, which was deemed invalid.

DesJarlais now leads Tracy by 38 votes. Following the Aug. 7 primary, Desjarlais led Tracy 34,787 votes to 34,752 votes — a 35 vote difference.

DesJarlais has called on Tracy to concede, though Tracy has indicated he is going to wait until all votes are certified by the State Election Commission on Aug. 25. Tracy has up to five days after the votes are certified to request a recount.

DesJarlais, who is a physician, is generally regarded as a dependably anti-Obama Tea-Party conservative in Congress. And he declares himself an abortion foe. But Tracy, who announced his challenge to DesJarlais in January 2013, sought to capitalize on a scandals from the incumbent congressman’s past involving extramarital affairs and assertions he told a mistress to seek an abortion when informed he’d impregnated her. DesJarlais has said the woman was lying about being pregnant.

With a DesJarlais victory looking likely, the Democratic challenger he’ll face, Lenda Sherrell, told WPLN that she doesn’t plan to focus on his past personal issues during her campaign to unseat him. Sherrell picked up an endorsement this week from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, who is also a former Democratic state senator.

Tracy, Desjarlais Lawyer Up, Sherrell Preps for Nov.

Several days after Tennessee voters cast their ballots in party primaries and local elections, the Republican nominee to represent the state’s 4th Congressional District in November is still up in the air.

The race between Jasper physician Scott Desjarlais, a two-term incumbent, and Shelbyville state Senator Jim Tracy is so close — less than 50 votes separate the challenger from the incumbent — that both candidates have declared themselves the winner, and have sought legal counsel.

Sen. TracyTracy, an insurance agent and two-and-a-half term state senator, announced his candidacy in January 2013 in the wake of the revelation in fall of 2012 that Desjarlais, the pro-life doctor and GOP nominee for the U.S. House seat, had in the past had sex with patients and later pressured one to get an abortion.

However, Desjarlais did well with rural voters, who seemed more inclined to consider his voting record than his troubled past when it came to casting their ballots, according to the Associated Press.

According to unofficial election totals from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, Desjarlais came in with 34,787 votes, and Tracy had 34,752 — a 35 vote difference.

scott desJarlais  pic mugFourth Congressional District provisional ballot voters had until close-of-business Monday to make their way to their local election offices with a proper form of identification to ensure that their votes count, though it could be several days until the total vote tally is completed, according to the AP.

Only two provisional ballots were approved by Grundy County Election officials Monday night, one for each candidate, the Times Free Press and AP report.

Bill Green, the state executive committeeman for Tennessee’s 16th Senate District — which includes Coffee, Marion, Franklin, Grundy and Sequatchie Counties, told TNReport Monday that he had not been in touch with anybody else on the executive committee about what they’re going to do once the provisional ballots are counted.

Calls to both the Republican State Executive Committee’s National Committeeman John Ryder and National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert to discuss what to expect after the provisional ballots are certified and counted were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Because they are committed to neutrality in primaries, officers for the Tennessee Republican Party “cannot speculate” about the outcome of the 4th District race, said TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney in e-mailed statement.

“According to state law, any Republican election contest would have to be submitted to the Tennessee Republican Party, acting as the State Republican Primary Board, within 5 days after election certification,” Devaney wrote. “If an election contest is received, the Primary Board would consider all arguments regarding a contest in a just and fair manner.”

Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Lenda Sherrell, who faced no opponent in the primary has been readying herself to face her GOP opponent in the general election, “whoever it is,” reports the Times Free Press.

Additionally, Desjarlais is a finalist in liberal comedian Bill Maher’s “Flip a District” campaign, in which the HBO talk show host will attempt to flip a district by using his show to place an incumbent member of Congress under a large degree of scrutiny.

Carr: Alexander at Odds with TN GOP Congressional Delegation on “Amnesty”

Press release from the Campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; August 4, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN – In a shocking attack on the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, Senator Lamar Alexander accused opponents of Barack Obama’s amnesty that was written by Sen. Chuck Schumer, endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and backed by La Raza and the Chamber of Commerce (S. 744), of being “for amnesty.” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported over the weekend that at a campaign stop in Cleveland, TN on Saturday, Alexander declared, “In 2013, I voted to end amnesty for 11 million Americans who are illegally here…I voted to double border security and I voted to create a legal immigration system. If you are opposed to that, then you’re for amnesty.”

“Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann have all called S. 744 ‘amnesty’ – is Lamar Alexander really accusing the Tennessee Congressional delegation of being ‘for amnesty’,” asked TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr. “You have to wonder what Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann would have to say if they were asked about Lamar Alexander’s belief that supporters of S. 744 ‘voted to end amnesty’ and the rest of us who opposed it are ‘for amnesty.'”

“The Senate amnesty bill is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Blackburn declared at the time. “I do not believe in amnesty and if we are going to make any changes to our system we must start by securing our borders. Any other reform effort is meaningless if we don’t start with strengthening our border security.”

Rep. Black decisively said, “There is no place for amnesty in immigration reform, period…In Congress, I was proud to be a vocal opponent of S. 744, the flawed Senate immigration bill that would have granted almost immediate legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.”

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that looks to me like it’s very similar to the [1986 amnesty] bill,” Rep. Duncan said about the S. 744. “I don’t know that Ronald Reagan would do the same thing if he was facing a problem that had become four or five times worse than it was in 1986.”

“The United States has always had a generous legal immigration policy, but we simply cannot grant amnesty to those who choose to break the law,” Rep. DesJarlais said in a statement about S. 744. “The Senate immigration proposal is the ObamaCare of immigration: A broad, comprehensive bill fraught with unintended consequences and unexpected results. I will fight to make sure this bill never reaches the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Providing a pathway to citizenship before securing the border is putting the cart before the horse. Before overhauling our nation’s immigration system, we should first ensure we are enforcing the laws that are already on the books.”

Rep. Flesichmann added, “An estimated 15 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. I do not support rewarding these illegal immigrants with amnesty. In 1986, when legislation was passed granting general amnesty, the illegal immigrant population quadrupled.”

“I am opposed to the Senate bill because it includes a pathway to citizenship without sufficient protections to ensure our laws won’t be broken in the future,” Rep. Roe said last year. “Congress must take a transparent, incremental approach to dealing with this important issue instead of rushing through a seriously flawed piece of legislation.”

Carr Lags Behind Alexander in Fundraising

The clip at which Rutherford County state Rep. Joe Carr is raising money to try and unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the Tennessee GOP primary next year doesn’t appear to be fast and furious.

Carr told conservative radio host Ralph Bristol his campaign didn’t do nearly as well as incumbent Alexander, who reported raising nearly $1 million in the same three-month period.

“I don’t have an exact figure, but it was a little less than $100,000, I believe,” said Carr, who shifted his campaign from the 4th District House nomination to the U.S. Senate in August.

In fact, Carr’s report this week to the Federal Election Commission indicates he only raised $52,000 in the third quarter. He also posted $285,000 cash on hand, which is an increase from the second quarter.

The Carr campaign justified the low numbers by saying he was more focused on endorsements than fundraising.

“Winning the support of Tennessee grassroots conservatives was our focus these past months – and we hit it out of the park, earning the endorsement of both the Beat Lamar organization and the Coalition for a Constitutional Senate, an informal coalition of 63 Tea Party and Liberty groups. Now were are going to build on that grassroots foundation and turn our focus to fundraising – I’m confident we will have a stellar 4th quarter,” Hillary Pate, Carr’s communications director said Wednesday afternoon.

Alexander reported raising $838,000 in the last three months making his year-to-date fundraising $3.9 million. The incumbent has $2.8 million on hand.

Campaign Fundraising from the House

Jim Tracy is winning the fund-raising race more than a year before he faces incumbent Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 2014 primary for the GOP nomination for the 4th District in the U.S. House.

Tracy said the numbers prove he has the momentum in the race and enjoys broad support throughout the district that stretches from Rutherford County from Middle to East Tennessee.

“We have great support from inside the district,” Tracy said.

Tracy has taken donations from more than 1,200 individual donors with most coming from inside the contested district. DesJarlais, on the other hand, has taken cash from more out-of-state donors.

In the third quarter Tracy raised $181,721.79. During the three-month period, which ended Sept. 30, DesJarlais, raised $113,249. A state senator from Shelbyville, Tracy has collected $921,649.79 in this election cycle, compared to DesJarlais, who has $273,729.25.

Overall Tracy boasts a four-to-one lead in campaign funds with more than $750,000 on hand. DesJarlais is only holding on to about $170,000.

The only other incumbent with a seemingly viable opponent, Jimmy Duncan, R-Knoxville, raised $67,000 in the third quarter. He has raised $133,205.65 this election cycle and has $1.55 million on in the bank.

His primary challenger, Jason Zachary, reported raising $17,607.43 in the third quarter. He has raised $52,331.36 since announcing his candidacy in September. He has $20,364 in his campaign war chest.

Her are FEC tallies from Tennessee’s other U.S. House incumbents:

  • Phil Roe, R-1st District, raised $144,225 in the third quarter, $253,454 year-to-date and has $446,399.39 on hand
  • Chuck Fleischmann, R-3rd District, raised $95,880, $410,032 year-to-date with $250,222.41 on hand
  • Jim Cooper, D-5th District, raised $56,625, $344,051 year-to-date and has $910,762.31 in the bank
  • Diane Black, R-6th District, raised $127,621.61, year-to-date $552,362.45 and has $699,231.14 in the bank
  • Marsha Blackburn, R-7th District, raised $368,874.74 in the last quarter, $882,022.45 this year and holds $1.67 million in the bank
  • Stephen Fincher, R-8th District, raised $184,441.80 in the third quarter, $825,227.45 for the year and has $2.1 million in his campaign war chest
  • Steve Cohen, R-9th District, raised $59,125 for the quarter, $151,045 for the year and has $837,433.47 on hand.

Herron Calls on GOP Lawmakers to Stop Their Own Pay During Shutdown

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; October 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today called on Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Congressmen Stephen Fincher and Scott DesJarlais and other Republicans who shut down government to stop paying themselves.

“Congressional Republicans are cutting off the pay of almost a million U.S. workers, but continue to pay the least productive, most wasteful, least efficient and highly paid federal employees — themselves,” Herron said. “Because Congressional Republicans refuse to do their work, federal workers cannot do our work.”

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted U.S. Rep. Blackburn and another Republican Congressman, asking if they would forgo their $174,000 salary while other federal employees are being denied pay because of the government shutdown. Blackburn refused to answer and still has not answered.

Blackburn’s comment comes on the heels of her Tennessee Republican colleague U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s controversial quoting of the Bible when arguing against food stamps.

Herron said, “Why should the politicians pay themselves for refusing to take care of business while denying others’ paychecks for taking care of the people’s business? Congresswoman Blackburn has so far refused to say whether she will stop her pay, but Congressman Fincher has quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and told her what she and he should do: ‘Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.'”

BACKGROUND:

CNN Host Asks GOP Representatives Whether They’d Give Up Their Salary During A Shutdown, Hilarity Ensues

ThinkProgress // Annie-Rose Strasser and Adam Peck // September 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted two Republican representatives – Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) – to see whether they themselves would be willing to forgo a paycheck in the event of a government shutdown, something nearly every other federal employee would be forced to do.

“So you are both paid $174,000 a year, and that is the salary,” she said, “Would you be prepared to add some rider or amendment on to a continuing resolution that would take you out of the essential services category and stop payment on your paychecks in order to get a continuing resolution through, and yes or no?”

There was a long pause before the two tried to pivot to a different topic. Eventually, Rohrabacher stepped in to say that members of Congress were treated the same as other federal employees:

BLACKBURN: We are waiting to see what they send back, and I hope that as you were running the countdown clock that you are I have two grandsons, and their share of the national debt is now over $53,000 each.

BANFIELD: No no no. I’m sorry. I asked a specific question, and there are a lot of the government workers going to stop receiving their paychecks, and a there are a lot of the military service members who are serving overseas who might be stopped being paid and veterans whose benefits will be affected. Would you –

ROHRABACHER: Let me answer that. Members of Congress should not be treated any differently than any other federal employee.

BANFIELD: Is that a yes?

ROHRABACHER: Whatever happens to us when it comes to what we get in benefits and whether it is retirement or health care and whatever happens to the average federal employee should happen to us, and that rule should not be changed.
If the government shuts down on Tuesday, all government employees who are considered “non-essential personnel” will be told to stop coming to work and, for the period they’re not working, they won’t be getting paid. Those federal employees also wouldn’t get back payment when the government resumed its work, unless Congress explicitly approved a bill saying they would. Members of Congress are considered “essential.”

4th District Race Now ‘Head to Head Matchup’ Between Tracy, Desjarlais

Press release from Jim Tracy for U.S. Congress; August 20, 2013:

Murfreesboro, TN– Joe Carr dropped out of the 4th Congressional District Race today at a press conference held in Murfreesboro leaving the race to a head to head matchup between State Senator Jim Tracy and Scott Desjarlais.

“I’m focused on running a grassroots, people-first campaign,” said Jim Tracy. The people of the Fourth District are hard-working, honest conservative folks and they deserve a strong and effective voice in Congress, which right now they do not have.”

Jim Tracy has dominated the fundraising arena since announcing to run in January and ended the second quarter with over $656,000 cash on hand compared to Desjarlais’ $88,000.

“My decision to run and my campaign have never been about the other candidates in the Fourth Congressional District, it has always been about the people and who they think can best represent them. I’m ready for the challenge and I look forward to the opportunity to serve them in Washington.”

To learn more about Jim Tracy visit www.tracyfortn.com or email tracyfortn@gmail.com

Haslam Defends Common Core

With pressure from some Tennessee conservatives mounting against Common Core school standards, Gov. Bill Haslam says he is standing strong in his decision to implement them in the state.

During a press conference Tuesday, Haslam told reporters that he believes joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the federal classroom benchmarks will help Tennessee stay economically competitive.

“I feel strongly in this sense: Common Core is about raising the standards and defining the standards so that everybody knows what a third grader should be able to do in math or an eighth grader,” said the Republican governor.

“The most common thing I hear — I’ve talked to five different businesses, literally, in the last week and every one of the them is saying the same thing: ‘We love being here but the prepared workforce that we need is lacking,” Haslam continued. “And that doesn’t just start when you get out of school, it obviously starts earlier and I think part of that is we make certain our third graders are learning the math they need to so that ten years from now these companies aren’t saying ‘we don’t have the workforce that we need.’”

But the new standards, which include various grade-level expectations in math and English, have drawn fierce opposition from some parents and conservative activists in the state. And some high-visibility Republican politicians are increasingly turning their backs on the proposed changes.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais from Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District voiced full-throated disapproval of Common Core implementation. A press release from DesJarlais’s office called the standards “watered down” and “bad policy, implemented unfairly, that achieves mediocrity at the expense of states’ sovereignty and local control.”

There have also been murmurings of disapproval amongst conservative legislators on the state level, too.

Reached by phone Tuesday, state House GOP Caucus Chair Glen Casada told TNReport that many of his members have expressed concern and have “a lot of questions.”

The Franklin lawmaker said it’s too early to comment on specific measures the General Assembly might take next year, but indicated he’s looking for the Haslam administration to provide empirical data that Common Core standards will be beneficial for students and not “just another fad that’s come down the pike.”

Concerns and questions aside, the governor appears to be moving forward with the implementations process. According to a Department of Education press release from June 18, the administration is launching a large-scale, voluntary teacher training program on the new standards and over 32,000 state teachers have signed up.

The release quotes Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, a Haslam appointee, saying, “The scale of this training marks an unprecedented commitment to equip students with the critical thinking skills necessary to compete. We are dedicated to giving our teachers the support they need to drive toward excellence during this transition.”