Wednesday, September 12

Gov. Haslam considering clemency plea for October 11th execution (WKRN-TV) Another execution in Tennessee has been scheduled a month from today, and it will once again leave Governor Bill Haslam with a life and death decision. “That is probably the thing I was hoping most that would not happen when I was in office,” said the governor in the days after Billy Ray Irick was executed at Nashville’s Riverbend Prison August 9. The convicted child murderer and rapist was executed after the governor denied a clemency request for mercy. Haslam has said it’s not his job to re-hear cases or inject his personal views. “It is my job to look and say, ‘How did the process happen?'” he said last month while detailing what he does do. “Did all of the arguments get heard somewhere along the way and did someone in the judicial process–either a jury or judge–make the decision that was made with all the info and in this one we felt the answer to those questions was yes.” https://www.wkrn.com/top-news/tennessee/gov-haslam-considering-clemency-plea-for-october-11th-execution/1434739458

Lawmakers remember Sept. 11 (Times Free Press) September 11, 2001 was a day that marked all of us forever. Today we lowered flags over the State Capitol and all state buildings to honor those who were lost. Join me in thanking the men and women who voluntarily run toward danger, protecting our communities, state and nation.— Gov. Bill Haslam. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/sep/11/lawmakers-remember-sept-11/478810/

Summer camps lift reading skills for third straight year in Tennessee (Chalkbeat Tennessee) Tennessee’s campaign to help its children read better is seeing encouraging results from investments in school-based summer camps for youngsters at risk of regressing during school breaks. First-, second-, and third-graders who participated in the state’s Read to be Ready summer program showed gains in reading comprehension and accuracy skills for a third straight year, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Education Department. And the last two summers generated statistically significant improvements in those skills, based on assessments given in the early and last days of the camps. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/tn/2018/09/11/summer-camps-yield-reading-gains-for-third-straight-year-in-tennessee/

TNInvestco report shows funding increases, few job gains in 2017 (Tennessean) Nine years after launching, the state-funded venture capital program, TNInvestco, has helped create nearly 1,850 jobs as of 2017, a number showing little change from the previous year. Investments groups selected by the state in 2009 and 2010 have allocated about $131 million to 187 companies, according to the program’s annual report. The program, funded through tax credits for insurers, cost the state $200 million, and Tennessee has spent about $108,000 per job created. While the ultimate goal of the program was job creation, lawmakers who approved the program under former Gov. Phil Bredesen also sought to generate profits for the state that would go towards investments in rural areas. https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/09/11/tennessee-funded-venture-capital-program-tninvestco-few-job-gains-2017/1223801002/

Garber: MLS, Nashville ownership discussed ‘plan B’ if stadium was rejected (Tennessean) As Nashville’s Metro Council debated late into the night last Tuesday whether to approve a Major League Soccer stadium at the city’s fairgrounds, Don Garber kept tabs while traveling … During his swing through Nashville, Garber said he had dinner with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam at the governor’s mansion on Monday night and met with Nashville Mayor David Briley for the first time Tuesday. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/09/11/nashville-mls-stadium-don-garber-fairgrounds/1271481002/

What are ACEs? State summit examines connection between childhood trauma and mental health (Tennessean) One minute of complete silence. Fred Rogers, the beloved television personality of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” gave such a moment of contemplation to the graduating class of Dartmouth University during a commencement speech 16 years ago … In Tennessee, the governor’s office has led an initiative called Building Strong Brains Tennessee. Launched in 2015, it focuses on programs to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences. The Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $1.25 million to address ACEs in the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years. The money funded 35 grants statewide for various training and prevention programs. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/09/11/aces-adverse-childhood-experiences-tennesee-examines-childhood-trauma-solutions-and-mental-health/1256221002/

University of Tennessee researchers to study threat to salamanders (WBIR-TV) Scientists at the University of Tennessee hope to save North American salamanders from a contagious and fatal threat. Two researchers within the UT Department of Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries are getting a $2.5 million grant to study a fungal pathogen that devours the skin of salamanders. Thought to originate from Asia, Bsal is spreading throughout Europe, and scientists are now concerned of the fungus spreading to North America through international trade, according to a release. Matt Gray and Debra Miller along with their research partners, will study the epidemiology of Bsal in an effort to find ways to combat the fungus. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/university-of-tennessee-researchers-to-study-threat-to-salamanders/51-593126344

ETSU president wants campus at forefront of trauma-informed care movement (Johnson City Press) ETSU President Brian Noland attended the first regional meeting in Johnson City of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Professionals from a wide range of fields — education, health care, social services, to name a few — traveled from 15 states and Washington, D.C., for the one-day forum at Carnegie Hotel. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Education/2018/09/11/ETSU-president-wants-campus-at-forefront-of-trauma-informed-care-movement.html?ci=stream&lp=8&p=

Celebrate National Public Lands Day at a Tennessee State Park (Nooga.com) In honor of National Public Lands Day, Tennessee State Parks, Friends Groups and Tennessee State Natural Areas are hosting a variety of volunteer stewardship projects, and free hikes and interpretive programs on Saturday, Sept. 22. “We invite Tennesseans of all ages to join us in showing respect and appreciation for the beautiful public lands we call home,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Conservation Brock Hill said. “We’re grateful to Gov. Haslam for declaring Sept. 22 Tennessee Public Lands Day in recognition of the valuable role our public lands play for Tennessee’s environment and economy as well as the strong volunteer spirit that’s alive and well across our state.” https://nooga.com/219775/celebrate-national-public-lands-day-at-a-tennessee-state-park/

Leaders discuss health initiatives for West Tennessee (WBBJ-TV) According to HealthierTN, Tennessee is one of the 10 least healthy states in the nation. “Tennessee has some of the highest rates of behavior-related chronic diseases of any state in the nation, and those include type 2 diabetes, hypertension, COPD and asthma, and cardiovascular disease,” said Rick Johnson, president and CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness. According to the Sycamore Institute, Tennessee’s high rates of those diseases cost about $280 million in lost productivity per year. “Then, we’re absent from work more, we’re less productive when we’re at work,” Johnson said. Tuesday, leaders in West Tennessee met to discuss how to solve this problem. “We’ve had great input from Jackson and Madison County and the surrounding counties today,” he said. https://www.wbbjtv.com/2018/09/11/leaders-discuss-health-initiatives-for-west-tennessee/

Smith attorney warns against appeal (Times Free Press) The attorney for House District 26 Republican candidate Robin Smith says he has urged the Tennessee Democratic Party not to appeal an unfavorable ruling it its lawsuit related to that race. An order is expected soon from Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton dismissing the state party’s lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission and state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins. The Democrats sued to try to keep Smith’s name off the ballot, saying the election commission wrongly allowed her to qualify after incumbent Gerald McCormick abruptly dropped out of the race in June. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2018/sep/11/political-notebook/478884/

Bill Lee, Tim Burchett stump in West Knoxville, talk about prepping for inevitable recession (News Sentinel) The state of Tennessee is financially sound, and things, on the whole, are pretty rosy at the moment, but Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee said Tuesday morning he is the man for the job to help steer the state through troubled times if they come. Lee spoke about an inevitable recession as he and former Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett gave their stump speeches and spoke to a crowded room on leadership inside West Knoxville’s Chesapeake’s Seafood House. Event moderator state Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, asked the question about a possible recession, saying Gov. Bill Haslam has not experienced a recession, but most governors do. The “bubble could burst” in Lee’s tenure, he said. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/09/11/bill-lee-tim-burchett-stump-west-knoxville-tennessee-governor/1260098002/

Munsey to host community Medicaid expansion forum (Johnson City Press) As the gubernatorial race continues between Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean, the issue of Medicaid expansion in Tennessee remains a central point of debate between the two parties. Though more than 60 percent of Tennesseans support the expansion of Medicaid, the 2015 Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee reported that Tennessee has lost and continues to lose about $3.8 million dollars in federal health care funding each day. This is money advocates of Medicaid expansion say could offset a significant amount of costs of uncompensated care hospitals provide to uninsured patients. To further discuss the issue, the Society Committee of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church and the Tennessee Health Care Campaign will host a community forum titled “Signs of Progress: The Growing Case for Medicaid Expansion,” at Munsey on Monday, Sept. 17, from 6:30-8 p.m. https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2018/09/11/Munsey-to-host-community-Medicaid-expansion-forum.html?ci=stream&lp=11&p=

Phil Bredesen lays out proposal for balanced budget (WDEF-TV) US Senate candidate, Phil Bredesen, is laying out his proposal for balancing the federal budget. Bredesen was in Chattanooga on Tuesday, speaking to a group at the Chamber of Commerce. He says to pay off our debt within the next six years we have to hold our spending constant at $3.3 trillion going forward. Bredesen explained when he was sworn in as governor, the state had a $300 million shortfall. He says 9 percent was cut across the board and set the overall spending level to balance the budget. “I am just trying to put something on the table here to say look, if you want to cut this deficit down here is an approach to doing it. It is not different from what families and businesses have to do. I certainly already have the experience of doing something very much like that in a state successfully,” Bredesen said. https://wdef.com/2018/09/11/phil-bredesen-lays-proposal-balanced-budget/

In Chattanooga Tuesday, Tenn. Senate candidate Bredesen proposes balancing budget (WTVC-TV) Tennessee U.S. Senate Phil Bredesen (D) was in Chattanooga on Tuesday to propose balancing the budget within the next 6 years. Bredesen told the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, “Right now our debt stands at around $21 trillion, and it is growing at almost a trillion a year. The real danger is not the current level, but that this deficit is now structural. In the past, the deficit went up during depression and wars, but then we we get back to being balanced. Right now there is no path forward.” Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor, is running against Republican Marsha Blackburn for the seat being vacated by outgoing Senator Bob Corker. https://newschannel9.com/news/election/in-chattanooga-tuesday-tenn-senate-candidate-bredesen-proposes-balancing-budget

Bredesen Says Senate Race is Different Than Previous Statewide Runs (Memphis Daily News) Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Phil Bredesen says his fourth statewide campaign is different. It’s different even from the two campaigns for Nashville mayor before his three campaigns for governor. “When I first started when I ran for mayor of Nashville, it was kind of all about television,” Bredesen told a group of several dozen in Germantown on Saturday, Sept. 8. “And then as time went on, social media became more important. … I think we are really coming back to the day like it was a while ago, when it is really personal contact where people really get their reliable information.” On a nearby white board, the tally of doors knocked on in Shelby County for Bredesen’s Senate campaign was at 69,000. https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/sep/12/bredesen-says-senate-race-is-different-than-previous-statewide-runs/

Bredesen, Blackburn outline plans to address national debt (Tennessean) The Republican and Democratic nominees for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday outlined proposals to address the $21.4 trillion national debt.  Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen introduced his plan at an event in Chattanooga while U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, announced hers in a news statement. To address the nation’s deficit, Bredesen is calling for Congress to hold the federal government’s expenditures, with the exception of Social Security, at its current $3.3 trillion level for the next six years. Bredesen says if federal revenue, which for fiscal year 2018 is $2.4 trillion, remained consistent over the same time period, it would allow the federal government to eliminate the deficit in six years. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/09/11/tennessee-senate-race-phil-bredesen-marsha-blackburn-address-debt-federal-deficit/1255301002/

Blackburn, Bredesen tout plans to curb debt (AP) Two rivals in Tennessee’s open U.S. Senate race are touting plans to curb the $21 trillion-plus national debt, with Democrat Phil Bredesen saying his idea could balance the budget within six years. The former governor and his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, released their plans Tuesday. Bredesen’s campaign proposes holding spending constant at the 2018 budget year estimated level of about $3.3 trillion, not including Social Security, for which his plan makes an exception. His plan assumes a 5.15 percent annual revenue growth. He says Congress and departments would collaborate to decide how to meet the spending target. Blackburn’s plan calls for a federal balanced budget amendment and across-the-board cuts, with an exception for military spending. Her campaign says making recent tax cuts permanent will help grow the economy. https://wreg.com/2018/09/12/blackburn-bredesen-tout-plans-to-curb-debt/

Bredesen, Blackburn make balanced budget pitches (TN Journal) Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn on Tuesday unveiled rival plans for balancing the federal budget. Bredesen told the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce that he wants to freeze all spending except Social Security to balance the budget within six years. Blackburn said she supports a balance budget amendment and across-the-board spending cuts for all but military expenditures. “Everyone gives lip service to fixing the deficit, but there has been no action.  Democrats — my own party — have never been great on the subject, but since the Reagan era, Republicans have completely fallen off the wagon as well,” Bredesen said. “We ought to give it some serious thought.” http://onthehill.tnjournal.net/bredesen-blackburn-make-balanced-budget-pitches/

Bredesen calls for federal spending freeze until budget balanced; Blackburn wants entitlement reforms, balanced budget amendment (Times Free Press) As chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is regularly briefed on threats to the United States from around the globe. But the retiring, two-term Republican insists the greatest danger facing America isn’t from ISIS, North Korea or Russia, but from the growing federal debt Corker calls a “dangerous crisis staring us in the face.” The candidates vying to replace Corker in the U.S. Senate both agreed Tuesday with the need to reduce federal budget deficits to avoid a future fiscal crisis. But Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former governor, and Republican Marsha Blackburn, an eight-term member of Congress, differed over whether Social Security should be reformed to reduce its cost and whether a constitutional amendment is needed to mandate Congress to balance the budget. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/sep/11/bredesen-calls-federal-spending-freeze/478813/

Candidates for TN’s U.S. Senate seat outline plans to fix national debt (WRCB-TV) The candidates vying for Tennessee’s open senate seat say they have a plan to address the national debt, which has grown to more than $21 trillion and continues to grow at almost a trillion a year.  Addressing the national deficit in America is something former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen said he knows how to do. “I just think having control of your financial situation is a precursor to being able to do all the things that government ought to be able to do for the people of Tennessee,” Bredesen said. To an audience at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Bredesen said his plan includes calling on the president and congress to hold spending at about $3-trillion for the next six years, with the exception of social security. http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/39068693/candidates-for-tennessees-us-senate-seat-outline-plans-to-fix-national-debt

Bredesen, Blackburn discuss proposed federal deficit solutions (Nooga Today) Candidates for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat Gov. Phil Bredesen and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn both shared ideas for shrinking the federal spending deficit. The current $828-billion deficit contributes to the continuously rising national debt estimated at $21.4 trillion. Both candidates acknowledged that the increasing deficit comes from a lack of action on both sides of the aisle and they have different ideas about how to correct the problem. Bredesen’s plan: At a Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday morning, Bredesen laid out his plan and took questions from reporters. His idea is to stall spending increases for the next few years to allow revenue to catch up with the country’s spending habits. https://nooga.com/219765/bredesen-blackburn-discuss-proposed-federal-deficit-solutions/

Government borrowing soars despite robust economy (Washington Post) The U.S. budget deficit is reaching levels that are abnormally high for a robust economy, and lawmakers from both parties are proposing ideas that would make the deficit swell even further. The government spent $895 billion more than it brought in from taxes and other revenue sources during the past 11 months, the Congressional Budget Office said this week, a 33 percent increase from one year before … Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who is running for the Senate, wrote in a Twitter post Tuesday that huge deficits had become a “structural” component of the government’s budget. “In the past, when it’s gone up we got back to being balanced,” he wrote. “Right now there’s no path forward.” https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/09/government_borrowing_soars_despite_robust_economy.html

Pence will fundraise for Blackburn again; Also: Bredesen, Blackburn release competing budget plans (Nashville Post) Vice President Mike Pence will again travel to Tennessee in support of Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign … Within hours of each other Tuesday, Blackburn and her Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, released competing plans to balance the federal budget. Bredesen’s plan would involve freezing federal spending at its current level for six years, until revenues could catch up with expenditures. His freeze would not apply to Social Security spending. “We will be a stronger, more powerful, safer country if we get back to operating within our means,” Bredesen said at an event announcing the plan, according to a campaign release.  https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/elections/article/21021820/pence-will-fundraise-for-blackburn-again

Opportunities Open for Democrats to Flip Senate Seats (WSJ) Republicans are still the favorites to keep control of the Senate in the midterms. But Democrats’ pathway to a majority is becoming more plausible, putting a dent in the idea of the inevitability of Republican control next year. One catalyst for the new thinking is the notion that GOP-held seats in Texas and Tennessee are in play, creating some opportunities for Democrats to flip seats that were once seen as unwinnable. A second development is a pair of Marist/NBC polls released last week showing that Senate races in Indiana and Missouri are close even though President Trump won both states by 19 percentage points. That suggests the Democrats who currently hold the two seats are less vulnerable than Republicans hope and Democrats fear. https://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2018/09/11/capital-journal-what-weve-learned-since-9-11-u-s-in-talks-about-syria-strikes-epas-methane-rules/?guid=BL-WB-69735&mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3&dsk=y

Surprisingly, the Senate Is Now in Play (Roll Call) Despite heavy odds stacked against them, Democrats are in the hunt. I have argued repeatedly that while the House is up for grabs — and indeed likely to flip to the Democrats in November — the Senate is not in play. I now believe that it is, so I must revise and extend my remarks … Months ago, I acknowledged a long-shot Democratic opportunity in Tennessee, largely because of the reputation of their high-quality nominee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen. But I didn’t take Bredesen’s chances against the Republican nominee, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, seriously given the state’s partisan bent and Trump’s strong showing there two years ago. I’m still skeptical about Bredesen’s prospects, but recent polls show that the race is for real. I can no longer simply dismiss his chances. https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/surprisingly-senate-now-play

Senate rankings: 10 seats most likely to flip (The Hill) The race for the Senate has become an all-out brawl as Republicans fiercely defend their slim 51-49 majority against a Democratic Party sensing momentum is on its side … Tennessee makes its debut on the list, with polls continuing to show a close race between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Bob Corker. After being out of office since 2011, Bredesen is looking to convince voters that he won’t be a rubber stamp on the Democratic Party’s agenda as he campaigns in a state that went for Trump by 26 points. And he hasn’t said whether he’ll support Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for leader. http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/406121-senate-rankings-10-seats-most-likely-to-flip

5 Ways the fight for the Senate majority could turn out (CNN) While the battle for the House majority looks to be moving Democrats’ way, the fight for the Senate remains less predictable — largely due to the clash between a national political environment that favors Democrats and a national map that is clearly tilted toward Republicans … In Tennessee, Democrats recruited the only candidate that could possibly win the seat in former Gov. Phil Bredesen. In Texas, Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s massive fundraising and the grassroots energy stirred by enthusiasm for his candidacy/hatred for Sen. Ted Cruz within the Democratic base has put the state in play. The underlying partisanship of both states, however, means that Democrats would have to be having a VERY good night to sweep both. http://www.weny.com/story/39072754/5-ways-the-fight-for-the-senate-majority-could-turn-out

Mitch McConnell-aligned super PAC attacks Phil Bredesen (Times Free Press) A GOP super PAC aligned with Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is attacking Democratic Senate candidate and former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen over tax or fee increases while he was in office. The Senate Leadership Fund said Tuesday it is spending $1.1 million through Monday on TV, radio and digital ads for the 30-second spot, titled “Out of Touch.” It also hits Bredesen on property tax increases that occurred while he was Nashville mayor. The ad’s female narrator says that “for over 30 years, multi-millionaire politician Phil Bredesen has supported higher taxes. As Nashville mayor, Bredesen pushed massive property tax hikes. As governor, Bredesen raised tax and fees nearly a billion dollars.” https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/sep/11/mitch-mcconnell-aligned-super-pac-attacks-phil-bredesen/478838/

Ad from Mitch McConnell-aligned PAC targets Phil Bredesen and his time in office (Tennessean) Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is facing scrutiny and responding to a new ad paid for by a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that focuses on the Democrat’s time in office. On Tuesday, the Senate Leadership Fund said it spent $1.1 million Tennessee to run a new ad, dubbed “Out of Touch.” “For over 30 years, multimillionaire politician Phil Bredesen has supported higher taxes,” a narrator says in the ad. Without citing any examples or news stories, the ad says when Bredesen was Nashville mayor, he supported “massive property tax hikes.” https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/tn-elections/2018/09/11/tennessee-elections-phil-bredesen-target-mitch-mcconnell-aligned-pac-ad/1265407002/

GOP spends big on ads to defend Senate majority (The Hill) The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) on Tuesday announced its first major ad buy of the 2018 cycle — a $6.4 million blitz backing Republican candidates, signaling growing GOP concerns about protecting their Senate majority in November. New polls show Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) leading their GOP opponents in Indiana and Tennessee, two strongly pro-Trump states, and Cruz in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The recent surveys are disappointing to Republicans who had hoped that Tennessee would be an easy victory. Shortly before Labor Day, a senior Senate Republican aide dismissed Bredesen’s prospects as “hype” and predicted the party could pick up as many as four Senate seats in the midterm elections. http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/406185-gop-spends-big-on-ads-to-defend-senate-majority

Playbook (Politico) Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP super PAC, reported the following buy yesterday: $1.8 million in ads against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), nearly $1.4 million to boost Mike Braun in Indiana, $1.1 million against Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, $1 million against Rep. Jacky Rosen in Nevada and $668,078 against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2018/09/12/top-house-democrat-pitches-quick-passage-of-ethics-package-303701

McConnell says GOP in ‘knife fight’ to hold Senate majority (AP) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is referencing hurricanes to describe the “challenging election” that Senate Republicans are facing. The Kentucky Republican says the “wind’s going to be in our face, we don’t know if it’s going to be Category 3, 4 or 5.” He named nine states, including Tennessee and Indiana, as places where Senate races are “dead even.” “Every one of them like a knife fight in an alley, just a brawl in every one of those places,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday in Louisville. He says he hopes “when the smoke clears we’ll still have a majority in the Senate.” Republicans have a slim 51-49 Senate majority, but they have one big advantage in the election. They are defending only nine incumbent seats, while Democrats are defending 26. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/sep/11/mcconnell-says-gop-knife-fight-hold-senate-majority/478880/

McConnell-aligned PAC unleashes $6.4 million ad blitz to protect Senate majority (USA Today) A super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unleashing a $6.4 million advertising onslaught on Tuesday as the fall midterm campaign begins in earnest. The spending blitz by the Senate Leadership Fund includes $1.1 million in advertising in Tennessee, a deep-red state President Donald Trump won by 26 percentage points in 2016. But the Democratic Senate contender, former governor Phil Bredesen, has posted strong poll numbers in his race against GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn for the Republican open seat, forcing GOP operatives to start spending heavily. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/09/11/mcconnell-tied-group-spend-60-million-unleashes-new-ad-blitz/1261988002/

Senate Leadership Fund launches $6 million ad buy across six battleground states (NBC News) The Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is pouring another $6.45 million into battleground states as the group hopes to keep the pressure up on Democrats in marquee races. The group announced Monday more than $1 million spending in each of the following states: Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada. West Virginia will see another $800,000 while the group spends another $350,000 in North Dakota. The ad buys include spots on television, radio and digital platforms across all of the states. https://www.nbcnews.com/card/senate-leadership-fund-launches-6-million-ads-n908476

Lee Beaman leaves Belmont University, MBA boards until contentious divorce is ‘resolved’ (Tennessean) Nashville businessman and Republican donor Lee Beaman has stepped back from leadership roles at a local university, a prestigious private school and a conservative think tank as his contentious divorce continues to unfold. Belmont University said on Tuesday Beaman requested a temporary leave of absence from its board of trustees “until his family dispute is resolved.” Montgomery Bell Academy, an all-boys private school, issued a similar statement, saying Beaman also had also requested a temporary leave from its board of trustees. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2018/09/11/nashville-lee-beaman-leaves-belmont-university-board-until-divorce-resolved/1261165002/

Blackburn touts plans to support Trump if elected to Senate (Jackson Sun) Marsha Blackburn was in Jackson on Saturday to help open the new Madison County Republican Party Headquarters at 27 Conrad Drive but also to lay out the reasons why she needs to be the winner of the U.S. Senate race she’s running against former Governor Phil Bredesen. Speaking to about 60 supporters and fellow Republicans including U.S. Representative David Kustoff and State Senator Ed Jackson, Blackburn’s intentions if elected are to maintain the current national trends under President Donald Trump and his agenda. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/2018/09/12/blackburn-touts-plans-support-trump-if-elected-senate/1258144002/

EPA puts Southside Chattanooga lead site on National Priorities List (WDEF-TV) The Environmental Protection Agency puts the Southside Chattanooga lead site on the Superfund National Priorities List. The EPA proposed to put the site on the list at the beginning of this year as they continue to remove lead from the Southside. They held a public meeting not long after they announced the proposal. Lead was found where foundry waste was once used as fill or top soil. Those areas include properties in Alton Park, Cowart Place, Jefferson Heights, Richmond, and Southside Gardens. Being on the list helps with funding clean up in hazardous sites. https://wdef.com/2018/09/11/epa-puts-southside-chattanooga-lead-site-national-priorities-list/

AtlasBX battery plant has neighbors worried about pollution (Leaf-Chronicle) The honeymoon for Clarksville’s $76 million AtlasBX automotive battery plant may be over before the plant is even built unless local residents can be satisfied that it won’t pollute their air or water. The South Korean company, a sister plant to Hankook Tire, is expected to break ground for construction soon along International Boulevard at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Corporate Business Park. Within the past couple of weeks, a letter-writing and social media campaign has escalated, reflecting community fears that AtlasBX is going to be a local environmental threat. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/clarksville/2018/09/11/atlasbx-battery-plant-pollution/1215219002/

Franklin residents push for markers telling ‘fuller story’ near Confederate monument (Tennessean) Lifelong Franklin resident Angela Gentry said she remembered a time when people of color didn’t visit Main Street or the public square. “There was never anything verbally said. It was just an unspoken rule,” Gentry said. “Black people didn’t come here. It wasn’t our thing. We just didn’t do it. I can’t even tell you the reasoning behind it, just aside from the history. There were times there were reasons to stay out of downtown Franklin. So that behavior has been learned.” Gentry thought there would be unwavering support for four new markers proposed for Franklin’s downtown square. Faith leaders and historians approached the city of Franklin about the project at the end of August. The project — called A Fuller Story — would aim to discuss African American history in Williamson County. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2018/09/11/franklin-tn-confederate-monument-markers/1273211002/

Vols game, Hurricane Florence creating perfect storm for Knoxville hotels (News Sentinel) While the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence to make landfall later this week, Knoxville’s hospitality industry is preparing for waves of both evacuees and Vol fans. More than 1 million people are expected to evacuate ahead of the storm, and Knoxville is likely just out of the storm’s reach. Florence could strengthen into a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest kind of storm, before it makes landfall Thursday night or Friday morning. It is also expected to stall at the Carolinas’ shores rather than push inland. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/09/11/hurricane-florence-evacuations-preparation-knoxville-hotels-prepare/1265518002/

Bristol Motor Speedway opens campground for Hurricane Florence evacuees (WBIR-TV) Bristol Motor Speedway is joining several other NASCAR tracks to once again open its campground to help those trying to get out of the path of Hurricane Florence. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those in the path of Hurricane Florence,” said the official statement from Bristol Motor Speedway. The speedway opened the campground up in 2017 for evacuees fleeing from Hurricane Irma. Both Atlanta and Charlotte Motor Speedway have opened their campgrounds, as well. The hurricane is being called ‘extremely dangerous’ by the National Hurricane Center and is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Friday. Authorities said it has the potential to cause massive damage along the coast with destructive winds, life-threatening flooding and massive storm surge levels. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/crime/bristol-motor-speedway-opens-campground-for-hurricane-florence-evacuees/51-593144476

LIST: Tri-Cities offers hotels, shelters to Florence evacuees (WJHL-TV) News Channel 11 is compiling a list of shelters in our region for those who are evacuating from the lower lying coastal regions in the nearby states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.   The list will continue to grow. We’ll post the latest shelter openings as soon as they become available. https://www.wjhl.com/local/list-tri-cities-offers-shelters-to-florence-evacuees/1434342340

OPINION

Victor Ashe: There’s one Tenn. Democrat who won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi (News Sentinel) Republicans often claim that Democratic candidates for Congress will be controlled by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many people believe the argument. However, few people realize that one of the two Democrats representing Tennessee in Washington has consistently voted against Pelosi for speaker on the House floor for the past 10 years. That is Jim Cooper, son of the late Gov. Prentice Cooper, who represents Nashville and surrounding areas. Cooper each term has voted for Colin Powell, former secretary of state, who is a moderate Republican. (One does not have to be a member of the House to be nominated for speaker.) Cooper has been able to resist whatever pressure Pelosi might try to impose. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/shopper-news/2018/09/12/victor-ashe-one-tennessee-democrat-who-wont-vote-nancy-pelosi/1221797002/

Clint Cooper: Bredesen’s new idea (Times Free Press) Former Democratic Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is hoping to pick up Republican votes in his bid for the United States Senate with a series of proposals he calls “fresh ideas.” For him to win in a state that has become far more Republican than when he won his last statewide race in 2006, he has to pick up GOP votes. So the “fresh ideas,” whether or not they could ever see the light of day in Washington, D.C., must at least sound conservative. The latest, unveiled Tuesday during a speech to the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, is for the country to once again achieve a balanced budget. The idea, he said “is simple”: Hold federal budget spending (excepting Social Security) at the current level for the next nearly six years, grow federal tax revenue at 5.15 percent per year, and, voilá, the budget will be balanced in 5.7 years. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/freepress/story/2018/sep/12/cooper-bredesens-new-idea/478881/

Pam Sohn: Tennessee’s U.S. senate race is crackling hot (Times Free Press) Eight weeks out from the upcoming mid-term election, polls show Democrat and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen leading Republican and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn by two percentage points to take Bob Corker’s seat in the United States Senate. Just in case you’ve been living in a cave with no television, radio, internet or newspaper service, that’s a startling lead in a state that went for Donald Trump by 26 percentage points nearly two years ago. Tennessee has long been a conservative state, but not so much so that its citizens and voters don’t recognize the need for strong independent thinking, moderate bipartisanship and good old-fashioned, common-sense leadership. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/story/2018/sep/12/sohn-tennessees-us-senate-race-crackling-hot/478890/

Tim Roberto: Don’t believe D.C. double-speak; Blackburn voted against funding ORNL (News Sentinel) It’s hard not to be cynical about Washington politics when we see how our elected officials in the federal government act every day. Take, for example, the trip that Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn took to Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Aug. 27. In a blatant campaign event in her run for the United States Senate, Blackburn stood there with a straight face and talked about how great it is that ORNL received an increase in funding for fiscal year 2019 and promised that she would continue to fight to keep the research center fully funded. To be blunt, that is D.C. double-speak at its worst because Blackburn actually voted against ORNL funding when she voted against the Omnibus Spending Bill, which contained the funding for all federal programs, in March. She even shot out a press release touting her vote and she proudly tweeted that she voted against funding. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/09/11/ignore-double-speak-blackburn-voted-against-funding-ornl-opinion/1133591002/

 

 

 

 

 

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