Thursday, September 13

TNReady listening tour makes stop in Middle Tennessee (Columbia Daily Herald) Educators from Middle Tennessee met with Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to discuss the difficulties of TNReady testing last week. The gathering was held at Freedom Middle School in Franklin and included educators from Nashville, the Franklin Special School District and Dickson, Maury, Hickman, Marshall, Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson counties. The participants were nominated by their superintendents. A group of visitors were also in attendance which included House Speaker Beth Harwell, Republican Sens. Ferrell Haile of Gallatin, Jack Johnson of Franklin and Mark Pody of Lebanon, and Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna. The visitors were not permitted to engage in the discussion.

Read to be Ready grants bolster local summer programs, educators say (Johnson City Press) This summer marked the third year of the Read to be Ready Grant Program, a state initiative that provides funding to educators to lead tuition-free, literacy-focused summer camps for students across Tennessee. Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen released the results of this year’s implementation of the program Tuesday morning, highlighting how the program has helped improve students’ reading comprehension in districts across the state. Washington County Schools, Johnson City Schools, Elizabethton City Schools and Carter County Schools were among the local districts that have received Read to be Ready grants.

Four family members use Tennessee Reconnect at Vol State (Lebanon Democrat) Volunteer State Community College has nearly 1,000 new eligible applicants thus far. But it isn’t just individuals signing-up. Couples, and even whole families, take the opportunity to earn a college degree. Jim and Kim Bare, of Hickman, plan to attend Vol State in the fall with their daughter, Jessica Austin, and son-in-law, Michael Austin. Jim Bare accompanied his daughter and wife to the Vol State campus in Gallatin for a Tennessee Reconnect help session. “Once we sat down with the Vol State folks, I got bit by the bug,” Jim Bare said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to go back to school. I’ve been to college three times. I always had an excuse before to stop going. Now I have a support system.”

Does Tennessee’s Free Community College Program Shortchange Low-Income Students? (WPLN Radio) Tennessee Promise, the state’s free community college program for eligible high school seniors, could be shortchanging low-income students. Researchers say these students are often saddled with non-tuition expenses, which the program doesn’t pay for. But a top education official in Tennessee argues their findings fail to take into account efforts to help needy students connect with sources of financial aid, as well as evidence that thousands of low-income students have enrolled in college as a result of the program. The dispute centers on a new study from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, or IHEP, a research group based in Washington, D.C. Mamie Voight, the study;s author and vice president of research policy at the institute, says Tennessee Promise was designed with the best intention of expanding college accessibility.

Edmund Zagorski’s Case Illustrates ‘Tennessee’s Death Penalty Lottery’ (Nashville Scene) Tennessee plans to execute Edmund Zagorski on Oct. 11 using the same lethal injection drugs that, according to medical experts, tortured Billy Ray Irick last month. The state’s death penalty apparatus is up and running after being dormant for nearly a decade, and Zagorski’s will be the second of three executions scheduled in Tennessee this year. A 63-year-old man who’s been on death row for 34 years, Zagorski was convicted in 1984 for the murders of two Dickson County men, John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter. Authorities said the two men had planned to buy marijuana from Zagorski but that Zagorski shot them, slit their throats and robbed them. His case, like so many capital cases, includes a host of complicating factors, from his treatment after his arrest to the arguably arbitrary nature of his sentence.

TEMA Deploying Relief Teams To Carolinas (WTVF-TV) The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency begun deploying relief teams to the Carolinas Wednesday in preparation of Hurricane Florence. The teams consisted of state and local emergency management, medical, and swift-water rescue crews. “It’s a sense of pride to go down and help people that need some assistance with something that they have no control over so it’s good to go down and help people out,” Hendersonville Captain Gabe Hannah said.

Middle Tennessee takes in people escaping Hurricane Florence (WSMV-TV) Evacuees of Hurricane Florence are being told to go west and north. That means many are traveling more than 500 miles to Middle Tennessee. One of the many who just got here is Daniel Cardenes. “Law school is a ton of reading,” he said, sitting in a Nashville house with his books from Duke University piled next to him. “I’m definitely going to be busy while I’m here. I’ve got a lot of work to do.” It was just last year Daniel was an undergrad at Florida State and escaped to Nashville to avoid Hurricane Irma. Both times he had a place to stay with his sister, News4’s Rebecca Cardenes. “This is a real life saver for me,” said Cardenes. “Living in Durham now, I know that place isn’t going to be prepared for a storm like that. I’m just afraid we’re going to have a long term power outage. That means traffic lights aren’t going to work, no hot showers, no microwaving your food.”

Hurricane Florence threatens East Tennessee with flooding, power outages (News Sentinel) It’s not so much a question of if Hurricane Florence will affect East Tennessee as it is a question of when. As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the hurricane tracking models had East Tennessee squarely in the path of the storm’s remnants, but “timing is highly uncertain at this point,” said Danny Gant, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown. “The models are divergent on when it moves inland,” he said. The powerful storm was packing maximum winds of 125 mph as of Wednesday afternoon. Earlier in the week it appeared to be headed for landfall in North or South Carolina by Friday and was projected to move inland from there.

East Tennesseans open homes to Hurricane Florence evacuees (WATE-TV) Hurricane Florence has been called “the storm of a lifetime for points of the Carolina coast,” according to a National Weather Service spokesperson, and areas along the path of Hurricane Florence are already evacuating. That means hotels as far away as Knox and Blount counties along I-40 are filling up. Local residents with open homes and open hearts are stepping in to offer shelter. Renee Kostermans lives in Knoxville and when she learned that evacuees needed places to stay that are safely away from the storm’s path, she started preparing her own home.  She’s part of a group spanning East Tennessee, the Tri-Cities, Virginia, and inland parts of the Carolinas posting to Facebook about plans to open their homes to evacuees to help.

Rutherford County and Murfreesboro Rescue Workers Headed to South Carolina (WGNS Radio) Several members of Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue along with Rutherford County Fire and Rescue deployed Wednesday (9/12/2018) to assist in hurricane recovery efforts in South Carolina. They gathered and packed up and rolled out from the old Murfreesboro Police headquarters on South Church around 10am. A total of eight Tennessee teams will be at Camp McCrady Training Center near Columbia, South Carolina, where they will stage until orders are received.–cms-47282

Local firefighters, linemen are headed to assist with Hurricane Florence relief (Covington Leader) Local firefighters and linemen have been deployed to the Carolinas to support Hurricane Florence relief efforts, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported Wednesday afternoon. TEMA is coordinating Tennessee’s Hurricane Florence deployments through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, with organizational support from the Tennessee Association of Fire Chiefs’ Mutual Aid System and the Tennessee Department of Health. Tennessee’s Hurricane Florence swift-water rescue team has a total of 103 members, coming from each region of the state, including the Atoka Fire Department.

UT Offers Free Football Tickets To Florence Evacuees (WTVF-TV) Hurricane Florence evacuees will be able to attend the University of Tennessee football game on Saturday for free. UT officials made the announcement Wednesday. However, the tickets are only available on a first come first serve basis. If you’re an evacuee from the Carolinas, we’d like to invite you to attend this Saturday’s game in Neyland Stadium free of charge. Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer has extended an invitation to families displaced by Hurricane Florence to attend Saturday’s game against UTEP free of charge. Kickoff for the matchup.

TVA prepares for Hurricane Florence (WATE-TV) Although we’re fairly far off the coast here in East Tennessee, the storm could still make an impact here. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s river forecast center predicting we may see increases of rain. They’re paying close attention to Hurricane Florence. “We’re trying to come up with an operating plan given uncertainty with rainfall, to release water today and come up with a plan for how much we’re going to release tomorrow with this storm moving in,” said James Everett with the TVA.

Short Term Rentals Help Hurricane Evacuees (WTVF-TV) With the impeding hurricane near the Carolinas, evacuees are finding their way to Tennessee. Short term rental management companies such as Host Extraordinaires have been receiving inquiries from residents about available properties if and once they evacuate. Evacuees have already booked two out of the company’s 60 plus properties throughout Nashville. Lani Skidmore of Host Extraordinaires said they work with property owners to assure evacuees feel right at home.

Hurricane Florence evacuees find refuge at Bristol Motor Speedway campground (Johnson City Press) With Hurricane Florence projected to wallop the Carolinas late Thursday and early Friday, millions along the East Coast are facing mandatory evacuation — and some have found refuge here in the Tri-Cities. For the second year in a row, Bristol Motor Speedway opened its campground to hurricane evacuees on Tuesday, and by 4 p.m. Wednesday, more than a dozen RVs and campers were already parked inside the Medallion Campground, just off Highway 394 beside the Bristol Dragway — also known as Thunder Valley. Angie and Tevis Lang were among those parked inside the campground Wednesday afternoon, after evacuating their home in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Local business owners are offering a free place to stay for evacuees ahead of Hurricane Florence (WJHL-TV) Tri-Cities local business owners are lending a helping hand by offering a free place to stay for evacuees ahead of Hurricane Florence. Many residents of the Carolinas and Virginia have evacuated to safer grounds while the hurricane comes through. “Usually with hurricanes coming around, I don’t really escape much,” said Keegan Robar, a North Carolina evacuee. “But this one here, I just had a certain vibe that I felt like I had to leave.” Leah and Dan Van Buren Bolton housed 26 people during Hurricane Irma last year. This year they plan on filling their home with evacuees, and if that is not enough space they will open then opening their business for more shelter.

Hurricane Florence evacuees seek refuge in the Tri-Cities (WJHL-TV) More than one million people in the path of Hurricane Florence followed evacuation orders to head to higher ground. News Channel 11’s Justin Soto learned some of those evacuees traveled hours to seek shelter in the Tri-Cities. Campers are settling in to the Medallion Campground at Bristol Motor Speedway while keeping an eye on the weather forecast to see how their home towns could shape up in Hurricane Florence. We also met a Jonesborough woman who is using social media to help people who don’t have a place to stay in the storm. Jane and Michael Ross are from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. “It’s great to be away from the Outer Banks,” Jane Ross said.

Southwest TN lineworkers to help with Hurricane Florence recovery (Jackson Sun) While thousands of people evacuate and take shelter in North Carolina in anticipation of Hurricane Florence, 10 lineworkers from Southwest Tennessee are heading toward the storm.  The workers are part of two five-man teams from the Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation. They left Jackson, Tenn., en route to Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday. It’s the closest they could get to the storm, the group’s foreman, Ben Cupples, said. Most hotels near Jacksonville, N.C. — their destination — are closed due to evacuations.

TVA increases releases out of lakes ahead of Florence (Kingsport Times-News) TVA says it will increase water releases at its upstream dams in Northeast Tennessee to get ready for anticipated massive rainfall from Hurricane Florence. “Right now up in that area, the big picture for us is it’s still pretty uncertain about where we’re going to get the heaviest rainfall,” said James Everett, TVA’s manager of its River Forecast Center in Knoxville. “The things that we are doing right now ahead of Florence is we are going to increase releases out of Watauga (Lake) and South Holston (Lake) that flows down into Boone … We’ve increased releases for the upstream dams to build us a little extra storage room to get ready for rainfall that looks like it will come in about Sunday.

Local medics deployed to assist in hospital patient evacuations as Hurricane Florence approaches East Coast (Johnson City Press) As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Carolinas, three Washington County/Johnson City EMS medics were already on the scene helping move hospital patients to safer locations. The trio responded to South Carolina’s need for assistance with the agency’s Regional AmbuBus to help a Tennessee strike team with the moves. “We deployed three personnel along with the Regional AmbuBus tasked to the Tennessee District 1 Ambulance Strike Team,” Capt. Mike  Skowronski, the agency’s public information officer, said. “The AmbuBus can transport a total of 20 patients either in a stretcher or a seated position,” he said.

Deaths from drug overdoses rise here, statewide (Elk Valley Times) Tennessee Department of Health data show 1,776 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2017, the highest annual number of such deaths since reporting began. In Lincoln County, the number of drug overdoses from the most recent year, 2016, show eight deaths, more than double the previous year’s three deaths. Prescription opioids are still the most common drugs associated with overdose deaths in Tennessee. “More Tennesseans died last year from drug overdoses than from automobile crashes. Few of us have escaped a direct impact of this crisis in experiencing the tragic death of a family member, loved one or friend,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.

Doctors Plead For More Options To Address Pain As BlueCross BlueShield Dumps OxyContin (WPLN) The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. It’s the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker — Purdue Pharma — faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis. Last fall, Cigna and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida both dropped coverage of the drug. Now, top officials at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee say newer abuse-deterrent opioids work better. Starting in January, the insurer, which covers 3.4 million Tennesseans, will instead pay for those opioids, which are made by other pharmaceutical companies.

Doctors Plead For More Options To Address Pain As BlueCross BlueShield Dumps OxyContin (WPLN Radio) The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. It’s the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker — Purdue Pharma — faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis. Last fall, Cigna and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida both dropped coverage of the drug. Now, top officials at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee say newer abuse-deterrent opioids work better. Starting in January, the insurer, which covers 3.4 million Tennesseans, will instead pay for those opioids, which are made by other pharmaceutical companies.

Glen Casada announces run for speaker of the Tennessee House (Tennessean) In a letter to his colleagues, Majority Leader Glen Casada announced Wednesday his intention to run for speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Casada, who previously served as a committee chairman and Republican caucus chairman, reflected on his time in office while making a pitch for lawmakers’ support. “Together, we have fought against liberal policies that would damage our economy and instead have promoted and passed bills that advance free-market principles across the state,” he said.

Rep. Casada makes expected bid for TN House Speaker (WKRN-TV)  And then there were three. As expected, Tennessee House Majority Leader Glen Casada officially launched his bid to move up to speaker Wednesday. The Williamson County lawmaker joins fellow Republicans David Hawk and Curtis Johnson in seeking the position. The role became open when current Speaker Beth Harwell did not seek re-election to the House so she could run for governor. Tennessee law prevents candidates from running for two offices at once. Rep. Casada made his announcement in an email to members where he promised: “a seat at the table for everyone in our Caucus” along with “a fair opportunity” to have more bills that would be heard by the full House instead of being stalled in committees.

Will the TN Senate Majority Leader be among the many Capitol Hill changes? (WKRN-TV)  With a new governor and a record number of freshman lawmakers, there will be massive changes soon on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, but there’s a question if the key position of Senate majority leader will be one of them. Current state Senate Republican Majority Leader Mark Norris has waited nearly a year and a half to be confirmed as a federal judge. It means others have waited as well to succeed him. The majority leader has not spoken about waiting for his confirmation by the U.S. Senate. President Trump nominated Norris nearly a year and a half ago, but the nomination has been flagged for opposition by U.S. Senate Democrats.

Key Role In Tennessee Senate Up In The Air As Sen. Mark Norris Awaits Confirmation For Judgeship (WKRN-TV) With a new Governor and a record number of freshman lawmakers, there will be massive changes soon on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill. State capitol newsroom reporter Chris Bundgaard tells us about one key role that depends on what happens in Washington. Current State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has waited nearly a year and a half to be confirmed as a federal judge. It means others have waited as well to succeed him. While Norris talked with other state senate leaders about potential gun legislation last February after the Florida mass school shooting, the majority leader has not spoken about waiting to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a West Tennessee federal judge. President Trump nominated Norris nearly a year and half ago.

Democratic Candidate For Governor Karl Dean Makes Stop At White Station High School (WATN-TV)  Democratic candidate for Tennessee Governor Karl Dean made his way back to the Mid-South Wednesday. He visited White Station High School during an assembly. Dean spoke to the students about the importance of voting and being in politics. He also mentioned what his plans are for the state when it comes to education, the economy, and healthcare. “Education is tops for me. I think public safety is always key, and I do think it’s absolutely essential to build a strong private sector economy that’s making opportunities for people to get ahead in life, get good jobs,” said Dean. “It’s good for the city and the state when there’s revenue being generated through economic activity.”

Local Libertarian Scott announces candidacy for governor (Lebanon Democrat) Libertarian Heather Scott, of Wilson County, announced her candidacy for governor. “I have spoken with so many Tennesseans who are tired of the divisiveness of the two-party duopoly. They want more choices. This is the reason I am running for governor,” Scott said.  Scott said Article I, Section 5 of the Tennessee Constitution declares, “election shall be free and equal.” However, there are major challenges in giving voters candidate diversity due to the inequities of ballot access for minor parties, she said.According to Scott, in order for third-party candidates to have their party affiliation listed on the ballot, the party must gather the signatures of registered voters equal to at least 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor.

Fox News poll has Blackburn leading Bredesen by 3 (TN Journal) Republican Marsha Blackburn has a 3 percentage point edge over Democrat Phil Bredesen in a new Fox News poll released Wednesday. The survey results follow an NBC/Marist poll that found Bredesen with a 2-point lead last week. Both polls receive A ratings from the polling website FiveThirtyEight. In the Fox poll, Blackburn had 47% support, compared with Bredesen’s 44%. The poll of  686 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The poll showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee with a 20-point lead over Democrat Karl Dean, 55%-35%, with 16% of Bredesen supporters crossing over to support Lee.

Fox News Poll: Blackburn up by 3 points in Bredesen match but race remains up for grabs (Times Free Press) A new Fox News Poll shows Tennessee’s U.S. Senate contest remains too close to call with Republican Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat Phil Bredesen among likely voters by 47 percent to 44 percent, a 3-point margin that is within the survey’s margin of error. The Sept. 8-11 survey was conducted for Fox News under the joint operation of Anderson Robbins Research, a Democratic polling firm, and Shaw & Company Research, a Republican firm. It differs from an Aug. 25-28 conducted on behalf of NBC News, which also showed a tight race but Bredesen ahead by two points, 48-46 percent.

Polls: Republicans lead in three key Senate races, Democrats in two (Politico) Three Republican Senate candidates — Indiana’s Mike Braun, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn — have slim leads in new Fox News polls, while two Democrats — Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — have small advantages in polls of their states. Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn leads former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen 47 percent to 44 percent, with 8 percent of voters undecided. Both candidates are well liked: 54 percent of likely voters view Bredesen favorably compared to 36 percent who view him unfavorably; 51 percent view Blackburn favorably compared to 39 percent who view her unfavorably. LINK

Poll: Republican Blackburn leads Democrat Bredesen by 3 points in Tennessee Senate race (The Hill) Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is leading her Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen by 3 points in the Tennessee Senate race, according to a new Fox News poll of likely Tennessee voters. Blackburn received 47 percent support compared to Bredesen’s 44 percent in the race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the poll finds. The incumbent congresswoman’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error. Thirty-five percent of likely voters told pollsters that their vote in the Senate race will be an expression of support for President Trump, compared to 27 percent who said it will be in opposition to him. Seventy-six of Trump supporters said they are backing Blackburn while 16 percent are supporting Bredesen, the former governor of Tennessee, according to the poll.

Attack Ads: Fact or Fiction? (WSMV-TV) If you have any interest in which party controls the United States Senate, then you are interested in the Tennessee race between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen. And so are a lot of other people. That’s why you will continue to see new political ads daily. “We are going to see more ads than we have ever seen in a United States Senate race, but it is up to you to do your research,” said MTSU political science professor Kent Syler, News4’s political analyst. “A lot of times they will give you a little snippet of truth that may takes about 10 seconds to say, but takes 10 minutes to explain where they got it. There is an old adage in politics that if you’re explaining you’re losing.”

Tennessee GOP hits Bredesen for calling Blackburn a ‘big girl’ capable of making ‘decisions for herself’ (Times Free Press) Tennessee Republican officials on Wednesday sought to put Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Phil Bredesen on the spot Wednesday after he referred to his GOP rival Marsha Blackburn in an interview as a “big girl” capable of making “decisions for herself.” Bredesen’s comments came in a Wednesday story in the The Tennessean after he was asked about U.S. Rep. Blackburn’s recently missed congressional votes as the Senate contest heats up. “She’s a big girl,” Bredesen was quoted saying of Blackburn, who prefers to call herself congressman instead of congresswoman. “She can make those decisions for herself as to what she considers her responsibilities to be.”

DeSantis left House amid Florida campaign. Will Marsha Blackburn follow during Senate run? (Tennessean) On Monday, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida, turned in his resignation from the House, saying he would likely miss the remaining days of this year’s congressional session as he campaigned … But DeSantis has missed fewer votes than U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. During the same time period, Blackburn has missed 57 of 80 House votes. And like DeSantis, she missed all votes cast in the last week. According to Blackburn’s voting record, she has missed 105 of 393 votes this year. That far outpaces any other year since she entered Congress in 2003. Blackburn’s campaign spokeswoman declined comment for this story and referred questions to the congressman’s House office.

Bredesen says abortion issue not major factor as he weighs Kavanaugh nomination (Tennessean) Phil Bredesen still isn’t ready to say whether he supports the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S Supreme Court, telling a group of lawyers in Lebanon Wednesday that he needs more time to watch confirmation hearings and study the pick. But one issue that the Tennessee Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate said won’t factor much into his decision: the pro-life stance of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominee. Although liberal activists have called Kavanaugh a threat to Roe v. Wade, Bredesen, who is pro-choice, told reporters that Kavanaugh’s position on abortion is “certainly not as important to me as it is for some Democrats.”

Tennessee Senate hopeful ’embarrassed’ by Kavanaugh hearings (AP) Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said Wednesday that he’s “embarrassed by the circus” in the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — and he’s pointing at both Democrats and Republicans. The former Tennessee governor said Republicans are “running this thing through in a way that I don’t think was the founders’ intent.” Meanwhile, he added, some Democrats involved in Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings have acted as presidential candidates. Bredesen’s criticisms come as he continues to weigh how he would have voted on Kavanaugh, a decision he said he feels he owes to Tennesseans. With a Senate vote planned for November, it’s unlikely that Bredesen would get to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation if he’s elected.

Bredesen says ’embarrassed by circus’ in Senate over Kavanaugh nomination (Times Free Press) Tennessee Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Phil Bredesen says he’s “embarrassed by the circus” involving both Senate Democrats and Republicans in the confirmation battle over Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee. “This process has devolved into pure partisan gamesmanship,” Bredesen told Wilson County Bar Association members Wednesday. “I’m talking about both parties here, Democrats and Republicans.” Bredesen, a former governor who faces Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the Nov. 6 election to succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, said GOP lawmakers “are running this thing through in a way that I don’t think was the founders’ intent.”

Seeing Double (Memphis Flyer) Bredesen vs. Blackburn ad war under way … Among those taking part was Phil Bredesen, the former two-term Tennessee governor, now running for the U.S. Senate as the Democratic nominee. Bredesen’s Memphis schedule on Saturday also included a luncheon appearance in Germantown with the “Women United for Bredesen” group and a planned participation in the Southern Heritage Classic Tailgate, which ran into bad weather. All the events served as a sort of run-up to another Bredesen appearance this Thursday night. Currently billed as a “‘Memphis Matters’ Ideas Forum” at Rhodes College, it is what remains of what was originally intended by the sponsors (including Rhodes, WMC-TV, and the USA Today newspaper chain) to be one of four statewide televised debates between Bredesen and the Republican Senate candidate, 7th District U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn.

Who’s endorsed the candidates for Marsha Blackburn’s US House seat (Tennessean) With a little less than two months to go before the general election, candidates vying for Marsha Blackburn’s open congressional seat have started touting their endorsements. Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, is giving up her seat and running for the U.S. Senate to succeed the retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. Four candidates will appear on the Nov. 6 general ballot for Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, which covers 19 counties in the middle and western portions of the state. Here’s who has endorsed the candidates, who appear in alphabetical order:

Historic Troubles (Memphis Flyer) Report alleges lack of training, oversight at Tennessee Historical Commission. A new report found some big problems with the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC), the group that tried but failed to block Memphis from removing statues of slave owners. An August audit by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office found that THC members lack the legal training to properly administer the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act (THPA), the law they tried to use to block the removal of the statues. The report said another state agency left the THC with no formal way to communicate with the media during the turbulent Memphis statue-removal process. Also, the report says THC lacks proper oversight of 14 historic sites that are in the group’s care.


Sam Stockard: Some Tennessee Lawmakers Living the Life (Memphis Daily News) Early in his U.S. Senate campaign, former governor Phil Bredesen shied away from talking about his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, preferring to focus instead on ideas. But a new TV ad paid for by Majority Forward, a Democrat-leaning group, dubs her as “Air Blackburn” for taking all sorts of junkets and voting herself pay raises over 10 years in Congress. The ad started running on the heels of a $2 million ad campaign by Americans for Prosperity, an arm of the conservative Koch Foundation, accusing Bredesen of backing higher gas and business taxes during his eight years as governor, all while renovating the governor’s mansion, complete with “gilded bathrooms” and a bunker or “party cave” costing several million dollars. Never mind the fact he put to rest the idea of a state income tax.


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