Yesterday, we delivered our Losers List from the recently departed General Assembly. Today, we stir up even more trouble with a Winners list. And just because we selected someone as a winner, doesn’t mean they want to be on the list. Read on to see why that may be….
1. Ron Ramsey — Why be governor and hamper your ability to run the state? Ramsey ran against Bill Haslam in 2010 with the idea he wanted to be in charge of state government. Despite losing that race, he now seems on the verge of achieving that power from his current position. With the feckless Haslam administration fumbling about and Harwell losing control over her caucus, Ramsey has emerged as possibly the most powerful person in state government. In stark contrast to the House, the Ramsey Senate was a modicum of efficiency, passing bills with minimal rancor. Look for Ramsey to further spread his wings and increase his influence, especially now that the governor is officially a lame duck. We don’t always agree with Ramsey, but you gotta like the way he has positioned himself to be much more than the “Lieutenant” Governor.
2. Americans For Prosperity — In a very short time, AFP has made itself a key player in conservative/libertarian circles, driving issues (and politicians) in directions the administration and leadership don’t always like (to put it mildly). The AFP, led by Andy Ogles, won a few and lost a few but their presence was undeniable. RTP believes they are an effective and welcome party to the mix.
3. The Conservatives in the House GOP Caucus — for some time, there has been the sneaking suspicion that conservatives in the House GOP (as opposed to establishment and RINO types) actually possess the majority of the caucus membership. But through the use of pleas to “not embarrass the governor” and through the abuse of House rules (such as fiscal notes), the leadership has been able to keep a lid on the rabble. That lid was blown completely off on March 13th, when conservatives finally, FINALLY realized they had the votes to move their agenda. Now that they have had a sniff of power, look for them to press further, even as leadership tries to mollify them and put the genie back in the bottle.
4. Craig Fitzhugh — At some point this session, the light bulb went off over Fitzhugh’s head: “Hey,” said the light bulb. “If you can hold your idealogical nose long enough to join with the conservatives on targeted issues (like Common Core), you might get be able to excercise a little power.” Actually, all the light bulb really said was “John Wilder,” but you get the point. Of course, this is all limited to Fitzhugh’s ability to keep the fractious Dems together long enough to vote in a block.
5. Kathleen Airhart — Kathleen Who? With approximately 98% of the adult population of the state (and 100% of the teachers), Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman is in the crosshairs. It seems calling for Huffman’s head has become a daily occurence, with only the governor immune to the calls for Kevin “IVFO” Huffman to resign or be fired. Airhart has cleverly worked behind the scenes to maneuver herself into position to take Huffman’s slot if and when the axe falls. The fact that she is one of the few long-time Tennesseans in the leadership of the department in charge of educating Tennessee school children should help as well. This is all assuming, of course, the liberal Democrats Haslam has put in charge of Tennessee’s public schools (more on that later) will allow a mere provincial to assume the reigns. Watch your back, Dr. Airhart.
Ah, Spring. That time of year when birds sing, bees buzz and some politicos get bitch slapped as the legislature goes all sine die on them. Fresh from our 3-day Easter break of church services and mimosas, we here at RTP want to join in on the fun and offer our own list of the Biggest Losers from the most recent General Assembly.
1. Common Core and S.C.O.R.E. — Jamie Woodson & Co. spent millions of other people’s money to push the Common Core agenda. In the end, they were forced to accept a delay in PARCC testing and require that the test be put out to bid.
While the governor, commissioner Kevin “I voted for Obama” Huffman and their apologists in the MSM (Chas, we’re looking in your direction….) try mightily to pooh-pooh the significance of the delay, insiders know better.
The effect of the delay means only that Common Core “lives to die another day.” Opponents are just getting warmed up. Look for spiraling test costs, pornographic reading lists, insider dealing on state contracts — the list goes on. Even the liberal bastion of news, the New York Times, this weekend offered a piece this weekend on the power of the Common Core issue to tranform internal Republican politics.
Strap in, guv. It’s going to be a bumpy summer.
2. Bill Haslam — only in the la-la world of HaslamLand, could one classify the stripping of 2/3 of the governor’s appointements to the textbook commission and the defeat of his agenda on vouchers, meth legislation, TVAAS and Common Core testing as a “win.” Following that reasoning, Derick Dooley actually went 3 and 0 in post season play while at Tennessee. Haslam is now facing the prospects of the longest lame duck tenure in Tennessee history as legislators circle his agenda, salivating without fear.
3. Beth Harwell and the House leadership — Caught almost completely by surprise, Harwell & Co. were bushwhacked on March 13th when House conservative Republicans combined with Dems and voted to gut Common Core. Harwell was only able to muster a lousy 11 votes from her own caucus in the final vote (and last time we checked, it is going to take at least 36 votes to get re-elected speaker). Only after getting bailed out by Ron Ramsey did Harwell cobble together a face-saving one-year delay in PARCC testing. But the net effect of her heroices is the guarantee that the Common Core issue is very much alive for next session. In the process of overriding the overwhelming opinion of the House against Common Core, Harwell has merely increased the distance between her and the growing conservative majority within her own caucus.
4. Charles Sargent — Sargent had possibly one of the worst sessions for someone facing a serious primary challenge. Whether he wins or loses his race won’t relieve the pressure on him and his notorius House Finance Committee. Sorry, Charlie.
5. The Fiscal Note — more on this later, but safe to say there is a growing and intense hatred of the House fiscal note rules that allows leadership to circumvent the will of the body and kill legislation they don’t like. Leadership knows full well that the abuse of the fiscal note is unethical and undemocratic. Look for them to try and “fine tune” the rules. Look for that to not work.
TOMMOROW: The Winners
“Barbarians at the Gate.”
“Let’s Get Fiscal.”
First he called the gun rights people “liars.”
Then he promised to “vote for the bill” and to “move it out of [his] committee.”
So now that the session is coming to a close and Charles Sargent is getting ready to face the voters, he has released this video explaining why he didn’t even bother to show up for the open carry gun permit bill.
RTP has the **EXCLUSIVE** Click Here
First there was the creepy taping of his former primary opponent. Then there’s the mentality of “everyone is out to get me” so let’s attack everyone not in my camp (an “enemies list,” if you will). There is the ability to race prodigious sums of money. The comeback from a a previous electoral defeat. And then the whole five o’clock shadow with menancing glare thing is readily apparent.
But leaving aside the juvenile comparisons to Tricky Dick, one is left to wonder if Weston Wamp is that good, or is Chuck Fleischmann that bad? Or is it a combination of the two?
Weston’s impressive haul of over $400,000 in the first quarter raises an important question: Why does Fleischmann only have $650,000 in the bank? He’s a two-term incumbent, for goodness sake. At least two other Congressmen from Tennessee who got elected the same year as Chuck are rolling in the dough. But not Chuck.
Another challenger to an incumbent this year, Jim Tracy has collected over $1,000,000 against Cong. Des Jarlais. But to our knowledge, Fleischmann has not traded drugs for sex with his patients or encouraged a girlfriend to get an abortion (if he had, Robin Smith probably would have mentioned that).
Is Chip distracted with his other clients? Can Chuck write a big check? Can Weston invent a biography that makes it look like he has had a real job the last three years?
This is getting good……..
So to try and shift blame away from his own incompetence, Haslam now blames his broken promise on a proposal to eliminate the Hall Income Tax. He says he wants to keep the tax so that if revenue comes back, maybe then he can find the money for pay increases. Really?
Here’s a tip, Guv. How about all that money you wasted on promoting Common Core? Was any money set aside for PARCC tests in your budget? What about the “reserve fund” that Huffman is rumored to have. Some say it approaches $42 million. What about DOE’s new RFP for a PR team? That’s a few hundred thousand right there. And hey, you just saved $100,000 for not having to print up new gun permits.
But by eliminating tax relief for Tennessee seniors you MIGHT, maybe, someday, perhaps find enough money to give the teachers a lousy 1-2% pay raise
First the Department of Safety came down on Bradley County like a hammer, threatening to “rock Bradley County’s world” with a massive one-day inspection of all the county’s school buses. That led Bradley officials to speculate they were being singled out for retribution for having dare oppose the Haslam administration’s Common Core cram down. (See RTP 4-8-2014).
Then came the Department’s sleazy “magical fiscal note” that killed the open carry permit bill (See RTP 4-14-2014). It appeared Safety was warming to its new-found role as “enforcer” for administration policies.
But a curious thing happened in Bradley County over the last few days. Shortly after the RTP article, school officials were treated to an intimidating visit by not one, but three uniformed THP officers (guns and all) to try and tamp down Bradley’s protest. They promised to talk to higher ups about softening the blow. For about 48 hours school officials were hopeful, then came word back that no, the one-day, in-your-face inspections would go on as expected. Too bad, suck it up.
But the RTP article continued to circulate among the powers that be. In fact nearly 2,000 political, policy and news media types read the story in just 4 days, according to our crack team’s statistical analysis.
Then, in what could only be described as a hilarious letter back-dated to April 10th, the Dept. of Safety, through the THP, started backpeddling faster than a Frenchman cycling to the front lines. Instead of the massive, punitive inspections demanded just days before, the inspections had now turned into a sweetness and light “invitation” to “voluntarily” see a demonstration of what they termed an “exciting new technology” that could inspect brakes faster than the old way (one has to be quite creative to claim brake inspections could be in any way “exciting.”) All that was missing was the offer of free coffee and doughnuts to attendees (and you know how those cops like their free doughnuts).
Those “voluntary” and “exciting” inspections took place this morning in a shopping center parking lot in Cleveland. As RTP’s man on the ground reports, everything went smoothly, with not one person treated for having been overcome by “excitement” about brakes. And not one single bus was required to be in attendance. Quite a turn-around. Meow. Pur-r-r.
Congratulations, Bradley County. Sometimes the bureaucrats need to be reminded of the limits of their power. Thanks for standing up.
Freshman Micah Van Huss took the leadership all the way to the wall on the abuse of fiscal notes. In the end, Micah couldn’t withstand the combined might of the governor and leadership (after all, this is only his first term in office). But he is to be congratulated for going as far as he did to expose the corrupt fiscal note rules and the corrupt politicians who use them to kill bills they cannot defeat on the merits.
But despite the death of the open carry law, there still remains the question of the actions and words of House Finance Committee chairman Charles Sargent. Sargent himself ratcheted up the fight in the media a few days ago, calling the Tennessee Firearms Association “liars” for saying he opposed the bill and defended his position by boldly and publicly declaring: “I’m voting to move that bill out.”
I’m voting to move that bill out. — Charles Sargent (4-9-2014)
So, What Happened, Chuck? After puffing up all Chuck Norris-like and calling people “liars” and saying he was going to vote for the bill, SARGENT DIDN’T EVEN SHOW UP TO VOTE!
That’s right. Sargent was the ONLY member of the subcommittee not to record their vote. He was not even listed as “present.” Maybe he went to the potty (See RTP post: “Commode Caucus“). Maybe he went out for a smoke. Maybe he just hid under his desk. Whatever he did, he didn’t show up to do his job. He didn’t even take a recorded stand. RTP has heard nothing about any “family emergency” or “previously scheduled appointment” or anything of the like. Absent such excuses, we leave to others to draw their own conclusions.
Not showing up to vote is not very brave, Mr. Chairman. Better hope YOUR supporters don’t follow your example and instead, you know, actually show up to vote in August.
We will update the situation in Bradley County, with RTP contributors reporting from the scene of the infamous “School Bus Inspections.”