Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rep. Sheila Butt files bill to prohibit unhealthy foods for food stamps

by Jake Lowary, The Tennessean, Jan. 13, 2017 - A Columbia lawmaker has filed a bill in the legislature that would prohibit low-income families from using food stamps to purchase items high in calories, sugar or fat, saying such benefits should come with strings attached. ... “When you’re receiving taxpayer dollars, it’s not money that you’ve have earned. It’s money that other people have earned and is redistributed to you. Strings come along with that,” Butt said in a release posted on her website. “By allowing their purchase with EBT cards, we are actually enhancing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in at-risk communities.” (link)

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Toby Keith Defends His Decision to Perform at Donald Trump’s Inauguration. I won't apologize

Yahoo celebrity - “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a
statement to EW. “I performed at events for previous presidents Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”

Keith’s performance at a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 19 was announced Friday; he will be joined at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” by 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, Jennifer Holliday, The Piano Guys, and the Frontmen of Country. The Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho are also among those set to perform. (link)

My comment: Got bless Toby Keith. I think I will buy a Toby Keith CD.

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What's on the Council agenda for 1/17/17? Enforcing airbnb regs and changing the managment of the Autumn Hills nursing home.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse.   Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you can be a well-informed citizen of our city and still not have to watch the council meetings. If, however, you are going to watch the council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis, otherwise you will be clueless about what is going on.  Follow the highlighted links above to view the agenda and staff analysis. This should be a short meeting. There is no public hearings and not mush of interest or controversy on the agenda. That is fine with me. I am tired, and I am sure council member are, of four hour meetings. Below is my commentary and analysis.

There is only one appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect it to be approved unanimously. There is one resolution on public hearing to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. There are no Bills on Public hearing.

There are 16  resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. None of them are very controversial and most are simply accenting grants.  Here are the ones of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-519  approves a  sole-source contract for over a million dollars for a five year period between Metro and Host Compliance, LLC to provide services to identify unpermitted STRPs, collect data on the extent of all such non-compliance, estimate rental activity for permitted and unpermitted properties, compare estimated rental activity with hotel/motel tax receipts from the property, and maintain a 24 hour complaint hotline. What it looks likes we are purchasing is a computer technology and tech support. The system will monitor on-line sites such as Airbnb and then compare those Nashville listings with  permits and hotel-motel tax payment records. This may bring in additional revenues to offset the cost.  Assuming the price of this service is right, I approve of this.  If we are going to regulate STRP then we need to make sure the law is enforced. When some people follow the law and others get by with ignoring the law, that breeds contempt for law. I can see the need for something like this in order to monitor STRP.  However, if I were in the Council, I would not support this is we are going to ban non-owner occupied STRP.  I would favor deferring this to see what happens to the STRP bill.  Those that allegedly cause problems are the non-owner occupied units.  This seems like more help than the city needs if STRP are banned for all but owner-occupied STRP.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-520 accepts a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center. I am mentioning this to give a plug for this entity. They provide free financial counseling to help people improve their money management skills.  I have worked most of my professional life serving low income people. A lot of what I have done over the years is help people learn how to save, reduce debt, and improve their credit score.  People really do stupid stuff, but a lot of the time it is because they never had any good role models and never learned a different way of thinking about money. When people realize they do not have to remain poor and can live a life without fear of creditors and being evicted they can change.  They have to want to; but they can change.  This programs provides them an opportunity to change. I know it is difficult to tell other people what they ought to do, but if you know someone who is screwing up their life because they are mismanaging their money, tell them about the availability of this resource which can empower them to gain control over their finances.
There are 20 bills on First Reading but I don't know what's in them.  First Reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not discussed by committee until after First Reading.  Almost always, bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote.  I do not examine bills on First Reading.

Bills on Second Reading. There are only 12 bills on Second. These are the ones of interest:

BILL NO. BL2016-461  requires employees of Metro to report fraud and unlawful acts committed against the Metropolitan Government to the Metropolitan Auditor. There is already a State law that does something similar. This was on second reading last time and deferred to this meeting.

BILL NO. BL2016-525 would require the Metropolitan Police Department to provide reports of positive engagements with the community to the Metropolitan Council. This seems like a waste of time and effort. Every engagement with the community should be a positive engagement unless the person engaged is a non-cooperative criminal or belligerent drunk. This ask for, but not be limited to, a listing of those community events and activities that the MNPD were involved in or otherwise participated in during the previous quarter. This seems like a silly ordinance and will require unnecessary reporting.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 18. These are the ones of interest.

BILL NO. BL2016-529  would approve the removal of  certain buildings and structures on the Fairgrounds. This is part of a Fairgrounds improvement plan in which some existing building are to be torn down, but not the racetrack. These building are to be replaced. The Charter requires Council approval to tear down any building at the Fairgrounds. This bill is not a plan to destroy the Fairgrounds but part of a plan to improve the facility.  Don't be alarmed. This protection was put in the Charter by referendum following former Mayor Dean's attempt to abolish the Fairground and make the property available for redevelopment for other uses.
BILL NO. BL2016-540 would cancel the lease agreement with the management company than manages the Autumn Hills nursing home, formerly a Metro operated facility that is in the process of being fully privatized. It would also rescind the Council’s approval of the Purchase and Sale Agreement between Metro and the Vision Real Estate Investment Corporation for the sale of the 76 acre property. This facility is the Knowles Home Assisted Living and Adult Day Services facility. This would not affect the Bordeaux facility which is under a separate agreement. While this move may be warranted, I would hope Metro would totally get out of the nursing home business entirely so it was not in a position of stepping back in to rescue a mismanaged facility. For more on the issue follow this report from News Channel 5: Council Begins Process To Get New Autumn Hills Management.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video hear and provide commentary.

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Senator Norris meets with Lawyers regarding refugee lawsuit

by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - Tennessee's lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement could be filed by the end of the month, a proponent of the effort said Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said a team of legal experts was coming to Nashville to discuss the forthcoming lawsuit, which was approved by the legislature last year.

"We will be working on the complaint that we intend to file I hope before the end of the month," he said, while indicating that there has been interest from some in Kentucky about joining the lawsuit. .... it will challenge the federal government for noncompliance of the Refugee Act of 1980 based on the 10th Amendment.  .....  The amendment says the federal government possesses only powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution and that all other powers are reserved for the states. (link)

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To keep tabs on and influence the General Assembly

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online). 

(The above was compiled by and lifted from Tennessee Eagle Forum.)

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Critics want to ban all new Airbnb rentals

In February 2015, the Metro Council passed legislation regulating Short-term Rental Properties (STRP), also know as peer-to-peer rental or sometimes called "Airbnb rentals," taking the name from a website that connects those with a housing unit to rent to those seeking to rent a unit.  These properties are rooms or homes that people rent for a short term to visitors to our city. The regulations cover everything from how many such units may be allowed in each census track to a requirement that operators of such units get a permit, to requirements that owners collect taxes and the number of days a host may rent to any one party and a whole host of other things.

This type rental first began appearing without any prohibition and became popular before the authorities even were aware of this service. Once aware, there were various concerns raised, ranging from the fact that the owners of these units were not paying hotel-motel tax to issues of parking and noise. After a long time in the works, the city finally passed rules regulated this type activity in February 2015. Since then, the regulations have been tweaked several times.  A lot of what was regulated was already regulated by other provisions of the code such as the building codes, signage codes, and parking and noise ordinances, but much of it was new.  (To read the regulations, follow these links:SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-909 and BILL NO. BL2014-951.)

In October 2016, the law was struck down as being unconstitutionally vague.  While the Judge in the case later amended his ruling to say the city could continue to enforce the law against anyone but the plaintiffs in the case, if anyone else would have brought the same suit, it can be assumed they would have also won their case and have been exempted from the law also. In January of this year, the Council considered legislation to remove the ambiguity in the language in order to make the law constitutional and while at it, to incorporate the many changes to the law into one ordinance. 

On  January 4th, the Council held a public hearing on the proposed new ordinance and while a lot of people, mostly owners of these units, spoke in favor, many more people spoke against, mostly neighborhood activist. At that meeting, some people wanted to ban all short-term rental properties, some wanted to ban those non-owner occupied short-term rental properties that were located in multi-family properties and some wanted to ban those and the STRP that were non-owner occupied in single family homes. To view that two hours of public hearing, follow this link.

The complaints against STRP include, noise issues, parking issues, and a concern that they take residential properties off of the rental market and drive up residential rents.  Some, feel there should be a strict separation between residential uses and commercial uses of property and they view the STRP as a commercial use. Some brought up "character of the neighborhood" issues and said that "transient border" do not care about things like the quality of schools or other issues the way normal renters do and that these units weaken the fabric of a community. 

Since that meeting, a couple of council members, Sheri Weiner and Burkley Allen, have called for moratorium on new STRP.  The proposed moratorium would apply to owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied. They plan to amend the pending bill to include a moratorium of indeterminate lenght  (link to Tennessean story).  The proposed moratorium does not go far enough to please neighborhood activist, however. They are calling on the council to completely ban non-owner-occupied STRP (link to Tennessean story).

In my view there should be no ban nor moratorium.  If I were in the Council I would vote against a proposal for either and if either passed I would vote against the bill. A bill does need to pass to make what is now on the books constitutional, but there should be no taking of property rights by taking away what is already permitted. If this proposed bill passes with a moratorium or ban, I hope that either it is successfully challenged in court or the State legislature passes legislation to trump Council action.

 I did not like the original bills thinking they went to far. I would have voted for it however, because I do think there should be some minimal rregulations and the owners should pay the hotel-motel tax.  One thing I did not particularly like about the ordinal was that the city imposed absolute limits on the number of STRP that could be in each census track.  The creates an artificial shortage of STRP and protects those who got certificates first from competition. A moratorium or ban would ffurther enrich current owners of STRP by protecting them from competition.

I suspect that  those units that are causing problems for neighbors are those that are unlicensed. The city should go after those and leave the good operators alone. If there is a feeling that too many units are being converted to STRP and that is impacting rents, then just wait. That is a problem that will resolve itself.  I have a sibling who turned a rental property they own into a STRP and operated it for several months and then turned it back into a regular long-term rental. While the nightly rental rate may seems high, operating one of the STRP is a lot of work.  Many people will tire of it.  Also, there are hundreds of hotel and motel rooms either under construction in Nashville or approved.  As these come on line, their will be less demand for STRP.  They would not go away, but if Nashville had sufficient number of hotel and motel units, some people who now choose a STRP would instead stay in a hotel.

The council should not give an inordinate amount of attention to so-called neighborhood leaders.  In essence they are often virtually self-appointed.  I have headed a neighborhood organization and been involved in others. A neighborhood may have several hundred residents but at an annual meeting to elect officers only a dozen people may show up.  People have to be begged to become officers.  If you want to be president of your neighborhood association you most likely can be.  "Neighborhoods" have no legal standing and the boundaries are not even fixed. While I think neighborhood organizations are helpful to promote neighborhood watch and keep people informed about what is going on in their community, a neighborhood organization does not necessarily speak for the neighborhood. They speak for the small handful of people who participate in the organization.

There is a Airbnb property diagonally across the street from me and one on the same side of the street two doors down. I have never had a problem with them.  I don't mind watching the family groups play touch football in the front yard or watch the batcheloretts come and go.  The owner who lives in the neighborhood has gone door to door visiting neighbors. She has been by to see me and gave me her phone number and said if there ever was a problem to not hesitate to call her. 

While there may be some problems with some Airbnb rentals, there are adequate rules to address those issues.  I think the opposition to Airbnb is much to do about nothing, some people just needing an issue, and some people are just not happy if someone else is having fun.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Senator Mark Norris says he's moving toward gubernatorial bid

Mark Norris
by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said Wednesday that he is “more than mulling” a gubernatorial bid.

“I’m preparing to but honestly I have a very important job to do,” Norris said, referring to his leadership role in the Tennessee legislature.

“I have a caucus to lead and legislation to get filed and I sort of feel like doing my job first,” ... (link)

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Federal governments take over of local zoning via HUD's 'Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing' rule may be rescinded.

A few months ago, Nashville passed a so-called "inclusionary zoning' ordinance that was a taking of property by dictating the price an owner must rent his property.  Nashville is not alone in this power grab and many cities  have considered and many have passed similar inclusionary zoning ordinances.

Almost unnoticed, a federal power grab was also occurring which was very similar, if not worse. This new power grab would essentially nationalize a city's zoning authority and mandate a national form of zoning.  Under this new federal rule a city would not be permitted to allow private development to occur which was not 'Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.'  Under this rule a city could not approve the development of more upscale housing in the same part of town with other upscale housing unless there was economic and racial integration in that part of town.  The new rule would not actually create a local federal zoning board, and would not dictate exactly what constituted an adequate amount of "housing choice," and cities would be unsure exactly what was and what was not permitted, but would be under constant threat of being sued for approving a zoning request that did not affirmatively further fair housing. 

The new rule would apply to any cites that accepts any of several types of federal financial assistance from HUD, such as funds for public housing or community development.  That is practically every city in America. There is now a bill pending to rescind this Federal power grab.  I applaud this effort. With Republicans in control of both the legislative and executive branch there is no reason this new HUD rule should not be rescinded. For more on this topic see the following from Americans for Limited Government.

ALG supports Rep. Gosar's bill rescinding HUD income and racial zoning rule
 Jan. 12, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government senior editor Robert Romano today issued the following statement supporting legislationby U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) that would rescind the Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" that conditions receipt of $3.2billion community development block grants to 1,200cities and counties on rezoning those municipalities along federal income and racial guidelines:
"Americans for Limited Government wholeheartedly endorses Rep. Gosar's legislation to fully rescind the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that conditions receipt of Community Development Block Grants on rezoning municipalities along income and racial guidelines. It is vast overreach by the federal government, imposing its will on local communities, dictating what must be built where in order to advance a radical, utopian vision of where people should live. AFFH ignores the reality of the nation's housing market, where individuals based on employment, family and other concerns determine for themselves where they would like to live, and the rule obscures the fact that real housing discrimination is already prohibited on an individual basis. Finally, the rule is not only unnecessary and overreaches in every regard, the federal government has no constitutional role in local zoning issues, which rightly belongs to the states, counties and cities.
"President-elect Donald Trump can and should start the process of rescinding the rule via the Administrative Procedures Act, but to stop it for good, Congress must prohibit this rule and anything substantially similar, with Congress asserting its Article I prerogatives. The Gosar bill meets that threshold and we hope that the administration including incoming Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will embrace a legislative approach in addition to taking executive action to rein in this vast federal overreach."
"Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017," U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, Jan. 12, 2017 at
"Obama finalizes plan to redraw your neighborhood," By Robert Romano, July 9, 2015 at

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

John Pointer to challenge Mary Mancini to lead the Tennessee Democratic Party

The Tennessean reports in today's edition that Democrat Party Chairman Mary Mancini has drawn a second challenger, John Pointer.  Pointer is a former State bureaucrat. Under Sunquist he served as  State Director of the Office of Small and Minority Business and under Gov. Phil Bredesen he served as an assistant state director specializing in Section 8 federal funding in the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. He was more recently the owner of a Sears store in Columbia Tennessee. 

John Pointer
The Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) network associated with Middle Tennessee State University helped Pointer secure financing of the store and they tout Mr. Pointer as a success story on their website, never mentioning that he was a former director of the Office of Small and Minority Business for the State. I don't know that anything is wrong with that, but it seems a little unseemly.  (link)

Pointer says he wants to bring a “business-like approach” to leading the state party and  that Democrats have failed to reach out to middle class families in rural parts of the state. Mancini is also being challenged by Jamie Isabel, a former Metro Councilman.

Despite the Democratic Senate caucus shrinking to the size that they can fit in a phone booth and the Democratic House Caucus shrinking to the point they can fit in a hippy VW van, I think Mary Mancini has done a good job.  She has attracted fans of Lambchop, the three listeners to Liberadio(!) and those who advocate for many fringe progressive causes and the snowflakes who are still in denial about the recent election out come.  Well, they were already loyal Democrats but she may be able to keep them engaged.  If you attract enough small factions, who needs middle class families in rural parts of the State?

I am pulling for Mary Mancini. She deserves another term.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why should it cost $6 million to build a mile of new sidewalk?

I know construction is expensive.  I know when government builds something it is very expensive.  I know that building sidewalks is more than just putting some frames down and poring some concrete.  Building sidewalks often requires gaining construction easements and sometimes permanent easements. You may have to block a lane of traffic and have a flagman direct traffic.  Often water meters have to be relocated and sometimes power poles have to be relocated. 

Portuguese sidewallks
Sidewalks includes, "... and gutters."  Metro cannot cause someone to flood who did not previously flood. The runoff water  has to be diverted somewhere.  Some engineering is required. 

Still yet, $6.04 million per mile?  That is a lot of money. We are not talking about streets paved with gold, we are talking sidewalks pored out of concrete. 

When Louella and I used to travel, one year we took a vacation to Portugal.  Portugal must have the most beautiful sidewalks in the world.  They are made out of white and black granite blocks and will often have patterns. The Greek key was common but in some places the sidewalks may feature a nautical theme with fish, anchors and rope and knots represented.  They were beautiful. I am sure we are not talking about building Portuguese style sidewalks. 
- # -

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean - In sprawling Nashville, residents have long complained about a shortage of sidewalks and bikeways in neighborhoods throughout the city.

It’s perhaps no surprise then that taking care of all the needs would come at a steep cost.

An estimated $550 million would be required to build 91 miles of new sidewalks that are recommended over just the next five years in Davidson County and $223 million more for repairs to existing sidewalks. An additional $41 million would be needed to build 41 miles of bikeways during that time as part of a new priority bike network that Metro consultants are recommending. (link)

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Randy Boyd steps down amid gubernatorial speculation

Randy Boyd
by Joel Ebert , The Tennessean Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that Randy Boyd, his commissioner of economic development, will be exiting his position and return to the private sector, setting off speculation that he could enter the 2018 gubernatorial race. ... Boyd, 57, who joined Haslam's administration in 2013 as a special adviser on higher education, helped create the state's Drive to 55 initiative, the governor's effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. ... Boyd's economic development department has also generated nearly 50,000 new job commitments and almost $11 billion in capital investment in the state. (link)

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1st Tuesday to meet Wed. Jan. 11th. Guest speaker is Gen. Max Haston.

From Tim Skow:

Happy NEW YEAR to all 1ST TUESDAY Attendees !!! 
LOTS is going on these days!! Winning elections causes that! :-) 

Last month at their Christmas event, the Nashville Republican Women announced that 1ST TUESDAY members contributed over $2,000 in cash ...[AND toys too]... to this year's Tennessee National Guard toy fund drive! Again, my thanks to everyone who helped! 

Gen. Max Haston
Before lunch, Major General Max Haston addressed those attending the NRW event. Major General Haston [2-stars] is the Tennessee Adjutant General. He commands the constant litany of worldwide missions currently being performed by the TN National Guard. [TNNG] It was inspiring to learn some of what the TNNG was doing in 2016. Be it: 
  • guiding drones from TN, ''and getting the bad guys'' in Middle East hot spots
  • joint troop exercises near the boarders of Russia 
  • tornado disaster recovery in 5 TN counties 
  • having 100's of TNNG troops engaged in the fires around Gattlinburg  
  • AND... much much much more! 
Major General Haston is a remarkable man with an incredible story. His story includes knowing some at the forefront of the new Trump administration. What a Q&A session we will have! On WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11th [yes, a Wednesday for the 1st time ever]... Major General Haston is speaking at 1ST TUESDAY! 

There will be pictures of joy from toys thanks to contributions from 1ST TUESDAY members. There will also be a behind-the-curtain look at the fascinating role the TNNG plays in TN.... and around the world! Major General Haston is bringing an official photographer and arriving at 11:00am. Those who have pre-paid for lunch ... [and 2017 dues] are invited to come early, get a picture and chat with the notable leader of our TNNG! Secure you seats ...[and take care of 2017 dues if need be] at the 1ST TUESDAY website:  Click on ''Join Us'' to reach the icons to pre-pay for a Member's lunch [and dues]. [or send checks to 1ST TUESDAY to my attention at Box 1233, B-wood TN 37024] 

Expect some MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS ... and some notable guests! [the TN Legislature opens Jan 10th... you just never know who may show up! ] 

Invite your friends, for this will be a stirring event ! 
Until then, continue to make it a memorable HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
See you on WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11th, 2017.... if not before! 

Tim Skow 

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Craig Fitzhugh considers run for governor. Touts his appeal to rural voters.

Craig Fitshugh
Tennessee House of Representatives Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh is seriously considering running for Governor according to an article in today's Tennessean. He says he could appeal to both rural and urban voters.  I think having a Democrat who can appeal to rural voters is crucial to any chance the Democrat Party has of carrying the State. They can get the Blacks; they can be taken for granted.  They can get those whose political priority is unlimited abortions rights and transgender bathrooms and the snowflakes.  They have them already. To carry the State however, they need more. I don't know that Firzbugh is the only or the best Democrat that could broaden the base of the Party, but I think his insight that a Democrat must be able to appeal to rural voters is exactly right. They must also be able to appeal to mainstream moderate people who are concerned about roads and schools and jobs and everyday relevant issues.  There are not enough progressive ideologues and Blacks to carry the state. 

The Democrat Party has gone from the majority party when Phil Bredensen was serving as governor to a small minority party today. The State Senate is 28-5 Republican and the House is 74-25 Republican.   There is a strong urban-rural divide in the state with Democrats in firm control of Memphis and Nashville and only a sprinkling of support elsewhere in the state. Democrat control of the two largest cities can be attributed primarily to a large Black populations that can be relied upon to unquestionably pull the Democrat lever every election. Of Tennessee's nine U. S. Representatives, only two are Democrats and they represent Memphis and Nashville. Donald Trump overwhelmingly carried the State in the recent presidential election.

At one time, up until Winfield Dunn won his race for governor, Tennessee was part of the solid south.  Prior to the 1970 election, Democrats had controlled the governor's office for 50 years. From 1971 on, Republicans made gains and now Tennessee is as about as "Republican" as a state can be.  Little by little, rural areas switched from being majority Democrat to majority Republican.  Democrat Phil Bredesen was elected governor in 2003 and served until 2012.  While Governor Bredesen was not Mr. Personality, he was moderate and not offensive. He was also somewhat of an anomaly in that he ran on a platform to fix Teencare. Tenncare was a state insurance plan that provided health insurance to a lot of otherwise uninsurable people but was bankrupting the state. The Republican governor who was governor prior to Bredesen, attempted to fix the problem by increasing state revenue by proposing an extremely unpopular state income tax.   Bredesen said he opposed an income tax and the way to solve the state budget crisis was to cut services. Running against government waste, advocating fiscal responsibility, advocating cutting services, and promising to kick people off healthcare is hardly a typical Democrat platform. The state was in a serious crisis and Bredesen was going to fix it in a way that appealed to conservative voters.  Today,  the state is in great shape with a budget surplus.  I tend to think the odds favor a Republican being elected governor. 

Democrats would have to makes major changes in order to appeal to rural voters or voters who are not already Democrats.  A Democrat candidate for governor would have to get people who voted for Donald Trump to vote for him. That would not be impossible to do, but not easy. Apparently, Democrats are not prepared to cater to rural voters or normal people.  For the last two years the Party chairman has been Mary Mancini a very progressive political activist who served as Executive Director of the advocacy group Tennessee Citizen Action and was the co-host of Liberadio, a liberal radio show. I doubt she did much to help the Democrat Party gain favor with rural voters or others who were not already committed progressives.

Other Democrats considering running for governor are former Nashville mayor Karl Dean, and Nashville real estate developer and Democrat Party fund raiser Bill Freeman. Both are likeable people and would not immediately turn off rural and mainstream moderate people. I really don't know that much about Fitzhugh. According to the Wikipedia bio he is a fourth generation member of First Baptist Church in Ripley, he is an Eagle Scout and a scoutmaster, a former Air Force captain, an lawyer and a banker. He was first elected to the Tennessee House in 1994 and  has served in the House since, representing the 82nd District. He was elected by the Democratic caucus to serve as House Minority Leader in December 2010.

Whomever the Democrats nominate they will have a difficult time getting voters to switch from the way they have recently been voting to voting for a Democrat. The state is on a sound economic footing and has seen drastic improvement in education and a popular Republican governor will have completed his terms in office with no major scandals or crisis. Also, the Republicans will nominate a formidable candidate to oppose whomever the Democrats nominate.  Republicans considering a run for governor include U. S. Representative Marsha Blackburn and U. S. Representative Diane Black and State Senator Mark Green.

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