Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chuck Holt Elected 1st Vice-Chairman

By acclamation, Charles "Chuck" Holt was elected by the Hawkins County Republican Party at its December 2006 to serve out the unexpired term of Mike Faulk who resigned. Congratulations, Chuck! We look forward to great things from you in 2007.

Resolution of the Hawkins County Republican Party

At the December 2006 meeting of the Hawkins County Republican Party a motion was made and duly seconded to express to our State Senator the sentiments of the County Republican Party regarding the selection of Speaker for the State Senate. The following is the Resolution prepared to be sent to Senator Williams:


WHEREAS, the most basic and fundamental principle of democracy is the majority rules; and

WHEREAS, the voters of Tennessee have elected a majority of Republicans in the State Senate in both 2004 and 2006; and

WHEREAS, a vote for the Democrat nominee for Speaker of the State Senate of Tennessee would violate the most basic tenet of democracy by allowing the minority to rule; and

WHEREAS, a vote for the Democrat nominee for Speaker of the State Senate of Tennessee would place both houses of the legislature, the Governorship, and the State Supreme Court majority all in the hands of the Democrat party giving it absolute power over all state government in Tennessee; and

WHEREAS, absolute power corrupts absolutely; and

WHEREAS, in the 36 years since the Republican party controlled either house of the Tennessee General Assembly, hundreds and thousands of man-hours and dollars have been spent by members of the Republican party to regain a majority; and

WHEREAS, the vote of Senator Mike Williams for the Democrat nominee would effectively negate, nullify, and void all those efforts by all those volunteers and contributors for all these many years; and

WHEREAS, Senator Mike Williams accepted the contributions of the Republican party, sought the nomination of the Republican party for the State Senate, ran on that Republican party nomination for the State Senate, and was elected to the State Senate three times now as a member of the Republican party; and

WHEREAS, one of the few times partisanship should be expected is during the selection of the leadership of the houses of government; and

WHEREAS, loyalty to party is expected and requested in this circumstance; and

WHEREAS, the casting of this vote for Speaker of the Senate of Tennessee should turn on the future of Tennessee and not on past obligations or alliances; and

WHEREAS, a vote for eighty-five year old John Wilder would be a glance to Tennessee’s past and not a look to Tennessee’s future; and

WHEREAS, the Speaker of the Senate of Tennessee is also the Lieutenant Governor – the first in the line of succession should the Governor no longer be able to serve; and

WHEREAS, Governor Bredesen has been seriously ill in the last year; and

WHEREAS, the exercise of a fundamental understanding of civics, the desire to have a balance of power within State government, the exercise of loyalty to party, and the exercise of good judgment and logic in looking to Tennessee’s future and not its past all dictate a vote for the Republican nominee for Speaker of the Senate of Tennessee;


ENACTED on this the 4th day of December, 2006.


Cecile Testerman, Chairman

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bob Corker Christmas Party

Kathy Cradic, Cecile Testerman, Buddy and Bridget Baird attended Bob Corker's Christmas Party at the Corker's home in Chattanooga this past Saturday, December 16, 2006. Also present were Hawkins County Committeeman Henry Devault along with his wife Marie and son, Tony.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Editorial: Kingsport Times News

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ron Ramsey should be lieutenant governor

Earlier this week, Tennessee GOP state Sen. Ron Ramsey of Blountville was unanimously re-elected by Republican colleagues to be the Senate’s majority leader. But on a subsequent vote to make Ramsey the Republican candidate for speaker of the Senate and lieutenant governor, there was one abstention — that of Sen. Michael Williams of Maynardville.

Given the Senate’s Republican majority, Ramsey should have held the position of lieutenant governor since 2005. But Williams and GOP state Sen. Tim Burchett of Knoxville crossed party lines and supported Sen. John Wilder, a Democrat from Mason.

Wilder, 85, has held the position for what will be 36 uninterrupted years as of Jan. 1, a period that has seen the popular election of five different Tennessee governors and seven successive occupants of the White House.

As such, Wilder is believed to be the longest serving head of a democratic legislative body, not only in the United States, but in the entire world.

Wilder’s service is without parallel and demands respect. But the very length of his tenure, combined with his advanced age, demands that his Senate colleagues take a fresh look at the physical and intellectual demands of the office he holds and has the potential to hold should something happen to the governor.

Although it is perhaps natural for most lawmakers to see the Wilder-Ramsey contest as a political question, the far more important dynamic is a purely practical one. If party labels were removed, would any reasonable lawmaker, looking merely at the age and ability of the candidates involved, choose the octogenarian Wilder over the 51-year-old Ramsey? Is there any doubt that Wilder would have long since become a political memory if the office of lieutenant governor were subject to periodic public vote?

To the average Tennessean, the office of lieutenant governor is perhaps seen as a largely honorific one. But beyond his Senate duties, which are scarcely insignificant, the individual who occupies this position stands in immediate succession to the governorship. In short, it’s critically important that the person who is chosen for lieutenant governor be prepared, in the full sense of that word, to adequately discharge the duties and responsibilities that position entails.

Particularly in the last few years, it has become increasingly, even painfully, obvious that Sen. Wilder is staggering under the burden of his office and public life in general.

Early next year, preparatory to the convening of the 2007 General Assembly, state senators will meet in Nashville to, among other things, elect one of their own as lieutenant governor. By far, the easiest choice is simply to revert to form and re-elect Sen. Wilder to an historic 19th term of office.

The much harder, though wiser course, is to set aside the storied, yet souring legacy of Sen. Wilder for Sen. Ramsey, an individual whose relative youth, energy and ability in that body have marked him as a natural leader richly deserving of his own season at the Senate helm.

In the meantime, voters in state Senate District 4, which includes Hawkins, Hancock, Claiborne, Grainger, Jefferson and Union counties, may want to contact Sen. Williams to help him resolve his conflicted position on this issue.

Sen. Williams may be reached by mail at P.O. Box 176, 5224 Maynardville Highway, Maynardville, TN 37807. His in-district phone is: (865) 992-6254. His Nashville office is: 4 Legislative Plaza, Nashville, TN 37243-0204. His Nashville office phone is: (615) 741-2061. The office fax is: (615) 253-0286.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Republican Women Christmas Party

The Hawkins County Republican Women had their annual Christmas party December 14, 2006, at the home of Kay and Chuck Holt. The delicious dinner was provided by Klassy Katering, and, Kim Cassidy, who is a member of the club, was presented with gifts the members brought for the children with the Even Start Program. State Representative Mike Harrison was present and brought the club up to date on recent events in Nashville.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December 6, 2006 Nashville Scene

Give Him a Garden Trowel...
…And Do Wilder—and All of Us—a Favor: Send Him to Pasture

by Liz Garrigan

There’s nothing more sad than seeing the ravages of time make someone a laughingstock. In Lt. Gov. John Wilder’s case, he’s guilty of aiding and abetting his own buffoonery. It’s not entirely clear whether his waning capabilities are linked to his advancing age (85) or whether he’s just always been on the loony side, with no apparent interest in leading but every interest in the world in being named a “leader.” What is clear is that he refuses to step aside.

He’s less sympathetic that the average old man who doesn’t know when to quit, though, because his firm and selfish hold on power affects not just the 33 members of the Tennessee Senate but all Tennesseans. By virtue of his position, he isn’t just a benign character we can all be amused by until he finally goes away. The man who has led the state Senate for 35 years—starting when Marvin Gaye, Carole King and Don McLean were all on the Top 40 charts—has not once advocated for meaningful legislation or public policy. He doesn’t make anyone angry because he doesn’t believe in anything. Or, if he does, no one knows what it is—besides of course that “the Senate is the Senate.”

That he’s old and has been around for a long time are not what make him a worthwhile target for vilification. It’s that he has about as much interest in improving the state as Gaylord has in seeing Nashville build a new city-owned convention center.

As if this state of affairs weren’t bad enough, state Republicans actually have a 17-16 majority in the Senate, as they did two years ago when the Democratic Wilder was given the nod as speaker and lieutenant governor just as he had for more than three decades before. Certain GOP members have voted for the crusty pol—and threaten to again—because he has been relatively evenhanded in dispensing committee chairmanships to both parties over the years. (During the election season two years ago, one Republican senator, Curtis Person of Memphis, even stood in for Wilder during what was supposed to be a “debate” with Wilder’s Republican opponent.) Such bipartisanship is an admirable practice, but not when the casualties of such delicate pandering, dating as far back as the heyday of platform shoes and shag carpeting, have been leadership and vision.

Take the raucous income tax debate during Gov. Don Sundquist’s second term as an example. For a long time, Wilder was silent on the question. When he finally did formulate some thoughts on the matter, he met privately at the governor’s mansion to go over his own income tax proposal. When word of this leaked, he lost his backbone and denied altogether supporting an income tax.

Last year, when a handful of state lawmakers were indicted on bribery and corruption charges, Wilder condemned not the behavior of profiteering and unscrupulous public officials but instead the federal government for offering “bait to get someone in jail.” His interest is with the small cadre of those who have embalmed him politically, not with the millions of Tennesseans who count on sound policy regarding health care, taxes and other state issues.

We frankly find it troubling that, during 35 years of power, Wilder has yet to risk his hide over any meaningful principle, issue or ideology. As a speaker with nothing worthwhile to say—and, we might add, a tenuous grasp on both standard methods of communication and basic English grammar—his greatest political accomplishment is self-preservation.

He’s so perfectly awful that even Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen has offered him only tepid support. Wilder, mind you, would become governor should anything—God forbid—happen to Bredesen.

Two years ago, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist made it his business to figure out why some GOP members in the state Senate planned to keep an ineffectual Democrat in that chamber’s top job. Frist called Republican state senators, presumably urging them to oust Wilder. As the highest-ranking Republican in the state, Frist was right to query lawmakers on this issue—and not just because Wilder hails from the other party. Ultimately, Frist failed.

We’d urge party elders to try again in the upcoming legislative session. Keeping a cartoon character behind the Senate podium is a good way to get Tennessee on The Daily Show, but that’s about it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Editorial: Knoxville News Sentinel

Wilder's time as speaker might be ending
December 4, 2006

It's been 35 years. Perhaps it's time to move on.
We're talking about John Wilder who, as speaker of the state Senate, also is lieutenant governor of Tennessee.

He's been in the position since 1971, and he may be the longest-serving head of a legislative body in U.S. history.

Re-electing the 85-year-old Wilder to the post has become an issue with its own controversy. Wilder is a Democrat, but the Republicans have a 17-16 majority in the Senate this year.

Wilder's re-election as speaker appears to hang on the votes of Sens. Mike Williams and Tim Burchett, who voted for Wilder two years ago when the same issue arose.

Wilder's position is powerful because the speaker of the Senate assigns committee chairmanships. He traditionally has made bipartisan appointments.

Wilder is proud of the Senate, and while pride is a good thing, we think it's a term that should be used when appropriate. Wilder is fond of saying, "The Senate is the Senate."

The problem is, that's not always something to be proud of, and Wilder doesn't seem to know the difference.

In May 2005, in response to the arrest of four sitting lawmakers and a former state senator in the Tennessee Waltz sting, Wilder said it was wrong for undercover agents to bait lawmakers with money.

Sitting Sens. John Ford and Kathryn Bowers and former Sen. Roscoe Dixon were among those charged. "I'm hurt because John is where he is, and Roscoe is where he is and Kathryn is where she is," Wilder said in an emotional Senate speech. "It's rough. We're family. Three members of our family are in hell. Why? Because they're legislators."

Dixon has since been convicted. Ford and Bowers have resigned from the Legislature and are awaiting trial.

During a prayer with lawmakers after his speech, Wilder said, "Money out there was offered as bait to get someone in jail. It's wrong. It's not Your way."

While we're appalled that Wilder would criticize a federal sting that resulted in the indictments of 11 people, we're even more appalled that he would try to involve God in the mess.

But that's not the only inappropriate response that can be attributed to Wilder. Wilder's name also came up in connection with the indictment of state Sen. Jerry Cooper on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy. Cooper is accused of using political influence to get a $1.77 million loan for an Alabama couple who then used the money to buy a lumber mill from him. The arrangement also involved a $485,000 loan from the state and a grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Wilder is listed as an owner of the bank that made the federally insured loan, and he's the one Cooper first contacted about the money. When the Legislature began looking into the controversy, Wilder decided to sit in on the closed ethics subcommittee hearing. He told observers he had just stopped by to say hello and had no desire to influence the proceedings.

But here's a little food for thought. Wilder, as lieutenant governor, is next in line for the top leadership post in the state should something happen to the governor.

Gov. Phil Bredesen is a healthy man, and we're glad for that. But Bredesen's apparently serious illness this year raised the question of the line of succession.

John Wilder has served the state for a long time, and much of his service has been with distinction. But do we want him to continue to embarrass the state by criticizing officials who enforce the law in Tennessee or by conducting himself as if ethics don't matter?

Would we want him to become governor?

Republicans Count Their Blessings

GOP Christmas Party: Toys for Tots

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bob Davis Re-elected Tennessee GOP Chairman

Cecile Testerman and H. T. Devault, the State Committee Woman and Man from the 4th Senate District, were present Saturday at the State GOP Executive Committee meeting in Nashville to elect officers for the State party for the next two years.

Also present was former Vice-Chairman of the Hawkins County Republican Party, Mike Faulk.