Candidate Information

» Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Announcements, Words from the Chairman | 0 comments

Although the SCTP does not endorse candidates, I’ve written to you in the past with my critique of candidates running for office (sheriff, judges, senators, etc). It seemed appreciated, so I’m doing it again because not everyone has the opportunity to meet with the candidates, study their platforms, or stay on top of the issues affecting our liberties, and in the end know who is best suited to advance our constitutional conservative agenda. Besides, when  it comes to politics, I’m kind of a geek. I spend a lot of time following this stuff, and have a passion for limited, constitutional government. And as I’m honored to be your chairman, I think it’s my responsibility to keep you informed and share my knowledge, insight, and views on issues and candidates when relevant as we continue to work together to restore the Republic.

This in no way means I expect you to completely agree with me and vote in lockstep. We live in a Republic, and each citizen is free to form their own opinion based on their research and knowledge, and vote for who they will. But I have done quite a bit of research on the candidates, and wanted to share what I found.

Early voting for the August 2nd primary will be from July 13th to the 28th, and I wanted to send you this email in time for you to study and decide for yourself who you’ll vote for. It’s a rather long email, but I hope it’s worth your time to read. Your vote is important, and it’s just as important to be an informed voter.

I’ll be as detailed and informative as possible, yet concise as I can be. So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

U.S. Senate

In the race for U.S. senate, there is no real challenger to Marsha Blackburn on the republican ticket. Her challenge will be in the general election when she faces former TN democrat governor Phil Bredesen. Because of that, I won’t spend time writing about it now.

U.S. Representative

In the race for U.S. Representative, Phil Roe is challenged by newcomer Todd McKinley.

I think everyone is familiar with Phil simply because of his longevity in congress. His conservative rating from the various tracking sites ranges from 90% with FreedomWorks to 2% with the League of Conservative Voters. ( Each organization uses different criteria to rate a politician’s conservatism. Some rate politicians strictly on financial bills while others rate strictly on adherence  to the Constitution, while still others use a mix of criteria.)

Although Roe is friendly to the SCTP, he’s not always voted conservatively. For example, although the bulk of the federal budget is mandatory spending, I don’t think there’s been a spending package he doesn’t like, starting with TARP.

When the republicans were in the minority, he continually promised that he would work with his colleagues to repeal Obama-care if voters gave his party the majority. But within a month after republicans gained full control of the federal government, he went on FOX Business saying he was working with other legislators on a plan to make Obama-care better.

Increasing spending and making Obama-care better is not inline with our conservative agenda.

As chairman of the House Veterans Committee, Phil has sponsored several pro-veteran bills. They can’t be considered constitutional issues, but among those bills was a 2008 law nicknamed the “Post 9/11 GI Bill”. This bill helped pay for more than 1 million veterans and their children to attend college or vocational school since its passage. Another new law nicknamed the “Forever GI Bill” updates that legislation for the modern era, expanding many provision and changing some of the rules.

However, in order to pay for this expansion, the active duty soldier’s housing allotment was reduced as an offset. So while the bill helps in education — most often after a GI has ended his or her time in service–, the married active duty service member living off post now has an increased strain on their monthly income as they pay for housing accomodations. I can’t tell you how much of a cut there is. But to me, any cut in housing allowance is an unnecessary additional burden on an already palty paycheck.

Phil’s challenger is a retired Army Sergeant First Class who served with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, as well as being a military advisor in Iraq. He also served 6 1/2 years in Washington D.C. as Advance Lead Advisor with the vice-presidential communications officer. Although Todd has no legislative experience, he certainly learned how Washington operates during that 6 1/2 period, and will have an edge over other potential freshman legislators if he’s elected. Todd is well informed on the pressing issues facing our nation, and has workable ideas on how to address them.

He continually travels throughout the district meeting and speaking to potential voters as he gains support. Because of his military experience, Todd’s values are inline with ours, and is dedicated to constitutional government.

State Senate

In the race for state senate, Doug Overbey was appointed U.S. Attorney for E.Tennessee by Trump, leaving his senate seat vacant. As per TN law, the Blount Co. Commission had to appoint someone to fill his seat. They chose Art Swann, a former state representative from their area. While Swann scored a lifetime rating of 82% with the American Conservative Union, he hasn’t always voted for our conservative values.

For example, during his tenure as state rep, Art voted “present” on a bill that allows carry permit holders to use their constitutional right to protect themselves in parks and recreation areas owned by local governments that prohibited guns in their parks. Meaning, he chose not to go on record supporting the Second Amendment, or he chose not to expose himself as being against a new law overriding local ordinances banning firearms in parks, and potentially damage his A+ NRA rating.

He voted for a 30% gas tax increase when the state already has a two billion dollar surplus.

He also voted for Haslam’s budget that took 200 million dollars a year away from TDOT, and be dumped into the general fund. That move is what caused TDOT’s funding to fall short, and was the rationale for the gas tax increase.

We recently learned that the University of TN established a secret investment in the Cayman Islands. The Islands have notoriously been used for years to hide large sums of money, usually by unscrupulous characters. Art voted for the bill that ultimately allowed UT to keep taxpayer money hidden from Tennesseans.

Art also recently voted for the failed bill that would have given illegal aliens access to instate tuition. That proposal would have exponentially added to the already out-of-control cost that illegals burden Tennesseans with.

According to Newsmax and other reliable sources, illegal aliens cost Tennesseans $285 million in 2007. That cost entails food stamps, housing, healthcare, education, and other social programs they access. The study also accounted for money lost on unclaimed income ( lost tax revenue) and / or money sent back to their home nation. The figure for state and local expenditures jumped to $547 million in 2013, and continues to grow. Providing instate tuition for illegals is the last thing this state needs to do.

Art’s challenger, Scott Williams, initially ran his first campaign against Overbey in the last election. Scott was a relative unknown, yet was able to garner over 40% of the vote. He accomplished this because even though he has no legislative experience, he’s a known constitutionalist.

Scott is a disabled army helicopter pilot who flew countless Combat and MEDI-VAC missions all around the globe. He and his wife have six kids — all home-schooled — with son #3 recently graduating from Air Force basic training.

Scott volunteered countless hours as State Director for the Convention of the States (CoS), traveling to and from Nashville and around the state at his own expense.

The CoS effort is founded on Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the convention is to propose constitutional amendments that will actually reign in our out-of-control federal government. Any and all proposed amendments offered at the convention must meet two criteria; 1) proposals must be agreed to by all state participants, and 2) all proposals must be written with language that restrains the federal government. A proposed amendment cannot expand the role of the federal government, but can mandate such things as requiring a balanced budget, term limits, and so forth.

Once the participants at the convention agree to amendments then recesses, those proposals must be presented to state legislators in every state with identical language, and 3/4ths of the states must vote to approve them in order to be adopted as part of the Constitution. Before the convention can be called, 2/3rds of the states must sign on.

Tennessee officially became the fifth state to join the Art. V Convention effort in 2016. Scott was instrumental in getting  this done by showing legislators the benefits of constitutionally restraining the federal government, and giving states the power to better exercise their 10th Amendment right(s).

As State Director for the CoS, Scott established and developed valuable friendships and allies with most legislators in Nashville as he worked to get Tennessee on board. During his efforts, Scott saw and learned the legislative process in the General Assembly, and now has an intimate working knowledge of it.

Scott is well versed on the U.S. and state Constitutions, and vows to use them as his guidepost if elected as state senator.

There’s a lesser known candidate from Blount County who filed a petition at the last minute, and will be on the ballot. He’s not campaigning, and doesn’t have a real chance of winning. It’s suspected that he was encouraged to run not to win, but to help Swann. His family is well connected to the republican party in Blount Co, and it’s thought that he might draw enough votes from Williams to give Swann the edge.

Governor

There are four major candidates vying to be the republican nominee for governor. Everyone of them is claiming to be a conservative as they ask for your vote. While Kay White is still on the ballot as the fifth republican candidate, her polling numbers are still under 2% with 70 days left before the primary. Meaning, she is not a viable contender.

Beth Harwell, former Speaker of the House in Nashville, isn’t polling much better. The concern here is, she is the one who pushed most of Haslam’s liberal agenda through the House. ( Insure TN, which is an expansion of Obama-care in TN, the gas tax hike, etc.) This isn’t a surprise because the Speaker generally does the governor’s bidding, and she pushed his agenda through the House as best as she could. Because of her close alliance with Haslam, it’s believed that as governor, she would push the same type of liberal / moderate agenda, which accounts for her low polling.

Bill Lee is a smart, successful, and well-meaning businessman from middle Tennessee. He’s a cattle farmer and owns a plumbing and electrical business called the Lee Company, employing over 1,200 people. You’ve probably seen some of his campaign commercials talking about that.

Bill has been able to land state contracts for his business, but has said that if elected governor he would keep the contracts unless there are state requirements mandating he give them up. Although Bill has said he would follow state law, he’s not committed to giving them up outright, even if the optics demand it.

Bill says he’s a Christian conservative and, as governor, will use those principles that have guided him throughout his life. Yet, early in his campaign he was asked his position on transgenders using bathrooms of their choice and not the bathroom of their actual biology. He gave what I thought was a weak answer https://youtu.be/vb32BA6uEcw. He was also asked about samesex marriage. Again, I thought his answer was not what I would expect from someone claiming to be a Christian conservative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qToBcDN7cVk&feature=youtu.be. He’s since strengthened his position statements, but still leaves  room for interpretation.

Regardless, it would seem to me that if someone is a conservative Christian, their response to these issues from the start would have been stronger than what he said.

When Amendment One was working its way through the legislative process, Bill donated financially to the effort. But he also donated $500 to the campaign of the now-disgraced and former democrat Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. He may have thought that, as a businessman, it was a prudent and harmless thing to do at the time. But from a conservative point of view, it’s not smart to donate to any liberal’s campaign effort.

Bill is also a member of an organization called Partners for a New American Economy (PNAE) via the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. He’s considered a Bronze member of PNAE because he contributes a minimum of $25,000 over a five year period.

PNAE is a coalition of business leaders and mayors launched by Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform. In short, PNAE works to destigmatize and normalize illegal immigration, pushes amnesty, and pushes instate tuition for illegal aliens.

Bill recently released an ad saying that Scripture calls us to serve one another, and as governor he’d serve the people of Tennessee. To me, that sounds a lot like the nine most dangerous words in the English language that Reagan quoted; “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.  Knowing what I’ve shared with you here, I interpret his ad to mean he’ll imitate Haslam and use the governor’s office to expand government programs, and have the taxpayer do the serving.

Having met Bill, I do not doubt for a second his Christian faith. He really is a nice guy. But knowing what I’ve shared here, I question if he will work to advance the conservative agenda that we’ve been working for these last many years.

Randy Boyd is a successful businessman from Knoxville who started his road to financial success in communications. Among his later ventures, he bought the Smoky’s ballpark in Kodak from the Haslam family. He’s also buying a lot of property in the dilapidated Old City area in Knoxville, apparently planning to revitalize it in some way. There’s speculation from reliable sources — and only speculation at this point — that Boyd was using his influence with state rep Eddie Smith, also of Knoxville, to build a rail-line at taxpayer expense to run from the Knoxville Airport to downtown Knoxville under the guise of relieving traffic congestion. If that effort had succeeded, it would be a small effort to continue the line just a little further east to Old City, which is ironically the same place Boyd is buying up. Thankfully, key legislators saw that the effort would crush the recently-passed bill prohibiting forced annexation that Randy would need if indeed he planned to move the Smoky’s ballpark to Old City as suspected.

Randy is paying for a lot of commercials. When he announced his candidacy, he said that no one would be able to outspend him, insinuating that–like Haslam–he intends to buy the governorship.

In every commercial, he says he’s a conservative, and says he’ll be tough on illegal immigration. Yet, the online publication called the Tennessee Star gave him the nickname La Raza Randy. The reason is, Boyd recently donated $250,000 to a state-affiliate of La Raza, now called UnidosUS.

UnidosUS is an organization that lobbies government on behalf of illegal aliens. UnidosUS is the United States‘s largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization. It advocates in favor of — among other things– progressive public policy changes including immigration reform, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and reduced deportations.

I guess when he says he’ll be tough on illegal immigration, he means he’ll make sure illegals line up to be rewarded for breaking U.S. immigration law, and if they don’t he’ll cut off their government subsidies.

Boyd is also a sitting board member of the same PNAE organization that Bill Lee is a member of. PNAE is similar in its lobbying for illegals as UnidosUS.

So while Boyd spends millions telling us he’s a conservative, his associations with these liberal organizations tell us otherwise, and as governor will not work to advance our conservative agenda.

Diane Black, the last candidate I’ll write about, has been in politics for some time and has a record that can be examined.

She started her political career as a state representative in 1998, then won her race to be state senator in 2004. She’s since moved onto the U.S. House, and is the former chairman on the House Budget Committee.

Black has a track record of being a conservative. For example, she openly opposes same-sex marriage. As a state senator, she sponsored a resolution declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman, saying that any other marriage ceremony is not recognized by God. In addition, she’s signed onto the Southern Baptist Convention’s Nashville Statement declaring the same thing. She has also publicly opposed transgenders using restrooms not of their birth sex.

While Boyd contributed to La Raza and initially refused to denounce Nashville’s proposed sanctuary-city policy, Black sponsored legislation in Washington that would financially penalize cities harboring illegal immigrants. She also fought – and won – to prevent the Library of Congress from using language such as “undocumented immigrant” on government documents. That may seem like a small issue, but it goes a long way in preventing future Congresses from softening language in official documents designed to alter the public’s perception of illegal aliens.

Diane is also staunchly pro-life. While in the State Senate, she and State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) co-sponsored SJR 127, which became Amendment 1, the measure that would give the state the power to amend or repeal state statutes regarding abortion, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to protect the mother’s life. The people of Tennessee voted to approve that Amendment, and it is now part of our State Constitution.

Diane has also made clear that there is no reason to raise taxes on Tennessee families when the state has a surplus, and if the General Assembly were to repeal the gas-tax increase, she would sign it as soon as it hits her desk if she becomes our next governor.

She also recognizes that there are still some problems with the Civil Asset Forfeiture process and has pledged to work with conservative advocates and her Law and Order Coalition to address abuse and overreach. Law enforcement needs every resource at their disposal to do their jobs, but we need to make sure we protect the Due Process guaranteed in the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of our State Constitution. Black will address this issue in a way that addresses the concerns of constitutional conservatives while not handicapping law enforcement.

Diane has not had a problem-free career. For instance, as a freshman in the state House, she–along with most every republican–voted to give illegals in TN driver’s licenses. That issue sticks in the craw of her critics, and they use it to say she’s a hypocrite when it comes to illegal immigration.

But what the critics fail to mention is that law enforcement throughout the state supported and lobbied for that bill as a means to track illegals in TN. Those who voted for the bill were in fact relying on law enforcement’s professional opinion. The other point to this is, the bill was passed shortly before Islamic terrorists struck the Twin Towers. After that incident, Black successfully spearheaded the effort to repeal the bill.

Ever since then, Black has sponsored countless pieces of legislation at the federal level (too numerous to list here) aimed at curtailing illegal immigration.

As the Budget Committee Chairman, she recently led her colleagues in passing a budget in the House that has been touted as the most conservative budget since the days of Gingrich. The senate failed to act on it, which is what led to the latest Omnibus bill.

When I spoke with Black, I said that Tennessee is the third highest state per-capita of taking federal money, which in turn makes the state subservient to the federal government and essentially makes Tennessee a province instead of a sovereign state. I asked her what she would do as governor to get the state off the federal money trough, and exercise the state’s 10th Amendment powers. Without hesitation, she uttered the words “Block grants”. She said that the state deserves to have the money it sends to Washington returned to the state. But by taking block grants at the beginning of the year instead of taking federal dollars throughout the year for each individual program, the state would be able to decide how that money is used with little to no federal intrusion. That is a major step in reversing the current relationship between a state and the federal government.

After reviewing her record and speaking with her as I’ve done with Lee, Diane appears to be the candidate most inline with our conservative values, has the best understanding of the Constitution, and is most likely to advance our constitutional agenda.

What I’ve just shared is based on my personal research. I hope this email with my personal critique of the candidates was helpful to you.

In Liberty,
Steve Osborn
SCTP Chairman