Thursday, June 19, 2014

Report from the Republican Party Picnic. Joe Carr speaks. Staw Poll results not tallied.

Kim Hudgins Brewer, Kathleen Starnes, Jim Gotto,  Carol Gotto,
Valerie Levay, Michelle Norris and Connie Butler Hunter
Campaign signs galore, and red, white and blue bunting, smiles, handshakes, and politician kissing babies and handing out campaign fans and brochures and trying to get you to wear their campaign stickers was the order of the day, as Davidson County Republicans gathered today for the well-attended annual Party picnic at the Ellington Agricultural Center. Before and after the official program, people mingled and visited the booths of candidates and those promoting causes. It was great to meet the candidates and catch up with old friends I had not seen in a while. Attendees ate hot dogs and hamburgers and drank sweet tea and listened as Party Chairman Robert Duvall gave a report on the status of the Party and Party achievements and listened to dignitaries and candidates speeches.

The key note address was by Governor Winfield Dunn, elder statesman of the Party and a man loved
Rod Williams (me) and Bob Swartz
and admired by all. He spoke of his pride in witnessing the growth of the Party in Tennessee and especially in Davidson County which most pundits have always considered a lost cause for Republicans.  Also addressing the gathering was Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Senator Steve Dickerson. Senator Dickerson also served as master of ceremonies and time keeper for the many speeches delivered by candidates.

I am hesitant to start naming candidates because, I will leave some out but there was a bunch of them. Each was given a couple minutes to speak. There are more Republican candidates for Judge in Davidson County than anytime since reconstruction. Candidates for Judge include Adam Dread running for General Sessions Judge,  Marian Fordyce for General Sessions,  Sabrina Orr candidate for Chancellor, and Jim Roberts also for Chancellor. The judges are
Adam Dread
all Republican candidates for their office in the upcoming General Election August 7th. Although they may be running for an office with the same title, they are running in different divisions, not against each other and one can vote for all of them against their
Senator Steve Dickerson
Democratic opponent. While all positions are important, the position of Chancellor can be extremely important especially here in Davidson County. Any suit involving the State Government would go before a Nashville Chancellor since this is the site of State governments and this court may deal with constitutional issues. If we can elect a person who shares our conservative philosophy to this court there is the potential of that person having a big impact.

Candidates running for the nomination for the District 21 House seat are  Mwafaq Aljabbary, Diana Cuellar, Quincy McKnight. Republicans may some times be criticized as the party of old white men, but in the District 21st race, Aljabbary is a Muslim originally from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Cuellar is a Hispanic female and McKnight is an African-American. The winner of that contest will most likely face Democrat Jeff Yarbro in a contest for an open seat.

Running for the nomination to challenge Jim Cooper in the 5th Congressional District is Chris Carter, Bob Ries, and "Big John" Smith. Jim Gotto is running to reclaim a seat he lost by less than a hundred votes out of about 24.000 votes cast in 2012.  He has a great chance to retake that seat. John Wang, a Chinese immigrant who came to America with nothing and has done very well for himself and is motivated to preserve the American Dream for others is the candidate for State House in District 53. In district 51 Brian L. Mason and 20-year old Joshua Rawlings are competing for the nomination. And, in Senate District 19 Sterlina Inez Brady is seeking the seat occupied by Democrat Thelma Harper. Other candidates include Toni Kenton running for County Court Clerk, and  Bob Swartz running for a seat on the Party Executive Committee and I may have missed some.
Stacy Ries sings the Bob Ries
campaign jingle to introduce her
dad, Bob Ries

Receiving the Winfield Dunn Statesman award this year, given to someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the Party was Betty Hood. Betty is the organizer of the extremely successful Bellevue Republican Breakfast Group and tirelessly volunteers for candidates and serves the Party anytime she is called upon. Previous recipients of this honor are Tootie Haskins, Pat Carl and myself.

For supporters of Joe Carr, the highlight of the event was his presence and speech near the close of the event. The victory of tea party challenger David Brat over Eric Cantor in Virginia has been a shot in the arm to the Carr campaign and has energized his supporters.

Unfortunately, this great event was marred by a conflict involving the straw poll. Every year attendees vote in a straw poll stating their position a select number of issues and choosing between competing Republicans for office.  The most anticipated straw poll result this year was the contest between Alexander and Joe Carr. I don't know the details of exactly what happened but understand someone alleged ballot box stuffing. The ballot counting was being led by Mark Rodgers and someone questioned his integrity and it was reported that there was a heated exchange. Rodgers had about four or five people helping him count ballots and one of them was wearing an Alexander tee shirt. Someone alleged that that was improper for an Alexander supporter to be helping count ballots. Where one would have find a vote counter without a preference at a Republican picnic, I don't know.  In any event, it is my understanding that the straw poll was not tallied and ballot counting was terminated. Chairman Duvall made an announcement that the result of the straw poll would be delayed and we would be notified of the results of the straw poll by email or on the party website. I suspect we will be hearing more about this and I will update when I know more.

I am anticipating some additional pictures made by a professional photographer.  Many of the pictures I took are of poor quality and are not posted. Please look for an update.

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