State Republicans were relieved this month when Rep. Eddie Smith won re-election in state House District 13 by narrowly defeating Democrat Gloria Johnson.
It was a close race and Johnson was right not to concede on election night with so many provisional (paper) ballots pending. However, Johnson was wrong to seek a court order to try to obtain the names and addresses of provisional voters.
Deadline closed in on this column before Democrat Gloria Johnson’s election challenge played out, but her legal action plus Monday’s scheduled counting of nearly 600 provisional ballots from all over the county were unlikely to produce enough votes in her District 13 House race for her to overcome her Republican opponent, Eddie Smith’s, 153-vote lead.
Johnson’s smart. She knew she was unlikely to win this battle.
City Council has approved after five years of waiting $1.2 million for the First Creek greenway construction. This was a greenway promised by Mayor Rogero in her first budget message in 2011 and then quickly forgotten.
The past greenway coordinator had few achievements in her five years in Knoxville. Fortunately, she has left the city and moved to a related position in Chattanooga.
Ryan Haynes will resign his post as state GOP chair a few weeks after the Nov. 8 election. Haynes, a former state legislator who represented Farragut and West Knox County, has been unhappy with the position. He is a more policy-oriented person and does not like the internal GOP politics on the state executive committee. He was also blindsided by Gov. Bill Haslam’s rejection of Donald Trump, which fell on him to explain.
When Gov. Haslam repudiated Trump, the party headquarters was swamped with irate Republican calls and Haynes was attacked, too. He received only six hours’ notice on the Haslam move to prepare when it hit the media.
The District 13 race for state representative between Eddie Smith and Gloria Johnson has brought out an array of luminaries. We heard that the governor’s dad, Big Jim Haslam, talked at length about the importance of the race at an exclusive fundraiser for somebody else.
Gov. Bill Haslam is all over cable TV saying, “Come on, Knoxville. I need your help (for Smith).”
Alvin Nance, former executive director of KCDC who left to work for Lawler Wood Housing Partners, has applied for his old job back at Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation as Art Cate is retiring as director. Nance will have to compete with at least 38 other applicants, and the process will likely go into 2017. If he prevails, this will be the first time the same person has served twice as KCDC chief.
Nance was highly regarded at KCDC and would be a safe and respected choice for another tour. He would not need on-the-job training. He also would not be running for mayor in a special election in 2017 or the regular election in 2019.
Eddie Smith’s first campaign mail piece, a sunny, positive, oversized postcard praising the 13th District state representative for working hard to develop higher educational standards, hit two weeks ago.
The next one came a week later and featured a group of happy kids studying a globe. A full-color shot of a smiling Smith appeared on the back, positioned next to a paragraph describing him as a torchbearer for better education. The bottom half of the card was the color of the Vols’ smoky-gray football jerseys with a black-and-white picture of an angry, open-mouthed Gloria Johnson looking for a child to devour.
This week I am in Tbilisi, Georgia, as an election observer for their parliamentary elections. The trip is sponsored by the International Republican Institute, a private, nonprofit group. IRI promotes democratic procedures, fair elections and participatory democracy as does its counterpart, which is the National Democratic Institute. Neither is part of the partisan RNC or DNC.
Georgia was part of the former Soviet Union and is where Joseph Stalin was born. It has been an independent nation for 25 years with varying degrees of success. I was present four years ago in Georgia, also as an election observer for IRI, when parliamentary elections were held and resulted in the ruling party being swept out of office.
The rumor that Gloria Johnson might switch districts started the day state Rep. Joe Armstrong was convicted in federal court of filing a false incomes tax return and stripped of his office.
“I was out in South Knoxville at a volunteer meeting that night, and noticed my Twitter feed had a tweet from a College Republican about me moving to the 15th District. I thought, ‘What a ridiculous rumor,’” said Johnson, who held the 13th District seat from 2012-2014, when she was defeated for re-election by Republican Eddie Smith. Johnson is squaring off against Smith in November.