Alvin Nance seeks old job

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

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.

Legislative observers are surprised at the ferocious nature of attacks between House Republicans with Democrats sitting still. Speaker Beth Harwell is blasting state Rep. Billy Spivey for his attacks on House Clerk Joe McCord and her leadership. Reps. Andy Holt and Rick Womick are attacking the speaker and the governor.

Normally, a speaker would not criticize a minor House member (especially one who is retiring), which would only serve to elevate his public attention. Harwell accused Spivey of being a Jeremy Durham supporter when in fact he is not. She would have been better advised to have downplayed the accusations and said where the actual charges stood as opposed to a heavy attack on Spivey himself. It achieved little for her record of calm, reason and stability.

House Republicans have created a circular firing squad with these frequent attacks. Harwell is not a Ned McWherter, Jimmy Naifeh or Ron Ramsey in her speakership. She is more like Gov. Bill Haslam and less given to cracking the whip on dissident members.

She will likely win re-election to her Nashville House seat but also faces a serious opponent in Jimmy Matlock for her Speaker post. Her problem is that her House district is moderate and her House caucus is much more conservative, making it very difficult for her to represent both at the same time.

The Gloria Johnson/Eddie Smith race for state representative is hot and both are going all out. Smith is linking himself to U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan and Haslam. Both have appeared for him, along with U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2018. Jim Haslam, father of Gov. Haslam, has been especially vocal in his backing for Smith. The governor has appeared in Smith TV ads.

Johnson has had retired UT football coach Johnny Majors and Mayor Madeline Rogero doing appearances for her. Rogero has also assured Smith that she will be measured in her backing of Johnson and appeared with him in Sequoyah Hills’ Talahi Park last week for a check presentation. This is an attempt by Rogero to hedge her bets if Smith wins and she has to deal with him as chair of the Knox delegation for two more years. The fact is, Rogero is playing both sides on this one.

David Kustoff, GOP nominee for Congress in West Tennessee, benefited from a small fundraiser at Cherokee Country Club last week hosted by Duncan, Jim Haslam and developer and UT vice chair Raja Jubran. Kustoff, former U.S. Attorney, won a 13-way contest in August and is assured of winning Nov. 8. He, along with Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, are both from Shelby County. This marks the first time Tennessee has had two members of Congress who are Jewish. Cohen is a liberal Democrat while Kustoff is a conservative Republican.

James Corcoran, who ran a strong race for state representative against Martin Daniel, has endorsed Daniel on the grounds “his economic policies will be better for Tennessee” than his opponent’s (Brandi Price). Corcoran and Daniel combined for 64 percent of the GOP primary vote in the West Knox County district.

Knoxville lost a great friend and history proponent with the death of Bud Albers, 91. A well-known and successful businessman, Albers was an avid historian active in the East Tennessee Historical Society.

The Coffee County GOP has condemned Gov. Haslam for opposing Donald Trump as the GOP nominee for president. Coffee County is the home of Tullahoma and Manchester as well as the site of the Bonnaroo festival.

Next year could be critical for the future of the festival, which sold only 45,000 tickets in 2016, down from 70,000 tickets sold in 2015. The GOP committees in Lincoln (Winchester) and Macon (Red Boiling Springs) have adopted similar resolutions. This is unprecedented.

Early voting has been very heavy with over 9,200 voting on the first day.

Victor Ashe is a former mayor of Knoxville and U.S. Ambassador to Poland.

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