Beavers may chair GOP delegation

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Knoxville resident Susan Richardson Williams, a Jeb Bush candidate for delegate on March 1, was appointed as an alternate for Donald Trump by the GOP state committee at its April 2 meeting. Williams has served on the UT Board of Trustees, TVA Board of Directors and as commissioner of personnel under Gov. Lamar Alexander. She will serve along with former state Sen. Stacey Campfield as an alternate for Trump.

Other Knoxville residents going to the GOP national convention as delegates and alternates include former Sheriff Tim Hutchinson for Trump, Sam Maynard for Trump, Ken Gross for Trump, Karen Brown alternate for Cruz, this writer for Rubio, Michael Hensley for Rubio, Party chair Ryan Haynes for Rubio, Ted Hatfield alternate for Trump, Mike Arms alternate for Rubio and Gov. Bill Haslam for Rubio. Former Knoxville resident and UT student body president Steve Gill is a Cruz delegate.

The convention opens on July 18 in Cleveland.

State Sen. Mae Beavers, from Sumner County (Middle Tennessee) or state Sen. Bill Ketron are being widely discussed as the possible chairs of the Tennessee delegation. Beavers is a Trump delegate who won the most votes statewide. She would be the first woman to chair a Tennessee Republican delegation at a national convention. The chair is elected by the full delegation and a majority are delegates pledged to Trump. Ketron is also a Trump delegate.

■  Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Mayor Madeline Rogero, after staying silent for months on her preference between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has now come out in favor of Clinton by seeking to be a delegate for her. Knox County Democrats in the March 1 primary split almost evenly between Clinton and Sanders with Clinton carrying Knox County by only 900 votes.

If Clinton is elected President, Rogero is expected to take a position in her Administration in 2017 or 2018. Her term as mayor expires in December 2019, and she is ineligible to seek a third term. Being a delegate for Clinton would be a political boost for her to win a job with Clinton.

■  Some Knox County Democrats are disappointed and unhappy over Rogero forcing Tank Strickland to resign his position with the city after working for four mayors. Strickland has been an active Democrat over the years, the first African-American to chair the Knox County Commission and a Democrat elected by a bipartisan coalition. He also had a kidney transplant and is in his 60s. Rogero had never voiced any dissatisfaction with Strickland’s job performance during her first term but apparently had not forgiven Strickland for supporting Haslam over her for mayor in 2003.

■  Hugh Nystrom, GOP County Commission nominee, had a backyard barbecue at his Westmoreland home a few days ago to thank supporters for his substantial primary victory and to encourage them to continue the effort to the Aug. 4 general election against Democrat Marleen Davis. Over 100 persons attended including county Trustee Ed Shouse and Ann Bailey, sister of Gov. Bill Haslam.

■  One really has to admire Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s willingness to depart on his own from the second highest office in Tennessee state government after 24 years of service. John Wilder never did it. Many public officials overstay their time. Ramsey leaves on a high note and the voters had not discharged him from further service. Ramsey made a difference in government and has been a very effective leader of the Senate.

Sen. Randy McNally, who represents part of Knox County, is mentioned as the likely next Speaker of the Senate. He would be the first Anderson Countian to be lieutenant governor and a heartbeat away from the governor’s office.

■  The Legislature is expected to adjourn for the 2016 session by the end of next week at the latest.

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