Columbia Mayoral Candidate Debbie Matthews: ‘People in Columbia and Maury County Are Worth Fighting For’

Columbia Mayoral Candidate Debbie Matthews: ‘People in Columbia and Maury County Are Worth Fighting For’

Live from Music Row, Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Columbia, Tennessee conservative mayoral candidate Debbie Matthews in-studio to describe the process of door-knocking in her campaign and how the people in her city and county are worth fighting for.

Leahy: It is always a delight to have the high-energy of Debbie Matthews in-studio with us here.

Matthews: I can’t even sleep when I have to come in.

Leahy: You like radio, don’t you?

Matthews: I love radio.

Leahy: It’s a lot of fun.

Matthews: Well, it’s the best form of communication.

Leahy: Yeah, it is. I’m a little biased, but I agree. You’re running for mayor of the city of Columbia, in Maury County, which has a population of 40,000. What do you do to run for mayor of Columbia?

Matthews: First of all, you throw your hat in, and then you talk to absolutely everybody. To me, there’s no other way to campaign other than going door to door.

Leahy: When you say that, do you go knock on doors yourself?

Matthews: Me and a team of people. So yesterday there were six of us, and we hit neighborhoods and we go door to door.

Leahy: So how many voters will have had a knock on the door from you or your team by election day?

Matthews: We hit about 200 houses a day.

Leahy: What time do you start?

Matthews: Depends on what teams are able to go out. But we’ll do like, a 10:00 to 1:00 and then a 2:00 to 5:00.

Leahy: On a weekday or a weekend?

Matthews: Every day except Sundays.

Leahy: Let’s describe this. When you go in, how do you do that? Give me an example of perhaps some of your most memorable doorknocks. (Laughs) 

Matthews: Yesterday we knocked on a door, and the man came. I don’t think he had a shirt on, and he looked like he was going to kill us.

Leahy: He was happy to see you.

Matthews: Oh, no. No, no, no. He wasn’t.

Leahy: Did you take your leave from that?

Matthews: No, Sandy Henson was at the door, and Sandy is the most terrific human being ever. And she said, I’m really sorry to bother you, but it’s important.

We’re out here just asking for votes for the city mayor’s position, and all of a sudden, he just melted into this wonderful, fantastic human being.

Leahy: He was happy to see you. What did he say?

Matthews: He said, I’ve got a conflict. And we said, well, lots of people have conflicts. What’s your conflict? And he said, Chaz Molder is a friend of my wife’s. He said, but you’ve got my vote.

Leahy: Well, there you go.

Matthews: I know.

Leahy: Do you believe, when you go talk to somebody at the doorstep – first, how many people know that there is an election for mayor of Columbia, Tennessee out of the 200 people you knock on their doors a day?

Matthews: I think most people know because we’re visiting doors of registered voters who have voted.

Leahy: So, you’ve got the data and you know they are likely voters.

Matthews: They are likely voters. And, you know, someone told me years ago, don’t go pull everybody on the registry, because those aren’t the people that vote. Pull the people that have actually voted in this race at this time.

Leahy: That makes a lot of sense.

Matthews: And it makes a whole lot of difference. There were 60,000 registered voters in Maury County, and during the August 8th primary, and also which was a general election for the county mayor’s seat and the commission, only 17,000 of the 60,000 voted. So about 20 percent.

So the numbers for conservatives were like 13,900 to 3,600 Democrats. So we know if Republicans show up to vote, we’ll be okay.

Then we look at what Republican voters voted in the city for at this time, and how many Republicans and Democrats do we have? And we focus on getting those Republicans to the polls.

Leahy: When you talk to somebody, have they made up their mind? Are they persuadable or are they unpersuadable?

Matthews: Well, you ask them, how are things? You find out a lot of stuff and it’s the same sort of reasons that you got into the race. You’re seeing uncontrolled growth or you’re seeing some social issues or you’re seeing Woke policies regarding hiring or all of these things. And it’s the same mantra. Different people have different things.

Leahy: In your door-knocking yesterday, when you ask that question, what’s the number one thing that people have told you?

Matthews: They’re concerned about the growth.

Leahy: Uncontrolled growth. The question you ask is what’s on your mind or what do you say?

Matthews: How are things?

Leahy: You say, how are things?

Matthews: How are things with you in the city?

Leahy: You say, how are things with you in the city? So you make it specific to the city.

Matthews: I’m running for the city mayor’s position.

Leahy: But they don’t know.

Matthews: I’ve got a big button on. But you have to remember, I served nine years as the city official and city council person.

Leahy: So a lot of people kind of recognize you?

Matthews: They know me. And I have big billboards, especially because I’m a realtor and my family’s been there forever.

Leahy: For a long time.

Matthews: And I’ve been active in everything. People trust me. They always have trusted me. But if I come and say, what’s on your mind? How’s this water issue? Has it been resolved?

Because there’s a big water problem in Sunnyside that people have been calling the mayor about. We need this fixed and nothing has happened.

Leahy: It hasn’t been fixed yet.

Matthews: Has not been fixed.

Leahy: Remember back in the ’50s and ’60s, Richard Daley was the mayor of Chicago. And he was a tough guy. He was sort of a war boss-type guy. But you know, when it snowed, he got the streets plowed.

Matthews: That’s right.

Leahy: When the trash needed to be picked up, it got picked up. And these are the basic things that the mayor of a city needs to make sure happen.

Matthews: Exactly. And right now, I always say that our current mayor, who I’ve known for a long time, I call him Prince Chaz.

Leahy: Chaz. C-H-A-Z. (Chuckles) 

Matthews: He now has just bought a $1.2 million house. That’s public record. He’s moved off to the rich side of town.

And so in his trek into town, he’s on the newly paved streets with the new historic lighting and all of that stuff. And life is picnics and noodle salad for him. But you get a couple of blocks off the square and things haven’t changed.

Leahy: So by the way, Chaz-with-a-Z Molder. You’re welcome to come in-studio and talk with us about the mayoral re-election.

Matthews: He should. He made a comment at the debate. He was like, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the chair of the Republican Party to be at the state legislature trying to get an impact fee for the constituents. You don’t have constituents.

And I’m like, going, well, I have about 70 percent of the county. That’s the county chair that I represent. So, yes, I have more than you have in the city.

Leahy: Debbie, you know, I’m getting the sense that you’re kind of feisty.

Matthews: I am. People in Columbia and Maury County are worth fighting for.

Leahy: Now, that is a good line.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Columbia, Tennessee” by Matt Locke. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Former Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Busy Grassroots Schedule for Congressional Seat

Former Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Busy Grassroots Schedule for Congressional Seat

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former mayor of Maury County, Tennessee and 5th district GOP nominee for Congress Andy Ogles in the studio to talk about his busy schedule and grassroots meetings.

Leahy: In the studio with us, our very good friend, the former mayor of Maury County, that bastion of freedom, that turbocharged engine of economic growth, Mr. Andy Ogles, who is now the GOP nominee for Congress in the 5th Congressional District. Good morning, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning. You know, I have to say I’ve missed being in studio with you.

Leahy: Well, it’s just too much fun.

Ogles: And I don’t miss getting up at 4:00. It takes me about an hour and 10 minutes to get here. I live out in the country. And here we are on Music Row, and it’s a bit painful. When my alarm went off this morning, I was like, oh my goodness.

Leahy: Well, but you’re up early now, running for Congress.

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: And I’ve been tracking – you’ve been doing an awful lot of grassroots meetings. Every day you’re out there talking to folks here in the 5th Congressional District.

Ogles: Well, it’s funny. So Dr. Manny Sethi, he ran for Senate, good friend, had an event for me last night, and it was a packed house. We had some folks come up and they said, hey, I’m going to be with you on Friday.

And I honestly had this look of I don’t know what event that is because we have so many events between now and Friday. When you look back to the primary, the reason why I won is that we focused on the grassroots.

We stayed on-message, we never deviated. When the bombardment started, we just stuck to the ground game. And that’s what we’re doing here in the general as well.

Leahy: Well, let me just say you won the primary pretty handily at 37-26?

Ogles: Yes. Not that I was keeping track, but 11 points.

Leahy: Not that you were keeping track.

Ogles: Our internal had me up by six. And actually, of course, there’s always a margin of error. So it’s a three-to-six point margin is what we were expecting. If it was on the three-point side on election night, you’re a little bit nervous because voter turnout can affect the outcome, right?

If it was on the six, if you’re trending on the six-point side, you’re about ready to give a high five because that margin, you’re outside the margin of victory. But when the polls started coming in, I jumped up to 12 points and pretty much stayed there all night and settled in at 11 and we just outperformed.

But that was really that GOTV [Get Out the Vote initiative] in Maury and Williamson, and even in Nashville, Davidson County, the model that we built, I needed 18 percent and I got 21 and a half. So even in an area where I was going to come in third place, over-performed our own projections.

Leahy: Now, one of the things you showed me is a countdown on your cellphone. Where are we on the countdown? Of course, you’re tracking the time until the polls close here on November 8th.

And I’m looking at it, polls close, I’m looking at your cellphone right now: 27 days, 13 hours, 50 minutes, and 20 seconds. And counting. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

Ogles: We did this during the primary as well because it’s exhausting. I mean, great example: Monday night I was in Hohenwald. Last night I was here in Nashville. My son had a cross-country race, which I missed because I was campaigning for Congress. And you know, right now that work-life balance is a challenge.

Leahy: There’s no balance. You’re running for Congress!

Ogles: That’s part of it. But again, that’s why we won the primary. That’s why we’re going to win the general, is because we’re focused on the ground game and going to people where they are and just talking about real issues.

Even last night at the event, I do the quick intro and then immediately just pause and say, what do you want to talk about? And basically, it becomes an impromptu town hall.

And ultimately we end up getting to all the things that would be on the Commitment to America, right, or whatever list that I assume people want to hear, but they get to decide.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Andy Ogles” and Background Photo “Crowd” by Andy Ogles.

Andy Ogles Talks Top Achievements as Mayor of Maury County and Key Concerns of Citizens

Andy Ogles Talks Top Achievements as Mayor of Maury County and Key Concerns of Citizens

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed TN-5 GOP nominee, former Mayor of Maury County Andy Ogles to the studio to discuss past achievements as mayor and issues he is hearing on the ground through state town halls.

Leahy: In the studio – and I gotta say it again, Andy – Andy Ogles, the former mayor of Maury County, that bastion of freedom, that turbocharged engine of economic growth.

Ogles: I missed that. I really have.

Leahy: I mean, who else says that?

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: I think that actually, that phrasing really was yours, which I then grabbed as your intro,

Ogles: Two different statements on different days. But then you merged them.

Leahy: And merged them together to describe Maury County. And of course, you were there for four years, and Sheila Butt now is the mayor.

Ogles: Yeah, she’s doing a great job.

Leahy: And by the way, we’re going to have a mayor’s roundtable here with Sheila, Joe Carr from Rutherford County, and then our friend in Coffee County, who’s a former state rep.

So let’s talk a little bit about your tenure at Maury County. During your tenure, your four years there – you just ended your term on August 31 – you presided over an economy, a huge growth in Maury County.

Ogles: Yeah, we had record growth both residential and on the economic development side. When I was elected, that’s really what I focused on, was the economic development and going after companies, recruiting them to come to Maury County, because I want people not only to live in Maury County, but I want them to be able to work there, too.

Leahy: And Maury County, is it like the fastest growing county in the state?

Ogles: It is. Both in residential and job growth.

Leahy: So a great place. And you still live there.

Ogles: Yes. And will never leave.

Leahy: You’ll never leave Maury County.

Ogles: Sometimes people ask that question of, all right, well, when you get elected to Congress – of course we still have to win, of course. But 27 days and counting.

Ogles: That’s right, and we are counting, but are you going to move to D.C.? And the answer to that question is never.

Leahy: Never. Why would you do that with a family? Stay there?

Ogles: I’m a nerd. I love history, I love the monuments, I love the museums. But it’s a great place to visit at times. It’s a great place to work. But I would never raise my family there.

And for those that decide to do that, God bless them. But I’m a Southern boy. I’ve got a farm here down in Maury County.

Leahy: I’ve been to your farm. And of course, you got some great fruit trees out there that you planted. You kind of followed the Thomas Jefferson plan, it seems like, in terms of all the trees that you planted and what you’re doing there.

Ogles: Yes, we expanded our orchard, and then our neighbor just sold. And so I bought a little extra property and a pond next to, so I can expand our livestock because of access to water, I could get into the weeds on that. But anyway, it’s great.

Leahy: So let’s talk about the commitment to America. This was announced by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a couple of weeks ago. And it seems to take off on all of the key issues that I hear about, you hear about, when you go out on these events, grassroots events that are kind of turned into town halls where people ask you questions: the priorities, the things that people are worried about. What are the top issues they talk to you about?

Ogles: Think back to like Newt Gingrich in the Contract with America, right, with this here are the problems that we see, and here are the things that we’re going to focus on and get done. And I think that’s what the American people are wanting.

But what’s interesting, you know, we live in a conservative state. We live in a conservative area. And the issues that resonate here are resonating across the country. So when you look at Las Vegas – so there are three congressional seats there in Las Vegas; one of them, it’s an R-2, meaning the Republican has a slight advantage. We were going to win that seat.

But the other two seats are D-2, D-4, meaning that the Democrats should win. And I think we’re going to end up winning all three of those seats.

Leahy: I think you’re going to win the Senate race there, too. I think Adam Laxalt, the son of Paul Laxalt, a friend and confidant of Ronald Reagan, I think he’s going to beat Cortez Masto. What’s her last name? Cortez Mosto, a Democrat incumbent there.

Ogles: What you’re seeing is that the top five, six, seven issues all are really commingled because it deals with the economy, with inflation, with the price of fuel, energy independence. Crime, of course, is a huge issue even here in Nashville. And immigration, of course.

And again, kind of dovetailing with that, the fentanyl crisis. And so I was on the phone with a congressman from up in the Dakotas a couple of weeks ago, and he said, Andy, historically, when you think about illegal immigration, as a country we kind of say, well, that’s Texas’ problem or that’s New Mexico’s problem, right.

But now with this flood of fentanyl that’s coming into the country, it’s now a problem at every doorstep across the country.

Leahy: Everywhere.

Ogles: Everywhere. And by the way, China is intentionally flooding the United States with fentanyl, through Mexico. It is an act of war.

Leahy: Yeah. And let’s go back to the Commitment to America. I’ll just hit the highlights of this.

Ogles: That’s a limited edition. I only have two of those, and I gave you one of them.

Leahy: I’m reading from it now. The four key areas: Number one, an economy that is strong, fight inflation and lower the cost of living, a nation that is safe; number two, secure the border and combat illegal immigration; number three, a future that’s built on freedom, make sure every student can succeed and give parents a voice; number four, a government that’s accountable to preserve our constitutional freedoms.

Let’s go back to that fight-inflation thing. It’s not doing so well because the Democrats are spending money like drunken sailors – with apologies to drunken sailors.

Ogles: One of the things we have to do, not to bore your audience with kind of an economics lesson, but we have a recession – and we’re in a recession, but we have this recession on the horizon. And when you look out at the horizon, inflation is in perpetuity right now.

And yet you still have Democrats talking about this debt forgiveness for student loans. But when you go back in time, what created this inflation, what created this recession, was the government giving money away. Giving money away it didn’t have. ECON-101. The very basics of economics is when the government oversupplies an economy with money, the backside of that is inflation. I mean, that’s just a fact.

And there’s a direct correlation with the size of the dollar spent and inflation. And so now, even when they know what they’re doing is breaking our economy, they continue to do it.

Leahy: They don’t care. The Democrats, in my view – this is my words, not yours – they don’t care.

Ogles: And I think they are deliberately trying to sabotage the economy so that when the Republicans take control and we will, that we can’t fix it. But we are going to fix it. And part of that is through energy independence. So how do you fix this?

One is we’ve got to be energy-independent. Whether it’s oil or gas, we have plenty here in North America. We don’t need our enemies overseas. We don’t need Russia. We don’t need China. We don’t need the Middle East.

And so both the United States and Europe have to become energy-independent, because our enemies are leveraging that against us. And you even see OPEC, at a time when you have skyrocketing prices, and inflationary pressures, are they are cutting the supply of oil.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Andy Ogles” by Andy Ogles.

Former State Rep. Sheila Butt, Now a Candidate for Maury County Mayor, Discusses the Importance of the Individual in Local Political Action

Former State Rep. Sheila Butt, Now a Candidate for Maury County Mayor, Discusses the Importance of the Individual in Local Political Action

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former state representative Sheila Butt in studio to discuss her background and first Tennessee win in 2010. Butt is an independent candidate for Maury County Mayor.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones in-studio, a good friend for a long time, former State Representative Sheila Butt from Maury County. Good morning, Sheila.

Butt: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Well, I am awake and now the studio has been brightened up by your presence.

Butt: Oh, thanks so much. Thank you.

Leahy: We have known each other for a long time. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you get involved in politics down there in Maury County?

And when did you first get elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives? How did that all happen and how long did you serve, and what were your biggest accomplishments?

Butt: I really began getting into politics … 14 years ago there was a Tea Party which began in Maury County. And I suspect that many of us conservatives started as Tea Party members.

Leahy: So that would put us back 2008, 2009.

Butt: Okay. We started way back there. And many of my friends are just freedom-loving Americans.

Leahy: I’m guessing now Trish Stickle was part of that.

Butt: Trish was part of that. Part of that. Almost the entire executive committee of our current GOP were part of it.

Leahy: They were early Tea Party folks. People talk about the Tea Party as something that started on the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and constitutionally limited government.

Butt: Absolutely.

Leahy: And say, well, what did it accomplish? It accomplished a significant amount in some arenas.

Butt: I think so.

Leahy: Being involved in the creation, if you will, of a Republican party that’s active in Maury County.

Butt: Absolutely. And a Republican Party that is individualistic. We are an individualistic group. And so we looked around and we saw that our Republican Party had people in it who were really old-school people that just thought everything is about a party.

And we thought, you know, we want people to be in office. We want people to be able to represent us who are like us. So we virtually started running for offices in the Republican Party and basically became the Republican Party of Maury County.

Leahy: That’s a good success story. And, Sheila, when did you first decide that you wanted to run for public office?

Butt: That would have been in probably 2009, November, December 2010. We started campaigning and working hard. And let me say this about our Republican Party. We have grown that party. In our monthly meetings. We have about 200 people on a regular basis.

Leahy: Every month.

Butt: Every month.

Leahy: And when you started …

Butt: We probably had 15 to 20 people.

Leahy: There’s a lot of energy around … my friend Stephen K. Bannon, whose WarRoom calls it “participatory populism,” right?

Butt: Yes, absolutely.

Leahy: I think that’s a good description of it, with a focus on the Constitution.

Butt: With the Constitution. That’s exactly right. And we all do know that local politics is very important. In our state politics, if you know the doctrine of the lesser magistrate, you understand that a state can protect itself from so many things. And a mayor and a county can protect themselves from so many things.

Leahy: So you first decided to run for state rep in the November 2010 election?

Butt: Yes.

Leahy: That was an uphill battle at the time, wasn’t it?

Butt: It was absolutely an uphill battle. We had a very likable incumbent Democrat and people would say, oh, Sheila, you are just wasting your time.

They say, you know, you might have to get in one and lose one to win one. And I said, “I have never gotten in a race to lose one. No, we’ll win this race.”

Leahy: How did you win in 2010?

Butt: Because as I mentioned before, I’m a people person and I had the same people that are right in the Republican Party right now there in Maury County working with me. We knocked on every door in the county two times.

Leahy: You knocked on every door in the county two times?

Butt: Every door in our district. There was a little part of that county that was not our district, but we knocked on every door in that county twice during that election. We just knew that if we worked hard enough and people saw our faces and knew what we stood for that we would win.

Leahy: November 2010, you’re there waiting for the election results. When did you know you won – how much did you win by?

Butt: Here’s a fascinating story. I’m at the gas station. I’m standing in Spring Hill, I get a call that I have won early voting and I’m not in Columbia, I’m in Spring Hill.

When I get the call that I have won early voting, I know that I’ve won the election. In Maury County if you win early voting, you win the election.

Leahy: And so how much did you win by?

Butt: I’d say significantly.

Leahy: Ten points.

Butt: Ten points.

Leahy: And you got elected easily every time since.

Butt: Yes.

Leahy: But then you retired.

Butt: Yes. In 2018.

Listen to the interview:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


State Representative Scott Cepicky Weighs in on Tennessee Department of Health Commissioners Monoclonal Antibody Guidelines

State Representative Scott Cepicky Weighs in on Tennessee Department of Health Commissioners Monoclonal Antibody Guidelines


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County, Tennessee State Representative Scott Cepicky to the newsmaker line to discuss the recent guidelines released by the Tennessee Department of Health’s Commissioner Lisa Piercy and urged Governor Lee to circumvent the federal government so Tennesseans could receive the treatment.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by my very good friend, State Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. Welcome, Scott. Thanks so much for joining us on such short notice.

Cepicky: My pleasure, Michael. Good morning, everybody.

Leahy: Can you help us unravel this statement yesterday from Lisa Piercy who is the department of health commissioner that was talking about the guidelines for monoclonal antibody treatments?

This is a very effective treatment for those who test positive for COVID-19. She said that for people who test positive, you have to test positive to get the treatment. Then she said the new thing is the National Institute of Health criteria.

Even if you test positive for COVID-19, but you’re vaccinated, you don’t get it. (i.e. the monoclonal antibiotic treatment.) Now, what on earth did she say? Does it make any sense? Can you help unravel that for us, Scott?

Cepicky: I don’t know if I can help unravel something that’s impossible to understand. I think you have to look at the beginnings of all this.

Ever since coronavirus hit the continental United States, most of our leaders, the CDC, have been wrong in their diagnosis, including our own department of health who has been very misguided in their programs to help control the spread of a virus that’s really uncontrollable.

It’s going to go where it’s going to go. But now we get this thing with the Biden administration, and this is where it all started Michael. When the Biden administration came out with an order that we’re going to start the rash in the monoclonal antibodies.

And instead of sending them to the state that we’re using them the most to treat patients to help them get over COVID, they wanted to treat all the states the same, even states that really weren’t using them that much and giving them all the same allotment of the monoclonal antibodies. So we’re now in certain states, these are sitting on the shelves, not helping anybody.

Leahy: That’s crazy.

Cepicky: To where we could be using them here in Tennessee. And like you said, I represent Maury County. Maury Regional Hospital.

Well, on average, was treating about 70 patients a day with the monoclonal antibodies, treating them, and then sending them home and they were fine and getting over COVID. That numbers down to around 19 because they just don’t have the monoclonal antibodies to give out anymore.

And so people are coming in who are sick and right now are being turned away because they don’t have the antibodies to give them.

Leahy: So here’s my question to you. Why can’t Maury County hospital go directly to Regeneron or Eli Lilly to make this stuff and buy it and just circumvent the federal government? Why can’t Governor Lee do that? What are your thoughts on that?

Cepicky: That is 100 percent accurate. That is one of the things that we’ve been talking about in the halls of Cordell Hall up in Nashville, encouraging Governor Lee to talk about that and go ahead and bypass the federal government contract directly and get these monoclonal antibodies from the manufacturer so we can make sure the people of Tennessee have the best medical care available to them.

And that’s one thing we’re going to encourage immensely with our governor and with the Department of Health. They have the money to bypass the federal government and do what’s right for Tennessee.

Leahy: Has the governor responded to that request? What do you think? What has he told you?

Cepicky: From what I understand through the back channels is that that’s being looked at right now, trying to bypass the Biden administration. And let’s make one thing clear here.

This is the Biden administration who’s targeting Tennessee. They are targeting red states right now. He made a statement the other day and a singled Tennessee out for the way our governor is responding to his executive orders.

Tennessee is being targeted by the federal government. They’re trying to make life as difficult as possible for us, and we are not going to stand for that. We are going to defend Tennessee to the best of our ability.

Leahy: Why does it take the governor more than 24 hours to make this decision? If he’s got the money, why doesn’t he place the order with Regeneron or Eli Lilly like today?

Cepicky: Unfortunately, Michael, I don’t hold the title of governor. I’m just a representative up there, but we are encouraging our governor and our leadership to reach out right now.

And, most importantly, this is something that Dr. Piercy should be taking the lead on right now. Her job is to protect Tennessee in health crisises.

One could argue we’re in a health crisis here with these monoclonal antibodies. She should be doing everything she can to secure the necessary medicine for our citizens.

Leahy: But she doesn’t seem to be doing anything except saying, “If you’re vaccinated, you don’t get the monoclonal antibodies now.” That’s what she said. Apparently, according to this Epoch Times article.

Cepicky: We call that medicine rationing, and we don’t do that in Tennessee because we have the means to not do that.

Leahy: Apparently, Lisa Piercy, the commissioner of health thinks we do.

Cepicky: Sometimes we have to disagree with the commissioner, and, you know, I’ve done that on a couple of occasions where we’ve called them out on their policies and procedures.

Maybe they need to take another look at this and before the General Assembly has to chime in and just make this right and fix it as quickly as possible.

Leahy: What are the odds of that happening?

Cepicky: (Chuckles) I wish we were in session right now because we have a little bit more authority to wield. But I know that government operations will probably be addressing this next month.

I know Chairman Reagan on Gov. Ops and Chairman Roberts are very concerned about this. And I would not be surprised if this is not rectified very quickly, that by the time we get to the government Operations Committee next month I’m sure this will be front and center.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you, Scott.

Carmichael: A quick question on special sessions. Do special sessions have to be called for a particular reason? Or if you call a special session and then something like this comes up, can it be addressed in that special session?

Cepicky: So it depends on who calls it. If the governor calls the special session, he has the ability and the authority to limit the call to precisely what the governor wants to address.

If the General Assembly calls the special session, it is open to any bill that we want to consider. It’s basically like we’re coming back into a normal session and we’re going back to work.

Leahy: So have you asked Governor Lee to call for a special session? And what did he say to you?

Cepicky: Well, I haven’t talked to him directly on that. Speaker Sexton sent that letter with the 72 Republican representatives from the House calling for a special session by the governor.

I would much prefer to have the latitude to address the COVID issues and the liability issues with our businesses and the mask mandates.

School issues and this monoclonal antibody issue. I would much prefer that the General Assembly calls itself back into session so that we can take up a multitude of issues and address them all at one time.

Leahy: According to the Tennessee Constitution there are two ways for a special session, the governor can call it. Or if two thirds of the members of the House and two-thirds of the members of the state Senate say we want a special session, then they can call such a special session.

The lieutenant governor, the speaker, the Senate, and the speaker of the house send a letter to the governor saying, two-thirds on both houses. We’re calling a special session.

I know Speaker Cameron Sexton wants to do it, and every member of the Republican talks wants to do it. But in the Senate, it’s a different story.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, who’s also the Speaker of the Senate, doesn’t want one. Any luck with the state senators calling special session now?

Cepicky: I think every day when you add this monoclonal antibody issue on top of it, of all the other issues that we’re facing in Tennessee right now, I think the pressure continues to mount on our Senate colleagues to get us back into session.

And, Michael, the thing that’s really perplexing is you saw that letter from Speaker Sexton, who represents the entire House of Representatives.

He’s the Speaker of the House. It’s very perplexing to me that not one Democrat signed on to at least coming into session and having these discussions on our schools and on mask mandates, etcetera, etcetera.

That’s the most perplexing thing is we can’t even get the other side of the aisle to step up to the plate and say, hey, let’s at least come in and have these discussions.

They don’t have to vote for the legislation I if they don’t want to, but at least come in and have the discussion that the people of Tennessee want.

And in the Senate, I hope we can continue to apply as polite of pressure as we can to begin with. But there comes a point in time when you got to do what’s right.

And I think it’s time for us to get back into session through the General Assembly so that we can talk about the issues that we need to talk about and then get legislation going to continue to move Tennessee forward.

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio