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. – Leahy was joined on the newsmaker line by Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, to discuss his advocation for the Tennessee National Guardsmen who refused the COVID-19 vaccine required to maintain payroll status, the process in which the state attorney general is picked, and his own campaign progress.
Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Senator Johnson.
Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be back with you.
Leahy: So you’ve been making some news out there about the Tennessee National Guard. And just to recap, the Department of Defense has mandated that Tennessee National Guard members who don’t take the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, the process of separating them shall begin.
They’ve now are on non-paid status. You had suggested, Senator Johnson, the possibility that you may call for a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly to address this problem. Tell us where that possibility exists right now. What’s the status of that?
Johnson: Sure, Michael. Well, first of all, it is unconscionable that the president of the United States and the Department of Defense is even contemplating the possibility of terminating these brave men and women. These Tennessee National Guard men and women are heroes.
They wear the uniform of the United States of America. They’re prepared to go to battle to defend our liberty. They respond here at the state level. When we have natural disasters, tornadoes, or floods, they are on the spot immediately to help our fellow Tennesseans and defend our liberty.
So the fact that the Biden administration would even consider terminating them because of a medical decision they choose to make is, as I say, I believe to be unconscionable.
We are in discussions now, leadership in the General Assembly, and the governor’s office, about what our options are. I am all for shifting them to state payroll if necessary, so that they don’t lose their jobs.
The problem becomes, Michael, and this is where we’re in our discussions, is figuring out how this might play out. And unfortunately, we could keep them on payroll.
I think the will of the General Assembly is there to do that so they don’t lose their jobs. But the Department of Defense could still prohibit them from training, doing drills, using military equipment that is bought and paid for by the federal government.
We could be in a scenario where we can keep them on payroll, but there’s nothing for them to do. The conversations are ongoing, but it is a disgrace that we’re even having to talk about this.
Leahy: So what are the odds that there will be a special session to address this problem?
Johnson: I would say the odds are good, but again, we’ve got to figure out exactly one of the things about when we go into special session, Michael, in the General Assembly, and we’ve done it numerous times in recent years.
We don’t go into session and then try to figure out what the solution is. We try to figure out, okay, what is the path forward, what is the best answer to solve this problem?
Then we get it ready. We go into special session. If we need to pass legislation, appropriate money, then we do that. We try to get it knocked out in three or four days as quickly as possible. So those conversations are still ongoing.
And by the way, the absolute final trigger has not been pulled by the Department of Defense with regards to these National Guardsmen and women. So the Biden administration has signaled that they intend to terminate them.
Leahy: Exactly right. Hey, you ready for a little bit of a curveball, Senator Johnson?
Leahy: Okay, here comes the curveball. So I’ve been following this process by which the state Supreme Court is picking an attorney general.
Now, our attorney general Herb Slatery, a fine attorney, but hasn’t, in my view, aggressively defended the Tenth amendment rights of the state of Tennessee or its citizens.
Now, he said he’s not coming back for another eight-year term. Under the constitution of the state of Tennessee, it’s the Supreme Court that picks the attorney general and recorder.
They’ve announced the process. It doesn’t look like it’s very robust, and it doesn’t have a role for the Tennessee General Assembly.
The constitution of the state of Tennessee says the Supreme Court gets to pick the attorney general, but the duties of the attorney general are defined by statute by the Tennessee General Assembly.
I would like to see, and I want to see what your view on this is. We’ve been trying to encourage the Supreme Court to do this. I would like to see a role for the Tennessee General Assembly in the process of selecting the new attorney general. What are your thoughts on that?
Johnson: We had legislation, we had a resolution to amend the Tennessee constitution this past session, which, as you know, and I’ve heard you talk about it on the show here, Michael, that is a fairly lengthy laborious process to amend the constitution.
So we can think about things we can do in the short term and then versus the long term. I supported the resolution. It was brought by my friend Senator Ken Yager [and] would have added a confirmation process by the General Assembly.
It would have allowed to continue to allow the Supreme Court to pick the attorney general, but would have added another component. Just as we do with judges, appellate court judges that are appointed by the governor.
We have now put in place a confirmation process so that the General Assembly has buy-in. That’s another thing that we have done in years past is we have retained our own council.
And the General Assembly has every right authority to do that, to retain its own counsel, to pursue or defend legislation that has been passed, or to sue on behalf of the general assembly.
So I think there are some short-term and some long-term possibilities that we can consider. I do believe the General Assembly should have a greater role in the process of selecting the attorney general.
Leahy: And let me suggest that the Supreme Court has said they’re going to have hearings of some sort on the candidates they select. I don’t see any reason why.
And I will suggest for your consideration that the Tennessee General Assembly should also hold hearings for those candidates. And my guess is they would be even more robust. That’s just a gentle suggestion. Last question.
Johnson: That’s a great idea. That’s great advice, Michael.
Leahy: Okay, last question for you. You got a campaign going on. You have a challenger. Three weeks and two days until the election. What are you hearing out there as you talk to constituents?
Johnson: Well, we are very excited, working very hard. I love campaigning. I love going out and talking to voters. I was out knocking on doors last night in Franklin, and I love meeting voters at the doorstep or in the restaurant or in the grocery store talking about my record in the General Assembly.
I think that we in Tennessee have made Tennessee – this is the line I use frequently, and I believe it’s true – we’re the most conservative, best-managed state in the nation, and we need to keep it that way. And that’s what I’m fighting for.
That’s what I’ve been fighting for in the General Assembly. And if the good voters of Williamson County will give me the opportunity to serve for another four years, that’s what I will continue to do.
Leahy: State Senator Jack Johnson, thank you so much for joining us today, and good luck out there in the summer heat as you knock on doors.
Michaelm this commentary is not about any particular thing that’s happened. When you look at all the things that are happening that are inspired by leftist thinking and then you see what the results are, you begin to recognize that the way the Left thinks and the way they want to organize the world is through pure force.
And even when things don’t work exactly the way that they expected, or in fact worked out to be exactly the opposite of what they say, they continue with the idea of force.
There was a testimony yesterday; I don’t know the name of the female professor from one of the universities in California, and she was testifying before a Senate committee over Roe v. Wade.
It became clear that she thinks that a man can identify as a woman and if you don’t then call that person a woman, just by the fact that they identify or vice versa, that somehow you are encouraging them to commit suicide.
She wouldn’t answer Senator John Cornyn’s question about whether or not a baby the day before birth has value. It took her two full seconds to answer the question, does a baby that has been born alive have value?
She had to really think hard about how to answer that question. And so you see that the Left’s value of life is determined by their view and their view alone. Now, you also see now evidence around the world where ESG, especially on renewable energy, is destroying entire countries and rendering some populations to possible famine.
Tucker Carlson last night talked about Ghana and what they’re doing in the Netherlands, and talked about Sri Lanka. These are countries in the case of Ghana and Sri Lanka, they used to be able to produce 100 percent of their own food.
In the case of Ghana, they exported food to their neighboring countries. Now they are experiencing it, without a great deal of international help they’ll have massive famine.
But yet the Left continues to think that ESG and renewable energy is the key to world order. This is fascinating. In St. Paul, the voters up there, last November, 53 percent of the voters voted for rent control in St. Paul for all rental property and put a cap of 3 percent a year. Since then, the number of permits for multifamily housing has dropped 82 percent – has dropped 82 percent since the voters voted for that. In Minneapolis, which voted in rent control, but left the rent control up to the city council, which hasn’t acted, the multifamily permits are up 68 percent, right across the river.
Now, you would think that the Left or that a rational person would recognize that this was a bad policy, because the Left in St. Paul says we need affordable housing, so therefore we need to control rents.
Well, if you try to control rents, especially in an inflationary environment, you’ll end up with no new construction or virtually none. And so that’s what they’re doing.
Then you see how the justice department can’t bring itself to do the job that it’s supposed to do, yet it somehow has the time and the money and the resources to launch an investigation into the PGA as a potential antitrust violation, and side with the Saudis.
Which is just amazing to me, but not surprising. Then we learned that Biden, in the bill that did pass, it had a giant provision in there for the Biden administration to bail out unions where their pensions are not adequately funded.
Now, they’re not adequately funded because they’ve been mismanaged. So what does Biden do? He takes all the people who are not members of a union and requires them to pay for the bad decisions and bad judgment and probably corrupt judgment by the people who run the unions.
Then you have New York State, where the Supreme Court ruled that their gun law is not constitutional. So they just passed another law in New York State that is equally unconstitutional. But they’ve essentially stuck their finger in the eye of the way that we conduct ourselves.
And then the last one that I have that’s just funny is Joe Biden and the whole Biden administration’s view on minorities. They think that black people, as Biden once famously said, if you don’t know how you’re going to vote, you ain’t black.
Meaning that that’s what he thinks, that black people are just too stupid to decide what’s best for themselves. And then you have Jill Biden, who goes down to San Antonio, and according to Hispanic newspapers, the way that she characterized Hispanics was she said, the Hispanic journalist said, we’re not tacos, don’t call us tacos.
And she couldn’t even pronounce the words properly. She called a bogada, which is a bodega, which is a convenience store in New York. It’s a bodega. She called it a bogada. And so she’s reading off of a teleprompter.
And the Hispanic community, by the way, is picking up on all this, as is the black community. And I think what you’re going to see in the midterms is how the Democrats are just making a complete hash of themselves, but what they are showing is that they truly are a party of billionaires and white elitists. And that’s what drives and motivates them.
Leahy: Right now we are joined in-studio by our very good friend Michelle with two L’s, Foreman. Good morning, Michelle.
Foreman: Good morning. How are you?
Leahy: We’re doing great. You are a candidate in this August 4th Republican primary.
Leahy: You have an opponent, and it’s a contested race, and you’re running in the 59th House District. This is a new district.
Foreman: This is brand new. So this goes along the southern border of Davidson County, starting over in the far southwest where Highway 98 and 100 meet.
Comes across the lower part of Bellevue and West Meade and Belle Meade, Forest Hills, Oak Hill, all the way over to Cane Ridge.
Leahy: So if we were to say, well, in the boundaries of the new district, I guess currently they’re split up between three Democrat members of the House of Representatives, roughly. Bob Freeman and Jason Potts…
Foreman: And Bo Mitchell. Right.
Leahy: But it’s been split up, and so it’s a new district. There’s no incumbent, I guess none of those guys who will be running on the Democrat side in the general election?
Foreman: Bo Mitchell’s brother-in-law.
Leahy: You kidding me?
Foreman: No. So you take those original districts were pushed upward, which left the bottom portion of the county open, if you will. And so Bo Mitchell’s brother-in-law will be the decision. Right.
Leahy: Trying to keep it all in the Democratic family.
Leahy: So he’s uncontested.
Foreman: He is uncontested. He had no opponent in his primary.
Leahy: But you’ve got an opponent.
Foreman: I do.
Leahy: What’s his name? Wyatt somebody.
Foreman: Wyatt Rampy.
Leahy: Wyatt, I haven’t heard from you, but you’re welcome to come on the show anytime you want and put forward your case. The district, I think, when you look at the redistricting so, of course, the most well-known redistricting in the country, I think, is the Congressional redistricting of the 5th Congressional District.
Foreman: Yes. I think so.
Leahy: Which basically went from a Democrat plus-20 district and was safely Democratic since 1875. Democrats represented the 5th Congressional District. It was called a Dem 20. It was mostly Davidson County with a little bit of Cheatham and Dickson.
Jim Cooper represented the district since before the dawn of time – 2003, I think, but even more. But that district was redesigned, and now it’s an R plus-11, I think, I feel, hotly contested.
Leahy: And that so many people want to get the seat, because if you win the Republican primary on August 4, you’ve got a good chance of, a very good chance you’re likely to be elected in November.
The Democrats do have a candidate running unopposed, Heidi Campbell, State Senator, who is a far-lefty but a tough campaigner.
And not somebody to take lightly if you’re a Republican now. What’s interesting about this is if you look at the likely voters in this new district, does it lean slightly Republican? What is it?
Foreman: It does. It leans a little Republican. R plus-4, I’ve heard R plus-6. That means to me R plus two, maybe four, if we’re lucky.
There is a slight lean, and considering what’s going on in the country today, it does look like the Republicans will be able to take this seat again, working hard and not taking anything for granted.
Leahy: And you want to be that Republican …
Leahy: … who comes in. You want to win the August 4 primary.
Leahy: So we’ll talk about that. And we’ll also talk about what you’re seeing. You’re doing a lot of what, door-to-door out there.
Foreman: A lot of door-to-door.
Leahy: In, like 95-degree heat,
Foreman: I would say 100 degrees, 100 degrees plus easily.
Leahy: 100 degrees plus. Yikes!
Leahy: We’ll talk about that. And, of course, Election Day is three weeks from tomorrow. I know early voting begins Friday, the day after tomorrow. Hey, this election is here. We’ll talk more with Michelle Foreman, one of the candidates for the Republican nomination in the 59th House seat, after this.
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 The Tennessee Star’s national political editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to discuss his attempt at an in-person interview with Beth Harwell Tuesday night at the VIEW PAC fundraiser in Washington after her absence at The Epoch Times Nashville debate.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, the very best Washington correspondent in the country, the national political editor of The Tennessee Starand The Star News Network, Mr. Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Hey, Mike. You have kind of a morning zoo vibe this morning. This is fantastic.
Leahy: Yeah, we’re going with that vibe a little bit. So listen, speaking of morning zoos and evening zoos, last night there was a debate in Nashville, really the first debate hosted by The Epoch Times.
The others have been candidate forums for the TN-5 race. Only three of the leading five candidates showed up: Jeff Beierlein, Andy Ogles, and Tres Wittum.
Two of them dodged the debate. One of them, Brigadier General Winstead, had apparently accepted and then backed out on Saturday.
The line from Jeff Beierlein at the debate, by the way, was that this was the first time in Tennessee history that a general has run from a fight. I thought that was a pretty good line at The Epoch Times debate last night.
But also, now, Beth Harwell, the former Speaker of the House here in Tennessee, never accepted this invitation and was busy elsewhere.
She was busy, actually, in Washington, D.C., had a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a fundraiser of sorts at a group called VIEW PAC.
You were there in Washington, D.C. You tried to get her to talk to you at the fundraiser. Describe what happened then and subsequently.
McCabe: Yeah, well, we were camped out in front of the Capitol Hill Club, which is sort of the social hub for Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly the congressmen.
And it’s really where these bachelor congressmen get their one hot meal for the day, and geographically bachelor, I should say. And so we were out there and we were trying to talk to people and, you know, hey, are you up [for us] to see Beth Harwell? We’re with The Tennessee Star.
And then a functionary from the Harwell campaign came out to the sidewalk and said, hey, man, you’re really bothering people. You’re making The Tennessee Star look bad. And I’m just giving you some advice.
I’m not telling you what to do, but you should stop asking people questions about Beth Harwell. And I’m thinking, okay, guy. Thanks.
I always appreciate career advice. You know that, Mike. (Leahy chuckles) But he told us, he said, listen, we’ll bring Beth down after the event, and just stop harassing our guests.
Yes, sir. Okay. I don’t know if we’re going to call it a compromise. Maybe it was a truce. And so after the event wraps up at 6:00 p.m., of course, outside on the sidewalk, we can’t bring our cameras into the Capitol Hill Club to film. They did allow us to hang out in the lobby because this biblical rainstorm was coming down.
But we had permission to film under this sort of roof canopy that they have that extends into the sidewalk from the door. And our trusted videographer Anthony is ready to go, but the guy comes down and says, hey, sorry, we got to go.
I said, what do you mean? You said you’d come down and do an interview. He goes, yeah, but it’s raining outside. I said, no, they got the canopy. We considered the canopy.
He goes, no, our Uber is here. We got to go. And so what are you going to say about a campaign that’s more worried about their Uber than talking to The Tennessee Star, Mike?
Leahy: Yes, well, and again, we did, give the campaign advance notice that we’d be there, and I think it was relevant to say, well, you chose not to participate in this debate in the 5th Congressional District. She didn’t back away from it after making a commitment, as Winstead did.
But there were a number of questions to be asked, I thought, one of which I think this event, the VIEW PAC event, right? Was that the name of the group that was doing the fundraising?
McCabe: Before I go into VIEW PAC, let me just say for the record that she did call me.
Leahy: Oh, she did?
McCabe: And so we did have a seven or eight-minute conversation. She answered the questions, I was recording it, and she agreed to go off speakerphone, which is making [the recording] like crazy.
But she answered the questions and I asked her about VIEW PAC, and I mentioned to her that VIEW PAC has received donations from a man named Tim Ranney, who was fined $8 million for illegal use of credit reports.
I don’t exactly know how he did that, but it was worth an $8 million fine. He gave $200,000 in this cycle to VIEW PAC. Another contributor is abortion philanthropist Melinda Gates who has also given to VIEW PAC, and I mentioned this to the speaker.
You’ve accepted the support. Obviously, this event was sponsored by VIEW PAC and her response was, well, Marsha Blackburn accepts money from this abortionist and this guy who paid an $8 million fine for abusing credit reports. So what’s the big, I guess.
Leahy: Did you feel like, and you’re going to have a report on this, do you feel like that she answered your questions and you got good responses from her?
McCabe: I asked her about how they handled illegals driving in Tennessee, and I thought that was a reasonable answer. She said that she was not beholden to the teachers’ unions, which is one of the knocks against her. She talked about why she’s going to come to Washington and fight Biden’s economic policies.
Leahy: Did you ask her why she didn’t show up at the debate?
McCabe: No, I didn’t ask her that. That was a swing and a miss.
Carmichael: Neil, I have a question for you. When you asked her about …
McCabe: Hold on, Crom, I do want to say one more thing. She did say, which would probably be my headline and lead, she said that she’s lived in the district and she loves the district and its people. Go ahead, Crom.
Carmichael: That’s good. Did you ask her about the $5 billion of tax cuts that she got through as Speaker of the House. And what was her response to that?
McCabe: I didn’t ask her that question.
Carmichael: Oh, you didn’t? Okay. Did you ask her about her repeal, where she co-authored the repeal of the legislation to take away the driver’s licenses from illegal immigrants? Did you ask her that?
McCabe: I asked her about the driver’s license …
Carmichael: No, did you ask her about her repealing it? Because she co-authored …
McCabe: She led the fight to take it away. It was tried, it didn’t work, and she brought her out and she brought it into the program.
Carmichael: Okay, but you didn’t mention that a moment ago. Did you ask her about that? About how hard a fight it was to get that repealed?
McCabe: I didn’t ask her how hard the fight was.
Carmichael: It was a very difficult fight. It was a very difficult fight. She fought against a special interest on that, but she got it done, Neil, so it’d be really good when you’re going to attack a Republican that you get the whole story out. I think that’d be great.
Leahy: I don’t think Neil was attacking.
McCabe: Hold on, Crom. First of all, this is not an American courtroom. What’s going on here? I didn’t put missiles in Cuba, Crom. Come on, man. I’m just doing my job.
Carmichael: Okay. And I’m just doing mine, which is to make sure people know all the facts.
Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 California refugee and the creator of tennvoterguide.com, Craig Huey, in-studio to explain how the guide works and give his top picks for candidates in the even-numbered districts running for election.
Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones our very good friend, Mr. Craig Huey, who is the author of The Tennessee Voter Guide. Good morning, Craig.
Huey: Michael, it’s great to be here.
Leahy: And it’s always a delight because you always bring a lot of verve and energy. You like that?
Huey: I do like that.
Leahy: Verve and energy at 6:00 in the morning, we need verve and energy.
Huey: And for an election, you’ve got to have it because this election is really important.
Leahy: Now, you and I both live in Williamson County, and we’ve decided that the best way to do this is to take some time and talk about very specific elements. And so in this segment and in the next segment, you’re in-studio to talk about, I guess it’s what, six school board races?
Huey: Oh, yeah.
Leahy: In Williamson County. There are 12 school board districts, 12 board members representing 12 districts. And this year is the event, districts 2,4,6,8 and 10 and 12, where there are elections in two years, it will be the odd districts elected to four-year terms.
You’re going to go through each of these districts and you’re going to talk about who you endorse. Tell us about the Tennessee Voter Guide and the process by which you identify candidates.
Huey: So the Tennessee Voter Guide is something to help people have an understanding of how to vote for, not against, their values. Michael, people got in the mail their ballot information. They get five, six different sheets that are just filled with candidates. Who are these people?
They look around and they see lawn signs everywhere. You can’t vote based upon lawn signs. You get these direct mail pieces that are hit pieces and nasty, dirty little pieces. How can you tell who these candidates really are?
Leahy: This guy beats his mother.
Huey: That’s mild. And so here’s the thing. How do you tell who’s a good candidate? Judges really hide behind this judicial concept that you don’t even tell people who they are and what they believe.
And yet the judiciary is out of control, legislating from the bench. And we’ve got these judicial activists right here in Tennessee, and we have people in Tennessee that are Republicans in name only.
We have Democrats running as Independents, we have conservative Republicans running as Independents. How do you tell the difference?
Leahy: It’s very confusing. Now we both live in Williamson County. I think you got a sample ballot. It’s confusing.
Huey: It’s so confusing. It is terrible. You get this sheet trying to talk about early voting. Unless you know what they’re talking about, you can’t interpret it.
Then you get to the next page, you get a Republican ballot, it’s just this massive list of candidates. And then also you get a Democratic ballot and a massive list of candidates.
Then you get all these local elections, and who in the world are these guys and what are these races? And what’s this board regulating? And what’s this person trying to text me on? You just don’t know.
Leahy: So you are here to enlighten our listening audience.
Huey: Oh, my gosh.
Leahy: Tennvoterguide.com. Now you can click on Williamson County. And when we come back, we’ll go through these 12 races. I actually live in the 2nd district, and I see that you’ve got – we’ll talk about who you’re recommending.
Leahy: In this race. Speaking of, the incumbent Republican is Dan Cash.
Leahy: And when we come back, we’ll talk about the race between Dan Cash and Tiffany Echols, an Independent.
Leahy: And I want to see who you’re endorsing in that way because my vote will be informed by your recommendation.