Elections on the Horizon: Tennessee Voter Guide Creator Craig Huey Explains How to Use It, and Highlights Top Picks

Elections on the Horizon: Tennessee Voter Guide Creator Craig Huey Explains How to Use It, and Highlights Top Picks

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.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: In this race. Speaking of, the incumbent Republican is Dan Cash.

Huey: Correct.

Leahy: And when we come back, we’ll talk about the race between Dan Cash and Tiffany Echols, an Independent.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: And I want to see who you’re endorsing in that way because my vote will be informed by your recommendation.

Huey: You’ve got to vote your values.

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.



Republican School Board Candidate for Davidson County D-4 Kelli Phillips on Early Voting, General Elections, and Her Opponent

Republican School Board Candidate for Davidson County D-4 Kelli Phillips on Early Voting, General Elections, and Her Opponent

Live from Music Row Monday 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 District 4 School Board Candidate Kelli Phillips in-studio to talk about door knocking, early voting, upcoming August 4th general elections, and issues with her opponent.

Leahy: Now we are joined in-studio by our good friend Kelli Phillips, who’s a candidate from Metro Nashville Public School Board in the 4th district. Good morning, Kelli.

Phillips: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Well, I guess the question is how are you, because we are 24 days away from the election. Twenty-four days. Early voting begins this Friday, and you wanted to share a little bit about early voting. Where can people vote here in Davidson County, starting Friday?

Phillips: So, starting Friday and going through Tuesday, you can vote downtown at the Howard School building. So that’s where early voting is going to be for the first part of it.

Then, starting on the 20th, going through the 30th, you’ll be able to vote at your local early voting area. Mine is going to be the Hermitage library on James K. Lane.

Leahy: The Hermitage library on James K. Lane.

Phillips: Yes.

Leahy: And that will start Tuesday the 19th. Or Wednesday the 20th? It starts at Hermitage on Wednesday the 19th. So whatever district you’re in,

Leahy: Wednesday is the 20th, right? Right.

Phillips: Wednesday the 20th. Okay.

Leahy: And then early voting ends on the 30th.

Phillips: Correct.

Leahy: Saturday. Then tick-tock goes, because then we have, the Saturday is the 30th, Sunday is the 31st, Monday is the first and Thursday Election Day …

Phillips: Big day.

Leahy: … is the 4th. It seemed to have jumped on us really here quickly. Only 24 days left. Yeah.

Phillips: Time tends to do that the older we get, doesn’t it? It seems like it’s been over a year that I’ve been campaigning, but now that we’re in the last stretch of it, it’s in the blink of an eye.

Leahy: Now tell us exactly where the 4th district is. Tell us the boundaries of the 4th district and a little bit about what you’ve been doing for your campaign.

Phillips: District 4 is the McGavock cluster, and that’s going to be Hermitage, Old Hickory, and Donaldson. And McGavock, that’s a large school cluster.

So as far as what I’ve been doing in the campaign, I have great people that are helping me. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet so many people knocking doors.

Leahy: So tell me about that. When you say knocking doors, when did you start knocking on doors? And how many doors have you personally knocked on? Let’s get the numbers of that out first.

Phillips: Right, well, in our district, we’ve probably reached, I would say 500, 600 people knocking on doors. And I have people to go out and help me. So I don’t necessarily get the opportunity to knock on every door.

But I will tell you what I do, and anybody who knows me knows that I can have a rally anywhere. I had one last week in the line at Hobby Lobby and met eight people and got six votes while waiting in line at Hobby Lobby to check out. So I take the opportunity to meet people wherever I go.

Leahy: How many votes are you going to need on August 4th to win this election?

Phillips: I think it’s 7,000 votes.

Leahy: 7,000 votes?

Phillips: Yes, it’s a big number.

Leahy: How many of them do you think you have already?

Phillips: I would like to say 51 percent, just for odd sake. That’s a hard number to guess, but, I mean, based on the people that we’ve talked to, I expect to have a good turnout of the registered Republicans that we’ve spoken to. Some independents and then even some Democrats that are leaning towards voting Republican.

Leahy: So you are a Republican on the ballot in this on August 4th for county-level elections. This is on the general elections, not the primary. It’s a general election.

Phillips: Yes.

Leahy: You are the Republican, and from what I can tell, there are five district seats up this year and Republicans are competing in two of those five. Is that right?

Phillips: Correct.

Leahy: And you’re one?

Leahy: I’m one of them.

Phillips: And then Todd Pembroke is in District 2.

Leahy: He’s in District 2, but the other districts are no Republican candidates.

Phillips: There’s no Republican candidates. We do have two independent candidates that are running. Fran Bush is in District 6, so she’s a current school board member.

Leahy: Running as an Independent.

Phillips: Correct. Running as an Independent. And then Amy Pate is in District 8. So remember, Pate for Eight and she’s running as an Independent. So those are good people.

Leahy: When we come back, we’ll talk with Kelli Phillips about the issues and her opponent in the 4th District for Metro Nashville Public School Board.

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.


McAllen, Texas Mayor-Elect Javier Villalobos Talks Election, Baseball, Immigration, and Border Policy

McAllen, Texas Mayor-Elect Javier Villalobos Talks Election, Baseball, Immigration, and Border Policy


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 Republican Mayor-elect Javier Villalobos of McAllen, Texas to the newsmakers line to discuss his background, border policy, and taking on federal immigration burdens in his community.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our newsmaker line, the Mayor-elect of McAllen, Texas, Javier Villalobos. Welcome, Mr. Villalobos.

Villalobos: Hi. Good morning. And thank you very much for the invite.

Leahy: It has been a busy week for you, hasn’t it?

Villalobos: You know what? It’s been incredibly hectic, but in a wonderful way, though.

Leahy: So you were elected mayor of McAllen, Texas. It’s a very growing border city in the southeastern corner of Texas. Right across the border is Reynosa, Mexico. I’ve been to McCallen. It’s a great place. What’s the population of McCallen?

Villalobos: The population is about 150,000 right now.

Leahy: That’s a pretty big city.

Villalobos: It is considering, of course, when you take everything into consideration, the rest of the states, of course, everything is pretty much together have a population of close to about a million.

Leahy: What struck me about McCallen when I was there, which was about 10 years ago, a lot of new construction, a lot of sort of export-import business. And people there really seem to be growing businesses.

It’s still a thriving community, except for the past six or seven months have been a problem, haven’t they?

Villalobos: Well, you know what? It has been economically. You really should come to visit it again. After 10 years, we wouldn’t even recognize it. But, yes, of course, we’ve had some different issues. I think I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Six months ago, it was a little bit better. We are about 13 miles away from the border. And, of course, we’re having a few issues right now at any given time. McCallen has two international bridges.

Hidalgo-Reynosa and Anzalduas and at any given point we have hundreds, and I’m talking about hundreds of immigrants, which are transported, really to McAllen. Fortunately, we always say, look, immigration is not a municipal issue.

It’s a federal issue. But we’re kind of tied up. Border Patrol comes and they bring usually hundreds a day. We help process, even though we shouldn’t have to, but we do it for purposes of public safety.

Leahy: Yes, for safety.

Villalobos: To make sure the immigrants are ok. Yes, definitely. Because the Border Patrol comes, drops them off near the bus station. Unless we do something, we don’t know what’s going to happen or where they can be.

I’m not talking to whether pro or against the immigrants. However, we make sure that we take care of business, even though it’s not our responsibility. We keep on talking about it and asking the federal government, the president, Congress, Senate, to take care of the business.

It’s not our responsibility. Our taxpayers should not be burdening or have any responsibility for the issue. And it does. After a while, it becomes very burdensome.

Leahy: You said something there that kind of surprised me. Let me see if I understand this correctly. You said that the Border Patrol takes, I guess, is illegal aliens or who people have crossed the border illegally in buses and they take them in downtown McAllen and then just let him go. Did I get that right?

Villalobos: Fortunately, we have an organization that assists. Not a municipal organization. It’s a nonprofit that will assist and at least logistically keep assisting them until they are prepared to go to wherever they’re going to be going. And logistically, we assist the city assistant in transporting them to the bus station, to the airport, wherever we can. And that’s about it.

That is about it. I think the city has been doing a great job with a nonprofit where even though it’s not our responsibility, we keep on doing whatever we can for the purposes of maintaining peace and public safety and making sure that everybody is taken care of. Especially our residents.

Leahy: What is the nonprofit down there that helps process these I guess illegal aliens dropped off at the bus station by the Border Patrol?

Villalobos: They have been helpful. It’s a Catholic charity called the Respite Center here in downtown McAllen, and they have actually been assisting quite a bit. Without them, I don’t know what the city would do.

Leahy: Has the flow of illegal immigrants dropped off in downtown McAllen by the Border Patrol increased over the past year or so?

Villalobos: Of course. I think we all know probably about six months ago or five months ago they changed the federal policy and things became very different. I would venture to say it was a lot more comfortable five or six months ago.

So it has been different. Unfortunately, this is not the first time it occurred. Several years ago, the city spent close to about a million dollars. It’s different now. We’re not spending as much.

But regardless of whether it’s a million, whether it’s $10,000 or $5,000 it is not a municipal responsibility, and we shouldn’t be burdened. That’s our position.

Leahy: Tell us a little bit about your background.

Villalobos: Oh, certainly. I’ve been here in McAllen for 26 years and I’m originally from here. Actually, not a son of immigrants, but a son of migrants. So I’ve been around. I was a Republican chairman 10 years ago, which surprises a lot of people knowing my background or where I come from.

I ran for office and became commissioner. And then, surprisingly, to a lot of people, I ran for Mayor and against all odds as some people say. Because even though it’s a non-partisan race, everybody here votes Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

Everybody knew I was a former Republican chairman, and fortunately, I was elected. It was a close one. It was a very close one, but I was elected.

Leahy: Now, what do you do for a living, Javier?

Villalobos: Mostly the main business is that I’m a lawyer.

Leahy: You’re an attorney?

Villalobos: Yes, sir. What area of law do you specialize in?

Villalobos: Pretty much a lot of governmental work representing cities, schools, housing authorities, economic development, and corporations. But I like to dabble in trial work also, some of the criminal and litigation.

Leahy: So how did you personally decide to become an attorney?

Villalobos: As I said, I’m not from there. I’m from Crystal City, a small little place about 250 miles from here. I remember coming from a barrio. And that is the truth. But I played baseball.

And I remember one of the coaches, he was a lawyer, and I always looked up to him and I thought maybe one day. Of course, I didn’t think so because we were from the barrio.  But you know what it was?

I always say education is a great equalizer, and I really believe in that. And that’s what happened. That’s how we did it.

Leahy: So Crystal City is a barrio in El Paso? Where is Crystal City?

Villalobos: No, it’s about 250 miles North West of San Antonio, but it’s a small little place, a population of about 8,000 people back when I was a kid and still the same.

Leahy: So you’re a baseball guy? Did you grow up playing baseball as a kid?

Villalobos: (Laughs) And I love it. Still coaching. My kid doesn’t like to play with me anymore because he’s a senior in high school. So we started another team again with T-Ballers. So here we go again.

Leahy: I’m a big baseball fan. I love playing it. I was in high school. I was probably I was a good field no-hit guy right infielder. I hit about 240 s you can see why I didn’t make it past high school playing baseball. What position did you play?

Villalobos: I used to play second base and outfield.

Leahy: I was a second basement and a third baseman, too, so it was kind of fun. Who’s your team now?

Villalobos: Even when my kids were little. Now, if you’re talking about our local team, we’re called the Villalobos. Of course, I got The Lobos.

Leahy: There you go.

Villalobos: Once again, brand new kids because our kids grew up and they don’t want to hang out with dad anymore. So we got a new batch of kids. (Leahy laughs) Let’s see what we can do with them.

Leahy: Let’s talk a little bit about baseball for a minute in youth development. When I was a kid, many years ago, in the summer, I lived on a hill and there was a valley. I would ride my bike down the playground and people would be there.

And we would just play pick-up baseball. I did it every day. Today, it seems a lot harder for kids to play baseball.

Villalobos: It’s totally different nowadays for kids. I did exactly the same back then. You just get a bunch of kids and there’s an empty lot and here we go. Let’s play ball. It’s a little bit different nowadays.

But now the ones that are organized, there’s baseball all year round now. And if it’s organized, I mean, that’s a beautiful thing. The issue we have a lot of the times not just here, McAllen but everywhere is finding spaces for practice.

Leahy: Exactly. Hey, hold on to that thought. The Mayor-elect Javier Villalobos. I want to talk about baseball. I want to talk about immigration. And I want to talk about border policy.

Listen to the full first 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.
Photo “Javier Villalobos” by Javier Villalobos Campaign. 










Crom Carmichael on the Polarization of the United States of America

Crom Carmichael on the Polarization of the United States of America


Live from Music Row Monday 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 original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio who referenced a recent article by Byron York about the polarization in America and his take on market impact.

Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend, the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. Crom, good morning.

Carmichael: Morning Michael.

Leahy: Crom, you know I’m taking the next week off. A week from today is Memorial Day. We will have a best of programs. And Scooter we have so many great programs it’s going to be hard for you to pick the best of? (Laughter) Like there are so many great programs.

Then on Tuesday and when Wednesday sitting in my seat, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report, Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party. And if all goes well, Thursday and Friday, co-founder of The Tennessee Star, Christina Botteri, will be sitting in for me on Thursday and Friday. So Crom, you’ll have a guest host on Wednesday and Friday of next week. I know you’ll miss me. Yes, I’m sure you will miss me desperately.

Carmichael:  Hope wherever you are it’s successful.

Leahy: So do I. Well, you are busy reading, as you always are. And you read a column by Byron York. A very good writer. Tell us about that column.

Carmichael: Well, what Byron York points out is that over the last gosh six decades and after 100 days, there are polls that are taken on the approval and disapproval or actually, it’s not even approval of disapproval. It’s the approval of the President.

Leahy: After a hundred days?

Carmichael: Yes. And they divide it by GOP and Democrat. And under Biden, the approval rate among Republicans is nine percent. The approval rate among Democrats is 90 percent. So the gap between the two is 81 percent.

Leahy: 90 percent approval of Democrats for Biden.

Carmichael: So don’t focus on that. Focus on the gap between the two because with Lyndon Johnson who was a pretty polarizing guy, the gap was 15 points. Now with Nixon had got to 39 points. Then it went back down to Gerald Ford 31.

Jimmy Carter was 27, and Reagan was 45. But then after that, it dropped back down to 39. And that was George H. Bush in ’89. So that’s three decades ago that it’s gone from 39 to 57 to 62 to 63. Trump was 77. Biden is 81.

So it shows that our country, this is the point, it shows that our country is becoming incredibly polarized. This is what is very disturbing. And this is what I talk about a lot since you had me back on the show. And that is that the Democrat Party is the party of government and those affiliated with the government.

And the Republican Party is the party of everybody else. If you perceive yourself to be affiliated with the government or benefiting from government and you don’t think you can benefit from government in a free society with less government, then you’re going to support Democrats.

But the effect of that over the last 20 years certainly is that the deficit. And the way Democrats have maintained their influence among voters is they just throw around money. And there is a limit to that. I don’t know what it is, but when we reach it, we’ll reach it in a hurry.

Leahy: Things will start really falling apart. Economically.

Carmichael: In my lifetime we’ve had at least five Black Swan event-type of things. In the ’70s there were two liquidity crises. Then you had in ’87, you had a real estate debacle. Then you had the dot com boom-bust.

Leahy: Boom then bust.

Carmichael: Boom then bust around the year 2000. Then you had 2008 to 2010 once again, real estate debacle. And when those things occur, everybody is surprised. For example, I have been asking, I have friends and then I meet people who are in the investment business.

They’re professionals with investment banking firms. And I asked them, I said, what is your firm’s position on how the market is. Where does it sit and where is it headed? And I get the same answer from every literally the same answer from everyone.

As long as the Fed is accommodating and interest rates stay low, then the market will go up. When all the professionals in the market and I’m not saying all of them, but a majority when all of them think the same thing, typically, whatever it is they think turns out to be incorrect because markets are contrary.

When the people are incredibly bullish, that means people are fully invested. So there’s not a whole lot more to drive the markets up. And as these people point out is that when you have the Fed providing liquidity, then there is a lot of money chasing assets. But if inflation pops up…

Leahy: Which it’s doing.

Carmichael: Well, if it pops up even more and it’s longer-term than one or two months, then all of a sudden the Fed will have to adjust its behavior.

Leahy: Interest rates will have to go up.

Carmichael: They’ll have to push them up and they’ll have to tighten liquidity. And when that happens, then that’s when the markets will adjust, because the investment community thinks that the Feds are going to keep interest rates down and provide liquidity.

If they do, then the markets will continue to go up when everybody thinks the same thing is going to happen. So I want to get back to what this article is, which is so interesting to me is that even Democrats invest in the stock market. Republicans invest in the stock market.

But you see this huge difference in opinion. The Democrat party is now revealing itself in that it does not look right now from where I sit, I think that Biden’s tax package is all but dead. I think that his infrastructure program is all but dead.

And if those two things are all but dead or actually are dead, then his family Bill will never even get on the runway. And so what we’ll have is we’ll be going into the midterm, where the leadership of the Democrat Party was pushing an incredibly reckless agenda.

But it was three or four Democrats in the Senate who stood their ground silently, along with Republicans who stood their ground vocally. They kept the left that controls the Democrat Party now from doing some things that would just wreak havoc on the economy.

It will be interesting to see if things don’t do well. First of all, if Biden doesn’t get his big tax package passed and doesn’t get infrastructure and doesn’t get anything done, whether or not he will remain as popular among Democrats. I think a big part of his popularity among Democrats is he’s not Trump.

Leahy: Bingo.

Carmichael: And as long as Trump exists as a political force, which is going to be…

Leahy: Unless something happens.

Carmichael: Unless something happens to him, he will, then Biden’s popularity among Democrats. There are still Independents’ out there, which probably represent among these people who are polled. I’m going to say maybe 15 to 20 percent who don’t claim they’re not either one.

In which case they don’t participate in the poll, as long as Trump is out there than Biden’s popularity, regardless of what he does. And this is to me, what’s a little bit different because when George W. Bush was President, he lost his popularity in his last two years with Republicans.

When he left office, his popularity was 29 percent. And that’s because everybody had lost confidence in him. And I was among those. And the more time passes, my sense of it is he will be as a President.

Leahy: Absolutely. His ratings are going to continue to plummet.

Carmichael: And he’ll be down in the bottom third of presidents all the time fairly soon. And I think he’ll continue to drop below that. There are some people who think the world of George Bush. He was a fine gentleman. And even when people attack him, he would respond by turning the other cheek. And some people see that as a virtue. I think it’s virtuous in some professions.

Leahy: No not at all.

Carmichael: I don’t think it’s effective as a politician, especially as President. I think if you don’t fight for what you believe in, then the public soon begins to believe that you don’t believe in anything at all. This poll with Byron York shows the polarization in the country, and we’ll talk about that more when we get back.

Leahy: I completely agree. The question is, what does this mean for the future? We’ll talk about that.

Listen to the second 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.
Photo “Crom Carmichael” by Crom Carmichael.












Back From CPAC, Republican Robby Starbuck Discusses His Priorities in the Race for Nashville’s Fifth Congressional District

Back From CPAC, Republican Robby Starbuck Discusses His Priorities in the Race for Nashville’s Fifth Congressional District


Live from Music Row Monday 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 Republican candidate for Nashville’s fifth district Robby Starbuck to the newsmakers line to discuss his appearance at CPAC over the weekend, what motivated him to run for office, and his top priorities.

Leahy: We are joined by Robby Starbuck who gave a great speech at CPAC the other day and was very well received. Attacking big Tech in his Monopoly. He’s running for congress here in the fifth congressional district in Davidson County. Good morning, Robby.

Starbuck: Good morning Michael. How are you doing today? Thanks for having me.

Leahy: Well, happy birthday. Your birthday was over the weekend and you announced for Congress and gave a ten-minute speech that was very well received at CPAC. How did that come about?

Starbuck: Well, that’s actually you know, that’s an interesting question. It’s a long line, like anything good in life a lot of good people telling good people, hey,  you should meet this person and you should meet this person. I mean that’s kind of the nature of life. So eventually it got to the people who run CPAC. And they reached out to me or like hey, we’ve been told that you’re doing great things and we looked you up. We saw what you had to say. We watched some of your other speeches and we would love to have you. And it was really that simple.

Leahy: You’re a director and producer known for your cinematic style that you’ve brought to the music video genres. You’ve directed a number of Hollywood stars like Natalie Portman, Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt, Megan Fox, and Josh Duhamel.

Starbuck: That’s right.

Leahy: You have quite a background there. What happened when you said you were a Republican back in 2015?

Starbuck: I don’t think there’s anything worse you can say in Hollywood than admitting you are a Republican. So it didn’t go. You go from being invited to all the parties and all that stuff, which I never went to anyways and never liked. I was never one of those people. But you’re invited to everything and everybody loves you and blah blah blah and you come out and say you’re a Republican and it’s like telling them you’re a leper and you want to touch them. (Leahy chuckles) 

It’s the worst possible thing you could do. But I would do it over and over again And I said that in the CPAC speech that I would do it over and over again despite the loss of business and the way my kids were treated and all that. Freedom runs in my DNA from my family coming here from Cuba. I will always be eternally grateful to America because I would not be alive if it were not for the existence of America.

So every chance I get to stand up for freedom I will take it and I will do it. And I saw the signs many years ago that what happened in Cuba could happen here. And when it got to that boiling point where I knew I had to make a decision about whether to keep my career or to speak up, it was a very easy decision for me. One because of what happened in my family. Leftism stole everything from them in Cuba. And I mean literally everything.

But secondarily because I know that if I didn’t do anything one day when I go to heaven my grandma would be waiting there with a shoe and she’d be smacking me with it for the rest of eternity. And she would rather me take that beautiful experience and have turned it into help for me hitting me with that shoe if I didn’t do something now. So it was a very clear decision that I had to do something.

Leahy: When did you formally announce your candidacy for the Republican nomination in the fifth congressional district here in Nashville?

Starbuck: Well, I first actually did it after the election in November because I was so upset about how things were running. And sort of how some of the establishment were defending the ideals that I hold, which when I say defending, I mean they were not defending it. And so I felt like I’ve got to stand up and do something. And I also saw a great opportunity to get rid of one of the Cooper’s because I don’t know that I have met very many people in Nashville who care for the Coopers. And I think that is the best opportunity there’s ever been to get one of them out of office.

Leahy: Now, do you have a campaign website?

Starbuck: For now people can go to FreedomForever.us. People who live here for have lived here for a long time will know that we have to redistrict this year. And so there’s a minute possibility the district name or number rather changes. So we’re waiting another week or two before we do the filing where we’ll start fundraising doing all that stuff. But you can sign up at FreedomForever.us right now to sign up to volunteer.

We’re also going to help other candidates who don’t have as much of a national platform that are great candidates because I think one of the problems we have in America as you know, we’ve seen some of these people who are just there in there for 20 terms and they’re not doing anything. All they’ve done is rename a post office in the 20 years they’ve been there or 40 years whatever it is.

And we need real fighters for America and fighters for freedom. So I’m going to do everything I can to help other candidates that really have sort of the more American agenda that we can help with. And if I can use that platform to help others I will. FreedomForever.us is the best place for us to do that.

Leahy: FreedomForever.us. Now tell us about the redistricting you anticipate for I haven’t seen a lot that says that the fifth district will be that much different in the 2022 election than it is in 2020. Do you have any indication that will be significantly different?

Starbuck: I think that it will be. I do. I think people are going to be surprised. I do think that they will re-district the fifth and we have the room to do it. If you go back a decade ago and you take a look at a lot of the redistricting plans there were you can look and see that those outer districts if you go back when you say hey, what would have happened in these elections had we done it 10 years ago? We would have won every one of those districts by significant margins and we would have won the Nashville district five and done so easily.

I think it’s a no-brainer and I think a lot of people in the legislature understand that. But it’s a no-brainer to better represent the will of citizens here in Tennessee. And if you look at a state like Tennessee you look the way we vote and you go around anywhere it’s insane that we have two people in Congress who are Democrats in the state of Tennessee. Not just Democrats, but they’re voting you know with the far left many times. The very far left. We’re not talking about the blue dog Democrats of 20 years ago. It’s a very different party now.

Leahy: If elected, what would be your first top priority?

Starbuck: My top priority not just when I’m first elected, but for the entire time would be to protect and expand freedom. And that’s the lens I’m going to look at everything through. Am I protecting freedom and my expanding it and I’m making life better for people? If things are not making life better or easier for people in this district and it’s not expanding and protecting freedoms that they have here, then it’s not something that I’m going to throw my weight behind. But those are the very simple things and I’m going to look through the lens of when I’m looking at policy.

Leahy: Your speech was about pushing back against Big Tech. What specific legislation in Congress would you support to push back against Big Tech?

Starbuck: So I support Josh Hawley’s model. I want to break up Big Tech. You look at the effect it had on small businesses. Let’s take Amazon for instance. We used to do this as Republicans. We used to trust-bust. And these companies like Amazon, they’ve destroyed small businesses. So many small business owners have lost their businesses lost their way of life because Amazon was allowed to play really dirty games with how they grew their company.

They did it in a way where their business model was essentially to lose money in order to choke out small businesses until they had such a large market share that they couldn’t be beat anymore. And so we need to look at those companies through that lens. And then on top of that there’s just the freedom of expression issue. Social media has turned into the public square and we need to treat it that way.

And people whether they are a Republican, Democrat, Socialist, or a Communist I believe you have the right to your voice in the public square. And I think we have seen far too much censorship. We’re seeing now with the Amazon they cancel conservative books even. And you have the majority of books sold on Amazon. All of these companies, social media companies, and big tech companies as a whole largely need to be broken up. And the few that do not need to be broken up do need some regulations in place that make it very clear that they cannot discriminate against people for their political beliefs.

Leahy: Do you support or oppose the revocation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the Communications Act of 1996, which provides litigation liability against censorship efforts by Facebook, Google Twitter, and that crowd?

Starbuck: Yeah, so the truth is the best way to handle 230, for now, is to rewrite it. We need to rewrite it, but it can’t be entirely cooled because what will happen then is and I think for a lot of people this hasn’t been explained fully, but what would happen if we pull 230 entirely? And we just got rid of it with nothing in its place? Then social media companies would not allow you to post immediately.

So if there were some big event happening today and you wanted to post about it and you said oh I saw this great speech today blah blah blah you would submit it and Twitter would have to hold that Tweet and have it reviewed by legal to ensure that it was not something that they saw as a legal issue. And so I don’t think that that is something Americans want to deal with when you’d have to wait a week for your posts to be approved. So I think revising it and making it very clear is the path forward.

Leahy: Robby Starbuck director and candidate for Congress in the fifth congressional district for the Republican nomination. Will you come in studio and talk more with us in the future?

Starbuck: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would have done it today. If it was just this was so tight coming back.

Leahy: We got you on that one, Robby. Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great day. We look forward to seeing you in the studio.

Listen to the second 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
Photo “Robby Starbuck” by Robby Starbuck.