Guest Host Ben Cunningham and AFP’s Grant Henry Impressed With Tennessee Legislature, Encourage Citizens to Reach Out and Get Involved
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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry in studio to discuss the proficiency of the Tennessee legislature, getting involved, and grassroots training offered by AMF.
(Andrew Cuomo clip plays)
Cunningham: That was the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, trying to save his political career and life. Whether or not he will be able to is questionable at this point after the AG report came out yesterday. They didn’t charge him with anything. She’s leaving that up to the DAs.
I think there is one DA in Albany that is investigating, but the charges of sexual harassment or any criminal activity have not been brought yet. That was just a report which was pretty damning. And it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out. He is trying to hold on.
I don’t know whether he will be able to at this point. There was some talk yesterday about impeachment proceedings. So real interesting, interesting political drama playing out there in New York and all among Democrats. (Chuckles) This is a Democrat state, and they will be hashing that out in the coming days.
It’ll be fascinating just as political bystanders to see what happens there. I think yesterday even the president said, yes, he ought to resign. So we’ll see what happens with that. We’ve got a little political drama playing out in Nashville.
Cameron Sexton, the speaker of the House, was on yesterday with us talking about the news conference that he and the governor and Jack Johnson and the commissioner of education had basically said to school systems, you guys got to get your act together and get kids back in school. There is a report that I guess it’s Speaker McNally.
Henry: That’s right.
Cunningham: In the Senate, it’s basically saying, hold on here. Let’s not rush into this. And that’s been fairly typical of the dynamic down at the legislature. Speaker McNally tends to be a little bit more of a slow walk on these kinds of issues and doesn’t join in sometimes.
But I think the governor is the one who calls a special session. So if he wants to call a special session, if these schools persist in masking up and staying remote. And the Democrats are really pushing back hard yesterday in Davidson County and Shelby County in saying we’re not going to go along with this, especially with the Delta variant.
So they were pushing back. It’s going to be really interesting to see how all that plays out at the legislature. The legislature is an interesting place. (Henry laughs) You’re down there a lot more than I am.
I used to be down there a lot, but I’m not. But you’ve got 132 people that you’ve got to kind of get going in one direction if you want to get something done. And, boy, it’s difficult to do sometimes.
Henry: Yeah, it absolutely is. And I will say out of the 132 people, I would say the overwhelming majority, if not every single one of them, that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with wants nothing but the best for the state of Tennessee. And I say that sincerely Ben, honestly.
I’ve lived and done politics in several other states. Kentucky and Virginia. I’ve been around a little bit doing the political thing and I will say wholeheartedly those folks that have a true servant mentality in Tennessee are unlike any others. They really want the best for their constituents, for their state, and they want to lead the nation in liberty principles.
I truly do believe that. It is somewhat perplexing that these two men are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to how to approach this particular problem. But what do I know? I’m some random guy in radio and these guys are actually up there doing the job.
So I don’t know. We read the headlines and we see what they are. But like you said, I think ultimately it’s up to the governor as to whether or not to call a special session if need be. And we’ll see how that happens.
Cunningham: And they do react to the citizens and to the pressure of citizens. And you can call their office anytime. They’re not in session now. But if you feel strongly about this, you can call or go to the legislative website.
We do have a really good legislative website, and it’s fairly easy to find legislation to research. And you can go to the Tennessee legislature. Just go to Google and type in Tennessee legislature, and you’ll go right to it.
But they’ve got a good search where you can do searches on past legislation, on the code, on just about anything you want to. I think Tennessee legislative website has won several awards and they deserve it. It’s just a good, fairly easy-to-use website.
And their cold hard reality is not very many people ever interact with elected officials. That’s the cold hard reality. And if you do choose to interact with them, you’ll have an influence because you’ll be one of a very few people that ever do that.
Henry: Statistically speaking, that’s accurate as well. I said it yesterday, and it bears repeating today. The adage goes, we don’t have a democracy. We have a democracy of those that participate. Now, I get it. We have a constitutional republic. But you understand what I’m saying?
Henry: Unfortunately, Tennessee has the second-lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation behind, I believe, Louisiana. Thank goodness for Louisiana. But it goes to your point statistically.
If you are involved, if you call your legislators, if you send them an email, if you go up there and meet with them personally, if you set meetings with them out of session, your voice is thereby amplified that much more than it would be in any other state because so few people are involved in the political process in this state.
Cunningham: And it is even more so at the local level. You go to most county commission meetings and you’ll see. Unless there’s some hot button issue like a dump area. Or a tax issue or something like that. Or zoning. Typically, there are very, very few people sitting there in the audience.
And, boy, I mean, it just makes a huge difference. If you go to these meetings, and you go up to the county commissioners afterward, you talk to them. You can have an extraordinary amount of influence.
And if you want to run for office, the county commission area, or the school board for $3,000 or $4,000, you can win some of these local races if you’re very strategic about choosing races.
Because people peel off of these bodies fairly regularly at the local level. I don’t know the statistics. I would guess, though, the turnover at these local bodies is more than it is at the state and the federal level.
Cunningham: And if you want to run for county commission, three or four grand and some shoe leather will get you elected – and going door to door.
Henry: (Chuckles) Shoe leather. Which is no small thing. I met with a guy, had done some politics out in California, and he was telling me in the county that they came from just a city council race alone, you’re talking six figures at a minimum.
A minimum of six figures to run for the city council race out there. So a couple of grand here, plus hitting the pavement, knocking some doors, I mean, hey, you can be a major influence in your area.
Cunningham: And speaking of grassroots, the young man is sitting across from me, Mr. Grant Henry with Americans for Prosperity is the grassroots director of Americans for Prosperity. It’s a statewide group that advocates and lobbies for free-market principles and have done some really great things in this state.
And you guys are always at the legislature every year. We want to talk more in this segment and the next segment about what you’re doing. But just kind of tell us, what are you working on and how you are looking forward to the legislative session that will be coming up in January of next year?
Henry: So we have two main things, I think, prior to getting to the legislative year next year. Two main things we’re focusing on right now, one of which we covered extensively yesterday, the – stop infrastructure spending, both the $1.2 trillion and oncoming $3.5 trillion infrastructure package.
We really want to do as much as we can to stop that. And again, big thanks to Senator Blackburn and Senator Hagerty for standing strong here. If you want to thank them personally: 202-410-2685. That number is a switchboard that takes you directly to them.
And just say, hey, look, I appreciate you guys for standing strong, and stand strong even more in this upcoming reconciliation bill. We’re really trying to get the word out. Tag those folks on social media too.
Let them know that you’re there and that you’re supporting them. They like to see that. And they do check that stuff. I promise you. And another thing that we’re setting up over the upcoming months here, Ben, is some grassroots training. And it’s exactly like it sounds.
We can tailor this training to what your specific group needs or we have a baseline, what we call Grassroots Leadership Academy training. There’s a couple of different things I’m trying to set up across Middle Tennessee, some of the southern parts, Middle Tennessee, maybe even up in Davidson County, if we can get enough people there.
But it kind of trains you to do what I do for a living. Figure out how to break down governmental barriers, figure out how to create a cause, figure out how to find organic social change entrepreneurs, and move that up to the legislature.
If you want to figure out how to do that in your area, here’s my personal cell phone number: 615-330-4569. Give me a call or just shoot me an email. It’s Ghenry@afphq.org. Trying to set up those grassroots training seminars.
Cunningham: It’s a great way to get people kind of over the hump.
Henry: It’s free of charge, too. No charge to ya’ll.
Cunningham: A little bit of nudging to get people to that comfort level. And that’s what AFP does such a great job on. They can do anything they want to once you train them. You’re not trying to corral them into something.
Henry: We just want them to take part in the process.
Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely.
Listen to the full first hour here:
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