Leahy and Carmichael: The End of the McNally Era

Leahy and Carmichael: The End of the McNally Era

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 in studio to discuss reactions to Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally’s recent social media snafu and his removal from office.

Leahy: In studio, the original all-star panelist. Crom, The Tennessee Star, we’ve been in business now for over six years. We’re the only real conservative news site in the state, and in that six years, I have never written an editorial until yesterday. And so with your permission Crom, I’m gonna read that editorial and I’d like to get your response to it.

Carmichael: Alrighty.

Leahy: Alright, here we go. Headline: Tennessee Star Editorial: Lt. Governor McNally Must Resign from Leadership Now. It is painfully obvious to anyone who has watched the confused public responses of 79-year-old Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally to the controversy surrounding his inexplicable social media postings that he’s lost a step mentally.

McNally also faces health and physical challenges, not unusual for a man his age. In February, he underwent a medical procedure to install a heart pacemaker. On Saturday, McNally was skewered mercilessly in a Saturday night live skit that went viral around the country and subjected him to withering ridicule.

Sources familiar with the Tennessee political landscape tell The Tennessee Star that McNally is simply not all there mentally and has been declining for some. Recently he has had difficulty recalling the names of colleagues he has known for years. Those sources add Lieutenant Governor McNally can no longer perform his duties as Speaker of the state Senate. and Lieutenant Governor and he must resign from both leadership roles immediately.

Now, he was elected to reelected to the state Senate this past November, and while his constituents in the Fifth State Senate District deserve representation for the balance of this session of the Tennessee General Assembly, expected to adjourn sometime in May, McNally must carefully consider whether he is capable of serving the remainder of that four-year term, which ends in January.

He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives 45 years ago in 1978. He was 34 years old at the time. He has served in the Tennessee General Assembly ever since. He was elected Speaker of the State Senate and Lieutenant Governor in 2019 and reelected in 2021 and 2020.

If Lieutenant Governor McNally cares about his constituents and the state of Tennessee, which we at The Tennessee Star believe he does, he will resign as Speaker of the State Senate and Lieutenant Governor immediately. The McNally era is over. The Lieutenant Governor can do this the easy way and resign from leadership now or he can do it the hard way.

If Lieutenant Governor McNally chooses the hard way, the outcome will be the same. He will be removed from his position of leadership, either by a vote of the Republican caucus in the state Senate or by impeachment proceedings.

It is our hope that Lieutenant Governor McNally and those who advise him will choose the easy way and he will resign his leadership position immediately. And I signed that in my capacity, Michael Patrick Leahy as editor-in-chief of The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.

Crom, that was our first editorial – and so far, only editorial – at The Tennessee Star. Your thoughts?

Carmichael: I saw the piece on Saturday Night Live and I didn’t see it because I watch Saturday Night Live, but you sent it to me.

Leahy: I sent you the three-and-a-half-minute clip.

Carmichael: And I watched it. And my first reaction to it was, well, this, this, this must be a gross exaggeration, and those tweets must be fake. Well, they weren’t. I was surprised and confounded. And as I’ve also learned and as you have pointed out in the editorial is Randy McNally is no longer the person he used to be.

Leahy: And that’s sad.

Carmichael: It’s sad that he’s not the person he used to be, but Tennessee deserves a person in that in that particular position who has all of his faculties and is thinking clearly because our state requires that. He served 45 years.

Leahy: That’s a long time.

Carmichael: And that’s a very long time.

Leahy: And he’s had a strong record over that period of time and has served his constituents well.

Carmichael: This isn’t a condemnation of his record until recently. What he did recently is inexplicable.

Leahy: It’s inexplicable

Carmichael: It’s also bizarre.

Leahy: It’s telling.

Carmichael: And so for that reason, I hope as your editorial suggests, that he takes the honorable way out as the head of the Senate. You said through when?

Leahy: His term ends in January 2027.

Carmichael: Then he should also consider resigning his senate seat but not during this session.

Leahy: He doesn’t need to resign this session from the Senate seat.

Carmichael: Right. But from the Senate leadership. He should withdraw.

Leahy: That’s what he should do. The problem is if you’ve been in power, even if you’re not all there…

Carmichael: Now, let me ask you a question. You said there are a number of different ways that this session is going to last for another six weeks.

Leahy: Six to eight weeks.

Carmichael: Six to eight weeks. So let’s say that he doesn’t resign, when is the person who holds that position elected to that position? Is it the beginning of each session?

Leahy: The Speaker of both the state senate, who is also our lieutenant governor under our constitution, and the person who would succeed the governor, if the governor is, you know, incapacitated or leaves office for whatever reason. And then the Speaker of the House, they’re all elected at the beginning of the session.

Carmichael: Of each session?

Leahy: Yes. Of each session for a two-year term.

Carmichael: Is the second year next year?

Leahy: Yes. So if they came back in January of next year, and he still was Speaker of the state Senate, they’d have to go through a process to bring it to the state clerk and bring up a special vote on whether to keep him.

Carmichael: Is that an impeachment or a special vote?

Leahy: There are two elements. They could actually go through the process right now in this session to remove him as the Speaker of the State Senate and Lieutenant Governor.

But that would require a vote and they’d have to put it before the clerk of the State Senate who I think reports to the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker. So that would be problematic. It could happen. They could remove him now by a vote of the state Senate. There would have to be some machinations going on.

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 “Randy McNally” by Adam Kleinheider. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Tennessee State Capitol” by Andre Porter. CC BY-SA 3.0.


State Senator Mark Pody on Differences Between House and Senate, Refusing Federal Government Dollars

State Senator Mark Pody on Differences Between House and Senate, Refusing Federal Government Dollars

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 Tennessee State Senator Mark Pody to the newsmaker line to discuss the differences between the House and Senate and refusing money from the federal government for the state’s education.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our newsmaker line state Senator Mark Pody. Good morning, Senator Pody.

Pody: Yes! Good morning.

Leahy: We’re delighted to have you here. Senator Pody, just for our listeners, tell us the area of your current district. You represent parts of Davidson County, right?

Pody: I absolutely do. I’ve got all of Wilson County and I am getting about 70,000 people in Davidson County. I have, for example, all of like Percy Priest Lake area as well as the airport. That is kind of the area that I represent.

Leahy: Well, that’s something. Tell us a little bit about your career. We’ve known each other for a long, long time. You were in the state House and then were elected to the state Senate. When were you first elected to the state legislature?

Pody: I came in with Governor Haslam. In 2010, there was kind of a wave that came in and I was in that wave as well. And so I’ve served underneath all of Governor Haslam and Governor Lee. And that’s as long as I’ve been in here.

Leahy: Now I have to tell you, Senator Pody, and I’m going to use a phrase that has been used to describe your level of energy before, and you’ll smile when I tell you this phrase, but I’ve heard many people say that State Senator Mark Pody has so much energy he makes coffee nervous. You remember that one, right?

Pody: (Chuckles) Yes. I tell you what, I love serving the people. I love lifting up my Lord Jesus Christ. And anything I can do, I just give him the credit and he’s given me the energy to go out and do this.

Leahy: What’s the difference between being in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate?

Pody: I will tell you, first of all, the House is a lot more fun if you like fireworks and things like that. In the Senate, it is a lot more collegial. We might have our disagreements, but it’s not, for example, on the floor, it doesn’t get into committees nearly as much. It has things worked out a lot more privately.

Leahy: That’s what I’ve seen as well. And of course, I think you really enjoyed sort of mixing it up in the state House.

Pody: I did. I can be very vocal. I know who I am, and I’m very comfortable with the views that I have. I’ve been told that I’m extremely conservative as well as outspoken. I know my views. I don’t change them often.

And I just believe in the Constitution. I believe in limited government and limited taxes. And now that I’m in Davidson County, I want to bring those views into Davidson County as well.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you.

Carmichael: Senator, you said that the two chambers are different and that the House is more fun. It almost sounds like you also feel like in the House, you can actually get more important legislation passed and then unfortunately, it dies in some very important legislation in your mind, in the Senate.

And I’m curious, I think the same thing happens in Washington D.C. Is it because it’s a smaller body? Is it because when you win, you win for a longer term? Why do you think that the state Senate in particular is more of a check on things like true education reform?

My sense of it is true education reform is more likely to pass in the House, especially for minority kids, than in the Senate. So if I’m wrong about that particular issue, please correct me, but if I’m not, please respond.

Pody: Sure. I will tell you, I was very interested in listening to Mr. Weber on the show earlier today talking with Michael, and he nailed it when he said that the House will probably be bringing more opportunities for education where the Senate would not.

And I’m actually on the Senate Education Committee, so we probably will be just staying with the third-grade retention law. The way it is, the House kind of debates out what they might be doing to change a little bit. I will tell you though, at the crux of the matter would be this.

The representatives are up every single two years, so they’re always having to be out with their constituents, listening and being very responsive to what their constituents need and want. In the Senate, we’re up only every four years so it is not top of mind in a lot of people’s thought processes.

Leahy: Let me follow up with that, Senator Pody. So you probably saw last week that Speaker of the House Cam Sexton said that he’s going to put out a bill to tell the federal government to keep all of their $1.8 billion of K12 public school money because with that money come strings. It got a fairly favorable reception in the House and from what I can tell in the Senate. Do you have any thoughts on that idea from Speaker Sexton?

Pody: Absolutely. In fact, I just was talking with a group about what it would look like if we just didn’t take any federal money anywhere. And I got actually a 500-page budget back, and I’m reviewing that now. But when we look at the number of strings that we have to put up with the federal government, it costs us a lot of money.

And Tennessee right now gets about 38 percent of its budget from the federal government. We’re one of the highest in the nation on the percentage that we get from the federal government. We did something with TennCare where we told Tenn Care if you would just give us the money and let us provide the healthcare that we need to in Tennessee, and if there are savings, let us share in that savings.

And we got literally a lot of money. And I think the governor addressed that in the state of the state where that program just went in and TennCare was able to use the money from the federal government, but we saved a lot of it without their strings, and we’re able to use some of that savings back in Tennessee.

I think we could do the same thing with education. If they want to give us that money, take the strings off. And if we can have better outcomes, let us have that money without your strings, and we’ll do a better job than what the federal government can do with their laws, rules, and strings.

Carmichael: How many states, Senator, do you think have asked the federal government for waivers like that? I think, for lack of a better term, would you refer to those as block grants?

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.
Background Photo “Tennessee State Capitol” by Brandon Hooper.


Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Talks About Life on the Campaign Trail

Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Talks About Life on the Campaign Trail

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 Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) in the studio to discuss the last few weeks on the campaign trail for re-election.

Leahy: We are joined in the studio by somebody who loves radio, our good friend, State Senator Jack Johnson, the State Senate majority leader. Good morning, Jack.

Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be back with you. And you’re right, I do love radio.

Leahy: And you got the radio voice going on. You have some experience in radio.

Johnson: Yes, I did. When I was in high school, I went to work for the little AM 1000-watt country music radio station. I have a very, very good friend, Ben McCain, who was in radio and television, and he encouraged me to do that. So I worked there for a while and throughout high school and college and really enjoyed it.

Leahy: The thing about radio is you just have to focus on what you’re saying and how you are saying it. It’s so much better to do radio than television, because on television you have a shorter time span, and you got to look pretty.

And it’s just an awful lot of work for a very little amount of time. On the radio, you actually have, I think, a closer connection to listeners. I think they get to know you better and they’re engaged in the conversation.

Johnson: And for someone like me who is in public office, the thing I appreciate, and I really appreciate about your show, is the ability to come on and spend more than 15, 20 seconds talking about an issue.

And I’ve done certainly my fair share of hits on television and the 10:00 news, and I respect what they do, but it’s a minute-and-a-half package and they may interview you for 5 or 10 minutes and then they end up using 20 seconds.

And you don’t know which 20 seconds they’re going to use in the piece. So radio, this is live. I can say what I want, you can ask me what you want. So I’m a big fan of talk radio.

Leahy: And the other thing too is it’s so much better in-studio. We’ve done a lot of newsmaker interviews with you over the phone, but there’s so much you can’t do when you’re on the phone with somebody.

When you ask a question, I can see kind of what your reaction is to it and vice versa, and the timing all works better. We do newsmaker interviews because not everybody can come in the studio. But we prefer having folks in the studio. Now, you won your primary.

Johnson: I did, yes.

Leahy: And I guess you don’t have any competition in the general.

Johnson: In the general, that’s correct. There was no Democrat that filed and qualified to be on the ballot. So for the folks in the new 27th Senatorial District in Williamson County, I’m the only name on the ballot.

Leahy: What’s interesting about that in the redistricting, I live, I think, in the only precinct in Williamson County that’s not in your district. You no longer represent me. I think Joey Hensley is my state senator.

Johnson: And Joey, of course, is a great guy.

Leahy: Good guy.

Johnson: Good, great friend, fabulous senator, and we’re very excited because of the growth in Williamson County for the last 10 years that the district has been Williamson County, 23rd Senatorial District.

And it was the county, the only one in the state that was that way: one county, one senator. But due to the growth, I had to give up about 33,000 people. And so we notched out the southern part, Spring Hill, up into Thompson’s Station a little bit and put that in.

Leahy: I guess it’s probably more than one precinct.

Johnson: It is. But you’re in that segment there, and it’s very densely populated, so you can barely see it on the map.

Leahy: I talked to Joey about it, and he said, I’m glad to represent you.

Johnson: Well, we’re glad to have him in our Williamson delegation now.

Leahy: Now, what have you been doing? You’ve been in the throes of campaigning. Tell our listeners what you’ve been doing out on the campaign trail.

Johnson: Sure. First and foremost, I want to make sure that all of my Republican colleagues in the Tennessee state Senate – and we’ve got some really amazing men and women representing people in Tennessee in the state Senate. And as Majority Leader, I want to make sure they come back.

We do have some of our colleagues that have Democratic opposition. So once the primaries are behind us, then obviously we shift our focus to our colleagues that we want to make sure they come back.

And I think they’re all going to be fine. But we do have some of our members that have Democratic opposition. So I’ve been traveling the state a lot, supporting my colleagues and helping them to raise money, and they’re all running great campaigns.

And I don’t see any change in the composition of the state Senate. It’s currently 27 Republicans and six Democrats. And I think all 27 – we have a couple of new Republicans that will be joining us – I think the composition of the state Senate, our supermajority status, will remain.

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 “Jack Johnson” by Jack Johnson.