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 Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs to the newsmakers line to discuss his background and political philosophy motivating his quest for U.S. term limits.
Leahy: We are joined now on the newsmaker line by Glenn Jacobs, mayor of Knox County and the state chair for U.S. term limits. Good morning, Mayor Jacobs.
Jacobs: Hey, Michael, how are you this morning?
Leahy: Well, we’re delighted to have you on. I think you’ve been on our program a couple of times before to talk about politics in general.
Now you just became the state chairman for U.S. term limits. Tell us why you’ve chosen to accept this responsibility and why it’s important.
Jacobs: Term limits, I think, are very important. They’re a way that specifically talking about congressional term limits here, that maybe we can start the process of fixing Congress.
The country is extremely divided and Congress is broken. That’s the one thing that we can all agree on. I think that term is can help start the process of maybe fixing Congress or at least getting people in Congress that can help fix it.
So I think it is very important. And I also think it’s something that everyone pretty much agrees on across Tennessee. Congressional term limits have 78 percent approval rating.
So it’s something that we all agree on. And in this time when our nation is so divided, if nothing else, that’s a good thing and a positive cause that we could all get behind.
Leahy: And that’s a very important point. It’s something that we can all get behind. I was reading over the weekend a book by Daniel Boorstein about the Americans, the late Daniel Boorstein.
And what he said was what really made America great was not what we disagreed over, but the fact that there were a number of things upon which we could agree. So it sounds like you have a similar political philosophy.
Jacobs: Absolutely. A lot of the issues I think the country faces, they start with the media and how the media divides us, and how politicians divide us.
There are some things that people aren’t going to agree on frankly. And I know that and you know that, too. There are folks on the left, and I’m just never going to agree with them on a lot of issues.
But instead of concentrating on those, let’s work with the people that we can work with on the issues that we do agree on. I think what happens too often is we start where we disagree and kind of work our way from there, instead of starting where we agree and understanding that there are things we’re going to disagree on.
Agreeing to disagree on those things but working on the things that we do agree on. I think we’d be in a much better place.
Leahy: I note here in Tennessee that you’re backing a passage of House Joint Resolution Eight. Our good friend State Representative Chris Todd from Jackson was the sponsor of that bill. It passed the House 53-34 in April.
It hasn’t made it to the Senate. It is going to come back in January when the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes. Will you be coming into Nashville to speak before the Tennessee General Assembly in support of that resolution?
Jacobs: I’m sure I will. We’ll be going around the date, actually, to build support for the Senate passing the HR8. So far, four states have called for an Article Five Convention, which is what we’re talking about here.
It is a convention called by these states to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution. In this case, would be to term limit Congress.
Once that legislation passes the Senate, Tennessee would become the fifth state. Then the amendment would go back to the state legislatures for modification.
Takes three-quarters of the state legislatures voting affirmatively to ratify that. It’s about 38 of them.
The process is still in its early stages, and I think it would be wonderful if, like we do with so many other things, Tennessee would be one of the states that leads the way.
Leahy: When you come to Nashville next time to promote this resolution, will you come in the studio? We’ll get a big, big extra chair (Jacobs laughs) so that you can fit into it.
I think your what, your 6’9? On a good day, I’m 5’9 and a half. So you’re a little taller than I am.
Jacobs: Man, I’d love to come by and visit with you. And I’m used to not really fitting in furniture, so you don’t even have to get a big chair out. I’ll just come in whenever you want and we’ll make it work.
Leahy: We will make a special Glenn Jacob’s chair. By the way, we’re very interested in your transition from being a professional wrestler to being a politician.
Some would say there’s not that much difference between those two occupations. (Jacobs chuckles)
Jacobs: I would actually disagree with that. There is a lot that the two have in common, and I think that’s really true of anything.
Politics is everywhere in human relations, right? Anything that we do, if it involves more than me and if it involves me and you and someone else, it becomes political.
And it’s the same in WWE. I had to deal with a lot of backstage politics. How do you get things done? How can you persuade people that our way is the right way?
How do you build influence among people? And that’s really what politics is all about. A little bit different than government, but nevertheless, it’s really about that human interpersonal relationship aspect of it.
In WWE, I took a lot of physical abuse. And now in government, I take a lot of verbal and mental abuse. So you have that too.
Leahy: (Chuckles) Mayor Jacobs, I don’t know that much about your backstory. Where did you grow up?
Jacobs: I was actually born in Madrid, Spain. My dad was in the United States Air Force. I was born on Torhone Airbase in Madrid. Shortly thereafter, my folks came back to the states. I grew up about an hour and a half north of St Louis on a farm five miles outside of a town of 350 people.
Actually a lot like what we see here in East Tennessee in some places. Good people that worked hard. Of course, my parents instilled a work ethic in me and a love of America.
My dad is a 21-year military veteran. He served on the USS Antietam in the Navy during the Korean War. He then switched services and was a loadmaster on the C130’s the big cargo planes during Vietnam.
I ended up going to Truman State University on a basketball scholarship. Switched to play football. I had a career-ending knee injury, and that’s when I got into professional wrestling.
Moved to East Tennessee in 1995. I think this is the greatest place in the world to live. I love it here and I don’t ever want to leave.
Leahy: You grew up an hour north of St Louis. How far were you from Hannibal, Missouri the home of Mark Twain?
Jacobs: Hannibal was about 20 minutes. It was the big town in my area. That was the place where you go to at the time, that was the only Walmart. Hannibal played a pretty big role in my life.
Leahy: Well, I’ve been to Hannibal, Missouri. My personal story, the first time I went to Hannibal, Missouri, was the summer of 1974 between my freshman and sophomore years in college.
I decided it would be cool to try to hitchhike across the country. Hannibal was as far West as I made it. I went from New York to Hannibal. (Jacobs laughs)
I had, like, 10 bucks in my pocket, something like that. And I got to stay overnight at the Catholic Church there. The priests had pity on me.
And the deal was I had to sing for my supper. Literally, sing for my supper. There were a bunch of nuns there over for dinner, and I was in a singing group, and I sang for my supper, literally.
But I had great memories of Hannibal, Missouri. Hey, can you sick through the break with us Mayor Jacobs?
Jacobs: Yes, Sir.
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 “Glenn Jacobs” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.
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 State Representative (R), Chris Todd of Jackson, to the studio to talk about a bill he is currently sponsoring that would instill term limits to the U.S. Congress via the Constitution’s Article Five Convention.
Leahy: We’re talking in studio with our good friend, State Representative Chris Todd. Chris, we’re talking about where we’ve taken a bill to the point where you’re on the floor of the House, and the bill that you use sponsored is about to be voted on. Obviously, an important day for you. What happens when you had one bill just recently.
Todd: This Monday night, a number one on the docket. And a couple of weeks ago, I actually rolled this bill for two weeks. I was the first on the docket.
Leahy: When you say rolled this bill, tell us what you mean.
Todd: I requested to re-calendar it a couple of weeks later.
Leahy: There you go.
Todd: So I felt like I might not have the votes on the floor. And so I wanted to work at some more. And I had several folks helping me because this was the one that called for term limits on Congress. It had actually requested Congress to set a time in a place for an Article Five Convention of the states to discuss amendments to the U.S. Constitution involving term limits only.
Leahy: Specifically limited to term limits.
Leahy: Now, of course, everybody, a lot of people support term limits, but not everybody is a big fan of the Article Five Convention, correct. It’s in the Constitution. It’s never been used, but it’s right there in the Constitution.
Todd: Yes. James Madison wrote it in knowing that there would be a day when Congress would not respond to the people and the state should have a mechanism for amending the Constitution. So that’s all this did. It was a resolution so it wasn’t passing a law or anything.
Leahy: So you’re number one up.
Todd: Monday night.
Leahy: So everybody’s sitting in their seat?
Todd: Well partially. There’s a lot of milling around it.
Leahy: They’re on the floor either milling around?
Todd: Yes, like the ones that like myself that have a bill up we’re still going around and getting support. We’re talking to folks about. Hey, are you still good with me? Do you know of anything I need to do or whatever? You’re still working the bills as much as you can.
Leahy: There are 99 members of the House of Representatives. You need 50 votes to get it passed in the House.
Todd: Yes. So I spent 30 minutes in the well. That’s at the podium.
Leahy: When you say in the well, describe the Chamber because there’s, like every 99 seats out in the Chamber. But where is the well and what are you supposed to do there?
Todd: So it’s a big room. You have a gallery on each side, which is a balcony area where visitors and staff can sit and watch and observe. The Speaker is at the head of the room up on a podium. And the well, the podium where the members would speak is down on the floor in front of that. So you’re called upon, there’s a motion made a second to hear your bill, and then you’re able to describe it. And you have the certain legal language you have to say to start with to get it in the proper form. And then you can talk about your bill and actually tell what it does, and then you renew your motion and you wait for questions.
Leahy: Ah ha!
Todd: Sometimes there are questions and sometimes there are not.
Leahy: So tell us about this. So you go and you talk about your bill, what happened?
Todd: So when the Speaker then says, are there any discussions on the bill and he will call on individual members to stand and speak and they address the chair. Mr. Speaker, I’d like to know about this particular bill. I’ve got a comment or a question about the bill. And then when they’re finished, he will call on me again as the sponsor of the bill to respond to that.
You don’t have to respond. You can just say I renew my motion or you can have an explanation of why that comment is accurate or inaccurate. And then it goes to someone else. As long as people stand up and want to speak or comment or question your bill that goes on up to a certain point.
Leahy: I hear you had a couple of lively questions.
Todd: I had several lively questions and several just lively comments.
Leahy: And even from friends.
Todd: Oh, it was absolutely there were friends.
Leahy: That disagree with you on this bill.
Todd: Staunch conservatives that are a couple of those and Democrats as well that spoke against it that gave their opinion about it. And then I would try to refute their comments and show how, in the historical record, they were inaccurate. I pulled up quotes of my founders and all kinds of things that I had at my disposal there.
Leahy: So they don’t say like you are an absolute idiot for proposing this bill. They say, my good friend, there is an error on this.
Leahy: And then when you respond, you don’t say you are absolutely a crazy person, right?
Leahy: You say my good friend.
Leahy: Even though you may be, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but if it were me, I would say my good friend. But I might be thinking something different.
Todd: It’s difficult. You have to have a lot of control because sometimes things get a little heated, but we still have to practice decorum. We still have to practice respect. And that is critical to things on the House floor. And so I spent 30 minutes doing that back and forth, back and forth. And then one member who was actually on the other side of the aisle stood up and called for the previous questions.
Leahy: That means they’re going to vote on it.
Todd: That is a motion that can be voted on to stop debate and vote on it.
Leahy: Stop debate.
Todd: If there’s no objection to previous question, then we go to vote on it.
Leahy: So what happened?
Todd: No one opposed it because everybody was tired of listening to this.
Leahy: Okay. So then what happens?
Todd: They call for a vote.
Leahy: Who calls for a vote?
Todd: The Speaker calls for the vote.
Leahy: Cameron Sexton. So he calls for the vote. What happens then?
Todd: Then the board starts lighting up. There’s a board on each side of the room of the chamber.
Leahy: So do you go back to your seat and press a button?
Todd: I walk back to my seat. Now, usually, our clerk will place your vote for you. If you’re presenting a bill, he knows you’re for the bill so that before you even get back to your seat. Because none of the seats are quite a ways off if you are sitting in the back of the room.
Leahy: Are there, red buttons or green buttons? What buttons do you Press?
Todd: So the green button would be an aye. A red button would be a no. A blue button is present, not voting. It’s like a roll call vote. And it says I’m here but I’m not voting on this. It’s kind of a no with a hug is what some people would call it.
Leahy: So how long does this roll call take place?
Todd: Literally seconds.
Todd: Maybe 10 or 15 seconds.
Leahy: Okay, so there you are and you’re thinking, is this thing gonna pass? Did you kind of know what the final vote would be?
Todd: I knew what our prediction was.
Leahy: What was your prediction?
Todd: We had commitments in the mid 50?
Leahy: And what was the final vote?
Todd: And we had five members that were supportive. We felt like we’re supported that were out that were absent. So it ended up 53 to 34.
Leahy: So it passed?
Todd: Yes, it passed.
Leahy: Now what happens?
Todd: Then the Senate has to pass the same thing.
Leahy: Did you messenger it to the Senate?
Todd: Well, that particular one I think it will go to them as a message and then they can accept that and go through their process. They’ve already had something running on that. But I’m not sure exactly how far it’s gone.
Leahy: So the odds that this becomes a law?
Todd: It’s a resolution that would be sent to Congress.
Leahy: All they have to do is they have to sign it.
Leahy: What are the odds that Senate?
Todd: I think it’s decent. It depends on what the committee gets to.
Listen to the full 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.