Dallas (CNN) - For the second year in a row, the Tennessee Republican Party has landed a potential presidential candidate to headline its biggest fundraising dinner of the year.
CNN has learned that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who could be just days away from announcing a Republican presidential bid, will keynote the party's Statesmen's Dinner in Nashville on July 15.
(CNN) – Bill Haslam, the mayor of Knoxville and considered a moderate Republican, easily won the Tennessee GOP primary for governor Thursday, the Tennessee Department of State's website reported.
With all of the state's precincts reporting Haslam had 47.5 percent of the vote as he defeated Congressman Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
Halsam, who helped fund some of his own campaign, will now face Mike McWherter, a Democratic businessman and son of a former governor. The race is to succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, who is prevented by term limits from running for a third term. Political handicappers think Republicans have a good shot at winning back the governor's office.
(CNN) - Polls are open in Tennessee, where a Republican gubernatorial battle and some contentious House nomination fights are in the spotlight in Thursday's primary.
Five candidates are on the ballot in the GOP contest for governor, but recent polls indicate it's a three-man race between Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The race grabbed national attention last month because of controversial comments by two of the candidates.
Last month Wamp appeared to suggest that Tennessee should consider secession in light of mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill. The eight-term congressman later walked back from those comments.
Ramsey also drew attention to himself last month after he was seen in a You Tube video questioning whether Islam is a religion while expressing his opposition to the expansion of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which has become a hot-button issue in the city about 35 miles southeast of Nashville.
(CNN) – A Republican running in Tennessee's gubernatorial election is taking heat after comments he made earlier this month questioning whether Islam is a religion surfaced online.
In a YouTube video posted July 15 and reported by the liberal website Talking Points Memo Monday, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is seen at a campaign event expressing his opposition to an expansion of a mosque in Murfressboro, Tennessee.
The proposed expansion has become a hot-button issue in the city about 35 miles southeast of Nashville, with supporters alleging that opponents are displaying religious intolerance, while people fighting the mosque say zoning concerns and worries about Islamic radicalism are their chief concerns.
Ramsey, who has been endorsed by 20 Tea Party organizations, said he is a supporter of religious freedoms but such protections may not extend to facilitating "shariah [Islamic] law into the state of Tennessee. . .into the United States."
"Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, a cult, whatever you want to call it," he continued. "But certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something we are going to have to face."
(CNN) – Republican Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee wants to make one thing clear: If elected governor, the Volunteer State will remain part of the United States.
"Of course we will not secede from the union," Wamp told reporters at a campaign stop in Franklin, Tennessee over the weekend, according to the Associated Press. "But we will also not have a governor who will cave in to Barack Obama."
"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," Wamp told the Hotline.
(CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry's suggestion in April 2009 that his state might consider secession drew a round of mockery nationwide, but his blustery populist rhetoric earned him serious traction among GOP primary voters in his re-election fight against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Perry, riding a tide of anti-Washington sentiment, went on to trounce Hutchison and another candidate in the Republican primary earlier this year.
Now another gubernatorial hopeful is test-driving a similar message.
Rep. Zach Wamp, one of three candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Tennessee, told Hotline OnCall that Perry had the right idea. Wamp argued that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill have put secession on the table.
"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," Wamp told Hotline OnCall Friday.
Washington (CNN) - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters Monday that Tennessee and Delaware stood out in their applications for the Race to the Top funding competition because their proposals would reach all corners of their states.
"The two state winners were touching 100 percent of their students," Duncan said, adding that he considered that to be pretty remarkable.
Tennessee and Delaware were the only two states to receive funding Monday in the first round of the education funding competition, federal officials announced.
Delaware will receive $100 million under the program, while Tennessee will receive $500 million.
Duncan said in the announcement that one determining factor was that "both states have statewide buy-in for comprehensive plans to reform their schools. They have written new laws to support their policies. And they have demonstrated the courage, capacity, and commitment to turn their ideas into practices that can improve outcomes for students."
(CNN) – The chairman of Tennessee's Democratic Party wants a Republican legislative aide fired for sending out a "reprehensible" e-mail depicting President Obama as two cartoonish white eyes peering from a black background.
Obama's image is in the last square of a collage containing portraits of the previous 43 U.S. presidents. Copies of the e-mail were posted on the Internet Monday.
Sherri Goforth, an administrative assistant to state Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, has admitted she sent the e-mail May 28 with the title "Historical Keepsake Photo." She said, without elaborating, that she mistakenly sent it "to the wrong list of people."
According to the Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, a note on the e-mail said it was paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party, but GOP officials denied that they produced it. Black chairs the Senate Republican Caucus.
(CNN) – Former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan was elected to head up the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors in a 4-3 vote Thursday morning.
Duncan had served on two committees at the TVA, a federally owned corporation responsible for energy, environment, and economic development in the South.
The former head of the Republican Party fell short in his re-election bid last month, telling committee members that running the committee “has truly been the highlight of my life.”
Duncan will succeed current TVA chairman William B. Sansom, whose term expires May 18.