(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.
(CNN) – Ordinarily, there’s a world of difference between Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, and former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s nominee. But voters tell CNN that machines in Knox County, Tennessee had them confused about which of the two men they were voting for.
“On the summary page, after I voted for Barack Obama, when you summarize before you hit ‘cast ballot,’ it says ‘BAR’ for my vote,” Russ Manning of Knoxville, Tennessee said in one of the calls CNN received about Knox County. With Barr’s name also on the ballot, Manning was concerned that machine was about to incorrectly record his vote for Obama as a vote for Barr. “And, so I had to go back and forth several times to make sure I was voting for the right person. With everybody else on the ballot, the names are completely spelled out but you only get ‘BAR’ for Barack Obama and ‘BOB’ for Bob Barr as I finally figured out.”
Local election officials in Knox County are aware of the issue and are working to inform voters and poll workers about that the unusual references are actually to the first three letters of each man’s first name. "'It’s because of the electors,’” Greg Mackay, the Knox County administrator of elections, told the Knoxville News Sentinel recently. "'It’s just on the president. It says ‘electors for’ on the summary page and the first three letters for the candidate of your choice.’” Mackay also told the newspaper he has received two or three complaints about the summary page of the county’s voting machines during the first week of early voting.
If you have any problems or concerns about voting, CNN would like to hear about them. Call CNN’s voter hotline at 1-877-GOCNN-08 (1-877-462-6608) to report your problem.
(CNN) - Tennessee Rep. John Tanner announced Wednesday he is backing Hillary Clinton's White House bid.
Tanner, a Democrat representing Tennessee's 8th District, is one of the more than 700 party superdelegates who will ultimately decide which candidate wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
"In my opinion, the best person to lead this critical effort is Hillary Clinton," Tanner said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign. "Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces, with a $9 trillion debt, much of which is borrowed from foreign countries. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a leader like Sen. Clinton who can work with others to return to fiscal sanity."
Clinton won the state of Tennessee with 54 percent of the vote on February 5.