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Thread: You might be a Knox Countian if...

  1. #1991

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    Quote Originally Posted by SnM View Post
    If you don't like the idea of the TN GOP SuperMajority! - the braintrust responsible for the Red-to-Their-Root campaign that has provided communities across the state with unqualified dolts and even criminal as judges, as in neighboring Anderson County - having the ability to effectively destroy women's reproductive rights in TN, then come November, you need to vote "No" on Amendment 1 AND vote in the governor's race for anyone except Billion $ Bill Haslam. The Dean of The Hill explains:

    Voting for governor — or not — can impact constitutonal amendments
    http://www.oakridger.com/article/201...8/-1/education
    Sun sets, night falls, sun shines, day calls, work fine, rest deep, rejoice, prayers keep

  2. #1992

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hayduke View Post
    Do any of our news outlets commission polls? I accept that McElroy didn't see this coming, but couldn't somebody? There were certainly people in the know who were very concerned about it.

    Did anything else like this happen around the state on the coattails of the Republican push to boot the supremes? Seems like it would be in the interest of both parties to pass some bills setting minimum standards that would weed out some of the embarrassing riff-raff.
    KNS does not commission polls and I know of no other local news outlet that does.

    Don't know about the rest of the state, but a similar thing happened in Anderson County: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local-n...mains_22075567

  3. #1993
    Senior Member bird jam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Barker View Post
    Here's Jack McElroy's column from last Sunday about our coverage of the Fansler-Pridemore race: http://www.knoxnews.com/opinion/colu...nsler_68741767
    Nice mea culpa, but we still have a Chancellor nobody knows anything about.

    But again, I doubt there is anything short of a major scandal that could have changed the outcome. I mean, the information was out there. Nobody bothered to look and the voters certainly didn't care which candidate was better for the job.

  4. #1994

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    Quote Originally Posted by bird jam View Post
    Nice mea culpa, but we still have a Chancellor nobody knows anything about.

    But again, I doubt there is anything short of a major scandal that could have changed the outcome. I mean, the information was out there. Nobody bothered to look and the voters certainly didn't care which candidate was better for the job.
    I wrote about it. Twice.

    A) http://www.metropulse.com/stories/ci...l-races-part-2

    Out of the five contested judicial races in Knox County, there are two that have drawn more scrutiny and upset than the others. One is Republican Bill Ailor’s challenge of Circuit Court judge Harold Wimberly, who has been on the bench since 1987. The other is Republican Clarence Pridemore’s attempt to replace Chancellor Daryl Fansler, who was first elected in 1998.

    There’s plenty of interest in the 4th Circuit Court race, too, where Democrat Daniel Kidd is battling Republican Greg McMillan over the opportunity to replace longtime judge Bill Swann in the court that handles most of the divorces in the county.

    Still, it’s the first two that have many local lawyers up in arms (metaphorically speaking, at least). They’re convinced that there’s only one reason Ailor and Pridemore are running—the Tennessee Republican Party’s “Red to the Roots” campaign.

    The push by GOP chairman Chris Devaney and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to get a Republican candidate on the ballot in every single race in the state with a Democratic incumbent has resulted in more Republicans on local ballots in 2014 than ever before. A February press release announcing the plan’s success calls it the next step in “the voter-led Republican conversion of Tennessee.”

    “Tennesseans want the success we’ve seen at the state level—be it our record on economic development, our historic gains in the classroom, or any number of other achievements—brought to the local level. They’re tired of Democrats and liberals who hide behind the Independent label mismanaging taxpayer funds,” Devaney comments in the release.

    But when it comes to judicial races, does Tennessee’s “economic development” or “historic gains in the classroom” under Gov. Bill Haslam (“achievements” that are questioned by many, we should note) even matter? Shouldn’t the main qualification for a good judge be someone who understands the law, not how someone votes?

    “In the 30-something years I’ve been practicing law, it’s never been a partisan issue in judicial races,” Fansler says. “I’ve been totally out of politics for 16 years, and now I find myself thrust back in it. I don’t want to be, but I am.”

    Chancellor, Part II

    Fansler, 62, was elected to the bench in Chancery Court 16 years ago. By most accounts, he’s done a good job in a very complicated court—he was recently endorsed by 26 past presidents of the Knoxville Bar Association.

    “I haven’t gotten many complaints. Even the losers will say they got a fair trial,” Fansler says.

    Chancery Court is unique in that it handles a wide range of thorny legal issues like boundary disputes, intricate probates, divorces, contracts, and certain other lawsuits. One local lawyer, a Republican, told us, when describing the difficulty of the position, “I’ve been practicing for more than a decade, and there’s no way I know enough law to do that job.”

    Nonetheless, Fansler’s opponent is confident he can do the job with less than four years of legal experience. Pridemore, 39, declined an interview, stating he was too busy, and he did not return repeated phone calls. However, he did e-mail the following statement that says his “Top Priorities” are:

    “1) To treat each and every person that comes before Chancery Court, be it the newest attorney in town, the oldest attorney in town or a person representing themselves, with the same amount of dignity and respect

    “2) To help alleviate the backlog of divorce cases in the Knox County Court system by offering to hear additional divorce cases in Chancery Court.”

    When we read this statement to Fansler, he almost laughed.

    “That shows the absolute ignorance he has about this court. We three chancellors have been, for the 16 years I’ve been on the bench, taking every divorce case filed in chancery court. We hear as many divorce cases between the three of us as the 4th Circuit does,” Fansler says. “I’m not going sugarcoat that—if he makes that statement, it tells me he knows absolutely nothing about what we do.”

    We called Knox County GOP chair Ruthie Kuhlman to ask if she recruited Pridemore to be on the ballot; she declined to comment. But the deputy executive director of the state party, Michael Sullivan, was willing to talk.

    Sullivan says having a Republican candidate in every race will “push to help voters help educate themselves” and “helps voters understand who’s in the office.” He says judicial positions are “more than just deciding a court case,” and having a party affiliation lets voters know that the candidates are likely to support issues important to them.

    Like what? Like taxes.

    Sullivan says since the Republican Party is opposed to higher taxes and in favor of efficient government, voters can trust a Republican judicial candidate will be a wiser steward of taxpayer money in the court system than a Democratic candidate.

    Seriously?

    “That is a generalization that voters can make, yes,” Sullivan says.

    We asked Sullivan if a knowledge of the law might be a more important factor when evaluating judicial candidates than an opposition to raising taxes. He replied that it’s “up to voters to decide who’s qualified.” We told Sullivan that Pridemore doesn’t seem to understand what actually happens in the court over which he wants to preside. His response: Pridemore meets the state requirements to run for the office, so he’s qualified to serve in the office.

    Meanwhile, Fansler’s hoping to get enough Republican support to stay in office.

    “I think even lawyers who are heavily involved in Republican party politics realize that partisan politics don’t have a place in what we do,” Fansler says. “A former Republican county officeholder—who I won’t name, but he’s not a lawyer—approached me and said, ‘My family and I will be supporting you. This young man needs to learn this is not an entry-level position.' I think people see that.”
    B)http://www.metropulse.com/stories/ci...ican-primaries

    Chancellor, Division II: Daryl Fansler

    Vote a straight Republican ballot all you want—hell, vote for Stacey Campfield—but whatever you do, do not vote for the Republican candidate in this particular race. Clarence Pridemore might be a decent guy, and he might be a decent lawyer—we really have no idea since he wouldn’t agree to an interview, either with us or with any other media outlet in town. But with less than four years of legal experience, Pridemore would not be a decent judge, and most certainly would not be a decent judge in the most complicated court in town. Incumbent Chancellor Daryl Fansler, however, is widely respected in the legal community—if he weren’t, there’d be a better candidate than Pridemore running against him. Fansler’s had 16 years on the bench. For all of our sakes, in case you one day end up in that courtroom, please put party politics aside and give him another eight years.
    Yes, I missed the bankruptcy, but unlike the KNS, I also don't have PACER access at work. If I use PACER, I have to pay out of my own pocket for it. Sometimes I can afford that, sometimes I can't. This summer, I couldn't. That said, I still had more in-depth reporting on the judicial races than any other outlet in town. But no, I don't think any reporting would have made a difference - the informed voters weren't the ones voting for Pridemore.

  5. #1995
    Senior Member bird jam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwg View Post
    Yes, I missed the bankruptcy, but unlike the KNS, I also don't have PACER access at work. If I use PACER, I have to pay out of my own pocket for it. Sometimes I can afford that, sometimes I can't. This summer, I couldn't. That said, I still had more in-depth reporting on the judicial races than any other outlet in town. But no, I don't think any reporting would have made a difference - the informed voters weren't the ones voting for Pridemore.
    Cari -

    You did a great job with your election coverage and kudos to you for that. And yes, you, Betty, and the KNS pointed out the inexperience angle and it made no difference. I just wonder if something concrete like the bankruptcies would have garnered more attention. I would think a PACER account would be handy for someone covering the courts.

  6. #1996
    Senior Member bird jam's Avatar
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    And again, I doubt there is anything anyone could have done. The fact this guy beat Fansler is proof by itself that the voters didn't care about anything other than his party.

  7. #1997

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    Quote Originally Posted by bird jam View Post
    And again, I doubt there is anything anyone could have done. The fact this guy beat Fansler is proof by itself that the voters didn't care about anything other than his party.
    Party ID has always been the primary driver in the voting decision. That can be overcome to some degree by lots of information (coverage and advertising) , especially in a high interest / high discussion contest regarding major executive and legislative offices. However a small subset of voters know what a Chancery Court judge does and/or much about the candidates. There were other races that garnered most of the attention and had broader appeal. People only are willing to invest a portion of their time in following local politics and it does take effort to gather information, especially in the absence of TV ads and multiple direct mail pieces. News stories and editorials help, but unfortunately, people have to expend effort to be effective consumers. Of course in smaller districts personal contact certainly can play a major role. The information about the judges qualifications was there for the taking. But only voters motivated and equipped to seek the information consume such information.

    So the upshot is that it is not surprising that party labels played such an obvious role and that the decisions on the retention vote went in what could be considered the opposite direction. There were no overt party cues to dominate the retention election. While a segment of the electorate knew the partisan underpinnings, a vote for or against retention did not require the voter to overcome his or her attachment to a label that conjures up "us vs. them" responses.

    One could make a pretty strong argument against removing party labels from judicial races but my opinion is that political realities would quickly doom that effort. It might be worth thinking about party nominations rather than primaries to provide some greater likelihood of vetting candidates. But we went through a real democratization movement in the late sixties and early seventies that led to primaries as open and not subject to party bosses. "Every form of refuge has its price." Thanks Eagles.

    Anyway, a tough issue and yet another reminder of how important local elections are and why it can be so frustrating that most people pay much more attention to national politics at the expense of what matters close to home.
    Last edited by Bill; 08-20-2014 at 03:33 PM.

  8. #1998
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    One could make a pretty strong argument against removing party labels from judicial races
    I am all for this. It's ridiculous that for such a position - given what it is and what it entails - candidates run on party tickets in the first place.

  9. #1999
    Senior Member Michael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    There were no overt party cues to dominate the retention election.
    Are you discounting the "Red to the Roots" initiative?
    ~m.

    EDIT: I'm not certain there would have even been a challenger without it.
    Last edited by Michael; 08-20-2014 at 04:08 PM.
    When you do things right. people won't be sure that you've done anything at all.

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