Monday, August 13, 2007

The Twelve White Men Have Been Replaced By Seven (Which Includes Three Women)

In the late 90's the word in Knoxville/Knox County (and a story even ran on the cover of Metro Pulse) is that the Government was selected and run by twelve white men. Tonight at the West Knox Republican Club the twelve white men have been replaced by a group of seven and in the group of seven are a couple of women.

Former State Senator Ben Atchley and former Knox County Executive Tommy Schumpert appeared at the West Knox Republican Club to discuss the Public Trust PAC which they have formed with five other individuals. They are Henrietta Grant, Sam Furrow, David Moon, Sherri Lee and Suzanne Schriver.

It is interesting to hear Senator Atchley discuss term limits, when he ran against Fred Berry he campaigned on the fact that Fred Berry had served too long. (18 years) Atchley the stayed 30 plus years. One of his last re-elections he raised and spent over a quarter million dollars in an attempt to embarrass the opponent that dared oppose him.

Some of the elected officials present were: Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, Marianne Thompson representing Sheriff J.J. Jones, Law Director John Owings, Bob Griffitts representing Congressman John J. (Jimmy) Duncan, Jr., City Councilwoman Barbara Pelot, County Commission Chairman Scott Moore, County Commissioners Frank Leuthold, Lee Tramel, Richard Cate and Tony Norman. State Representatives Stacey Campfield and Frank Niceley and Trustee Fred Sisk.

Candidates present were: Elaine Davis a Democrat running for County Commission in the Fourth District, County Commission candidates in the Fourth District Ruthie Kulhman, William Daniels, Walt Wojnar. County Commission candidate in the Sixth district Matthew Jones. County Clerk candidates Scott Moore and Foster Arnett. Trustee candidates Fred Sisk and L.B. Steele. City Council candidate Ray Abbas, Law Director candidate Bill Lockett arrived late.

Members of the media present: Georgiana Vines and Sandra Clark, reporters and employees of the News-Sentinel's parent company.

Tommy Schumpert explained that the PAC has two criteria 1) persons who are Good Leaders and 2) persons with good integrity. The PAC will endorse in the primaries. Electability is a possible criteria. A gentleman asked about the Hart voting machines that Knox County has purchased. Schumpert said. "I don't have a clue about the voting machines, but I think there good." The gentleman said with a group of seven are you bypassing the people? Schumpert said he could see where that could be believed and that the PAC will have to prove itself during this election cycle. He also said he was personally not committed to the PAC long term only through the next three years through September 2010.

I asked Schumpert two questions.

1) Would you name the current officeholders that are not good leaders with good integrity. He would not. He made a reference to the immediate Past Chairman of the Knox County Republican Party which led me to respond. "They have said worse stuff than that about me." To which the room laughed loudest at my comeback. I had far more friends in the standing room only crowd than he did, even with Sandra in close proximity.

2) Would the committee consider how much money a candidate had raised and had on hand before making an endorsement? Schumpert said that in the interview process a candidates budget and on hand will be discussed. He said because the committee does not want a candidate to solely rely on the PAC to fund the campaign.

A question was asked about how the committee formed itself. "It appears to be a Chamber committee." Schumpert said they formed themselves.

Next month. September 10, 2007 Mayor Bill Haslam will be the speaker. However, you will probably have to show your Republican credentials at the door. Too many Democrats are invading the club, the next thing you know the Sentinel will send three reporters, Georgiana, Sandra and Betty.

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