2018 Governor’s Race: Show Me the Money

Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

The race to replace Knoxville’s own Governor Bill Haslam started last year and even before that with one or two of the candidates.  The ads have now begun in earnest and the only folks really happy about that are in the media, particularly in television, because of the mass amounts of money that will be expended on advertising by at least 6 candidates.   Before August of this year, most of us are going to be sick of hearing about which Republican and Democrat can make Tennessee even greater in the future.  I don’t think we will see any of them touting the slogan of “making Tennessee great again.”  By any measure our state is in great shape, especially financially because our Constitution mandates a balanced budget.  If only the Founding Fathers had thought of that for our country, right? What is going to be interesting to watch will be the amount of money each of the six major candidates will pull out of their own pockets or pocketbooks to fund their campaigns.  The latest disclosures showed the following:  Republicans:  Knoxville’s Randy Boyd -$7.4 million but of that he has personally written a check for $4 million; 6th District Congressman Diane Black- $2.75 million of which she put in $1 million; Speaker of the House Beth Harwell “raised” $5 million but of that, she loaned her campaign $3.1 million and transferred $987K from her state House committee; businessman Bill Lee had  $3.5 million, $2 million of his own money.  On the Democrat side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean reported $2.6 million with a paltry $200K coming from his pocket.  Democrat House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh raised $800K with $500K being from him.  That already totals about $23 million “raised” with a tidy $11 million coming from the candidates’ bank accounts or their campaign accounts! What that likely means is Tennessee will see the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in our state’s history.  Does it matter? Does it send the message that only the wealthy and affluent can run for governor? Certainly a candidate has to be able to raise enough money to compete, to buy name identification if he or she doesn’t already have it and to pay for overpriced, out of state consultants who consistently assure their candidates they can’t win without buying more last minute ads and mailers.  And of course enough to pay the consultants a hefty fee.  Gone are the days where a candidate could give “stump” speeches at the courthouses and hope to win.  Even having grassroots organizations in all 95 counties no longer assure victory. It really is about the money and the ability to raise it, transfer it or write a personal check for it.  And we have already seen a lot of personal checks written by the candidates and it’s only February, $11 million in...

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“Democracy Is Not Your Plaything”

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

This is the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal recently written by Peggy Noonan who I consider to be one of the best and brightest.  She starts with, “Everyone, get serious.”  No kidding Peggy.  The 100 plus days that Donald J. Trump has been President of the United States have been nothing more than turmoil.  Whose fault is that?  It’s certainly both sides of the aisle at this point.  Noonan says “the sheer gravity of the drama will demand the best from all of us. Are we up to it?”  She also writes that “every new blunder, every suggestion of an illegality, gives them pleasure.”  The “they” in this case is the Democrats, the liberals, the media, you name it.  Perhaps everyone but those who voted for President Trump.  And perhaps even some of them are now doubting their votes.  Trump, who we all hoped would become presidential when elected, continues to tweet, boast, criticize, and blunder his way across the nation and now the world. Noonan goes on to pose the question that if Trump were to be removed as in impeachment, what would it say to the tens of millions who voted for him? ” Is democracy a con, the swamp always wins, you nobodies can make your little choice but we’re in control?”  But if he truly is not fit to be President, how much time do we let pass?  As she said, these are gut-wrenching questions and this is no time for blood lust and delight. “Because democracy is not your plaything.”  Indeed it is not.  Trump was legally elected, to the Democrat and liberals dismay.  Yes, the electoral college is the way we elect our presidents and until it’s changed, it will continue to be.  Republicans and Democrats who have represented us in Congress over the past several years can take a good portion of the blame for his victory.  The “forgotten people” who voted in 2016 were fed up with politics as usual and wanted a dramatic change in leadership.  They got it but now what do they do with it?  The hearings that will be held on Russian interference in the elections, Trump’s staff and or his own involvement, etc. will consume us for the next year or so.  In the meantime, what happens with governing the country?  What becomes of healthcare reform, tax reform, immigration policy?  Probably very little or no action.  We must get our focus on the really important issues that confront us but I don’t know how that happens with the current bloodsport going on in D.C.  Either Trump and his staff have to make a dramatic turnaround quickly or the leadership in the Congress have to step up and lead.  After all, democracy is not your plaything....

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Trump Serves Useful Purpose

Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

After watching the second GOP debate last evening I had an epiphany. I am delighted that Donald Trump is running for president as a Republican. Why you may ask? He’s brash, insulting to women, not quite ready for prime time on the issues and so many more phrases that I won’t even bother to list. But oh my gosh has he energized my party or what! Millions of Americans are watching eleven people stand on a stage for three hours talking about each other, how they look, where their families came from, and on occasion about issues that matter to most Americans. Why? Because they are waiting for The Donald to insult, demean or just insert his Gucci loafer into his mouth. This is great, right? It is because it finally has gotten the American people interested in the GOP primary. No more dullards citing statistics about the gold standard or the gross national product. This is entertainment television, made for prime time, voyuerism at its finest. And while I don’t think Trump will stand the test of time, it has certainly shone the spotlight on at least 10 others, one of whom will be our party’s nominee for president. I would also argue that Trump’s entrance has made all of them better candidates than they would have been otherwise. He sucks the energy out of every room he enters, including the debate stage and the others have finally figured out that they have to come ready to compete, stand toe to toe with him if they are going to survive and advance. Jeb!Bush was a much better candidate/debater last evening. Chris Christie may be back in the game. Carly Fiorina was masterful. Thanks to Trump, she had some great “gotcha” moments. Marco was even more energized. Thanks to Trump, the country stopped what they were doing and tuned into CNN. Who knew the conservatives knew how to find CNN! Thanks Donald, we are a better party with you in...

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What’s A Moderate Republican To Do?

Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I am getting daily calls from my Republican friends asking me who I am supporting for the GOP nomination. I tell them I haven’t decided and it’s still early. Next there’s the inevitable question- what about Trump? My answer? Don’t write him off yet, it’s still early. Has Trump gone from a novelty candidate to a serious candidate? He certainly is the darling of the drive-by media as Rush L. likes to call them. Why not? He’s colorful, quotable, and accessible. What’s not to love, right? But can he get the nomination and can he win in November, 2016? Who knows, it’s still early. I know this. Trump has certainly tapped into the “silent majority,” or the folks that are “mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.” Clearly that 25% and growing are all over Donald Trump and his brash behavior. They love that finally someone is speaking up and out about what they think. Someone who doesn’t care if he’s politically correct and doesn’t mind telling the news media to sit down and shut up. He’s all that and more. But it’s the more that worries me. Can he sustain his momentum? Will the media tire of the novelty and start digging through his closets and if so, what will they find? Can he grasp the serious policy issues, including foreign policy, and make me believe he is capable of serving as president of these United States. The other sixteen or fifteen if Gov Rick Perry is on his way out have to begin proving they can out-trump Trump. Thus far, no one has been able to do that. Bush appears professorial; Rubio-really love his patriotism and energy but short on experience (note, same as Barack Obama when he was elected); Dr. Ben Carson- I would want him for my surgeon, still unsure about my president; Ted Cruz- very bright but too far right for me; John Kasich- maybe-managed as Governor, served in the Congress, moderate; Carly Fiorina-smart, tough, maybe. Still early. Time will tell I suspect. Republican nominees usually are selected by default. Whoever has the money and the organization usually win out while the others disappear. At this stage, that would be Bush. We also tend to pick nominees who have paid their dues, who’ve toiled in the fertile political fields- Bob Dole, George HW Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney. Well wouldn’t it be something if this time we didn’t? What if the man who has never tilled one field except his own were to be sustainable until the end? Can you imagine a Trump v Hillary (or Biden or Sanders) campaign? The media certainly would have fun. Not sure about us moderate Republicans but it’s still...

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WBIR: East TN Historical Society honors Jack Hanna

Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Blog, SRW Clients in the News | 0 comments

(WBIR) There are some remarkable people who grow up in here and go on to do great things, and one of those people happens to be everyone’s favorite animal man, Jack Hanna. The East Tennessee Historical Society honored Hanna as the East Tennessean of the Year. Hanna is a Knoxville native who worked at the Knoxville Animal Clinic and grew up to become one of the faces of animal activism. He’s become a regular on the morning show and late-night circuit, but hasn’t forgotten where he started.  Read...

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KNS: SRW & Associates celebrates 10 years

Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Blog, SRW in the News | 0 comments

Energy, synergy and the creative process. Those are some of the reasons the independent public affairs and public relations professionals at SRW & Associates look forward to going to work in the morning. “We love having an office together,” says Susan Richardson Williams, who started the business 10 years ago after opening and managing the Knoxville office of The Ingram Group, a statewide public relations firm. “We could all work from home, but we like having an office together. It has worked really well for us.” SRW & Associates, located at 507 S. Gay Street, Suite 920, provides strategic counsel and services to major corporations, nonprofit Read the full story...

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Tennessee Poised for Power if GOP Takes Senate

Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I recently attended a luncheon where Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander spoke about why it’s important to re-elect not only him but to elect Republican Senators across the country. I think everyone who follows politics is very interested in whether or not Republicans will control the US Senate and what that can mean for the future of the country.  Who governs matters and it particularly matters for the State of Tennessee this time.  Here’s why. Lamar Alexander is the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor  & Pensions Senate Committee.  What that means is he is the senior Republican on the Committee.  Presumably if the GOP takes the Senate in November, he will become chair of a very important committee.  The Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, came through that committee.  Even if legislation abolishing it or changing it dramatically passed, it would most likely be vetoed by the lame duck President Obama, but we have to try and only if Republicans control the Committee can we begin the process of making changes. Senator Alexander talks about his first act as Chairman of that committee would be to move many federal regulations and acts on education back to the state level.  He would simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  for college students, now 180 plus questions, down to about 3 or 4.  That just makes good sense. In addition to being the ranking member  on Health, Education, Labor, Senator Alexander is also the ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water. This is the Committee where the appropriations for  Oak Ridge, the Appalachian Regional Commission and other important area priorities are approved. Equally important to Tennessee is the position of our junior Senator Bob Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee.  He is also the ranking member who presumably would become Chairman if the GOP takes the Senate.  Corker has become very important and a real leader on foreign relations issues.  In these times of turmoil on several fronts in the Middle East, the Ukraine and China, I know I would sleep better at night if I knew Bob Corker, a smart, common sense Tennessean, was leading that  Committee instead of Democrat Robert Menendez.  If you didn’t see Senator Corker’s questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry recently on the ISIS issue, you should.  Go to the Foreign Relations Committee site and watch. What can we do to make sure that happens and Tennessee assumes a real position of power in the US Senate?  For one, make sure we reelect Lamar Alexander.  Seniority matters and Lamar has it.  If you want to send a contribution to Republican candidates in Arkansas, North Carolina or Kentucky, do so but do it quickly.  It really matters who governs.  ...

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Transitioning from Gen Y to Gen Z

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The following was sent to me by the head of  my teen grandson’s middle school.  If you are the parent or grandparent of a Generation Z, I highly recommend this read. GENERATION Y TO GENERATION Z The following blog is from Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders. Tim continually provides interesting information for parents and those of us who work with adolescents. He often reminds us that we are raising kids in a very different era than when we were growing up. His examples help illustrate this point. How Generation Z Differs from Generation Y The numbers are just coming in from studies of younger teens, who are part of Generation Z (also known as “Homelanders,” these kids follow Generation Y). They are part of a population that grew up post-9/11, where terrorism is part of the landscape, a sour economy is all they remember, and uncertainty defines our mindsets. In many ways, we need to stop assuming they’ll simply be extensions of Generation Y (or the Millennials). They are the younger counterparts to that older generation and have grown up with new technology that’s marked them. While Generation Y grew up with computers, Generation Z grew up with touch-screens. Their phones have always been “smart.” Bill Clinton is a president from history, and Madonna is an aged veteran . . . like Elton John or Michael Jackson. They never knew her when she was “like a virgin.” We live in a new day. The Shifts This New Generation Will Bring . . . While Generation Y spent money boldly and with few boundaries, 57% of Generation Z prefers saving money to spending it. While Generation Y spent loads of time at the mall, Generation Z prefers shopping online for almost all their purchases . . . except for online games. Hmmm. While Generation Y grew up during a strong economy, Generation Z is growing up in a time of recession, terrorism, violence, volatility, and complexity. While Generation Y subscribed to everything social, Generation Z doesn’t want to be tracked, preferring Snapchat, Secret, or Whisper to communicate. While Generation Y watched YouTube, Hulu and Netflix, Generation Z wants to co-create, live stream, and help to make up the activity as they participate. While Generation Y loved sports and adventure, Generation Z sees sports as a health tool, not for play. Their games are inside. Teen obesity has tripled since 1970. While Generation Y grew up with slightly longer attention spans, Generation Z has an attention span of 8 seconds. Approximately 11% have ADHD. While Generation Y initiated text messages as a norm, Generation Z prefers communicating through images, icons and symbols. While Generation Y worried about their growing social status and their “likes” on social media, Generation Z worries about the economy and world ecology. While Generation Y enjoyed a life that revolved around them, Generation Z plans on coping with multi-generational households and marriages (400% increase). According to a recent report from Sparks and Honey, these younger children and teens are from a smaller population that will be more about coping with reality than Generation Y, which was about virtual reality. For instance: Their movies are Hunger Games and Divergent, where youth are being slaughtered and kids no longer feel as central to their world. They multitask on five...

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Pete Claussen interview with Hallerin Hilton Hill

Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Blog, SRW Clients in the News | 0 comments

Pete Claussen interview with Hallerin Hilton Hill

Check out this interview with SRW client, Gulf & Ohio Railways’ Founder and Chairman, Pete Claussen, on Hallerin Hilton Hill’s “Anything is Possible.”  

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Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fair

Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Blog, SRW Clients in the News | 0 comments

If the term “jam-packed” ever defined a one-day festival, it would be most appropriate at the Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fairsponsored by the East TennesseeHistorical Society on August 16th! And you might wonder if anyone in our modern tech age would be interested.  But with record numbers in attendance… Read more here…

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