National Politics Comes Home to Cleveland, TN

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By Chris Meadows and Heather Ginsberg

The past two weeks of media coverage coming out of Cleveland, Tennessee followed in line with the town’s reputation as an “Evangelical Epicenter” as headlines were dominated by stories of Church activities and other community events.  However, as the county and state approach election season, political charged stories began to make their way into the radar of the local media as local parties each hosted key dinners.

Friday night US Sen. Bob Corker served as the guest speaker for the Bradley County Republican Party’s annual Reagan Day Dinner.  Sen. Corker was not short with words when it came to warning those in attendance how misguided President Obama has been throughout his tenure in office.  “I know him. I do not have an adversarial position with him. He’s been kind to me. We met in Memphis recently when we had floods down there and he couldn’t be more of a gentleman; but I have never met somebody more misguided about what makes this country great.” Corker stated.

Sen. Corker was also highly critical of President Obama’s latest “sugary,” “short term,” and “not well thought out idea” that comprise his jobs bill.  It was also pointed out that Sen. Harry Reid objected to having the bill voted on because “Harry Reid did not want to embarrass the president by bringing a jobs bill to the United States Senate floor and have people on both sides of the aisle uniformly send it back and reject it,” Corker said.  “The president has no clue about what it takes to create jobs and people on his own side of the aisle have begun to realize that.”

One of the biggest highlights of the night came from the results of the Bradley County straw poll that was conducted at the dinner.  Winning the poll receiving just shy of all of the votes cast was businessman Herman Cain tallying 61 votes.  Rick Perry finished in second place with 36 votes followed by Mitt Romney with 25.  Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michele Bachman, and Rick Santorum rounded out the field.  No votes were cast for John Huntsman.   

Not to be outdone by the town’s majority party, the Bradley County Democratic Party met Saturday evening for its annual Heritage Dinner where State Sen. Andy Berke and State Rep. JoAnne Favors, who both of represent areas of Hamilton County, discussed the passage of recent legislation in the state General Assembly and called for the unification of Democrats in the area and across the state.  “I think it’s important that we in East Tennessee come together and galvanize our efforts,” Rep. Favors said.   Pointing out that the party is currently outnumbered in both the region and the state, Rep. Favors explained, “We must reclaim our seats, because we are working for the people.”

Rep. Favors also commented on her disbelief that the General Assembly involved teachers and her confusion as to why teachers should be treated differently than other professionals who enjoy an industry standard that determines what individuals should be paid. (The public union fights that were big news in Wisconsin earlier this year, recently cropped up in Tennessee around teacher unions -- without the heavy media coverage.) Citing the voting record of the Democrats in the General Assembly, Rep. Favors also claimed that her party was the one that supported teachers.  Sen. Berke discussed his concerns with the current state unemployment rate which now registers 9.7% and blamed the Republican leadership for neglecting to accomplish more for the people of Tennessee.