Call Fire

I attended the Shelby GOP workshop on Call Fire, a new method of reaching voters on the phone via the internet.

Phase one of the strategy is community organizing, to coin a phrase. Don Johnson, Shelby GOP director, explained that the party is first trying to get people at the neighborhood level. We are using precinct captains to contact others in their own precinct to tell them about the upcoming election and urge them to vote. He explained that Scott Brown used a similar technique in his successful Massachusetts senatorial campaign.  We hope to contact people who have voted Republican in previous primaries by July 2.

Phase 2 will start after July 5 and target less regularly Republican voters.

I went home and tried it and found it to be easy. You log into Call Fire and it will start dialing people on our voter lists. I was easily able to do ten in a small amount of time. The script asks for email addresses which will be helpful in contacting people personally and directing them to the candidates in their district. Even though Midtown does tilt towards the Democrats, it is rewarding to find many people who feel like we do about the Obama administration.

Another plus is it will suggest more people we can contact to join our Midtown Republican Club.

Barbara Trautman is heading up this division and if you want to volunteer, please contact her.

Tell them to vote!

That was the message of Sheriff Mark Luttrell, running for Shelby County Mayor.

With early voting, he notes it is really a three week long election, not just the one day in August. He decried that only 10% of Memphians opted to vote in the primary. Republicans can win, if they turn out, he says, and clubs can play a big role in getting others to vote.

Luttrell sees the overarching issue for Shelby Countians is economic development. Part of that involves safe streets and  a better education system that addresses truancy. We spend $10,000 per student vs. the state’s outlay of $8,000. Obviously we are not getting a good return on our taxpayer investment.

Luttrell also believes The Med must be sustained. It’s No. 1 in the state for trauma; No. 1 for burns; No. 1 for neonatal concerns. “We can’t afford to lose it,” he said, adding that he has the ability to work with Nashville and understands that just throwing money at the problem won’t help it. He would focus on the proper allocation of these funds.

Noting that “we are 1.7 billion in debt in Shelby County,” Luttrell says, “it will take 25-30 years before we see any improvement in this state” as we try to pay it off. The key, for him, is economic development, not higher taxes.

“We already have the highest property tax and sales tax,” he said, “and taxation is the last thing I would consider to solve this problem. We haven’t helped small business, either,” he said. “Small business development is the cornerstone for my plan.”

I would hate to lose this good public servant to this Democrat opponent, so I hope we all will work to get him elected.

Get to know them

Some candidates dropped by our June meeting and got up to say a few words about their qualifications.

A representative for Kevin Key talked about his candidacy for Shelby County Criminal Court clerk; Mark Skoda spoke for Charlotte Bergmann, running against Coehn/Herenton for 9th Congressional district; Bobby Carter spoke of his backing from General Bill Gibbons for criminal court judge; Robert Hill mentioned his campaign against Ophelia Ford for State senate seat in district 29; along with Janet Shipman and Claiborne Ferguson. Our own Clay Shelton, running for State Senate district 87, reported that the number of Republicans voting in the primary was narrowing the gap between us and the Democrats, an encouraging sign!

It’s good to meet them in person and spread the word to friends and neighbors.

June Club Meeting

With just 45 days til early voting begins, Congressman Zach Wamp and Sheriff Mark Luttrell stressed to our Midtown Republican Club how vital it is to get the word out on their candidacies for governor and Shelby County Mayor.  Both gave compelling speeches last night, June 1, about their visions for a better Tennessee and better Shelby County.

Congressman Wamp again stated his determination to see that Shelby County does not get ignored by the next governor and legislature in Nashville. He wants to increase Memphis’ role  as distribution center which would help bring jobs and revenue to our state. He pushed again for student testing at a younger age to stem illiteracy and noted that in Tennessee 28,000 students drop out and two-thirds of those end up in prison. “We are waiting too late to make sure students can read,” he said, and corrective action would benchmark problems in kindergarten before kids are advanced without good reading comprehension.

As for the school budgets, Wamp notes that school construction has pushed our debt up and bemoans the continual refinancing that means we are always paying more on our debt, not less.

Having spent 14 years on the Appropriations committe in the House, he notes he understands how to deal with such budgetary problems.

Another interesting point he raised was our health problem. “Only West Virginia is rated less healthy a state than Tennessee and we also lag all but West Virginia in prescription medications.” Wamp said he has signed a pledge to make sure The Med is kept and receives funding.

I was glad to hear him address the problems he sees in Washington.

“Congress is dysfunctional. There is no budget for this year, no appropriates drawn up. In short, it’s chaos under the direction of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”

Wamp will be appearing, he said, on NBC July 11, which has schedule a gubernatorial debate.

Even though election day is August 5, the Congressman notes that half  the state may vote early. So don’t forget to inform your family and neighbors and get the word out.

Zach Wamped ’em

The second speaker at the Lunch Hour Republicans was Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp.

Since he will be appearing at our Midtown Republican Club meeting June 1st I was interested in hearing what he had to say.

I really came in with no preconceptions.

Congressman Wamp introduced himself and noted he was one of the class of 1994. He has been working in the party since college days. He decided it was time, however, to move from Congress to the Governor’s office, because he feels strongly we need a new direction.

With 57 days left til early voting starts, Wamp has spent a lot of time in Shelby County. He has inaugurated a “Memphis Matters” campaign and promises to put us in the forefront in Nashville. Too often we have been ignored by Nashville, he said. He wants to lead us in a Renaissance comparable to what he helped achieve in Chattanooga. That includes fully funding the Med and emphasizing our distribution center qualities and great business leaders.

Two other problems he wants to discuss that other candidates ignore, he said, are “our state is poor on education and health.” For example, TCAPs are administred at the end of the third grade. “If you can’t read by the third grade, there is a problem. We need to have benchmarks in kindergarten,” he said, noting that if you fail in reading early you fail for the rest of your elementary and high school career.

The Memphis infant mortality rate draws his ire, too, as does the sad fact that half of our state’s 17-24 year olds now wouldn’t qualify for the military.

As for crime, Wamp noted that “having safe communities means keeping repeat offenders off the street,” and he is willing to explore cheaper incarceration vs. letting criminals out.

My favorite issue, however, was his emphasis on state soverignty. “We need a governor with a backbone and a healthy distrust of a big federal government. We can feel freedom lipping through our fingers in this country.”

His was an impressive presentation and it will be interesting to see how he does in debating the other candidates. WKNO has schedule a debate among them for Tuesday night at 7.

A message from Lang

Yesterday I attended the monthly Lunch Hour Republican meeting at Salsa restaurant. Two great speakers were guests and one of them, our Chairman, Lang Wiseman, led off with his thoughts on the coming campaign.

Three things will determine the winning party, he said, “Turnout, turnout and turnout.”

Elaborating, he had graphs to show Republican turnout in the last three elections. In 2006 we got 40% Republican turnout, 8% independents and 3% Dem/African American swing votes. That gave us a 51% win and we had victory by all Republican candidates in County-clerk offices, plus a massive win by Luttrell and Gibbons.

August 2008 garnered only 33% Republican vote, 6% independents and 2% Dem/African American votes. With just 41% of the vote we lost a general sessions court clerk.

May 2010 brought 45% Republican turnout in the primary, which was the highest since 2002.

He concluded also that a candidate in Memphis needs approximately 90,000 to 100,000 votes to win; interstingly McCain garnered 150,000 votes. so the votes are out there.

Chairman Wiseman advised that there are 3 things we must do. Number one: Realize that we have the better candidates. We submitted them all to background checks and they were 100% clean. The Democrats said this was pointless and refused to do it. We must emphasize to citizens that our candidates are superior.

No. 2: Turnout. Apathy and defeatism are often are worst enemies. Statistics show that we can win in Shelby County.

No. 3: Get the swing vote by emphasizing that Republicans are the fiscally responsible party and the most efficient with your tax dollar.

Continuing, Lang said that we don’t have to convert Democrats; we can turnout our base and reach out to independents.

In June we will begin a phone calling campaign with a new computer program called Call fire and then in July we need to start knocking on doors and getting the word out.

As he warned, if we lose this election it could have dire consequences for our country and our county.

Cooking the books, er magazines

I popped into Penzey’s spice store recently and as I was paying I glanced at their cooking magazine, One.

One headline drew my eye: “Recipes for Restorative Justice.” What? Can’t they leave the politics behind? Evidently not, because it has happened before. In fact, I stopped my subscription because social issues seemed to be teamed with recipes and that’s not something I’m looking for in a food magazine. Earlier topics included prisons (complete with a picture of President Bush); immigration; and gay living. Gourmet managed to get into it, too, before it expired, with green emphasis and sly anti war articles. Bon Appetit flirts with the green movement, too, but it hasn’t gone full into that yet. Perhaps that’s why it’s still on the newsstand.