Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Press Release: Huddleston Chooses Not to Seek 1st District Seat

I sent out the following press release to East Tennessee media outlets and 1st District candidates at approximately 1:30 P.M.


Huddleston Chooses Not to Seek 1st District Seat

February 28, 2006

KNOX COUNTY – Rob Huddleston, a Knoxville-based attorney who has been contemplating running for Congress in the 1st District of Tennessee, has decided that he will not run for the seat in 2006.

Huddleston, who formerly spent time in Washington, D.C., working for the National Rifle Association, current U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant, and former Senator Fred Thompson, announced on his award-winning blog, VOLuntarilyConservative, that he was caught off-guard by the announcement of Congressman Bill Jenkins that he would be retiring at the end of his current term. After nearly two weeks of reflection, Huddleston came to a decision.

"The decision to run for public office is always a difficult one," said Huddleston. "Those familiar with me know that I consider being elected to represent the citizens of the First District of Tennessee in the U.S. Congress the highest honor an East Tennessean can be paid. That reverence is what has made this decision so difficult, and I thank my family, the media, and my fellow Republicans for indulging me during this decision-making process."

"After much prayer and discussions with my family and people of the First District, I have decided to forego any campaign for the 1st District's seat in Congress in 2006. It simply is not the right time for my family, and I hope that those who have encouraged and invited my entrance as a candidate will understand and respect my decision," Huddleston announced Tuesday.

"I would like to thank my wife, Angela, for her heartfelt support in this matter," said Huddleston. "Despite obvious challenges that a primary and general election campaign would mean for the lives of our family, she never wavered in her support."

"I might have made a different decision if this was only effecting me and me alone," stated Huddleston. "However, this decision would demand the time, attention, and resources of too many people at this point. Some of those people aren't even born yet. My sister, Sarah Fulks, a former teacher in the Kingsport schools, is expecting her second child during this campaign season. It's more important right now that I tend to my duties as a husband, a brother, an uncle, and a son than to be the next Congressman representing the great people of the 1st District of Tennessee."

When asked for an endorsement of announced candidates for the seat, Huddleston did not offer any hints of who he would be endorsing at this time.

"I am familiar with all of the announced candidates – David Davis through his service as my former State Representative, Vance Cheek through his service to the people of Johnson City and e-mail correspondence over the past few years, Jeff Anderson as the former Chief of Staff for Congressman Jenkins and a member of my parents' former church, and Richard Venable for his many years of service for Sullivan County," Huddleston said. "In fact, I saw Mr. Davis and Mr. Venable in Kingsport just this past weekend at a dinner. I hold all of these men in high regard. However, I believe it the prudent course to allow for the field to settle before endorsing one candidate. I certainly expect for others to join this race."

Huddleston did not rule out future campaigns. "I am still quite young in political terms," Huddleston said with a laugh. "I will go wherever the good Lord leads me, but I certainly would be a bit disappointed on a personal level if that is away from the service of the citizens of the First District."

Born in Kingsport, Huddleston has lived the vast majority of his life in the First District. He graduated from Sullivan East High School in Bluff City, as well as East Tennessee State University with a degree in Chemistry with Honors before attending The University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville.



Mark Your Calendars: IEATAPETA Day is March 15th!

There is a growing movement to infuriate PETA on March 15th, as that day has been declared International Eat A Tasty Animal for PETA Day, or IEATAPETA Day. This is in response to PETA's lovely "Holocaust on Your Plate" media campaign.

Red State is on board (some of the comments are hilarious) with the idea of Meryl Yourish, and the crew at PETA is full of crap are even posting group get-togethers at restaurants around the nation in order for Americans to feast on the finest steaks, ribs, brisket, roasts, and chops our nation has to offer.

As my wife can attest, every day is basically IEATAPETA Day for me. No day was more perfect for that than this past Saturday, when I visited my friends and family in the First District and attended the Outdoorsmen of Kingsport's Wild Game Feast. Bear, boar, quail, elk, caribou, turkey, crappie, gator, pheasant, frog, game hens, moose - they were all consumed in mass quantities by those in attendance (including David Davis and Richard Venable, who have both announced their candidacies for the 1st District Congressional seat). I highly doubt that PETA would have approved.


Bush Poll Numbers

GOP and College has an excellent breakdown of the CBS poll that has liberals crowing about Bush's record-low approval rating. It's an excellent example of why polls of this sort don't matter.

I suspected as much. Bush's poll numbers a few weeks ago had rebounded from previous lows to over 50%. Now they nosedive into the 30's without a major event like a terrorist attack, stock market crash, etc.?? It didn't seem legitmate, and it turns out that it isn't.

It looks like CBS-Post-Dan-Rather is about as honest as CBS-With-Dan-Rather.


Pamela Rogers Turner Released

Teacher-turned-sexual-deviant Pamela Rogers Turner is now free on "good behavior." Six Meat Buffet has a humorous take on the proceedings, including pictures which certainly look better than those on the TBI's sex offender registry.

Monday, February 27, 2006


What is up with "The Rep?"

Does anyone know what State Representative Stacey Campfield is up to? I haven't heard anything from him regarding a reelection campaign, although the Knoxville News Sentinel reported a few weeks back that he has primary and general election opposition and those challengers are raising money.

Plus, Campfield has yet to pick up a candidate petition, according to Brian's Blog. The deadline for filing a completed petition is April 16th, so Campfield has some time, although most candidates have made themselves known by now.

Is Stacey Campfield running for reelection? If he's not, does he plan to run for the Governor's Mansion? After today's announcement concerning my former boss, Fred Thompson, it is even more unlikely that Thompson is going to be the GOP's knight in shining armor against Bredesen (who is running ads despite no true opposition). Does Stacey fashion himself as that candidate? I believe that we will know soon enough.

MORE: David Oatney had a chance to meet Stacey Campfield recently and came away impressed.


The Big Picture Regarding Sex

(My apologies for probably the most provocative headline in the history of VOLuntarilyConservative.)

One of my former instructors, Professor J. Budziszewski, has an excellent article on how the sexual revolution of a previous generation has created problems for the current generation that is reaching its physiological sexual maturity. If you have the time, I recommend giving it a read. If you have a good deal more time (and a penchant for reading fairly difficult texts), then I suggest his book, "Written on the Heart," which goes into Natural Law Theory through several different vehicles, including the primary works of Augustine.


Last Chance for the SRLC

Thought I would leave a reminder that Tuesday is the final day to register for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis taking place next weekend. More speakers have been added, including one of my favorite former Members of Congress, J.C. Watts. Bob Davis, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, announced that over 1,400 participants from 26 states have registered thus far. Some of the other confirmed speakers include:

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
U.S. Senator George Allen (Va.)
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour
U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (Kan.)
U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (Minn.)
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (Tenn.)
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
Former U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson (Ark.)
U.S. Senator Trent Lott (Miss.)
U.S. Senator John McCain (Ariz.)
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
U.S. Senator David Vitter (La.)
Texas Governor Rick Perry
U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp (Tenn.)

I will have more on the conference next week, which I will be attending along with the VOLConWife. Feel free to join us for what should be a fun and educational event!


Biscuits with Bob

Jeff Ward over at TeamGOP has an excellent review of what went down at the "Biscuits with Bob" event over in the western half of the state this past weekend. It must have been surreal, sitting at a meet-and-greet for a Republican candidate in a room full of Democrats. I must admit that I have never had that experience - nor do I wish to in the future. It seems too much like Caesar in the Senate to me, even if I was only observing.


More TVA Corruption?

If the information I was provided this afternoon is accurate, the Office of the General Counsel at TVA has knowingly violated federal nepotism laws. I'm sure there will be more to come, hopefully in the form of a Congressional audit of the entire executive structure which, despite Senator Frist's best efforts, is still woefully lacking.

Rest assured that this isn't aimed at any of the rank-and-file TVA employees. They are generally excellent in their work and service for the Tennessee Valley. However, much like the corrupt leadership of private corporations like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco, the entire organization suffers from the greed and audacity of management. One need look no further than the TVA bonus structure to see that such greed and arrogance is not unique to the private sector.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Coffee with Senator Jamie Woodson

Regular readers have noticed that I have been a major critic of Senator Jamie Woodson, who represents my current area of Knox County and whose campaign I worked on as an attorney for Bush/Cheney 2004. The vast majority of my criticism was rooted in what I perceived as her shepherding of Bredesen's Pre-K program last May. In retrospect, the process went too fast for me to speak to Jamie at that time (e-mails were exchanged, but nothing as in-depth as it should have been). In an effort to better understand what drove her decision, I arranged a meeting with Senator Woodson for this morning at Panera on the Strip for coffee and conversation. I was pleased that Jamie and her staff were able to help our meeting this morning go off smoothly.

After our meeting, I have to offer a mea culpa that I saw coming. In judging Jamie so harshly and dogmatically on one singular issue, I failed to realize the excellent representation that Jamie provides residents of Knox County. I won't go into detail about everything that was said because I never even asked Jamie to go on the record, but I feel comfortable in saying that education is a passionate issue for Jamie. Seriously, I wish that more legislators felt the way that she did about serious state issues. She also wants to address budgetary issues and the process used to develop the budget (much in the same way that Ed Bryant wants to reform the federal system) in order to slow the growth of the budget. Also, I (nor many others, I feel) knew how Jamie helped craft the Pre-K bill so that it was much more limited than our spendthrift governor wanted. Jamie also helped breathe some accountability into the system which should act as a safeguard not present in most Democratic-concocted programs like TennCare.

In short, I am a much bigger Jamie Woodson fan after this morning. I'm glad that we are both working for a better Tennessee.

I just hope our Vols don't allow for anymore scenes like this one...


Political Chili

The Knoxville News-Sentinel has felt the need for the past week to push Mike Padgett's annual chili supper as some sort of bipartisan lovefest instead of the Democratic fundraiser that it actually is. This is from the story on last night's event:

"Although Padgett is a Democrat, the event is stridently bipartisan and Republicans outnumbered Democrats by a hefty margin. Among them was state Sen. Tim Burchett of Knoxville, who said he came for 'food, fellowship and because Mike asked me.'"

No word yet on whether Burchett was counted as one of the Democrats or the Republicans.

MORE: It should be noted that, according to my latest records, Mike Padgett is running unopposed for his County Clerk position. That sparks the question as to what purpose the money that all of the "Republicans" just poured into Padgett's coffers is going to be used for. It boggles the mind...

Mike Padgett at last night's fundraiser


Court Rules Vote on Tennessee Gay-Marriage Amendment Can Proceed

The ruling out of Davidson County yesterday was quite expected and, as posted here months ago, was a win-win situation for conservatives. Either the court ruled the publication processes correct, thus allowing the marriage amendment to go to the voters, or the court ruled them in violation of the Tennessee Constitution, in which case the lottery amendment was improperly passed and thus illegal. In either case, the ACLU, as it typical for that organization, was attempting to usurp the majority of Tennesseans through the vehicle of the courts. Supporting them, as I told one of my law professors who proudly claimed ACLU membership, is only one step from being an announced communist. (I suggest F. LaGard Smith's "ACLU: The Devil's Advocate" to those who can manage to find a copy, as it contains more on the connections between the ACLU and communism.)

The Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the General Assembly in defending their actions in passing on the gay-marriage amendment to the voters, published the following press release after the decision was announced.


ACLU gets the boot: Judge dismisses suit seeking to stop vote on Tenn. marriage amendment

Thursday, February 23, 2006, 1:55 PM (MST)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a lawsuit in which attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund defended Tennessee lawmakers, a state judge ruled today that the American Civil Liberties Union had no case against Tennessee’s proposed constitutional amendment protecting marriage. The judge dismissed the ACLU’s case.

“What we’re really discussing here is whether we’re going to let political special interest groups or the law define marriage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Byron Babione, who argued the case before the court. “The ACLU’s lawsuit was nothing more than a veiled attempt to use a technicality to stop the will of the people. The court’s ruling today upheld the right of the people to be heard.”

The ACLU lawsuit aimed to prevent Tennesseans from voting on a constitutional amendment proposed by state lawmakers that defines marriage as “the relationship of one man and one woman.” ACLU attorneys claimed that the General Assembly did not publish the text of the amendment soon enough for it to be included on the November 2006 ballot. The judge today disagreed.

According to the ruling, the state constitution does not require the publication to be an act of the General Assembly. Since the text of the amendment never changed from the time it was filed and the time it was published in the media, the judge concluded that “media coverage cured the General Assembly’s default in publication. Under the unique facts of this case, the publication requirement was met and the plaintiffs were not injured,” the judge wrote.

“This is a great victory for the voters, who will decide this issue, not the courts,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker. “The judge respected the will of the voters, pointing out that the voters elected the members of the General Assembly who passed the amendment, and the will of the voters should not be invalidated.”

The full text of the order issued by the Chancery Court for the State of Tennessee, 20th Judicial District, Davidson County, Part III, in the case American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee v. Darnell can be read at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/ACLUvDarnelldecision.pdf.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

My heart goes out to those poor souls who are (hopefully) tucked away in their beds on the middle night of the Tennessee Bar Exam. The multiple choice questions of the MBE behind them, only 12 essays over 6 hours stand between them and a possible law license.

Of course, as I write this, I am currently at the office with the NRA clock on the wall approaching 1:00 A.M. I hope they realize that, for many of them, this is the reward for all of that studying over the past several months.

Then again, it isn't that bad. I have Big & Rich blasting (and I mean BLASTING) in my CD-ROM as I draft documents and shred several others. Basically, this is probably what a typical night in the Nashville offices of the Bredesen Administration is like (if you added sexual harassment, money from felons, money from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, botched TennCare reform, botched ethical reform, botched TDOT reform, former Senator John Ford, and an inability to address illegal immigration to my shredding party).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Jeff Ward and TeamGOP

I have been lax to comment on some of the embarrassing attempts at spin coming out of TeamGOP in the past month. Perhaps I became too caught up in not attacking Jeff Ward because he has done many good things in the past for conservative efforts and will undoubtedly do many good things in the future. However, some of the junk coming out of TeamGOP lately makes me wonder if Jeff have lost his mind, and they deserve some form of retort.

First of all, Jeff's apparent attempt to make Tipton County his own personal fiefdom by banishing any Republican who does not worship at his alter has no place in either conservative or Republican politics. None. (See here and here.) Unfortunately, this sort of tactic is what passes for conservative politics these days, and one need look no further than Karl Rove's White House for examples. I have received more e-mails from people in and around Tipton County involving meddling by Jeff Ward in the last few months than I can properly convey. Jeff's explanations on TeamGOP have been lacking, in my opinion, but, from what I have been told, he needs to come clean on some of the backroom maneuvers that are going on there. It is a pure shame that there is a power struggle going on amongst Republicans in Tipton County, but it seems that this is a problem that should be worked out amongst the proper parties, not instigated by Jeff Ward or TeamGOP. I am unclear as to what is the root of the problems in Tipton County, but it sounds like a situation that needs fixing. If Jeff would be willing to negotiate a working peace, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, that doesn't sound like what is happening.

Secondly, and most importantly, Jeff seems to have lost perspective over his endorsement of Van Hilleary's floundering campaign. Ever since then, Jeff has gone out of his way to belittle Ed Bryant with one backhanded swipe after another. Now taking shots at a candidate like Ed is certainly Jeff's right. However, doing so by spinning and - with all due respect - outright lying is not the honorable manner that people who hope to lead conservatives in this state should undertake.

Jeff's most recent post is an excellent example. First, Jeff touts the SurveyUSA/WBIR poll. He doesn't address the concerns over the methodology of the poll or the screwy results that the poll yielded (Kurita's and Moder's name recognition can only be described as bizarre). Then Jeff says the following (preserved here for posterity):

"[M]oney and name ID wins elections."

I hate to do this, but you need to remember this, folks. Ideas, issues, ideology, a good man or woman as a candidate, grassroots efforts - these do not win elections in the eyes of Jeff Ward. Jeff then suggests that anyone who disagrees with him should "spend some time at the library or Barnes and Noble." Sorry, Jeff, but I think I'll pass on that one and rely instead on my experience. Of course, if money wins elections as you claim, you might want to consider dumping your candidate, who looks to be bringing up the rear after the most recent financial disclosures.

Jeff then goes on to write about this new mystery poll that the Hilleary campaign leaked which apparently doesn't exist but supposedly came from Democratic sources. Ward, who has attacked the Corker campaign as incompetent from Day One, then cites the Corker campaign's silence as proof that they agree with the fictitious poll, which, of course, has no numbers, margin of error, named candidates, polling administrators, questions, press releases, etc. Could it be, Jeff, that the Corker campaign doesn't feel the need to comment on a poll that wasn't released and apparently has never been administered?

When dealing with clients, they always want to tell me about these stories that are completely outside of the scope of truth. I have to tell them that I am only concerned with what I can prove, not what I cannot. That seems to be what this mystery poll is at this point in time. Perhaps it will be released in the next few days, and we can all pick through the methodology and see if the results hold up under our scrutiny. Until that happens, though, referring to the poll as based in reality - as Jeff Ward, the Hilleary campaign, and Lebanon Democrat Political Editor Clint Brewer have done - is at the heart of foolishness.

Jeff then picks on the Bryant campaign for its release, "Harold Ford, Jr. Trying to Handpick Opponent." On this line of attack, Jeff has a point. I don't understand the Bryant campaign release anymore than Jeff does. It seems based on allegation and not fact. Basically, it looks like a Van Hilleary for Senate press release. I am actually surprised that the Bryant campaign hasn't had more of these type of releases, because staying on the issues and "keeping it real" is exceedingly tough when Brad Todd and Jennifer Coxe (and, sadly, you can add now Jeff Ward's name here) are constantly living in a fantasy where the truth is malleable.

It's at this part of the release that I really get steamed at Jeff. He goes on to write, in bold, the following:

"At least Van Hilleary was on the first string. In 2002 the Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee, a fine man named Bill Frist, traveled to a private home to recruit former Governor Lamar Alexander to run for the US Senate for fear of losing the seat to a Democrat when another Republican, Congressman Ed Bryant, who was deemed unviable, was already in the race. Van Hilleary was not a perfect candidate, but at least he was a starter. Ed Bryant rode the bench."

This is nearly word-for-word from Jeff's post from February 6, 2006, in which he made the same allegations. Unfortunately for Jeff, these statements are not true. Here's my problem - in the "Comments" section of Jeff's post (which has to be read and moderated by Jeff in order to be posted), I told Jeff that this was not true. I even volunteered to elaborate in private, because the story Jeff tells did not happen that way. (Mark Green had a bit more in a response to Jeff on TeamGOP from February 7.) In any case, Jeff knows that things didn't go down the way he is telling the story. Yet, Jeff continues to peddle these untruths.

I am disturbed by what has happened over at TeamGOP. I have felt that their organization has filled a necessary niche in our state and federal efforts, a niche that I worry they are drifting away from slowly. I was worried when Jeff endorsed Van, as I posted here:

"I do offer this warning to Jeff - even the best people, when exposed to not-that-great people, are stained. I hope that it's Jeff that rubs off on Van's campaign staff and not the other way around."

Although Van hasn't challenged Jane Fonda to any debates lately, his campaign seems unchanged lately. Can the same be said for Jeff and TeamGOP?

In any case, I am beginning to worry about the intense rhetoric of late. The candidates themselves have been more than cordial when they are face-to-face. Their supporters have not. It certainly is not my intention to have been disrespectful or mean in this post. It would obviously not be in my best interests, both for my future dealings with Jeff and as a potential candidate for Congress in the 1st District.

We need to be better stewards of the conservative movement, ladies and gentlemen. We cannot take the fight to our opponents if we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves.


To Mush or Not to Mush?

Glen Dean and his wife are celebrating their second anniversary today. Glen espouses here.

After reading that, I am torn. The romantic in me wants to congratulate Glen and sing the praises of his heartfelt missive. However, the frat boy in me would like to torture him endlessly on such a gross display of girlymanliness.

Since I have been known to spew sap all over the screens of my readers, I think I will let Glen have a pass today.


Thank You

I want to issue a message of thanks to my friends and fellow bloggers who have offered such kind words over the past week in regards to my possible entrance into the First District race. In particular, posts by David Oatney and John Norris Brown were appreciated, as were the comments by Brian Hornback and First District candidate Vance Cheek. The private messages from friends both within Tennessee and outside the Volunteer State - mostly volunteering their time for the campaign - have been overwhelming.

I had planned to make an announcement today, but after some discussions with a few people in the First District, I am going to put that off for a couple of days. (Thursday, as usual, is chocked full of work in the courts, so you won't hear much from me tomorrow.) Again, thank you for your patience and your prayers. Rest assured that both are much appreciated.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


On the Eve of the Tennessee Bar Exam

My thoughts are with those who must sit for the Tennessee Bar over the next two days (like Cole at Strange Things Afoot). It is not a fun experience, and it is my prayer that they are able to sleep better tonight than I did when I sat for the test one year ago.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Volunteer Opportunity

The National Christian Forensics and Communication Association has a national qualifying tournament at Carson Newman College set for March 9-11. I was asked to serve as a judge, but I will be at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis over that weekend. However, I thought that I would post this excellent service opportunity for any other readers that might be interested. Sessions are all day throughout Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so even if you can only assist for 3-4 hours, they could use you. Anyone who is interested can either leave their information in the Comments section or e-mail Bill and Kathy Waldrep at wehike-at-chartertn.net.


Dear Friends,

On March 9, 10 and 11, the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) is holding a National Qualifying Tournament at Carson Newman College. I am asking you if you would be willing to be a Community Judge.

This is an annual event geared toward providing a means for homeschooled students to learn and exercise oratorical skills, addressing life issues by providing opportunities for students to utilize a variety of skills in their communication efforts, including verbal skills, logic, critical thinking, research and study, emotion, and non-verbal skills.

We ask (plead with) members of the community to volunteer their time to evaluate the speeches (or debates) and provide written feedback. A brief judge's orientation is provided and there is a hospitality room. Attached is the philosophy of judging and the schedule for the tournament.

I am sure that these young people would greatly appreciate your insight into their presentation skills and how they can improve on them and succeed at the next level in a national contest.



Viva la Lawson!

My best friend, The Undecided Philosopher, is travel-blogging his trip to Paris. For those who might be interested in reading about when a Tennessean hits Paris (and apparently can't find an ATM), check out his daily entries.


Press Release: Huddleston Undecided on Candidacy for First District Seat

For those who didn't see it, the following press release was distributed Saturday evening:


Huddleston Undecided on Candidacy for First District Seat

February 18, 2006

KNOX COUNTY – Rob Huddleston, a Knoxville-based attorney, is undecided on a proposed run for the First Congressional District's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

Huddleston, who formerly spent time in Washington, D.C., working for the National Rifle Association, current U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant, and former Senator Fred Thompson, announced on his award-winning blog, VOLuntarilyConservative, that he was caught off-guard by the announcement of Congressman Bill Jenkins on Wednesday that he would be retiring at the end of his current term.

"It's quite amazing how the Lord works," Huddleston wrote. "Just yesterday, I remarked to (my wife) that everything seemed to have settled down... Through my experiences, though, that is when God likes to put something before you that shocks your system from its routine, that tests you. That was the case when my good friend, Congressman Bill Jenkins, announced his retirement from the House of Representatives yesterday. He has served those of us from the First District admirably in the tradition of Jimmy Quillen, and he will be missed."

This has left Huddleston pondering his own political future. Born in Kingsport, Huddleston has lived the vast majority of his life in the First District. He graduated from Sullivan East High School, as well as East Tennessee State University before attending The University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville. Writing on VOLuntarilyConservative, Huddleston seemed intrigued by the current vacancy in the First District.

"For those who truly know me or have pegged me down on the issue, it is no secret that I consider being elected as the Congressman from the First District of Tennessee the highest honor an East Tennessean can be paid. I have gone on record as saying that if God led me to that particular office that it would be the highest political office I would ever seek. And now, in 2006, an opportunity presents itself."

However, Huddleston has not committed himself to the race. "There are many factors involved in this decision," said Huddleston on Saturday afternoon. "I have worked many campaigns and advised politicians in this very situation. Entering into any political contest is a decision that should not be taken lightly. I will confer with my family and friends, as well as put the matter in prayer, before I will announce my decision."

Tennessee State Representative David Davis (R-6) has already declared himself a candidate, as has former Johnson City mayor Vance Cheek. Huddleston is familiar with many of those rumored to be considering entering the race.

"No matter when a Republican incumbent decides to end his representation of the people of the First District, there will always be several extraordinary, qualified people ready to step forward and take the torch, " Huddleston said. "Whether it is Anne Pope, David Davis, Vance Cheek, Jeff Anderson, or whoever decides to enter what will always be a crowded Republican primary field, the quality of candidates is something of which East Tennesseans can always be proud."

"Those who have decided to enter the race or are still contemplating a run are not a tremendous factor in my decision," stated Huddleston. "There will always be great conservative candidates in the First District."

"The primary concerns I have are related to the effects this will have on my family," Huddleston elaborated. "While the faithful Tennessean in me may want to pursue this in 2006, the husband, son, brother, and uncle in me may have to realize that this is not the right time. It is certainly a difficult decision, and one that I will not enter into lightly."

Huddleston expects to announce a decision sometime next week.


Thursday, February 16, 2006


Once Again At A Crossroads

It's quite amazing how the Lord works. Just yesterday, I remarked to the VOLConWife that everything seemed to have settled down, that our progress over the past few months was noticeable. Through my experiences, though, that is when God likes to put something before you that shocks your system from its routine, that tests you. That was the case when my good friend, Congressman Bill Jenkins, announced his retirement from the House of Representatives yesterday. He has served those of us from the First District admirably in the tradition of Jimmy Quillen, and he will be missed.

For those who truly know me or have pegged me down on the issue, it is no secret that I consider being elected as the Congressman from the First District of Tennessee the highest honor an East Tennessean can be paid. I have gone on record as saying that if God led me to that particular office that it would be the highest political office I would ever seek. And now, in 2006, an opportunity presents itself.

It is time for some disclosure. I first began hearing rumblings that Bill was interested in retiring in early Spring of 2004 when I was working for the National Rifle Association. I contacted several members of his staff and spoke to them to gauge how serious the rumors were, and I concluded that they were quite real regarding his retirement in 2006. Those feelings were confirmed that Fall during the 2004 election cycle. Speaking with Bill himself and talking with others who were campaigning with him, I felt fairly sure that this was Bill's last rodeo.

Then something changed. I was able to speak candidly with Bill at the Kingsport Wild Game Feast in February of 2005. Our 30 minute conversation led me to believe that Bill had been rejuvenated and would stay in Congress until 2008 or 2010. Those beliefs were reinforced at the Washington County Lincoln Day Dinner, the Tennessee Statesmen's Dinner last summer, and various events in Greene County and Hawkins County. Then the blogger known as "Conservatore Pensieri" - who outed himself as Vance Cheek right before he quite wrongfully pulled the plug on the blog - reported that Jenkins was acting as if he would stay in Congress for one or two more terms. This was somewhat settling to me, because that was the same read that Bill had given me and it enabled me to work for other political campaigns instead of focusing on a possible run of my own. Then, the shocking news on Wednesday changed everything.

The field will certainly be crowded. Vance Cheek (referenced above) spoke to me in mid-2004 and stated that he would in fact be running whenever Jenkins decided to retire. Vance is the former mayor of Johnson City and one of the few Republican holdovers from the Sundquist Administration that were retained by Bredesen as a Claims Commissioner. I am disappointed in Vance for erasing his digital paper trail by deleting his blog. That's something I would expect from those across the aisle, to be quite honest. Many people are talking about Anne Pope, who ran a good campaign when the seat last became open in 1996, but everyone who I have talked to in the past year has said that she is comfortable at the Appalachian Regional Commission and would prefer to stay out of this race. Ron Ramsey will not run, and neither will Jim Holcomb, who told me such in 2004 and again in 2005. Tennessee Rep. David Davis will run and will be one of the conservative candidates that will receive significant backing. I like David - always have - but I'm not sure if he has the gravitas to fill the seat of Bill Jenkins and Jimmy Quillen. Richard Venable will not run, as he lost the last major election he ran in his home area in 2004. I've heard that Al Schmutzer, the retiring District Attorney for several 1st District counties including Sevier and Cocke, will run. Zane Whitson may run (I haven't spoken with anyone near him as of this time), but his recent work as a lobbyist might make this a poorly-timed endeavor. In addition, I have heard the names of Jackson Cox and Jeff Anderson mentioned, as well, both of whom have experience working in Washington (Anderson was Jenkins' first Chief of Staff). It wouldn't surprise me if one of those men put announced in the next few days. It isn't worth discussing the Democratic challengers, with the notable exception of Rep. Nathan Vaughn, who has always struck me as being in the wrong party.

I haven't spoken with too many people outside of family members regarding this decision. I last spoke to Ed Bryant about it in 2004 (when it looked as if the seat would come open) and have not revisited that subject with him since that time. As I stated above, an opportunity presents itself. Now I need to take the time to decide if this is what I should do. I ask for your indulgence while I put this matter to prayer.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Jim Boyd Announces Candidacy for TN's 58th District House Seat

I received this press release (below) from Jim Boyd, an announced candidate for the 58th District's seat in the Tennessee House. Jim is a fellow ex-ETSU Buc, and from reading his website, he sounds like the kind of conservative that we need in the Tennessee House. Admittedly, this is a grassroots campaign against an entrenched career politician in Democrat Mary Pruitt, a member of the Tennessee Black Caucus that Rep. Stacey Campfield has helped expose as being ethically challenged.

But Jim is a warrior - literally. He is a former officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and currently a member of the Tennessee Army National Guard. The photo up top is an example of Jim in action. He certainly seems ready to carry the fight to Mary Pruitt and her liberal Democrat brethren, and he deserves the support of the conservative community.


Press Release

Jim Boyd announces candidacy
Contact Information: Jim Boyd (615) 255-7381

Monday, 30 JAN 2006
For Immediate Release

To the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County, my name is Jim Boyd. I am pleased to announce my candidacy for State Representative for the 58th District House of Representatives.

I want to serve all the people of this district. Check my platform at

I stand for ethics in government. I will limit government theft of private property under eminent domain laws. I will bring fresh educational and employment opportunities to our district. I will assist the truly needy secure healthcare while insuring government fiscal responsibility.

I have been a Tennessean for over forty-two years. I am a soldier and have been serving our nation for over twenty years. I have a degree from East Tennessee State University. I've lived in Downtown Nashville since 2002.

I advocate making Tennessee and the 58th District an 'Energy Research and Development Zone,' leading the nation in solutions to our energy problems.

I am against 'business as usual' in our State Legislature and support a 'none of the above' option on state ballots.

I am against a state income tax. I am an advocate of the First AND the Second Amendments.

It's time for a change in the 58th district.

William James (Jim) Boyd

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Ford's Pro-Tax and Ethics Problems

I have posted a few thoughts on Harold Ford at Blogging for Bryant. Most of my 2006 Senate posts will end up there, for future reference.

A few extras: Harold Ford has a 10% rating in the 2005 ratings by Americans for Tax Reform, the lowest mark by any of the Tennessee Congressional delegation. That's even worse than his 35% rating for 2004.

He is no friend for those of us in the middle class who are overtaxed, and he is proving it with his voting record.


"Governator" in a Bind

Who does Arnold Schwarzenegger need more - the California gay vote or the California conservatives? His choice on this matter may very well frame his chances for re-election.

It's good to see conservatives standing up for what is right - even in California and even if it means losing the Governor's Mansion.

Monday, February 13, 2006


TVA Putting the Screws to Tennesseans - Again

For the 2nd time in under 8 months, the energy monopoly TVA has voted to raise electricity rates - and it's not a small increase, either.

I'm not sure who raises my ire more - TVA or KUB (that's the Knoxville Utility Board for y'all from outside Knox County). They are both miserable government agencies functioning as private corporations. From my experiences, they care for the environment, but not the people who have to live in it. They care for the millions of dollars of bonuses they give themselves, but they have no problem in sticking to residents and businesses in the area. Their leadership has been nothing but a reward for past political favors, having little-to-nothing to do with actual leadership ability or experience with energy policy.

I actually have been frustrated with KUB for a good length of time. I certainly plan on speaking with the Bush Administration on their tactics, as they do nothing but discourage small business formation and growth through their endless deposits, higher rates for services which are the same as those provided residents, and constant confusion in their commercial customer service department. It matters not that Bush has done much to invigorate small businesses in this country when public utilities like KUB are doing what they can to pour cold water on that spark. Of course, they will bill you for that cold water, as KUB has basically tripled the cost of water and wastewater over the past year to make up for their past incompetence.

Is this going to upset many of my political friends? Yes, but the truth matters more than being liked.

Yes, I'm steamed...


West Tennessee Judge Dead at 79

Judge Hewitt Tomlin of Jackson, Tennessee, died of a stroke Friday while traveling through Alabama. He was 79.

Judge Tomlin was an influence on many of the great legal careers to come out of West Tennessee, including Ed Bryant, David Farmer, Judge James Todd, and Judge Daniel Breen. Our prayers are with his family and friends as they grieve his passing.

For an excellent article on Judge Tomlin, see today's Jackson Sun.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Conservative Self-Assurance

I found this quiz over at the blog of John Farmer, who is running against John Tanner for the 8th Congressional District's seat in the U.S. House. I usually don't participate in these sort of things, but I have little else to do given the weather. I guess I'm not shocked by the results.

Geez. That doesn't mean I'm an extremist, does it?

MORE: OK, the weather here isn't that bad. I wonder if John Norris Brown wishes that he was here in the Land of Orange instead of Boone, North Carolina, which seems covered by the other UT color this weekend.


Congressional Focus on Gun Rights

It is nice to see Congress looking into the progression of gun rights recently. Check out these snippets from the National Rifle Association, all of which piqued my interest:


On February 15, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security will hold an oversight hearing (the first of three BATFE-related hearings) to investigate apparent wrongdoing by BATFE at a Richmond, VA gun show last August.

In 2004-05, a troubling pattern emerged at a number of Richmond, VA-area gun shows, where hundreds of BATFE agents and state and local police staked out local shows. Immediately upon learning of these incidents, NRA began investigating and working to ensure congressional oversight hearings would be held to determine any wrongdoing and ensure BATFE was not overstepping its bounds or violating the law.

BATFE agents copied lawful gun purchase transaction records and provided this information to local police officers, who in turn conducted "residency checks." Federal law prohibits the release of this information except in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation. The information provided to local police prompted multiple instances of officers showing up at the homes of those who lawfully purchased firearms from licensed dealers. When the lawful purchasers were not at home, agents questioned family members (for example, inquiring of a wife if she knew her husband was at a gun show and/or had purchased a firearm) or their neighbors. In other cases, reports surfaced of lawful gun owners and holders of valid carry permits having their firearms confiscated.

Those interested in watching the hearing online may do so at http://www.ilaalerts.org/UM/T.asp?A1. The hearing is scheduled to begin at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15.

U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) recently introduced H.R. 4547-a national Right-to-Carry (RTC) reciprocity bill that would provide national reciprocity for state carry licensees. The bill would allow any person with a valid carry permit or license issued by a state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state if they meet certain criteria. The bill would not create a federal licensing system; it would simply require the states to recognize each other's carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses.

For more information on the bill, please visit www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=189. Please be sure to contact your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121, and urge him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 4547!

On February 7, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced legislation to eliminate the requirement in the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill that requires hunters and fishermen to furnish their social security numbers when getting a license.

"Across America, hunting and fishing is an age old heritage that is passed on from one generation to the next. Our outdoor sportsmen should not be required to surrender sensitive information and risk being victims of identity theft to preserve this legacy. This is much needed reform and the NRA would like to thank Senator Santorum for leading this effort in the United States Senate," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox.

Senator Santorum's bill is a companion to H.R. 4144, introduced in the House by Representative Phil English, also of Pennsylvania. The House version of the bill has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

"This proposed law will help save 16 million hunters and another 34 million fishermen who buy licenses every year from falling victim to identity theft," continued Cox. "On behalf of NRA members across the country, I want to thank Senator Rick Santorum for his support of the hunters and fishermen and his work to preserve our country's strong outdoor traditions."


First, I will be watching the BATFE hearings because this is by no means an isolated incident. Second, while both of the pieces of legislation are warranted, I am certainly more interested in Rep. Stearns' attempt to create CCW reciprocity. It would be interesting to see if the GOP seriously considers Stearns' bill, as it could be a nice rallying cry during a period of particularly volatile mid-term elections.

Friday, February 10, 2006


BREAKING: Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner Postponed

The Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner scheduled for Saturday night has been postponed due to snow. Check out Brian Hornback's blog for more. Of course, now that the dinner has been postponed, we will certainly receive no snow, so there is no need to make the run to Food City for the required-by-state-law bread and milk.

I just called Jim Wheeler, Chairman of the Washington County Republicans, and their Lincoln Day Dinner scheduled for tonight is still on. I have also heard that Jefferson County's Dinner is still planned for tonight, as is Rutherford County's tomorrow night.

Stay tuned for more info. (OK, go ahead. Make your run to Food City. You know that you want to...)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Is there such a thing as a good lawyer?

One point of Alan Keyes' speech Monday night at UT with which I took umbrage was his constant blame of the problems of society on lawyers. Now I am down on my profession as most in society, but I believe Dr. Keyes paints with too broad a brush. For every lawyer out to harm traditional American values and the fabric of our society, there is another one opposing him. That is the way our adversarial system works.

To prove my point, I would like to present this article from Legal Affairs that details efforts to assist international lawyers so that their cases won't provide ammunition for those in this country that believe international law to be on equal footing with domestic law (in particular, the Federal Constitution). For full disclosure, I know Benjamin Bull, and he is quite the litigator. I am also a Blackstone Fellow, a legal program rooted in the natural law and sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, which also employs Mr. Bull.

Of course, there are those J.D.'s that are working against our republic. One prime example is Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit, who is profiled in this insightful expose by Citizen Magazine. But, as shown in the latter parts of the article, for every Reinhardt, there is a Kozinski, fighting him along the way.

Just something to remember when speaking in generalities.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


An Evening With Dr. Alan Keyes

An Evening With Dr. Alan Keyes Posted by Picasa

On Monday evening, the VOLConWife and I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by The University of Tennessee Black Cultural Programming Committee and the NAACP that featured Dr. Alan Keyes, former U.N. Ambassador, Presidential candidate, and candidate for U.S. Senate. I have heard Dr. Keyes speak on several occasions, but it was the VOLConWife's first time hearing him in person. Never one to pass on hearing one of the great orators of our time (as well as one of my favorite conservative politicians), I made sure to clear my schedule at the last minute. Apparently I was not the only one. I estimate the audience at over 500 people, which is certainly heartening for a conservative speaker on a weeknight. In all truth, more people attended Dr. Keyes' address than attended a talk by Senator Fred Thompson a few months back, and in Tennessee, that's saying something.

Dr. Keyes spoke for over 85 minutes without interruption (before taking several questions from the audience), so I do not have nearly the time to reiterate all that he said last night. However, here are a few of the points that he made:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Dr. Keyes talked about several other subjects in his speech last night. I thoroughly enjoyed his thoughts and oration. Keyes, along with Ronald Reagan, Ed Bryant, and Abraham Kuyper, are my favorite conservatives, and it has always been an honor to enjoy their company throughout the years.

Again, thank you for the hosting organizations for their efforts in creating an enjoyable evening.


Ex-Trooper Lost Job Due to GOP Support?

An ex-Tennessee Highway Patrolman told members of the Tennessee Senate's Transportation Committee that he was fired for supporting Republican candidates for office during the 2002 election cycle, according to a report in the Tennessean.

First, that's incredible. Having worked for the State last year, I can't say that I am surprised. My hiring was certainly a mistake - for anyone with my background to have been granted a position under the Bredesen Administration was shocking to Republicans across Tennessee. If anything, it shows the lack of scrutiny that was paid to the resumes of those selected to help clean up the TennCare debacle - something that we were then not allowed to do, by the way.

Second, kudos to Senator Jamie Woodson for taking center stage in the exposure of how Phil Bredesen works. It was Woodson and Senator Tim Burchett who brought the illegitimate review of ethics reforms by Bredesen's lobbyists to light last week. This week, Woodson is showing us another side of Bredesen's corrupt management. I can't wait to see what she unearths next, because one thing that Bredesen has proven is that there is always another scandal right around the corner whenever he is involved.

Third, why isn't this story getting more play with the media? The Tennessean is the third paper I have read this morning, and it was the first I have heard about Lt. Farmer. Where is the outrage amongst the media?


A Belated Birthday

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Posted by Picasa

I was dismayed to discover last night during Alan Keyes' address at UT that I had forgotten that February 6th was Ronald Reagan's birthday. Reagan would have been 95 Monday. I have no excuse as to why I am so late in wishing the President a happy birthday. However, it is not lost on me that one of the great conservative minds of this day was the one who reminded me of the birthday of one of the great conservative minds of any era. I have been truly blessed when it comes to exposure to conservatives.

Family Research Council put out a release Monday on Reagan's birthday. It read in part:

Reagan's faith-based optimism transformed the conservative movement, the Republican Party, the United States, and the world. "Only by building ...a wall of spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men," Reagan said.

I miss President Reagan, but his legacy will live on in the conservative movement in this country.

MORE: WorldNetDaily has an outstanding Reagan profile in yesterday's posts.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Keyes at UT Tonight

Alan Keyes, former Ambassador to the United Nations and candidate for U.S. Senate and President of the United States, will be speaking tonight at 7:00 P.M. in UT's University Center Auditorium. The VOLConWife and I are currently slated to attend.

For more, check out The Daily Beacon's release here. If things go as planned and I make the speech, I will make an effort to blog about it here tonight (probably after "24," as Jack Bauer waits for no man).

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Big Fish Speaking at Tennessee Lincoln Day Dinners

I just received an e-mail from the Wilson County Republican Party advertising their President's Day Dinner on March 3rd in Lebanon. With a theme aimed at addressing the immigration problem, the group is bringing in one of the chief proponents of immigration reform and potential GOP Presidential candidate, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). Phil Valentine is set to host. Anyone interested in tickets can purchase them here.

Tancredo isn't the only big-time GOPer headed to Tennessee for the upcoming barrage of dinners. Some of note include:

The line-up for the Lincoln Day Dinners looks great this year. I just wish that I could attend more of them. I managed to squeeze in 5 or 6 last year. I hope to come come close to that this year, but I'm not sure how the scheduling will work out.


Stephens Rumored to Retire in 2006

NewsMax has a story on the possible retirement of Justice Stephens from the U.S. Supreme Court. It looks like pure speculation to me.

Also, their theories regarding filibusters and nuclear options are all based on when Stephens would announce, because there are no guarantees that the GOP is in charge of the Senate come 2007. That's all the reason why we in Tennessee need to do our part to make sure that we not only have a solid conservative representing the state, but also representing us on the Senate Judiciary Committee, too.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Ed Bryant Storms Across Tennessee

I had planned to have a complete rundown of Ed & Cyndi Bryant's complete tour of Tennessee yesterday, but JB beat me to it over at Blogging for Bryant. Please take the time to look at his post and read any of the extensive media coverage that is linked there. With Ed's phenomenal success yesterday in delivering his message to Tennesseans across the state, one has to wonder which other Senate candidate will be the first to attempt to copycat the Bryant campaign.

I did manage to move my court schedule to the afternoon and attend Ed's campaign stop in Knox/Blount County. The mid-week attendance was quite good, so much so that the event nearly couldn't be held in the Howard Baker Room due to the number of people there. Local media turnout was also noticeable (including Erica Estep of WATE and Scott Barker of the Knoxville News Sentinel - with my apologies to the other media reps, as those two just popped in my head), as were several supporters associated with the Home School Legal Defense Association. I would have pictures, but the digital camera fund is no where near optimum level. (Yeah, the $6.12 that I have earned with the Amazon and Google ads doesn't buy much of a digital camera these days...)

One sign that the event was very successful occurred when I returned to my car after court that afternoon. The lead story on WNOX's news break at 5:00 P.M. was Ed's stop in Knoxville. Given all that has happened this week - from the President's visit to federal courts working at the whims of the Ford family to all of the goings on at UT to school closures due to mold - Ed carried the day. It definitely put a smile on my face after a tough day in court.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Ed Bryant Kicks Off Campaign Across Tennessee

There will be light blogging today as I will be attending Ed Bryant's campaign kick-off today. Well, I will be attending the Knoxville portion, as Ed's campaign is ambitiously attempting to meet Tennesseans all across the state on one day. (This, my friends, is a much greater task than liveblogging National Signing Day, I assure you.) Come on out and join us! Here are the times and places you can catch Ed:

7:45 AM EST
Greeneville Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Greene County Courthouse, 101 S. Main St., Greeneville, TN

Tri-Cities Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Mezzanine Level, Tri-Cities Regional Airport, Blountville, TN

10:35 AM EST
Knoxville Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
TAC Air Conference Room, McGhee Tyson Airport, Alcoa, TN

12:05 PM EST
Chattanooga Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
TAC Air Lobby, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, Chattanooga, TN

12:40 PM CST
Nashville Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Colemill Enterprises FBO Lobby, Cornelia Fort Airpark, 2640 Airpark Dr., Nashville, TN

2:20 PM CST
Jackson Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Airport Authority Conference Room, McKellar Sipes Regional Airport, Jackson, TN

4:15 PM CST
Memphis Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Memphis Area Homebuilders Association, 776 N Germantown Pkwy., Cordova, TN

7:15 PM CST
Clarksville Candidacy Announcement Press Conference
Holiday Inn, 3095 Wilma Rudolph Blvd., Clarksville, TN

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


UT National Signing Day - Post 15

Turn out the lights, the party's over...

Well, it is for me, at least. Greg "Hollwood" Davis is still on the board, but I'm not sticking around to see what he does (I'm hearing West Virginia and not Tennessee).

I will try to have a recruiting wrap-up later on tonight. For now, I have to eat and then get some real work done because it appears the VOLConWife and I are going to the Vanderbilt/UT game tonight at TBA.

Hey, I have to watch us beat another SEC school at something to make me feel better...


UT National Signing Day - Post 14

Three pieces of news - first, UT's final verballed commitment, Dustin Lindsey, has committed to the Vols. Second, J.T. Mapu, who has been on a Mormon mission for the past two years, will also resign with the Vols at a later date. Third, Aleric Mullins, who I said this morning was a big piece of the puzzle for UT trying to pull out of this football nosedive, has committed to the University of North Carolina. This morning, I laid out five things that had to occur to pull this day out of the fire. The only one that happened was the final one - we didn't lose any of our offensive line recruits to homestate schools. (Davis has yet to announce, so that one could go UT's way, but I am doubtful.) All in all, a tough day to be a UT Vol football fan.

UT Commitment #22 - Dustin Lindsey

Dustin Lindsey is a name familiar to Knoxville-based Vol fans from his days winning State Championships with Florida State signee Brandon Warren at Alcoa High School. Lindsey, a 6'1", 215 pound RB that Rivals classifies as an "Athlete," will more than likely play RB at UT, especially given that UT failed to sign any other RBs or FBs in this class. Rivals has Lindsey ranked as the 34th best RB in the country, although one has to wonder if that ranking would have been higher had Alcoa not been blowing out every opponent on its schedule.

Much like fellow Tennessean Jacques McClendon, this must seem like the end of a very long journey for Dustin. He committed very early to UT, back in March of last year before the ink was even dry on the 2005 class.

"They have been recruiting me since my freshman year. That is why I felt so comfortable with them. I see a lot of guys on their staff as father figures and I have not had a lot of those in my life."

Lindsey is a great every-down back, as he is big enough to run between the tackles but elusive enough to make people miss on the corners. If Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty return from injury next year, Tennessee looks to be stocked at RB for the next few years.


UT National Signing Day - Post 13

UT now has 21 Letters of Intent in hand. The two newest Vols are below:

UT Commitment #20 - Jacques McClendon

Jacques McClendon, the 6'3", 295-pound offensive guard from Baylor High School, has signed with his homestate Tennessee Volunteers. It seems like an eternity ago when McClendon first verbally committed to UT, as he did so in December of 2004 during his junior year of high school. McClendon is an athletic guard with good footwork, and that is demonstrated by his ranking as the #9 Offensive Guard in the nation. Tennessee coaches - particularly Steve Caldwell - had to work a long time to fend off Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Notre Dame from turning McClendon's head. David Bibee, Chattanooga Baylor coach, said the following about McClendon:

"I knew in the ninth grade that he was going to be a college player. He was just bigger, stronger and quicker than everyone else. Strength wise now he benches over 400 pounds and we can get enough weight for him to squat."

As the U.S. Army All-Star Game proved, McClendon still has to work on his technique, particularly regarding using his arms to keep defensive tackles away from his body.

UT Commitment #21 - Cody Pope

Cody Pope, who received an offer from the Southern Cal juggernaut only a few days ago, has kept true to his word and has signed with The University of Tennessee. Pope, who attends Cathedral Catholic in San Diego, California, is an underrated offensive lineman who, along with Ramone Johnson and Jacques McClendon, helps to form an imposing offensive line class (the strength of UT's class this year). At 6'5" and 268 pounds, Cody needs to add some muscle to his ample frame. However, Pope reminds me of the offensive linemen that UT used to have back in the early 1990s - the ones that could get out on screens and block downfield. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as a guard or center (if Josh McNeil has trouble overcoming his injuries) and seeing playing time around 2007. It also helps Tennessee to pull another talented player out of California, especially with the talent (including Jimmy Clausen) coming out of that state in 2007.

Pope's signature makes it appear that Tennessee has locked up all of their verbal commitments except for Dustin Lindsey ( who is set to sign this hour) and Goggans' decommitment. Besides that, Davis and Mullins have yet to announce and could surprise, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Tennessee has fallen one spot today to #23 in the rankings. In an amazing twist, the master recruiter Phil Fulmer's recruiting ranking is ten spots lower than the men's basketball team. Who could have ever saw that coming last August?


UT National Signing Day - Post 12

Many are waiting with baited breath as to who Andre Smith, the #2 player in the nation, will choose momentarily. The smart money is on Alabama, but you can't count out LSU and USC. I think that Florida is out of it.

Ramone Johnson was just on Rivals Radio. He sounds like one heck of a competitor, saying that he didn't have any friends right now in Knoxville so that he could compete for a starting position on the line. He said that he would make friends after the two-deep is set. That's beautiful.

UPDATE: Andre Smith has just announced for Alabama. This is not good for UT. He will start at Alabama from Day One - no question about it.

There are two more commitments to announce for UT. The newest Vols are:

UT Commitment #18 - Victor Thomas

Victor Thomas, a 6'4", 250 pound defensive end who hails from Olive Branch, Mississippi, played primarily at the defensive tackle position in high school. He reminds me of current Vol Turk McBride, and it wouldn't surprise me if Victor ends up like Turk, spending time at both DE and DT. Thomas' high school coach, Jamie Mitchell, is obviously impressed with the young man:

"Victor Thomas, his speed is the big thing. He ran a 4.92 just yesterday. He is 6-4 and 250 pounds and you don’t find many of those guys that can run like that. He is just a real athletic kid. He has really long arms and he is just one of those kids that I think is going to grow some more too. He has a great frame to put on even more weight and defensive linemen are hard to find."

Thomas shows excellent technique in his game film, exhibiting both power moves and quickness to get around blockers. He will probably see regular playing time in 2007. Thomas chose the Vols over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Louisville.

UT Commitment #19 - Justin Garrett

Justin Garrett (far right, above) is a JUCO safety who looks to see immediate playing time for Tennessee. Garrett, 6'2", 195 pounds, hits much harder than his small frame. In fact, his dominant play and hard hitting reminded me of former JUCO, former Vol and current starting safety for the New York Giants Gibril Wilson.

"That's (free safety) where they're talking about me playing, which I like. Just in talking with the coaches, I really like what I know about their scheme. I know that they ask their safeties to do a lot of different things that puts a lot of pressure on them to make plays. I like that, I think I'm a versatile player that can handle it."

One aspect that makes Garrett even more attractive for UT is that his brother, Brandon, will be following Justin to UT and walking on as a preferred walk-on. Brandon was offered scholarships by other Division 1 teams, so UT basically gets two players for the price of one in this case.

"That was a big deal, having my brother come with me. That was one of the reasons that I liked Missouri, because they were recruiting him too, and said that they might have a scholarship for him, but they couldn't promise anything, so I had to go ahead and make the best decision for myself."

Garrett, a native of Louisiana, picked Tennessee over Missouri and Washington.

My apologies for the picture above, but Rivals, Scout, and even the Pasadena newspapers don't have pictures of Justin. I just wanted to prove to myself that he existed.


UT National Signing Day - Post 11

Some of the big fish in the UT 2006 class have faxed in their Letters of Intent. Here are the newest Vols:

UT Commitment #15 - Brent Vinson

Brent Vinson was one of the top WR targets of the Vols this year, along with Videl Hazelton (USC), Tim Hawthorne (Auburn), and Audrey Baskin (Syracuse). Of those, I would rank Vinson ahead of Hawthorne, even with Baskin (Baskin is bigger, but Vinson is faster), and behind Hazelton. In any case, all of those players are excellent WRs and should see the field early in their careers. Vinson picks Tennessee over Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Vinson is 6'2", 180 pounds, and runs a 4.3 40. Additionally, Brent can bench 320 pounds, has a 39 inch vertical leap, and a GPA of 3.1. Coach Fulmer can thank Bruce Pearl for assisting in the signing of Vinson, who is best friends with Duke Crews, a UT basketball signee that may start for Pearl's Vols next year.

"It is going to be great having Duke there. It makes it easier to go away from home. But Tennessee has had a great football program for a long time. They have had great players like Peyton Manning and Jamal Lewis and a lot of other guys. Plus, coach Cutcliffe is back to make the offense better."

Vinson likes his odds of gaining early playing time in Knoxville.

"I think I do a good job catching the football. And I understand that they struggled with that last year. But I also can do some things after I make the catch. I like to think that I do a good job with YAC (yards after catch) yards. I like to think that I can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain."

UT Commitment #16 - Ramone Johnson

It's no secret that Phil Fulmer loves big, powerful offensive linemen, and that is one area that is strong in this class. Ramone Johnson, 6'4", 305 pounds, is the first of those linemen to sign. With UT losing out on Antonio Logan-El, the massive lineman from Maryland that I had ranked with Andre Smith as the best in the country, it was imperative to sign Johnson, who hails from one of my old stomping grounds in Chicago. This recruiting battle came down between Tennessee and Illinois, who is coached by ex-Florida coach Ron Zook. When listening to Ramone, you can see why I feel that he will succeed at UT.

"In the end, Tennessee just felt like the better fit for me overall. Everything from the roster situation to getting a chance to play football in the SEC, to the academics and more, I just felt like Tennessee was the best place for me. My official visit to Tennessee was just great. You can't beat southern hospitality. I really felt like I wanted to commit to Tennessee before I left campus on my visit, but I wanted to make sure about my choice and took my last official visit to Illinois. I also told the Illinois coaches that I would take that official visit so I wanted to honor my word with them. This is definitely a business decision for me and I treated my final choice in the same way. I'm doing what I feel is the best thing for me, and Tennessee is where I want to play college football."

On film, Ramone is one of the best drive blockers I have seen in some time. His pass blocking could use some work, but he shows a good motor during games and doesn't seem to take any plays off. He is rated as a 4-star player and the 13th best offensive lineman in the nation.

UT Commitment #17 - Gerald Williams

Many of you may remember Gerald Williams, the 6'4", 225 pound linebacker who was part of UT's 2005 class that was #1 in the country. Williams was not able to enroll and play at UT due to shenanigans with the NCAA Clearinghouse that represents a typical example of how screwed up the NCAA is. Williams returned to South Florida, but he has resigned with the Vols and, notwithstanding any surprises, will be on campus this Fall.

Williams is a wild card. Chavis may elect to use him as a DE, but I kinda hope that they leave him at LB. His film from last year was legendary, and he could crack the starting rotation as early as late this year at MLB.

More to come...


UT National Signing Day - Post 10

I have official confirmation that Michael Goggans has decommitted from UT and has signed a Letter of Intent with Auburn. Perry Riley has signed with LSU, although there are some rumors regarding character issues that might indicate that UT might have been better off getting left at the alter on that one. LSU has picked up a few other high-profile recruits, including Charles Deas. LSU joins Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, and USC as teams having stellar days.

UT Commitment #11 - Nick Stephens

Nick Stephens is the lone QB in UT's 2006 class. Stephens is the #15 pro-style QB in the country according to Rivals. He comes to Tennessee from Flower Mound, Texas, and has a nice frame for a QB at 6'3" and 195 pounds. Besides Tennessee, Stephens was being recruited by Ole Miss, Michigan, Baylor, and Colorado. He can't wait to get to Knoxville.

"The biggest thing about Tennessee is that I just felt at home in Knoxville when I was there on my visit. I felt comfortable with the town, and I loved the sense of family there with the coaches and the players. As far as coaching goes, Coach Cutcliffe is a great guy. He's sort of laid back and he can teach the game real well. I think that I can be real productive under him and learn a lot."

Stephens is certainly raw, having played only one year as a starting high school QB. In watching film, he certainly doesn't seem to have the skills of a Jonathan Crompton or Jimmy Clausen, for sure. In my opinion, Stephens gives the Vols a capable backup in case Erik Ainge doesn't find the form (physically and mentally) that he had in 2004. He just doesn't seem to have all the tools that one needs to be a starting QB in the SEC.

UT Commitment #12 - Daniel Lincoln

Daniel Lincoln (6'0", 196 lbs.) will join the UT team as a kicker. He hails from Ocala, Florida, and was recruited by Memphis, Stanford, LSU, and Rice, in addition to Tennessee. Lincoln's recruitment was unusual. After seeing film of the kicker and seeing him kick in one game, Coach Fulmer called Daniel who, while at dinner with his friends, accepted the offer without ever seeing the Tennessee campus. Lincoln is ranked the #19 kicker in the country, and he has hit field goals in practice from 65 yards.

UT Commitment #13 - Chase Nelson

Chase Nelson isn't one of the names that is being talked about in this class, but he will more than likely be one of the biggest impact players in his career at UT. Tennessee survived a tough recruiting battle with Oklahoma (Nelson's in-state school), Texas Tech, UCLA, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Kansas State, amongst others, for the 6'4", 255 pound defensive end's signature. Nelson's high school coach, Bill Blankenship, feels that Tennessee got a special player in Nelson:

"Chase is just one of those special bodies with long arms and tons of talent. You add that with the fact that he has great grades, and he was a big target for a lot of schools. Defensive linemen are hard to find anyway, but if you find a guy like Chase with all the physical characteristics and the grades, he's going to be a solid kid."

On film, you have to love the way that Nelson rushes the QB. With his long arms and 4.8 speed, he is a true edge rusher in the mould of Leonard Little or Constantine Ritzman. He probably needs a year in the weight room, but Nelson could crack the DE rotation as early as 2007.

UT Commitment #14 - Stephaun Raines

Stephaun Raines, a 6'0", 172 pound cornerback from Dalton, Georgia, is another mystery for me. Much like Garretson, he seems like a great, quality young man who really wants to be a Volunteer. However, Raines doesn't have the look of an SEC corner. Rated as a 2-star player by Rivals, Raines chose Tennessee over South Carolina, Arkansas, MTSU, and UAB. He is certainly fast, posting a 4.4 in the 40. He just doesn't seem to have the cover skills that the corners being signed by Florida State, Florida, LSU, etc., have at this time. But, as I said, he seems to be a quality young man, and those type of people often end up surprising you. Plus, you can't coach speed - you either have it or you don't. Raines needs to gain some weight without losing that speed, but Coach Johnnie Long can help him with that development. It wouldn't surprise me if we don't see Raines having significant playing time until 2008, if then.

More to come...


UT National Signing Day - Post 9

More Letters of Intent have made their way to The Hill. Below are more of the new Vols.

UT Commitment #9 - Blake Garretson

I have been dreading the capsule of Blake Garretson, a 6'3", 277 pound defensive lineman/offensive lineman out of Morristown East High School. Garretson is thrilled to be coming to UT.

"It's a dream come true, that's really all that I can say about it. I gave coach Fulmer my commitment late last week, and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm a local boy who's always loved Tennessee and me and family had always hoped that I'd have this opportunity."

And that's what makes this tough. I've watched Garretson's film, and I'm not impressed. I was somewhat impressed that someone his size played a good deal at MLB, but he wasn't really that great with his hand on the ground on either side of the ball. His tackling technique also needs work. He certainly won't be playing LB at Tennessee, so I am confused as to what Tennessee plans to do with Blake.

I love that he wants to be here. I love his enthusiasm and his work ethic. I just fear that he's over his head talentwise.

UT Commitment #10 - Jarrod Shaw

This is one of the most intriguing prospects in UT's 2006 class. Jarrod Shaw is one of the top prospects in Louisiana, a 6'4", 344 pound giant DT with decent speed (5.12 40 time) and quickness (one of the top shuttle times amongst defensive tackles at a Nike camp). He isn't rated very highly by Rivals (#63 DT), but you have to love his upside. Shaw has a 22 inch vertical leap, and he can bench his weight. Plus (and you have to love this), Jarrod carried a 3.94 GPA in high school.

I really like what I see on film from Shaw. He fights off blockers quickly with his hands and stonewalls double teams easily. Coach Trooper Taylor, who was the primary contact in recruiting Shaw, obviously liked what he saw from Shaw, but what did Shaw like about UT?

"I really liked Knoxville. It is a good town. The players are really cool and I like the coaches, especially Coach Trooper."

Shaw wants his weight down to 310 by the time he arrives in Knoxville for summer school. He needs to work on his conditioning (he often looked winded on film), and the loss of weight would certainly help that.

More to come...


UT National Signing Day - Post 8

Disaster comes to Phil Fulmer at this hour. I am still trying to confirm this, but word is coming out of Louisiana that Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard have signed with LSU. Three sources are confirming Michael Goggans to Auburn. Aleric Mullins has reportedly faxed in his papers, but apparently they were not to The University of Tennessee.

For those of you keeping count, that's three strikes against Phil Fulmer and Co. of the 5 items that I wrote this morning had to happen for UT to have a successful class and move into the Top 20 in the nation. As of right now, UT is about to fall out of the Top 25. Barring a miracle, UT will not even sign a full class and will finish at 7th or 8th in the SEC this year. This will be the lowest class in Fulmer's 13 years as Head Coach at UT. While I know that recruiting wins don't mean anything, one can't win in the Fall without excellent recruiting. So, yes, this is troubling.

On the national front, Florida State is raiding Florida's top-rated class. I should say, Florida's formerly top-rated class. USC is raiding everyone's class and showing increased recruiting moxy right now. There is a report that they may have stolen Keiland Williams out of Hargrave Military (one of Darius Myers' teammates), who had verbally committed to LSU. Williams is a special runner. I may take some heat for saying this, but I would not be surprised if Williams is the starter next year at USC (if he does indeed go there). A few steals like that and USC will have another top-rated class. Amazing...

More to come...


UT National Signing Day - Post 7

One note of good news - Florida's top-rated class looks to have taken a hit this morning with 3 decommitments this morning, losing 2 to Florida State. Gator suffering is a good thing.

More LOIs have been received on The Hill! Welcome the latest Vols!

UT Commitment #5 - LaMarcus Thompson

LaMarcus Thompson, a 6'0", 185 pound LB from Stone Mountain, Georgia, is an excellent athlete but a rather interesting find by the Tennessee staff. Thompson is undersized and looks to have several problems with technique on film. Specifically, he does not wrap up on his tackles, and he has problems shedding blocks. His speed is average (4.79 40 time). Tennessee beat out Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Kentucky for Thompson's services in a recruitment spearheaded by Coach Trooper Taylor.

UT Commitment #6 - Dorian Davis

This is my pick for the "diamond in the rough" of UT's 2006 Class. Dorian Davis (6'1", 195 lbs.) was not highly recruited, only receiving interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas. Hailing from Iowa City, Iowa, few of the big-time programs saw the need to recruit a linebacker on the smallish side. Coach Greg Adkins and Coach Steve Caldwell saw a gem of a player, though, and Davis didn't take long to tell them that he was looking forward to playing in Knoxville.

"I really liked the fact that it is a real family environment down there within the team. They are all looking out for each other and the coaches are there for you too. It is just a comfortable family feeling down there. At the game, the crowd was crazy and that is something that you would love to be a part of."

After watching several video collections of Davis, I am certainly willing to overlook Rivals' 2-star rating and declare Davis as a super prospect. When he hits people, they go down. He flows to running backs easily, not getting hung up by offensive linemen. His blitzes were, with all due respect, reminiscent of Al Wilson. Heck, he even returned punts on special teams.

Davis is not yet ready to make an impact at UT. He needs to become immersed in the weight room. If he can gain 20-30 pounds without losing any of his impressive speed, he could be a force at UT a few years down the road.

UT Commitment #7 - Quintin Hancock

Quintin Hancock, a lanky 6'2", 182 pound WR out of St. Augustine, Florida, is one of the few receivers targeted by the Vols this year. He is rated as one of the top 50 wide receivers in the country, and he brings speed as a deep threat to a WR corps that needs one. On film, he also looked especially adept at catching the wide receiver screen. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek...) He also has excellent catching technique.

"The coaches said they don't have many real deep threats. I think the biggest thing the coaches like about my game is the fact that I catch the ball with my hands. At least that is what they tell me."

Tennessee beat out Maryland, Auburn, Nebraska, and Georgia Tech for Hancock's services.

UT Commitment #8 - Darius Myers

Much like Walter Fisher, this is Darius Myers' second time signing with the Vols. The 6'4", 320 pound offensive lineman has spent the last year at Hargrave Military School in Virginia getting his academics in order but will be on campus in Knoxville come the Fall. Myers was the #45 guard in 2005 nationally, and he improved at Hargrave to gain recognition by Rivals as the #14 prep school player in the country for this year, as well as receiving a 4-star rating. What does Darius like about the Vols?

"I really like the fan base, coaches and the fact that a lot of my friends went there. It's the in-state team and as a little boy that's where I always wanted to play. That was my dream team."

More to come...


UT National Signing Day - Post 6

First, it appears that the report of Goggans to Alabama is rubbish, like most things out of that city. Unfortunately, I am hearing from a source close to the situation that Auburn has burned Phil Fulmer on this one.

Second, lots of LOIs are pouring in. Here are the latest Vols:

UT Commitment #2 - Chad Cunningham

Chad Cunningham (6'3", 210 lbs.) is ranked by Rivals as the #11 kicker in the nation. He previously committed to Purdue University, but an offer by Tennessee changed that. Chad's father, Roy, played OL at UT from 1978-1981, and that influence played a huge role in his decommitment from the Boilermakers.

"My dad went to Tennessee, and I've always grown up as a fan of them, watching their games when I was little and everything. To get the opportunity to continue my career in college playing at Tennessee is a dream come true for me."

Cunningham wanted to play for UT so badly that he has accepted a "greyshirt" from UT. With a greyshirt, Cunningham will not go on scholarship until January, 2007, in a way of spacing out the punters given Britton Colquitt's remaining eligibility.

"That's not a big deal to me. They have Britton (Colquitt) up there right now anyway, and waiting would be the best thing for me anyway."

UT Commitment #3 - Lee Smith

Lee Smith, a 6'6", 245 pound TE, is a local product from Powell, Tennessee, just north of Knoxville. Smith has a nice frame on him that might respond well to added weight, and his attitude as a "banger" makes him useful in many different ways. He has a good set of hands, and Powell looked to him often near the goal line. Like Cunningham, Lee Smith's father, Darryl, is a former UT player who spent some time in the NFL. Smith's coach reiterates some of Smith's strengths:

"He's very athletic and strong for a player his size, especially with those long arms of his. He benches up over 300 pounds and has great hands both in the receiving game and in his blocking schemes. He also uses his hands well on defense."

UT Commitment #4 - Luke Stocker

Luke Stocker is another tall TE, measuring 6'6" and 220 pounds. I saw Stocker at the Georgia game, and he certainly cuts an imposing figure. I'm just not sure where UT is going to put him on the field. The competition at TE for UT is getting fierce, and Stocker is one of the smaller ones UT has. He played some fullback in high school in Kentucky, and that is certainly one possibility. Not to be negative on a great athlete, but Stocker looks a lot like Justin Reed coming out of high school. I hope that I am wrong and that Stocker leaves more of a mark than Reed did, but I am just a bit undecided on where he is going to end up on the field.

More to come...

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