Tennesseans for Liberty Chairman Adrian Eddleman on Mission, School Choice Event, and Closed Primaries

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the Chairman of Tennesseans for Liberty, Adrian Eddleman to the newsmaker line to talk about their mission, school choice event, and closed primaries.

Leahy: On the line now. Adrian Eddleman, the chairman of Tennesseans for Liberty. Good morning, Adrian.

Eddleman: Hey, how are you doing, Michael? I appreciate you having me on.

Leahy: So tell us a little bit about Tennesseans for Liberty and tell us about who you are, Adrian.

Eddleman: Tennesseans is for Liberty is a 501 (c) (4) political action committee that was formed in 2008 out of the Republican primaries. If you guys remember that primary, that kind of led up to the 2008 elections, a lot of our original members and supporters came out of the Ron Paul campaign.

And so we were a lot of liberty-minded Republicans, and we’ve been involved ever since in varying degrees throughout politics in Tennessee. Generally speaking, we advocate for liberty and conservative principles within the state.

Occasionally we’ve gotten involved in different federal election campaigns. We have been involved a little bit in some of the congressional and our senatorial campaigns, for instance, helping Rand Paul up in Kentucky, and supporting candidates like Marsha Blackburn and that kind of thing.

But for the most part, we are involved in state and local politics, helping in the primaries, candidates that are the most conservative, liberty-minded, kind of getting some traction if we can, and occasionally opposing candidates that are less liberty-minded.

Leahy: Where is Tennesseans for Liberty based? Is it based in Madison County, in the Jackson area?

Eddleman: Yes, it is based out of Madison County. We’ve had involvement in races all over the state, though.

Leahy: Is this a full-time gig for you, Adrian, or what do you do full-time?

Eddleman: (Chuckles) No, I’m involved in quite a few different things. My wife and I own some companies together. Our primary focus is the areas of finance. We have an accounting firm, an investment advisory firm, and a small venture capital firm.

And then through our venture capital holdings, we get involved in various different companies, whether that be in real estate or impact investing. Particularly, our impact investing is related to Christian and conservative company organizations.

Leahy: Are you originally from the Jackson area?

Eddleman: For the most part. I was born in Georgia but came to Tennessee with my family in 1976.

Leahy: You saw the light. (Laughter)

Eddleman: Yes. I grew up in Jackson, Madison County, and went to public schools there. I met my wife at the freshman dance in college at Lambeth University. We never dated in college, but we met each other again when we went to the University of Tennessee program for MBAs.

And I spent a little bit of time in corporate America for a while. I traveled up to Ohio and down to Texas. I used to manage shopping malls in different parts of the country. So, some background there in real estate.

Leahy: Now, you’ve got an event coming up tonight. Doors open at 5:30, and the program begins at 6:30. It’s at the Ned McWherter Cultural Center down in Jackson. The guest speaker is Curtis Conway.

He’s going to talk about the importance of choice in public schools. There’s been some controversy there. Madison County public schools are very poor performers, I think in the bottom three percent of the 95 counties in the state.

And if I recollect correctly, there was a proposal from a group affiliated with Hillsdale College to introduce a charter school there.

The school board, led by A.J. Massey, who’s now the nominee for county mayor, voted “no” on it. What on earth were they thinking?

Eddleman: (Chuckles) Well, your listeners, I’m sure, are very familiar with Hillsdale and, as individuals, many of our folks within our organization are advocates for and supporters of Hillsdale in various ways.

And I think a lot of people were kind of hopeful that this might be an opportunity to interject some new ideas into the local educational process. I just have to say, I think that the decision to not consider the plan was somewhat premature.

The school board’s argument was that Hillsdale didn’t present a sufficient plan for execution, which I find questionable in that Hillsdale has been doing this. It’s a very professional organization.

Leahy: But that’s an excuse you can make up out of the blue for any proposal, right?

Eddleman: Yes.

Leahy: We had a very pointed discussion with A.J. Massey about this when we learned he was on the school board. He was on the newsmaker line and he couldn’t give us a good explanation for why he was going to vote no on it.

He subsequently did. He won the GOP primary for mayor. That’s been kind of controversial. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Eddleman: I think it’s really interesting. There were several counties within the state of Tennessee where there seemed to be some similar efforts.

There’s a question about whether there were active efforts within the Democratic party to actually cross over and vote within the Republican party and how organized that really was versus how coincidental that was.

Certainly, those who are advocates of liberty and conservatism and that kind of thing, if you want to get traction within the state of Tennessee, that’s going to be in the Republican party.

And I think a lot of Democrats have really felt shut out of that process to some degree, because if they know that a Republican candidate is essentially going to, “win in a certain precinct or district” or what have you, then that decision somewhat already been made, if you’ve got, say, a 60/40 voting block for Republicans.

This is something I think we have to watch out for within the state of Tennessee. Tennesseans for Liberty has actually been advocating for closed primaries.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.



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