Official Guest Host Aaron Gulbransen on Primary Elections and the Importance of the TN-5 Race

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 official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to discuss the concept of primary elections by state and the importance of the T-5 race.

Leahy: In-studio, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report, Aaron Gulbransen, who is also the lead political reporter at The Tennessee Star. Good morning, Aaron.

Gulbransen: Good morning, sir.

Leahy: Thank you for sitting in for me on Friday. That was your first full day as an official guest host.

Gulbransen: It was a lot of fun.

Leahy: You’ve been doing radio for some time, but it’s been a while since you’ve hosted an entire program, isn’t it?

Gulbransen: This is true. The last time, did it for a year in 2017. So it was about five years.

Leahy: But that was a very specialized kind of show, wasn’t it?

Gulbransen: It was a political show. It was similar. I did have a liberal co-host, though.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Sounds interesting. This was in Virginia.

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: It was a Virginia version of Hannity & Colmes. You were Hannity?

Gulbransen: Yeah, pretty much. And actually, we did get along really well because we had cigars in common.

Leahy: There you go. So you’re here every Tuesday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. And then you’ll be here next week as I go back for my almost-50th high school reunion – a long time ago – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Next week you’ll be in. So that’ll be three full days. And I think you’ll really enjoy getting up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning.

Gulbransen: I will. I’m going to put a hurting on our emergency coffee stash in the house.

Leahy: There you go. Now, today in the studio from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., Jody Barrett, who is an attorney running for the 69th Tennessee House District state representative, will be in-studio along with entertainer John Rich, who has endorsed him.

And this is an open seat currently held by Mike Curcio, who’s not running for re-election. It covers half of Diixon County and all of Hickman and Lewis counties, I believe … And we’ll talk to him about that race. He has a primary opponent, the current commissioner.

I think the fella’s name is, Jeff Eby is his primary opponent, who’s currently a Dickson County county commissioner. So it’ll be interesting to see how he distinguishes himself. We have a primary, I don’t know if you know this, August 4th.

Gulbransen: No, I hadn’t heard.

Leahy: Yeah, it’s on a Thursday. You’ve lived here in Tennessee for three or four years now, right? You’re a native of Long Island.

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: Attended King’s College. Graduated from Empire State College.

Gulbransen: Yes, sir.

Leahy: And then lived in Virginia for 15 years and moved here three years ago. Let me see if you have been able to figure this out. Why do we have primaries on a Thursday as opposed to a Tuesday in Tennessee?

Gulbransen: I haven’t been able to figure that out. And I also haven’t been able to figure out why we have them so late.

Leahy: The so-late thing is primaries range, I think an August primary is good. The first week of August. It’s a good time to have a primary. Almost every other place, they have primaries on Tuesday, or a few of them on Saturday.

Gulbransen: They do.

Leahy: I think we’re the only state that has primaries on Thursday. There’s a reason; I still haven’t figured it out after living here for 30 years. On August 2nd, there will be a primary in Arizona, which is a Tuesday.

Gulbransen: That’s the governor’s primary there.

Leahy: Kansas has the primary on August 2 as well. And I think the Wyoming primary is maybe that week or the week before.

Gulbransen: You know, it could be. There are so many things in politics, and I know this maddens people who are new to politics, but it could be something along the lines of this is just the way it’s always been done.

Leahy: It’s some of that. There’s some other element that I don’t quite understand, but it’s a mystery. Perhaps some of our listeners will figure that out. Now there are some state legislative races with contested primaries here in the Williamson County State Senate district.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson is being challenged by Gary Humble. That’s one hot race. There are several other State House races in the Williamson County area that are contested on the GOP side.

And then the 69th district in Dickson County that Jody Barrett, and I guess Jeff Eby is the guy, are contesting on the GOP side. But the big hot story has to do with the Tennessee 5th Congressional District.

Tell us a little bit about what the 5th Congressional District used to be, what it is now after the redistricting and the census, and why it matters. Then we’ll talk about the horse race.

Gulbransen: Well, for those of you who have been living under a rock – I’m kidding, I’ve just covered it so many darn times, I think everybody knows all about it.

Leahy: You know, that is like a political insider thing.

Gulbransen: I know, I know. We’re having fun here. So, the short version of it is, of course, is the 5th Congressional District hasn’t been Republican, I’m pretty sure since Reconstruction. And it was, according to Nate Silver, versus 538, roughly a D plus-17 district.

Leahy: In other words, a safe Democrat district.

Gulbransen: A safe Democrat district, hence why it hadn’t gone Republican in 20 years.

Leahy: There had not been a serious challenge in that district, really, since 2010. But again, the challenges in that district, Dem plus-20 or thereabouts, you get somebody who’s not as funded well. I think that was like a 56-44 race ….

Gulbransen: The closest I think it had been was the 2010 wave here, but that was still … anyway, so now it’s a Republican seat.

Leahy: Jim Cooper, the incumbent, a Democrat.

Gulbransen: Yes. Jim Cooper has been there, and he represented another district during his initial stint in Congress.

Leahy: Shelby.

Gulbransen: Exactly.

Leahy: He challenged Fred Thompson.

Gulbransen: Yes, he did.

Leahy: And got stomped.

Gulbransen: And rightfully so. He’s been there. Now the redistricting scared the daylights out of him and he said I’m taking my ball and going home.

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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