Live from Music Row, Friday 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 Misrule of Law blog creator and California refugee, Mark Pulliam to the newsmaker line to talk about his write-in candidacy for State Executive Committee seat in Blount, Monroe, and Polk counties.
Leahy: We welcome on our newsmaker line, our favorite grassroots troublemaker from Blount County, Mark Pullium. Good morning, Mark.
Pulliam: Good morning, Michael. (Laughter)
Leahy: Do you like that description? (Chuckles)
Pulliam: Well, that’s what I try to do.
Leahy: So you also are a retired attorney. You’ve got a terrific blog, Misrule of Law: A Chronicle of Legal and Judicial Mischief. Some great stuff there. I don’t want to get into this part of it too much.
You’ve got this story about the legal profession brooking no dissent and turning into basically an increasingly woke guild. But the big thing I want to talk to you about right now is you are entering the arena, my friend. Apparently, you’re running for the state executive committee up there. Is that right?
Pulliam: I am. And not only am I running, but I’m also virtually guaranteed to win since there is no declared candidate on the ballot and no candidate other than myself is eligible to have their write-in votes counted.
So I am a write-in candidate, but if I get a single vote anywhere in Blount, Monroe, or Polk County, I will win.
Leahy: First, tell us how many members there are of the State Executive Committee. Which particular seat are you running for, and then why are you running? Let’s start off with that.
Pulliam: The way the state party is organized is that there are two executive committee members, one male, and one female, in each of the state’s 33 State Senate districts. There are a total of 66 members of the so-called SEC.
And the district that I’m running for is District 2, which is Art Swan who is our senator. And this year, because of reapportionment, they’ve reconfigured the district.
And it used to be Blount County and Sevier County, but now Sevier County was put into another district, and it picked up a couple of counties to the south.
And perhaps as a result of the reconfiguration, neither of the male incumbents of the two areas that have been combined chose to run for reelection. And no other candidate filed a petition to run in the new district.
And so when that happens, if you apply to be a write-in candidate within a certain time period, you’re eligible to have your name counted for people that write you in.
I received a tip from a grassroots activist that nobody was running in this district and that if I was interested in being a write-in, this might be an opportunity to get involved.
I looked into it and decided to do it. I had to drive down to the elections commission in each of the three counties and file a piece of paper, and lo and behold, I’m the only one who filed a piece of paper within the time limit. So I’m going to be the male committee man for District 2. The election is on August 4th.
Leahy: So there’s a process whereby you get on the ballot, right, with your name on the ballot, not a right hand. And how does that process work? That’s come and gone. But how does that work?
Pulliam: Well, that’s like any other position. If you want to run for an office, you go down to the elections commission within a certain amount of time prior to the election.
It’s months before the election, and typically for a state or local office, you have to have a certain number of signatures to support your candidacy. The great thing about it right in is you don’t have to collect signatures.
Leahy: Let me just step back on this. So that deadline you would have to have, I don’t like 25 signatures. That deadline was, I think, maybe back in April or so.
And no one followed that process to have their name on the ballot in the entire state senate district there. Is that right?
Pulliam: That’s correct.
Leahy: Why such a lack of interest in it?
Pulliam: Well, I think part of it is nobody really understood what this new district two would look like. I contacted Arts Swan’s office and even they had trouble telling me what the new district would look like.
And then the other thing is, and this is one of the reasons I wanted to get involved in the state party has sort of been inert for a long time, and the State Executive Committee, I think, has been inert for a long time.
Certain people are attracted to this position because it kind of makes you feel important, but it doesn’t really attract grassroots support.
It’s not a grassroots-friendly organization. And I have been trying to get involved in Republican politics since we moved to Tennessee almost three years ago.
And I have always been involved in Texas and before that in California. And I just sort of sense that there was a certain lethargy in Tennessee.
And it may be that because it doesn’t attract grassroots activists and at some point, people lose interest. And so what I’m going to try to do is inject some grassroots enthusiasm into this position and also a conservative point of view.
Leahy: So what was the deadline on this? To be a write-in, you got to go to each of the counties and fill out a form and sign your name?
Pulliam: Yes. It was like 50 days before the election, so it was just a couple of days ago. I went in there, I dropped the piece of paper off two hours before the filing deadline, and frankly, they were surprised.
Leahy: Does your name has to be listed on the ballot when somebody writes your name in? Does it have to be exactly spelled correctly, like Mark M-A-R-K P-U-L-L-I-A-M? Or what if they spell Mark with a c?
Pulliam: I don’t know how strictly they enforce that, but you are supposed to write in when you fill your certificate how it is you want your name to be used for comparison purposes. I hope they’re not too strict. But I do have thrown three counties Blount, Monroe, and Polk.
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