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 and lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, Aaron Gulbransen, in-studio to discuss the upcoming TN-5 debate roster.
Leahy: All right, all of you political junkies, get your notepads out. We’re talking with an expert on political campaigns, Aaron Gulbransen, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report and also the lead reporter at The Tennessee Star. Aaron, you’ve managed and run how many campaigns?
Gulbransen: Well over 100.
Leahy: Well over 100?
Leahy: Mostly in Virginia …
Gulbransen: Mostly in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, a couple in Florida. Some national campaigns.
Leahy: Some national campaigns. And so you’ve run congressional campaigns?
Leahy: Have you won any congressional campaigns?
Gulbransen: I have been part of teams. I’ve won several congressional campaigns.
Leahy: All right. So you don’t know this about me, but I managed a successful congressional campaign.
Gulbransen: Which one?
Leahy: It was a long time ago. I don’t think you were even here on the earth.
Gulbransen: What year is it? Let’s go there.
Gulbransen: Okay. So that was literally part of the Reagan revolution then, though.
Leahy: I was on the other side.
Gulbransen: Really? Now we’re just digging up dirt.
Leahy: Yes. 1980, in my hometown in western New York. An incumbent Congressman Stanley, a Democrat, because in my misguided youth, I was still a Democrat.
And so I managed a successful campaign, a re-election campaign. He won 55-45 in a conservative district in the Reagan landslide.
The most momentous decision I made got me in trouble with Stanley, the incumbent. But I told the Jimmy Carter people to keep him the blank away from my bleep district.
Gulbransen: That was the smartest thing that you could have said. Oh, my gosh.
Leahy: Anyway, by 1984, I had become a strong Reagan Republican. But that was the vast majority of the country in 1984. But we both have experience.
You have more recent experience and more extensive experience in running campaigns. So the handicapping of this … nine qualified candidates – and they are all very nice people – some of those candidates will be at forums and also on the debate stages as we start tonight, and then also at the forum in Wilson County on Saturday morning, and then a partial number of them in The Epoch Times debate.
There may be a few more that go on, but let’s just say that the candidates who don’t have significant financial resources – by that I mean haven’t filed yet with the FEC, which means they haven’t hit $5,000 or maybe less than $25,000.
Gulbransen: Yeah, we’ll know more around July 15th or so unless there are some surprises.
Leahy: Look, everybody has a right to run, but the candidates who just don’t have any money, and aren’t going to have any impact, are Stuart Parks, Timothy Lee, Natisha Brooks, Geni Batchelor, and … Tres Wittum says he has some money.
I haven’t seen any of it yet. And he’s a nice fellow. They’re all good people and they all certainly have the right to put their point of view out, but they don’t have much in the way of a change.
Gulbransen: I like Tres a lot. I think he has a political future.
Leahy: He’s a young guy.
Leahy: And actually, he took a swipe at Lindsey Graham, which isn’t a bad thing. (Chuckles)
Gulbransen: Which, interesting to note after Lindsey Graham decided to bash the state of Tennessee, he was in full attendance at the Faith and Freedom Coalition at the Gaylord Opryland Nashville, so there you go.
Leahy: Thank you, Lindsey Graham.
Gulbransen: He might have forgotten.
Leahy: Keep your opinions about the state of Tennessee to yourself.
Leahy: So, the fourth candidate who is showing a presence, Jeff Beierlein, who is a West Point grad, served 12 years. Black Hawk pilot. Owen MBA. Health care guy.
Gulbransen: Geez, he’s got a long résumé.
Leahy: A serious guy.
Gulbransen: Somebody told me the other day that he’s basically campaigning full time, too.
Leahy: No, he is. He left his job, so he’s campaigning full time, and he’s substantive on the issues. And he’s a good guy. He will not be at the event tonight, he’s at a veterans event.
But I think he will be participating in other things. But we don’t know how much money he’s raised. But I don’t think it’s in the range of the three, we’ll call them the front runners, all of whom have reported over $350,000 and probably more.
They’re probably inching up towards all of them and are probably going to end up spending more than a million dollars on this race. Towards $2 million, probably.
Gulbransen: Everything I’ve heard both locally and around the country is telling me that this may very well be the most expensive primary, when all is said and done, in the entire country.
Listen to the interview:
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