All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer Breaks Down Strengths of TN-5 Frontrunners Harwell, Ogles, and Winstead

Live from Music Row Thursday 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 all-star panelist Clint Brewer in-studio to breakdown the three frontrunners and their strategies in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District race.

Leahy: We are joined in-studio by recovering journalist Clint Brewer and an all-around good guy, man about town.

Brewer: Let’s clarify: man about town during daylight hours.

Leahy: During daylight hours. Thank you. Not during evening hours. You’re at home with your family.

Brewer: That’s right.

Leahy: Doing family things, because you’re a family kind of guy. Too old to be running around. Now, the 5th Congressional District, the GOP primary, fascinating ups and downs that we’ve documented in great detail at The Tennessee Star. There are now nine qualified candidates.

Brewer: We could still field a softball team.

Leahy: Yes, we could. There are five that are very nice but don’t have the money: Natisha Brooks, Geni Batchelor, Stuart Parks, Tim Lee, and Tres Wittum. Okay, nice people. And we’ve talked to all of them.

And then there’s one who’s got some money, got a message, but as a newcomer to politics, Jeff Beierlein. Jeff Beierlein is a West Point graduate, Black Hawk pilot, Iraq combat veteran, and 15-year healthcare executive.

So there’s Jeff, and then there are the three frontrunners. Based upon at least the money raised, all of them have raised over $350,000 all the way up to a million bucks and maybe more.

I think the race, ultimately all three of them will probably spend about a million bucks or more, a million to two million. All three of these. And so these would be our frontrunners right now.

Mayor Andy Ogles of Maury County, retired Brigadier General Kurt Winstead of the Tennessee National Guard, and a former Tennessee House of Representative, Speaker Beth Harwell. So let’s focus your comments on those three frontrunners.

What’s your analysis of how they’re doing so far? Six weeks to the day, from Election Day and about, what, three weeks, two and a half weeks until early voting.

Brewer: It’s a fascinating contrast between the three campaigns. So you have General Winstead, who is largely unknown. He’s hired a very well-known campaign messenger, ad guy, Fred Davis [who] did, I believe, the last two gubernatorial winners.

Leahy: His consultant is a good friend of ours, Chris Devaney. Chris Devaney, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Brewer: Very strong team. The message is basically familiarizing the voters with who he is, talking very broadly about values and identity, and not really diving into specific hot-button issues.

Leahy: And to that end, we just got an exclusive story from the Winstead campaign. They announced the Strong American Families plan, and if you get into the details of it, just up, it basically says we’re going to keep families safe and stop ramping inflation. In essence, let’s take all the constraints off the production of energy. That’s basically it.

Brewer: Yes. His message is really targeted. We talked before about going to the middle in a general election. He’s kind of speaking more to the issues that you would hear in most households.

It’s a very common message insofar as it targets what people talk about the most. I feel like he’s got his finger on the pulse. Everybody right now is worried about gas prices and inflation regardless of how much money you make.

So he’s really speaking to what is going to be the biggest talking point in all of these households during the election. So then you have former House Speaker Harwell, who probably has the best name ID.

Leahy: Very high name ID. She served in the Tennessee General Assembly for, I don’t know, 30 years. A long time, and was the Speaker for six to eight years, I think.

Brewer: And so, very well known. Also has an exceptional team. Not out there as much as Winstead, but probably doesn’t have to be yet.

Leahy: And she’s been doing television spots and radio spots as well. So she’s been doing some, but not so much on the ground, talking to folks.

Brewer: And as we’ve always said, she’s going to compete. I think her prospects are largely tied to how I mean, it sounds obvious, but it isn’t always obvious.

She’s not a newcomer. The other two are somewhat newcomers to this level of politics. How well can they run a race? That takes us to Mayor Ogles.

Leahy: The mayor of Maury County. Elected there

Brewer: Longtime activist in the state.

Leahy: Well known with the grassroots.

Brewer: Well, that’s an interesting part, too, because people sort of roll their eyes at straw polls. But the fact of the matter is straw polls really take the pulse of the grassroots, the most hardcore activists.

Leahy: And while we’re talking about that, he’s won every single straw poll. He won in Wilson County a couple of weeks ago, pretty significantly.

He won pretty significantly in Marshall County. And then just on Tuesday night, at the debate I moderated, he won going away in the straw poll in Davidson County.

Brewer: So the question becomes, does he have the fundraising, and does he have the ability to leverage that grassroots support? Can he get around what looks like is going to be the self-funding and superior cash of Winstead and the name ID of Harwell?

Leahy: And if you look at the name ID, I think you’d say that Harwell has the highest. Ogles is up there, pretty high on the name ID, and then Winstead started from zero.

Brewer: But he’s pushed it up.

Leahy: But he’s pushing it up with all of his …

Brewer: A lot of media.

Leahy: A lot of television, a lot of radio.

Brewer: So I would say that Winstead has got his foot on the gas because at this stage, he needs to be. Speaker Harwell is sort of holding serve with name ID, and then Ogles is keeping his powder dry.

I think the most interesting case here is Mayor Ogles, because it is so fascinating that the gap is close with him and Beth Harwell on name ID, and he’s clearly got the grassroots. So what’s the next step? I think it’s going to have to be some paid media. I think he’s got to push it up.

Leahy: And we’ve not seen any paid media from Ogles yet.

Brewer: Right. And so when does he go in the field? What’s the burn look like there … At the close, the only way to reach this audience really is just network TV.

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.
Photo “Andy Ogles” by Andy Ogles. Photo “Beth Harwell” by Beth Harwell. Photo “Kurt Winstead” by Kurt Winstead. 
















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4 Thoughts to “All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer Breaks Down Strengths of TN-5 Frontrunners Harwell, Ogles, and Winstead”

  1. Trevor

    Andy Ogles, is the best candidate for the district. He is not a RINO. Ogles needs to talk about Tennessee values, like balanced budgets, term limits and rewarding work in place of paying people not to work. Harwell delayed constitutional firearms carry, increased gas taxes and never allowed school vouchers in Tennessee while speaker. Harwell never did anything to build a GOP party in Davidson county! Davidson county needs a strong two party system. Winstead appears to be a political opportunists!
    Winstead and his wife have a long documented history of supporting democrats financially and through social events. Winstead also has a lot of the Corker and Haslam people in his campaign. We know little Bob Corker and Billy Haslum are not popular politicians in Tenneesee! I wish the TN Star would ask each of them about insider trading if elected and put their investments in a Blind trust! Ogles is Tennessee strong for TN 5th congressional district.

  2. Tiffany Boyd

    It’s disappointing to see the omission of Natisha Brooks in this article. She is the grassroots champion. I am a resident of Maury County and several attempts were made by myself and others to contact Mayor Ogles regarding different issues and those attempts went unanswered. A candidate or politician that isn’t accessible to their constituents could hardly be considered grassroots. “Miss Brooks” on the other hand, answers phone calls, emails, schedules in-person meetings and is readily accessible. She isn’t being endorsed by a multimillion-dollar Libertarian organization that she has previously worked for either. As the saying goes, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  3. Stuart I. Anderson

    Really!!! You mean Andy is not going to be able to win this race just by going from straw poll to straw poll scoring decisive victories among a few hundred political activists? Who would have thunk it!

    With exactly three weeks to go before early voting this all raises more questions than it answers. First, does Andy really want to go to Washington to be a U.S. Congressman? He was about the last one to declare his candidacy for the office as he hemmed and hawed his way to making up his mind. Anybody receive a solicitation for donations from Andy? How about fundraisers where all those straw poll voters can contribute money, rev up the excitement, get some lousy yard signs? NADA!!!!

    I sent a significant financial contribution to Andy, UNSOLICITED, but then again I am a right-wing zealot! I have had growing concern that that this money could have been so much better spent elsewhere. With three weeks to go that concern is turning into real disappointment, anger and sadness over what appears to be Andy’s lack of fire in the belly while he is pursuing a “No Chance” un-campaign. Let’s give him another week after which there will only be two weeks before early voting after which I suggest every conservative who began by enthusiastically supporting Andy spend the long Fourth of July weekend in this no runoff state by THINKING AGAIN.

    1. Vince Cuevas

      Natisha Brooks may not have the money, but she is the only minority in this race, She is working the Grassroots better then Andy and has been as a congressional candidate since 2020, 4 times as long as these three candidates. She is going to be a major upset in August because her message isn’t just resonating with Longtime conservatives, thanks to the Biden failures it’s now resonating with those that have left, or are leaving the Democratic party, and those that are on the fence about leaving. Don’t write her off… she is going to surprise you.

      Natisha Brooks for Congress TN 5th