Tennessee Voter Guide Creator Craig Huey Analyzes Top Judicial Picks for Retention Election

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. – guest host Gulbransen welcomed California refugee and the creator of tennvoterguide.com, Craig Huey, in-studio to give his recommendations for the Tennessee judicial retention elections. 

Gulbransen: We have a newsmaker friend of the show. We’re not calling you an all-star panelist yet, are we?

Huey: Not yet.

Gulbransen: Craig Huey of tennvoterguide.com. I’ve got to check on these things, because, I’ll admit, I like to sleep until 7:00 some days, and I won’t catch everything on this show when I’m not on it.

We were talking about the judicial retention elections that are going on on August 4th. And, just to reset, it’s the entire judicial system, right? So the appellates are all on retention, and then we have our local, you know, chancery court judges and that sort of thing.

Huey: You know, Aaron, these are critically important races. I’d say we’ve had to research about 40 or 50 judicial candidates. And some of these candidates, they’re running against a competitor, and so we have to evaluate those, but a bunch of them, there’s no competition. You just vote basically “yes” or “no.” You vote “no,” they’re out, and then there has to be a replacement. And if you vote “yes” they’re in for, you know, eight years.

Gulbransen: Now, I know the answer to this question, but the public may not. So, assuming – and Sharon Lee is the one that Craig mentioned in the previous segment – Justice Sharon Lee, according to Craig, just to be blunt, is the bad one: the non-constructionist, non-conservative judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Let’s assume for a second that the public votes not to retain her. What happens then?

Huey: Then, there’s going to have to be a replacement. And it’s my understanding that they’re supposed to be going through the whole process and nominating a new judge and going through the whole process of putting a new one on.

So I don’t really know if in Tennessee history if someone has actually had enough votes to say “no.” But I will tell you this, it’s hard. But we’re trying to do it. We have the tennvoterguide.com.

And at the Tennessee Voter Guide we have rated these judges whether or not you use the term conservative or liberal, but it’s really, are they a strict constructionist who believes in following the Constitution, or are they a judicial activist who legislates from the bench their own ideology?

And in this case, a liberal ideology that represents an Obama-type of ideology. So these judges are really important. There are so many different candidates for people to choose from, yet if they don’t vote, or they leave that blank, or they vote for the wrong candidate, they’re voting against their values, not for their values.

And so that’s why this is so important. We evaluated these, and maybe what we should do, Aaron, is kind of go down the list and see who’s on the ballot and how we kind of evaluated them.

Gulbransen: Sounds good to me.

Huey: So the the first one is Jeffrey Bivins. And we’re recommending a “yes”/retain vote. And Jeffrey is the second-highest strict constructionist. The guy is pretty conservative.

We look at their qualifications, and then we look at whether or not they’re an activist or a strict constructionist. On a scale of one to 10 he has a 7.5 percent rating, meaning he’s the third-highest conservative judge in Tennessee.

Gulbransen: Oh, wow.

Huey: And he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2014 by Governor Haslam. He’s a donor to Republican causes like the State Republican Caucus of Tennessee. He’s basically the one who authored the controversial bill in regards to whether or not Robby Starbuck could run for the 5th Congressional District.

He’s a very important one. We are recommending a “retain” vote. Then there is Sarah Campbell, and she’s the Tennessee superstar. So we give a star rating; Jeffrey Bivins got a four-star. But Sarah Campbell, on our Tennessee Voter Guide website gets a five-star.

The only one with five stars. She has a judicial index of 8.05, almost perfect. She’s the number one candidate. She’s a member of the Federalist Society, which is the premiere strict-constructionist conservative organization.

Gulbransen: They helped some construct the list of judges that President Trump chose.

Huey: That’s why we have a change in the Supreme Court, and throughout the U. S. judicial system, because of the Federalist Society providing recommendations to President Trump. When she was appointed, only one Democrat opposed her. Representative Gloria Johnson of Knoxville.

Gulbransen: Who is known as being, how shall I put it kindly, a lunatic. A Lefty lunatic, that’s Gloria Johnson. I had to interject that.

Huey: One other thing about Sarah Campbell, is … this is how she frames herself. She says, as a judge, I will be firmly neutral on issues that come before me. The role of a judge in my view is that the side cases are based on neutral objective principles that don’t lend themselves to any one outcome or the other.

And Governor Lee is the one who appointed her last February. And he said “her commitment to an originalist interpretation of state and federal constitutions will serve Tennesseans well.” So we need to vote “yes”(retain) for her.

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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