Sparks Fly in Contested Williamson County GOP State Senate Primary

Sparks have been flying between Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and challenger Gary Humble in the GOP nomination contest for Senate District 27, which is set to take place Thursday.

Mail pieces have flooded mailboxes with attack messages against Humble, and social media attacks on Johnson have been posted by Humble and his nonprofit, Tennessee Stands.

To give the public a full view of the contest between Johnson and Humble. The Tennessee Star compiled statements from elected officials, colleagues, campaign finance data, endorsement lists, and more.

The Star reached out to Humble on more than one occasion for this piece but did not receive a response as of press time.

The Star asked both candidates questions, and Senator Johnson’s campaign responded.

Johnson was first elected to the State Senate in 2006. The Star asked Johnson to detail legislative accomplishments that he is particularly proud of.

“Since becoming Majority Leader, I have sponsored and passed four balanced budgets that took on no new debt and cut taxes each year. I led the fight to remove unnecessary burdensome regulations in order to make Tennessee the most pro-business state in the nation,” Johnson said.

“I supported and fought for legislation to prohibit sanctuary cities in Tennessee. I stood up to the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional COVID vaccine mandates and passed one of the most comprehensive medical freedom laws in the nation,” Johnson continued.

Johnson also listed off the type of bills he has sponsored during his time in the State Senate.

“I sponsored and passed many pro-life bills, including one of the most pro-life laws in the country, outlawing abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. I sponsored and passed Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry law, expanding gun rights for Tennesseans. I worked with my colleagues to ban Critical Race Theory from being taught in our schools,” he said.

“Under my conservative leadership, Tennessee is ranked as the nation’s 3rd safest and most secure election state, according to the Heritage Foundation,” Johnson added.

Because he holds no experience of holding elected office and has no legislative record, The Star asked Humble the following questions in an attempt to provide the public with his vision of how he’d serve in the State Senate if elected:

Why are you running for State Senate?

How do you plan to be an effective legislator, if elected to the General Assembly?

What are the three or four main issues you’d tackle in the next session of the General Assembly if you are elected? How specifically would you plan to go about leading on those issues?

As previously mentioned, Humble did not respond.

The Star additionally asked Johnson to detail why he is running for re-election and what issues he would like to tackle during the next session of the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Tennessee is a great state, and I believe our best days are ahead, but we need strong conservative leadership to ensure we stay on track. Our federal government is broken. Our best defense against failed policies from Washington is to make sure Tennessee maintains a strong economy, low taxes, and fiscal conservatism. I’ve helped Tennessee become the least indebted state in the nation. We have a balanced budget and a record amount of money in our rainy day fund. I have fought for a strong, conservative economy in the Tennessee State Senate, and I’m asking Williamson Countians for their support to continue fighting that battle,” he said.

Johnson listed inflation, the economy, education, and combating illegal immigration as issues he’d like to continue to tackle if he is re-elected.

“Combating inflation and growing Tennessee’s economy: Lower taxes, fewer regulations, and a stronger fiscal discipline will continue to ensure that Tennessee enjoys a strong, conservative economy. In the Senate, I passed a balanced budget and cut taxes so Tennesseans can keep more of their hard-earned money. Under the Republican majority, Tennessee is the best fiscally managed state in the nation,” Johnson said.

On the issue of education, Johnson said, “We are fortunate to have two of the highest-performing school districts in the nation here in Williamson County. As a state, we have made significant gains in recent years, but there is much work to be done. A quality education is pivotal to our continued success as a state.”

“I was proud to be the Senate sponsor of Governor Bill Lee’s comprehensive rewrite of our education funding formula that will provide significant additional funding to our schools while increasing transparency and accountability. But most importantly, I have stood with Tennessee parents, fighting for them to always have a say in their child’s education and keeping CRT out of Tennessee classrooms,” he added.

Johnson promised to continue the fight against sanctuary cities in Tennessee.

“The Biden administration has exacerbated the crisis at the southern border, making every state a border state. Now more than ever, we must take action to protect Tennessee and demagnetize it for those who come to this country illegally. As senator, I will continue to fight to stop sanctuary cities in Tennessee, stand with our law enforcement, and always uphold the rule of law,” he said.

Johnson has a plethora of high-profile and local endorsements, including Governor Bill Lee, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Congressman Mark Green (R-TN-07), Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), NRA, Tennessee Right to Life, Tennessee Trucking Association, the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association, Franklin Firefighters, NFIB Tennessee PAC, Mayor Rogers Anderson, and Sheriff Dusty Rhoades.

Two of Johnson’s endorsers, State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Blackburn, provided The Star with comments.

“Jack Johnson is a vital member of the Tennessee State Senate. Jack works closely with Governor Bill Lee and Republican members to pass conservative legislation that improves the everyday lives of Tennesseans. I know from personal experience in the Senate that it takes a strong voice and dedication to actually get things done. It’s because of Jack’s strenuous efforts that Tennesseans enjoy low taxes and higher wages. The people of Williamson County should send him back to keep fighting for them,” said Yager, the Tennessee State Senate Republican Caucus chairman.

“Jack Johnson has a proven conservative track record of improving the lives of Williamson Countians. He has consistently fought to lower taxes, defend our constitutional rights, ensure every parent has a voice in their child’s education, and protect our most vulnerable. He knows the values we hold dear in Williamson County, and as Leader in the Senate, he champions those values tirelessly. I was proud to cast my vote for Jack, and I encourage all my friends and neighbors to join me in supporting him in the Republican Primary on Thursday. We need Jack in the State Senate,” U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn said.

Humble has his share of endorsements, which include the Tennessee Republican Assembly, retired athlete Mike Fisher, The Tennessee Conservative, Gun Owners of America, and radio host Dave Ramsey.

Humble’s campaign was asked if any supporters wanted to comment on the record with The Star, but no response was given.

The campaign has gotten “nasty” according to one local observer.

The Tennessee Journal recently reported that groups like McNally’s PAC, the Tennessee Conservatives PAC, and Tennesseans for Putting Students First have unleashed a wave of mail pieces attacking Humble.

One such piece compared Humble to Nancy Pelosi.

Humble has continued to attack Johnson on his campaign and nonprofit Tennessee Stands‘ social media and has promoted the legislative scorecard rating given to Johnson by Americans for Prosperity as a reason not to vote for him.

Americans for Prosperity is the Koch-funded organization that promotes amnesty for illegal aliens.

Aside from the back-and-forth between the candidates, two complaints have been filed against Humble that allege failure to file as a lobbyist and an “unlawful campaign expenditure” resulting from a mail piece that did not include a disclaimer.

Humble said he is a “grassroots lobbyist” and does not have to register with the state, despite advocacy for and against various pieces of legislation. On the second complaint, he noted that the mail piece going out without the required disclaimer was a simple mistake.

As of press time, the complaints appear to still be pending.

House Majority Leader William Lamberth, who has endorsed the senator for re-election, told The Star that Johnson is an effective legislator and that his opponent Humble “is an abject failure” at advancing conservative policies.

“Our friend Jack Johnson is very effective at advancing conservative policies and protecting our conservative values. Gary Humble might be effective at making noise, but he is an abject failure at actually making a difference. In fact, Gary Humble’s tactics are divisive and hinder the advancement of conservative policies that actually improve the lives of Tennesseans. He has zero credibility. The people of Williamson County have a clear choice, and I urge them to examine Jack’s proven conservative record and support him on Thursday,” he said.

Johnson is outspending Humble in this race.

For Johnson’s April 10-through-July 28 pre-primary report, records show that the senator started with $344,851.79 in the bank. He raised $242,895.00, spent $296,968.85, and has $299,327.94 on hand.

Humble has been no slouch in the fundraising department, either. Tennessee State Board of Elections records show that Humble has raised $197,118.89, spent $170,861.22, and has $26,257.67 cash on hand as of the July 28 pre-primary report.

On the issues, both candidates’ stated positions appear nearly identical.

Both candidates say they are conservative, and their opponent isn’t conservative enough for the district.

Johnson’s camp and endorsers say he has a conservative record of delivering for his Senate district and the state of Tennessee.

Humble has repeatedly pointed to his work at Tennessee Stands as the reason people can count on him to be a conservative voice in the General Assembly and says that Senator Johnson has failed the people of his district.

– – –

Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTRTwitterTruth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Gary Humble” by Gary Humble. 

Editor’s note: The Jack Johnson for State Senate Campaign is an advertiser on The Tennessee Star and The Tennessee Star Report. The Humble for State Senate Campaign was invited to advertise on The Tennessee Star and The Tennessee Star Report



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7 Thoughts to “Sparks Fly in Contested Williamson County GOP State Senate Primary”

  1. Kelly Jackson

    – For one, Gary wrote SB 187 which restricted the state from mandating a shot for COVID. We showed up with over 400 people on the steps of the Capitol and got it done. 1 of only 10 states to do so at the time.

    -One of his lawsuits (though dismissed on standing) did get a sitting judge to state as a matter of law that school boards had no authority to mask children. 12 members of the TN House led by Rep. Bruce Griffey used those findings to pressure school boards to end the mandates. The Knox County Law Director used these court findings to advise the Knox County School Board that they had no authority to mask.

    -He has worked with groups across the state and with people like Mark Finchem (who endorses Gary) and Garland Favorito to bring awareness to election integrity issues included drafting legislation to work to tighten the gaps in our election processes.

    -Overall, he has brought awareness to Tennesseans on legislative issues at an unprecedented level. This year alone, directly through his advocacy efforts, Tennesseans sent over 140,000 messages to over 100 state legislators.

  2. 83ragtop50

    Let’s face the facts – Humble could not be any worse than Johnson. So why not give him a shot?!

  3. Jonathan Wells

    I second Lamberth’s opinion on Humble – his only contribution is chaos. It’s fine to be outraged, but quite another when nothing productive comes from it. Humble accomplished nothing during his tenure as a citizen lobbyist. That is, unless you account for his fundraising machine… if you’re impressed by such a thing.

  4. aries9899

    Yep, Jack must be feeling the heat with all of his nasty ads and mail fliers against Humble. As I’ve said before Jack lost my vote when he voted for the gas tax increase with a $2 billion surplus. And strangely enough at the time his wife Deana received a judgeship from Haslam. And I helped Jack with his 1st election from a grass roots stand. Just shows that after a certain amount of time in elected office they all get compromised.

  5. Karen Bracken

    Johnson needs to go. When it comes to education in TN he is clueless. We still have Common Core in TN and as long as we have SEL in our schools we have CRT.

  6. C. Richard Archie

    Any member of the TN General Assembly that purports some measure of chest thumping re a balanced budget is being disingenuous at best and in actuality taking credit for a Constitutionally required part of the job we hired them to do. Article 2 Section 24. No money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and an accurate statement of the receipts and expenditures of the public money shall be attached to and published with the laws at the rise of each stated session of the General Assembly.

    And in truth, the Budget is not balanced from our state coffers, it uses Federal money to further the shell game, which requires the GA to fawn on the Democrat led Marxist Regime currently in office so that those funds are not cut off. Incumbents rely on ignorance and marketing to sell that bill of goods to the People. That stuff hitting your shoes is not rain water…

  7. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Well, Humble has my Vote. He did not sign a letter urging people to take an Experimental Warp speed rushed to market mRNA Gene Therapy that will go down in History as one of the greatest medical blunders of all time. Clearly some of the money raised by Jack Johnson came with endorsements for his NASCAR fire suit.

    Unequal Protection: Jefferson Versus the Corporate Aristocracy