Live from Music Row, Monday 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 State Representative Chris Todd (R-Jackson) to the newsmaker line to weigh in on the red wave Tennessee’s midterms produced as the House reaches a “super-supermajority.”
Leahy: We’re joined on our newsmaker line right now, by our good friend State Representative Chris Todd from the Jackson area. Good morning, Representative Todd.
Todd: Good morning, Michael. How are you today?
Leahy: I’ve been better – because, at a national level, you have to admit that the GOP did not do very well at all. Although it looks like they’re going to narrowly squeak by and take the House at the national level and they basically didn’t take back the Senate.
In Tennessee, it was a little bit different. It looks like the GOP has done well in the Tennessee House. What was the breakdown in terms of the seats in the 99-member House before? What is it going to be after the midterm elections?
Todd: In the last several years, we’ve had a majority of 73 members to 99 – 73 out of 99 in the House – that are Republican. And this year we picked up two additional seats. So I think the confidence that our constituents have in the Republican Party and in conservative politics and conservative principles is certainly showing up in Tennessee in our elections, in more ways than one.
I think the numbers speak for themselves, but also the members themselves, the members that are returning, and the new members that are coming in, I think you’re going to see at least the House in a more conservative light. And we’ve got some very strong folks coming in that are true conservatives, and I’m really excited for the future in our city.
Leahy: So what’s interesting about this is, you had a supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives, 73 to 26, before the midterm elections, and now it’s even greater. It’s what? 75 to 24 That’s a super-super-majority, right?
Todd: Yes, sir, it is.
Leahy: Where were the big pickups? Two pickups? Which districts were pickups?
Todd: We picked up let’s see, I’m trying to remember the exact ones which ones that flipped. But one other thing I want to mention along that same line of thought, with the confidence that our state has, with our constituents, that they have with the legislature, is on the constitutional amendments, you will notice every single county passed all of these constitutional amendments.
And the third one I wasn’t for, and I was working over in this area to get folks to really pay attention to what that is and the risks that it had.
But I think overall, it told me, seeing what kind of votes those amendments got, told me that folks, in general, feel like if the general assembly passed it, it must be good. So with the supermajority passing it, they must be okay. And so I think that confidence level spoke to me quite a bit.
Leahy: What’s interesting is the Right to Work amendment, which was previously a statute only, which said that you couldn’t be forced to join a union to have a job in the state of Tennessee, that’s gone from a law to part of the state constitution.
I bring that up because I think that’s going to make Tennessee even stronger as a destination for corporations. Because, in a couple of states, Michigan and Minnesota, what’s happened is that the Democrats for the first time have taken over the state legislatures.
In Michigan now, their number one priority is to get rid of their right-to-work laws in Michigan. I don’t think that’s going to do anything but help people and businesses come into Tennessee.
Todd: I think you’re exactly right. And it’s interesting that the labor unions were publicly saying that they’re not against right-to-work. They’re absolutely not against it. Yet they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the state getting out the word to try to kill our Yes on 1 effort.
They also spent a lot of money in Virginia in the last year and a half to try to kill that particular law there, which is one of the main reasons that I carried the legislation in the Tennessee House, to solidify that in the constitution so that future legislatures, if they did slip and become bluer and have a bigger effort moneywise, not to repeal that, then it couldn’t happen.
Leahy: So I want to talk to you about three pick-ups, three new members of the state House in Middle Tennessee. Jody Barrett, John Rich’s high school pal won in, I think, Dickson County. Gino Bulso won here in Williamson County, as did Jake McCalmon.
Now, Gino, I know Gino personally. Gino is one of the best lawyers in the entire state of Tennessee. That guy is very strong. I like Gino. He is a very good guy, very bright. That’s an impressive addition, I think, to the GOP membership in the House of Representatives.
Todd: I think you’re exactly right. There’s no question. And the more I hear about Gino – and I’ve talked to him a number of times and met him, but I didn’t know a lot about his daily career.
And some of the impressive things that I have heard recently, he even won a case just very recently, I think, while he was campaigning against the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal agency, a huge lawsuit over some issues there. I don’t know the details of it.
Leahy: I know that he represented a good friend of ours, Tim Pagliara, who’s got CapWealth Management, and the SEC made some false charges against him, and instead of settling, he sued them back. And he beat their you-know-what, he beat them soundly, and that was Gino Bulso doing a great job as an attorney.
Todd: Yes. You mentioned Jody Barrett, another solid conservative that we’re going to have here in Middle Tennessee. He’s from Dickson County, I believe, and again, he’s an attorney, but we had a couple of attorneys in the GOP majority, supermajority, before this, so I think they’re going to certainly add to the strong nature of our backgrounds, the variety of backgrounds that we have in the supermajority.
That just adds to the flavor and to the diversity of thought when it comes to legislation and then still be strong conservatives. These guys are really strong.
Leahy: So what do you think will be the number one priority of the Tennessee General Assembly when it convenes again in January?
Todd: I think the pace has already been set for number one. I think the minor transgender surgeries is going to be top of the list. And I think right behind that we’re going to have an effort to clarify all the stipulations in law that are there now to make it clearly black and white that drag queen shows have to be in an adult-only venue.
I think beyond that, we’re going to see some Second Amendment infringements removed from our laws. I think our speaker is very drilled in on that. He’s been in consultation with several others and higher-ups in the legal realm to make sure that we get our state laws to comply with the Constitution.
Finally, we’ve had some things that many of us have known are unconstitutional from day one and have been trying to whittle away at getting those changed. I think you’ll see a stronger effort in that line this year.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this 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 “Chris Todd” by Chris Todd for State Representative.