Georgiana Vines. Knoxville News Sentinel. April 8, 2016.
Women for Tennessee’s Future, a political action committee dedicated to helping progressive women get elected to the state Legislature, plans to try to help Democrats get elected to Republican-held seats in Knox and other counties in 2016.
The group said it plans to make Insure Tennessee its focus. Insure Tennessee was proposed in 2015 by Gov. Bill Haslam to provide health coverage to 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans with the federal government granting approval of an amendment to the state’s TennCare waiver. Two committees in the state Senate rejected it last year while no action was taken in the House.
Formed four years ago, the PAC concentrated in Davidson County until this year, said Bonnie Dow, treasurer.
The group said a record of at least 23 women from across the state are running to challenge Republicans. The figure was cited before the noon Thursday deadline when qualifying petitions of legislative candidates had to be returned to election commissions. Candidates have until next Thursday to withdraw.
All candidates cited on the PAC’s list are Democrats, including former state Rep. Gloria Johnson, seeking to take back the 13th District from Republican Rep. Eddie Smith who defeated her two years ago. Others from Knox County are Brandi Price, a lawyer running for the 18th District held by Republican Rep. Martin Daniel, and Heather Hensley, a registered nurse seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Roger Kane.
Dow said the PAC talked to Democratic Party chairs and did networking to help find candidates. On Sunday, Women for Tennessee’s Future had a workshop in Nashville prior to Tuesday’s announcement on the number of women candidates seeking office.
The group has an endorsement committee which will consider factors such as a candidate’s ability to raise money as to whether a candidate gets financial support, Dow said.
“We’re hoping (our) efforts will help them raise money,” she said.
The group’s website says the PAC’s priority for contributing to a candidate’s campaign will be women running for the first time for the office they are seeking and women running for an office that has not yet been held by a woman.
Johnson, who had a competitive race against Smith two years ago in seeking re-election, reported in a February disclosure that her campaign account had only $2,100. She had a fundraiser that featured former University of Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors in March. While the Legislature is in session, Smith is not allowed to raise money.
The next financial disclosures are due Monday.