Jan 14 2014
04:16 pm

Republican Jason Emert announced that after "careful reflection and prayer" he is running against Gloria Johnson for State House District 13.

His press release says Johnson is "one of the most liberal members of the General Assembly," and mentions "liberal" 11 times in attacking her for such things as trying to bring affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of Tennessee residents.

His press release also says he is "a Knoxville area attorney and small businessman" and the brief bio at the end says "Jason Emert is an attorney and health care professional from Knoxville, TN."

The Knoxville News Sentinel article (subscription required) about the announcement has this correction:

Emert’s initial announcement of his campaign stated that he was an attorney, but a staff member called to clarify that Emert had graduated from the University of Miami Law School. The staffer said that Emert has not taken the Tennessee bar exam and asked that the reference to Emert being a lawyer be removed.

You can read the full press release after the break...

Jason Emert Announces Bid for State House District 13
Republican Emert Challenges Democratic Incumbent Gloria Johnson

Knoxville, TN -- Jason Emert (pronounced: EM-urt), a Knoxville area attorney and small businessman, announced today that he will seek to replace Democratic incumbent Gloria Johnson as Tennessee’s 13th District Representative.

"After careful reflection and prayer, I have decided that the best way I can serve my community at this time is to replace Gloria Johnson as the 13th District’s representative in the Tennessee General Assembly," said Emert. "I believe that I can offer the people of my district representation that is more in-line with their views and values. Our district needs a strong voice in Nashville that has their genuine interests at heart. We do not deserve a politician who is using her position to stand tall for liberal special interests, agendas, and legislation."

Johnson faces her first attempt at re-election after narrowly beating the Republican nominee by just 288 votes two years ago. The 13th District that Johnson now represents is decidedly Republican. In 2012, the district’s voters supported Republican Congressman Jimmy Duncan for a 2-to-1 win over Democratic candidate Troy Goodale, and propelled Mitt Romney to a 4-point victory over Barack Obama.

Many observers note that Johnson’s 2012 victory was largely driven by the non-Democratic vote being split between the weakly funded and poorly organized Republican nominee and another Republican appearing on the ballot as an independent.

Johnson failed to earn the support of the majority of the voters in 2012, scoring only 48%.

Quickly after being elected, Johnson gained the reputation of being one of the most liberal members of the General Assembly, focusing on legislation that is drafted by liberal organizations and lobbyists, while publicly positioning herself as one of the most devoted supporters of Obamacare.

"While the 13th district may not be a conservative haven, it is certainly not as liberal as Representative Johnson’s record would indicate," said Emert. "Ms. Johnson believes that her election as our representative gave her unconditional authority to push legislation influenced only by her own liberal ideology. The people of this district will be shocked by what Representative Johnson has said and done on their behalf in Nashville. I know I certainly was."

"Gloria Johnson’s crusade to force New York-style liberalism on Tennessee is among the reasons I have decided to run," remarked Emert.

"The truth is that Gloria Johnson was in the right place at the right time in 2012, allowing her to win election to the General Assembly," said Emert. "But, she is far more formidable now than she was two years ago. Johnson’s re-election campaign will be buoyed by national, state, and local Democratic parties, as well as liberal organizations across the nation, who all believe that Johnson is an up-and-coming liberal star."

"I agree – Gloria Johnson is a liberal star and represents few, if any, of the values and views held by the people of Tennessee’s 13th district," continued Emert.

"Beating Gloria Johnson will require a well-funded, disciplined candidate," commented Emert. "I believe that I am that person. As of this morning, I have more than $100,000 in donation pledges. My campaign will likely raise more money in the next 45 days than Johnson banked in all of last year. Furthermore, I am committing myself to campaigning full-time starting today."

"It’s time for our representatives to live up to their campaign promises, and work to bring jobs to Knox County," concluded Emert. "It’s our duty to enact real change that helps our constituent’s lives, not act as a mouthpiece for out-of-state liberal groups and progressively liberal dreams."

Emert’s strong fundraising performance adds significant pressure to Johnson as she is prohibited from raising money for her re-election campaign while the Tennessee Legislature is in session. The legislature’s session began today at 1:00pm EST / 12:00pm CST.

About Jason Emert

Jason Emert is an attorney and health care professional from Knoxville, TN. He is currently employed as the Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at First Choice Medical. After receiving a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University, a MBA from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and a J.D. From the University of Miami (FL), Jason joined the family business seeking emerging business opportunities for medical device manufacturers and hospitals.

Jason is a fourth-generation East Tennessean whose family roots can be traced back to pre-Revolutionary Tennessee. Jason has been actively involved in a multitude of community organizations in Knox County since graduating from Farragut High School. His volunteer service includes work with United Way of Greater Knoxville, East Tennessee Historical Society, and Special Olympics.


Hildegard's picture

He's lying right out of the

He's lying right out of the gate. I'll try to keep up.

R. Neal's picture

My thoughts exactly. I'm sure

My thoughts exactly. I'm sure it was just some confusion or misunderstanding by a staffer, though. That, or somebody else checked the Tennessee bar?

Hildegard's picture

Probably a staffer, but I

Probably a staffer, but I think the staffer tweaked "law school graduate" into "lawyer" on purpose. Right now there is tension between lawmakers who are lawyers and those who are not, and members of the bar and the judiciary are paying close attention. I heard one of the state supreme court justices talk about it a few months ago at a bar association event. Most judges - and I mean conservative, Republican judges since that's most of 'em - are concerned about some dumb ideas being promoted in the general assembly, and they want real lawyers running for office. I don't know yet where Emert comes down on any of those issues, but if he says he's a lawyer, it gets him some real institutional backing he might have to work harder to get if he isn't actually a lawyer.

R. Neal's picture

Seems like lots of folks are

Seems like lots of folks are concerned about some of the dumb ideas being promoted in the legislature. Don't they have lawyers on staff to review these bills?

I'm all for "regular folks" holding legislative office, but then you get Stacey Campfield. On the other hand, you get lawyers like Brian Kelsey.

Anyway, our conservative, Republican state senator who is also a lawyer (Overbey) is one of the less crazy ones. When you look at the bills and the sponsors, his at least make sense for the most part.

Hildegard's picture

The only real concern of the

The only real concern of the bar/judiciary are the bills affecting the profession and the judiciary, esp the latter. There is a preposterous drive to make the appellate judiciary an elected office (rather than the current appointment and retention vote). The only thing that keeps Tennessee almost sane is appointed appellate justices. You HAVE to be smart to be one. Governors have always been advised whom to appoint by close advisers who are lawyers. Obv there are strong political influences involved, but on a limited basis. Once you pass the party test, then the policy test, they look at your qualifications - i.e., your ability to write legal opinions, scholarship, that kinda thing. You have to know what you're doing, or you won't get the job. There are so many unqualified lawyers with political clout that it is just really dangerous to open the appellate judiciary to campaigns and general elections.

The really dumb idea, promoted by tea nuts, is to allow non-lawyers to be Sessions Court judges. It used to be possible, and frankly in a lot of counties the Sessions judges don't follow the law and violate both Constitutions so recklessly that we almost might as well let them go back to that, for all the difference it would make.

R. Neal's picture

Agree on all that 100%.

Agree on all that 100%. Judges should be appointed, not elected. Allowing anyone without a legal education and background to be any kind of judge is crazy. Although I guess it's happened on the U.S. Supreme Court?


Sandra Day O’Connor Backs Campaign to End Judicial Elections

A group of judges, political officials and lawyers, led by the retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has begun a campaign to persuade states to choose judges on the basis of merit, rather than their ability to win an election.

It should also apply to heads of law enforcement, like Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. (At least we have one appointed LEA chief here.)

JR's picture


" It used to be possible, and frankly in a lot of counties the Sessions judges don't follow the law and violate both Constitutions so recklessly that we almost might as well let them go back to that, for all the difference it would make."

Kind of like ignoring the Constitutions that says the Judges of the Supreme Court shall elected by the qualified voters of the State.

Who is crazy?

JR's picture


the Judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State.

R. Neal's picture

Probably a staffer, but I

Probably a staffer, but I think the staffer tweaked "law school graduate" into "lawyer" on purpose.

I was being facetious. Do you think the candidate might not have personally reviewed his first press release announcing his candidacy?

Anything's possible, I guess. In which case you have to have to question his judgement on hiring staffers.

Either way, seems like a fail.

gonzone's picture

Maybe the TN bar doesn't

Maybe the TN bar doesn't recognize CokeHead University law degrees?

Bbeanster's picture

And remember, there was the

And remember, there was the sick/no I wasn't kerfluffle back in the fall...

Bbeanster's picture

The pronunciation guide is a

The pronunciation guide is a hoot.

R. Neal's picture

Heh. Maybe they were worried

Heh. Maybe they were worried somebody would think it was "Eau-mare" or something French like that? I thought it was a pretty common name around here.

redmondkr's picture

"careful reflection and

"careful reflection and prayer"

I take that to mean that God has told him to run, just as He told Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum to run for President.

Hildegard's picture

Guessing without checking,

Guessing without checking, just based on his looks: Chiropractor.

jbr's picture

Some Background

From Georgina Vines in News-Sentinel …

n GLORIA’S OPPONENT? Jason Emert, who became active in politics as a high school senior in 2002 in U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign, may be the candidate Republicans are looking at to try to defeat state Rep. Gloria Johnson, a Democrat who represents the 13th District.

“I am interested,” said Emert, who lives in Sequoyah Hills.

Emert has a law degree from the University of Miami. He said he uses that background in a family business, First Choice Medical, a supply and equipment business in Maryville.

Georgiana Vines: Knight draws interest, campaign donations in DA race

First Choice Medical, Inc.

Average Guy's picture

Ronald Reagan would be a

Ronald Reagan would be a liberal member in this Assemby.

S Carpenter's picture

I pledge...

$100,000! Seriously.

Pam Strickland's picture

I think the wording of the

I think the wording of the release is, in general, very amurturish. The wording is clumsy and awkward. And then it had the advertising disclosure languagage at the end. All that on top of the misstep about the being an attorney.

It's going to be a long year.

JR's picture

Losing the right to vote

I think we ought to have only wealthy elites appoint the Governor and all Legislators too.

Can you believe these Tea Party nut jobs actually believe in the citizen's voting rights?
I mean what a bunch of crazy people.

Min's picture

The wealthy elite did appoint the Governor.

That's what happens when you have enough Pilot money to buy an election without having an actual platform.

Greg H's picture

Correction: "Stolen Fuel Rebates"

Substitute "stolen fuel rebates" for your erroneous "Pilot money" and I think you have it!

bizgrrl's picture

According to the KNS

According to the KNS (subscription required) Emert doesn't have an official campaign treasurer but is already taking donations. "Candidates who collect donations or spend money campaigning for office without a treasurer can be fined up to $10,000, under state law."

“I’m not going to mire myself down in the details. I know that we’re fully within the law. I’m just focused on getting the message out there.”

reform4's picture

That should have

That should have read:

Democrats who collect donations or spend money campaigning for office without a treasurer can be fined up to $10,000, under state law."

I think the Election Commission changed that last year.

B Harmon's picture

strategy vs platform

So far all that Emert has done is talk about his strategy to win, not what he would do for the residents in his district if he were to win. In other words, he thinks he can win just because he has an "R" next to his name.

Georgianna Vines today (link...)

stalwartdem's picture

yes, he assumes that..

The conventional wisdom of higher R turnout at midterm can elect even a "cardboard cutout" repub candidate. problem is , cardboard cuttouts cant interact with voters.

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