- Associated Press - Friday, May 9, 2014
GOP split breaking down, tea party power wanes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - It’s too early to say the tea party’s over.

But with a Senate majority in reach, the Republican Party and its allies are using campaign cash, positions of influence and other levers of power to defuse what they consider challenges by weak conservative candidates before the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. The party is cherry picking other candidates, including some who rode the tea party wave to a House majority in 2010. Some of those lawmakers are getting boosts from the very establishment the class vowed to upend.

It all adds up to an expensive and sweeping effort by national and state Republicans to blur the dividing line between factions that many believe cost the GOP the Senate majority and prolonged the 2012 presidential nomination fight. “We can’t expect to win if we are fighting each other all the time,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

This year, Republicans are within six seats of controlling the Senate. If they win Senate control and keep their House majority, even deeper frustrations would await President Barack Obama in his final two years in office.

By changing rules at the presidential level and showering money and support on candidates in North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and more states, Republican leaders are trying to drum out tea party-approved candidates they consider flawed - like ones who were seen as costing the GOP winnable Senate seats in Delaware, Missouri and Nevada in recent years.

“It makes sense to get control of the process,” said Borges, who was attending the national Republicans’ meeting in Memphis this week where officials were rewriting the rules on presidential debates.

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TVA expects decision on Allen plant this year

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority’s president and CEO says the utility expects to decide the future of the coal-fired Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis sometime this year.

Bill Johnson spoke with reporters Thursday after the TVA’s board meeting in Memphis.

Johnson said the TVA will field public comment on the power plant’s future before a decision is made about whether to convert it to a gas-operated facility or retire it and replace it with a new gas plant.

The Allen plant generates about 4.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough for 340,000 homes. The TVA says the plant consumes about 7,200 tons of coal daily.

Environmentalists say the Allen plant causes an air pollution hazard and it should be shut down and replaced with a facility that generates cleaner energy.

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3 TVA lakes have low water levels

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - As the summer recreation season nears, Tennessee Valley Authority officials are warning boaters of lower-than-normal water levels at three lakes in East Tennessee.

TVA officials told media that a lack of rainfall has caused the situation, which is affecting the Norris, Cherokee and South Holston reservoirs.

“It’s mainly to do with the lack of rainfall in those watersheds. … The areas that drain into those lakes haven’t gotten as much rainfall as the remainder of the tributary reservoirs,” TVA Senior River Forecast Manager Tom Barnett said.

The lower water level means boaters could face potential hazards such as sandbars, exposed banks and shallow areas.

“We are asking people who are out on the lake to be a little extra cautious,” Barnett said.

“At South Holston, there’s still more water in the lake than there is during the winter,” he said. “At Cherokee and Norris, you’ll see more of a brown ring around the reservoir, and there’s more navigation hazards, more sand bars, and more stumps that might be submerged. … We’re urging people to exercise caution, especially if they are unfamiliar with the lakes. … It could be a hot, dry summer.”

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Roane officials consider displaying national motto

KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) - Officials in Roane County plan to discuss a proposal to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on the county courthouse and in the room where commissioners meet.

The move follows similar actions taken in Anderson and Morgan counties.

Commissioner Randy Ellis told the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1j74uuz) that he expects the proposal to pass on Monday without much discussion.

“It reflects what the majority of people in Roane County feel,” Ellis said of his proposal. “My faith is important to me, and a lot of my constituents have urged me to move forward with this.”

A similar resolution passed in Anderson County after hours of debate and several meetings. Morgan County added the motto to its courthouse last year without debate.

The Roane resolution says placing the motto above the courthouse’s main entrance and in the commission’s meeting room would be “a way to solemnize public occasions and express confidence in our society.”

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