Tennessee Reps. Jones and Pearson each haul in nearly $1.1M, capitalizing on brief expulsion
Reps. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Justin Pearson, D-Memphis tapped into a vast sum of national money following expulsion, latest campaign finance reports show
Rep. Justin Jones, left, and Justin Pearson, right, were expelled from the Tennessee House. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson raised $1.8 million collectively in their week-long absence from the state House after Republicans expelled them over protests about gun violence.
The removal of Jones, D-Nashville, and Pearson, D-Memphis, allowed the two freshman lawmakers to raise money during the legislative session, which is normally banned.
Jones raised $1,079,688.86 over the first six months of the year, and Pearson raised $1,058,036.34. But part of Pearson’s total includes the roughly $52,000 he raised at the start of 2023 to win his House seat in a special election held in January.
National media outlets dubbed Jones, Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, the “Tennessee Three” after state House Republicans tried to expel them for shutting down business in the House chamber. A mass shooting at a Nashville elementary school that left three kids and three adults deadprompted the lawmakers to protest a lack of legislative action to curb gun violence.
Republican lawmakers voted to expel Jones and Pearson but came up one vote short of removing Johnson. The expulsion didn’t last long, as Jones and Pearson were appointed to their state House seats by their local county government bodies within a week of the expulsion.
Johnson raised $26,975.74 in the first half of the year. Lawmakers and political action committees had until midnight Monday to file their mid-year campaign finance reports.
The expulsion hearings allowed the two men to tap into a national fundraising base, vaulting the three Democrats near the top of the money raised among Tennessee lawmakers from both parties. Jones and Pearson raised $1,762,991.10 from donors with an address listed outside of Tennessee.
They’ve surpassed the totals of many Republicans who’ve held office longer and are considered in more powerful positions as committee chairs.
The oustings triggered special elections to fill the state House seats. Jones and Pearson won the Democratic nomination for their seats earlier this year.
They both face opponents in the Aug. 3 general election.
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