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VOL. 124 | NO. 117 | Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bill Supporting Gore Statue Fails in Tenn.

ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Senate Republicans on Tuesday rejected a resolution urging the erection of statues to honor the state's two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Al Gore and Cordell Hull, on Tennessee Capitol grounds.

The Senate voted 15-14 for the resolution sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga, but measures need at least 17 votes to pass.

"I'm embarrassed for our state that we have decided not to honor two individuals who won just about the most prestigious prize in the world because of extremist, partisan dislike of one person," said Berke.

Several opponents said they voted against the measure because it breaks with the current practice of only honoring people once they have died.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville was the only Republican to vote in favor of the privately funded statues. He said he was surprised by the vote, but added that members had expressed concern over trying to influence decisions by the Capitol Commission.

The House earlier passed the resolution unanimously.

Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said he opposed the measure because it would have excluded Nobel laureates in other fields, like Murfreesboro native James M. Buchanan Jr. who won the award for economics in 1986.

"It had nothing to do with politics for me," Tracy said.

Gore was awarded his Nobel prize in 2007 for his work on global warming, while Hull received the award in 1945 for his role in creating the United Nations and improving international trade relations.

Both men served as a Democratic congressmen and senators from Tennessee before moving on to the executive branch, Hull as secretary of state and Gore as vice president.

The state Capitol grounds has statues of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, and of Alvin York and Sam Davis.

York was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in World War I and Davis was a 21-year-old Confederate soldier who refused to identify the source of information on troop movements to his Union captors before being hanged as a spy.

"I love the Capitol just the way it is," said Republican Sen. Tim Burchett of Knoxville. "I think this would be cluttering it up."

A bust of Hull is currently located outside the Senate chamber.

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Associated Press writer Lucas L. Johnson II contributed to this report.

___

Read HRJ0052 at http://www.capitol.tn.gov

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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