Steve Hall said this morning he has not yet decided whether he will press charges against state Rep. Martin Daniel following an altercation broadcast live last night during a political forum on Hallerin Hill’s WOKI-FM radio show.
Daniel, 59, who faces a GOP primary challenge from Hall, James Corcoran, and Bryan Dodson for his 18th District seat, admitted in a statement that he reacted strongly to Hall, 60, following a heated exchange on the show.
Hall, Hill, and other witnesses said live on air that Daniel shoved Hall in the chest as he rose from his chair after Daniel threw off his headphones, advanced toward Hall, and “hovered” over him.
Daniel described it differently. “The show, as many friends who were listening confirmed, became incredibly tense,” Daniel wrote in a press release issued late Thursday.
“In the midst of this, I tried to respond to my opponent’s criticism and the argument escalated. As many of you heard, what ensued could only be described as chaos. Mr. Hall began to rise from his seat, and, fearing confrontation, I created distance between myself and my opponent, at which point our host and staff intervened in the situation.”
Hall says Daniel—whom Hall says he feared was “about to go berserk”—left him a voicemail later Thursday “and expressed an apology.”
“Part of me really thinks he has a problem with anger management,” Hall says of Daniel, who became irate after Hall challenged his assertion he was “the only businessman” in the race.
“I called him a liar,” says Hall, who operated Interior Finishing Corporation for nearly two decades. Daniel is a nonpracticing attorney who owns Elevation Outdoor Advertising.
When asked whether the brouhaha could impact the campaign of Daniel, who has come under fire for impolitic remarks and attempting to assert more legislative control over the University of Tennessee, Hall says it could “adversely affect” both of their campaigns.
Hall, who previously held the state house seat and also served on Knoxville City Council, says he expects to release a formal statement on the altercation this afternoon. We’ll post it when we get it.
UPDATE: Here’s Steve Hall’s official statement, received Saturday, July 23:
Friday, July 22, 2016
After attack, Steve Hall calls upon State Representative Martin Daniel to suspend his campaign
Statement by Steve Hall:
“After yesterday’s attack by Martin Daniel, I was forwarded a copy of his press release in which he attempted to explain what happened.
“After reading it, I am very disappointed because his version of reality bears little connection with what the other five of the six people in the room saw and reported widely to the news media. Unfortunately, his long rambling media release bears little connection with the truth as everyone else sees it.
“The attack upon me in the radio station is the latest in a series of increasingly unexplainable and bizarre events and statements from State Representative Daniel.
“I am calling upon Martin Daniel to suspend his campaign for reelection immediately.
“This would give him time to recover from the stress of campaigning and would give him the opportunity to seek out whatever help might be beneficial for his own good.
This would also provide a level of protection for other candidates and the public at large.”
–end of Steve Hall Media statement of July 22, 2016–
Here is Daniel’s statement:
State Representative Addresses Exchange on Radio Show
Knoxville, Tennessee – July 21, 2016
On Thursday night I appeared on a local radio show with my fellow candidates in an effort to discuss the problems facing the 18th District of Tennessee. For those of you who tuned in, prior to the last five minutes, you heard a thorough conversation about many of the topics on which I have focused my campaign. I believe that we accomplished a lot and told the voters of the 18th District much of what they needed to know. The majority of the show functioned exactly how civil discourse should.
For those of you who tuned in, or for many who have seen the news, I am sure what happened at the end of the show has been confusing and frustrating.
What I want to do is to clear the air on what happened Thursday night and offer some words to my opponent and to voters. At the end of the show, one of my opponents attacked me, yelling that I was a liar and aggressively gesturing at me while I made closing arguments. I do not take lightly my integrity being questioned. I am an imperfect man who makes mistakes, but I strive always to be honest.
The show, as many friends who were listening confirmed, became incredibly tense. In the midst of this, I tried to respond to my opponent’s criticism and the argument escalated. As many of you heard, what ensued could only be described as chaos. Mr. Hall began to rise from his seat, and, fearing confrontation, I created distance between myself and my opponent, at which point our host and staff intervened in the situation.
Somehow, there was no intervention during the escalation before this brief encounter, but I am very grateful that it did not go any further. I regret that such a productive conversation escalated so quickly into a situation that I am not proud of, and that was completely counterproductive to efficient democracy.
As I mentioned when I returned to the show briefly, I am sincerely sorry that I, personally, allowed the situation to get out of hand. I lost my cool when attacked and did not handle the situation with the even-minded attitude I usually strive to model. I have reached out to each of my fellow candidates to make sure that they know where I stand.
While I believe this argument and situation is on the hands of at least two people, I am sorry that my behavior was not representative of the values that I espouse as a Christian, husband, and father. My hope is that during the rest of this election season we can proceed with a more peaceful and friendly atmosphere among the candidates and that we will all be able to re-focus on the issues. I promise that I will be spending the next few days in thought and prayer, to be sure I never let the heat of a campaign get the best of me again.
Here is Hall’s account of what happened at the radio station, released along with his official statement:
Knoxville State Representative Martin Daniel PHYSICALLY ATTACKS candidate Steve Hall during live radio broadcast with Hallerin Hilton Hill
July 21, 2016 – Knoxville
The attack occurred during a candidate forum at WOKI radio station in Knoxville on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at about 6pm. All four candidates running for election for State Representative, District 18 were present.
According to Hallerin Hilton Hill who moderated the broadcast, Martin Daniel started getting agitated early in the interview when Hill asked about the elephant in the room – meaning Daniel had, once again, to talk [sic] about ISIS, Muhammad Ali and UT.
At the end of the program, Hill gave each candidate time for a Final statement. Daniel stated that he was the only businessman in the race. At this point Steve Hall said that he was also a businessman and Daniel was a liar. Steve Hall then said that Daniel was also a liar when he had repeatedly claimed he was the only attorney in the race.
“I never said that!” shouted Daniel.
Steve Hall then turned to one of the other candidates, who is a practicing attorney, who said, “I have heard him say that several times.”
At this point, Martin Daniel tore off his headphones, got up and crossed the room toward Hall. Everyone in the room thought Daniel was walking out.
According to host Hallerin Hilton Hill, Daniel then went over to where Hall, a former city councilman as well as legislator, was sitting in the station studio. As Daniel towered over Steve Hall, Hall attempted to stand up.
When Hall stood up*, Daniel shoved him, Hill told listeners.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Hill called out as the men in the studio began to comprehend what had just happened.
Hill’s producer Chris Marion then intervened, ordering Daniel to leave.
“He pushed him! He stood over the top of him and pushed him in the chair!” Marion said on live radio after the incident.
Daniel was asked to leave the building first while Hall stayed behind.
Hallerin Hilton Hill said – on the air – to Steve Hall, “Steve, I’m sorry this happened to you. In my many years of doing radio, I have never seen a situation like this.”
*Parts of the quotes of Hallerin Hilton Hill and Chris Marion were taken from the WBIR television news report.
Knox County-based journalist Thomas Fraser is a native of Charleston, S.C. who grew up in Oak Ridge and Knoxville. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and has worked as an editor and reporter for daily newspapers and websites in Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia.
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