Gov’s Race Could Impact Senate District 27 Contest

The Senate District 27 race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Lowe Finney and Republican former Sen. Don McLeary shapes up as perhaps one of the closest political contests in the Madison County region, according to a Jackson Sun article today.
McLeary accuses Finney of “not doing enough during his Senate tenure to save West Tennessee jobs, blaming the loss of Maytag and other factories on Finney and other Democrats.” Figures on the increase in unemployment since 2007 are cited.
Finney says he has worked hard to bring new jobs to the area and gives examples of success, even during the economic downturn.
Some excerpts:
Finney became the Democratic candidate for the district in February 2006, after McLeary changed parties (from Democrat to Republican) on Feb. 3 of that year. The switch probably helped Finney depose McLeary, but voter animosity toward McLeary for changing parties likely won’t help Finney get reelected, said Sean Evans, chair of the Political Science Department at Union University.
“The greater question,” he said, “is whether McLeary will have the money to get his message out.”
Evans said there is no evidence, so far, that the state Republican Party has come forward to back McLeary financially, leaving the former UT-Martin football coach with a campaign coffer of $23,352 as of July’s end.
Finney, who is a distant cousin to former Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, has $157,357.
…The closest Madison County election on record occurred in 1992 when Brenda Alexander beat Jannette Parker by 17 votes for the Madison County School Board’s District 6 seat. The senate election could prove as narrow, depending on what drives voters to the polls, Evans said.
“The two wild cards,” he said, “is how much turn out will (Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike) McWherter get, and will that have a spill-over effect for Finney. But the fact that most people believe that (Republican nominee Bill) Haslem is going to walk away with the race could turn away those who were going to vote for McWherter, and if those who are coming to vote for Haslem cast their votes for McLeary, he could take the race.”

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