Ramsey Backing Overbey, Maggart; But Not Niceley, Hensley

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he will be campaigning for Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, who he believes is the only incumbent Republican senator facing a serious primary challenge this summer.
“Doug’s a good friend,” Ramsey told reporters Thursday. “He supported me … I’ll be returning the favor.”
He acknowledged that the backing of Overbey over challenger Scott Hughes contrasts with his stance four years ago when Ramsey remained officially neutral in the race for a Senate seat in Blount and Sevier counties. In the 2008 race, Overbey was the challenger and former Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, was the incumbent.
“I stayed out of that one,” he acknowledged. “I’m not sure what the distinction would be except that I’m for Doug Overbey.”
Ramsey also said he will support re-election of House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville over her primary challenger, Courtney Rogers.
But he indicated no preference in two races where Republican representatives are running in primaries for open state Senate seats. State Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, is seeking the newly created 20th Senate District seat in southern Middle Tennessee and Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, is running for the East Tennessee seat vacated by retiring Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill.
Back in April, as the qualifying deadline for legislative races passed, Ramsey made a quip to state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, who posted it on his blog:
“You ever hear the song, ‘All The Girls Get Prettier at Closing Time’? Well, after hearing about the competition to replace Mike Faulk, Frank Niceley looks gorgeous.”
Asked about this a day after Ramsey’s news conference, Ramsey spokesman Adam Kleinheider replied by email: “While the quotation on Sen. Campfield’s blog from April is authentic, no endorsement has been made in Senate District 8,”
Campfield says the comment came in response to him questioning Ramsey about former Sen. Mike Williams filing papers to qualify as a Republican for the 8th Senate District race. Williams, who had declared himself an Independent before running for re-election in 2008, was later deemed ineligible to run as a Republican by state party officials.
Three other Republicans — Cynthia Bundren Jackson of Rogersville, Jeff Brantley of Sharps Chapel and Hobart Rice of Dandridge — qualified along with Niceley to run for the seat.

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