From Hank Hayes comes this report on the race in state House District 3:
Timothy Hill has been down this road before.
Hill, a Blountville businessman and former press secretary for ex-U.S. Rep. David Davis, looked like the front-runner to win the GOP primary for Tennessee’s 3rd House District seat two years ago.
Hill, the brother of GOP state Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, had name recognition in Sullivan County, a number of campaign donors, and a conservative message to go with his candidacy.
But Mountain City Republican Scotty Campbell’s base of Johnson County voters in the district showed up in droves, and Hill came in second to Campbell after splitting the rest of the primary vote with five other candidates. Campbell, a former legislative aide to ex-House Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton, easily defeated Democrat Joe Mike Akard and two independents in the November 2010 general election.
After one term, Campbell isn’t seeking re-election, and Hill is again seeking the seat.
And now Hill is facing another GOP candidate with considerable Johnson County name recognition — former Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons. Also in the primary race are Karen Greene Morrell and Lee White, both of Bluff City.
Morrell is banking on the notion district voters want a fresh set of eyes in Nashville.
“I’m not one of the good old boys who’s already down there,” said Morrell, who works in a small business and does real estate work. “I’m really not tied in with any of them. We need to listen more closely to the people instead of all voting together and everyone telling us how to vote. The people of the 3rd District will be my focus.”
The district has become more rural as a result of this year’s redistricting process. Part of Bristol was dropped, while the Roan Mountain community of Carter County was added.
Parsons, also a small business owner, said those new Carter Countians in the district will play a big part in the primary race.
“There about 11,000 people (in the Carter County part of the district) with 6,000 voters … (but) I am concerned about voter turnout in a primary,” Parsons said.
Parsons pointed to an endorsement from former state Rep. Barton Hawkins, a Johnson Countian who served from 1985 to 1988, as evidence his campaign will be strong in his home county.
Hill, meanwhile, has an endorsement in Sullivan County from current state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol.
“I have been working day and night to earn the vote of the people of the 3rd District,” Hill said in an e-mail. “We have knocked on over 5,000 doors in all of the counties spreading my conservative message of pro-life, creating an environment for job growth, protecting the Second Amendment, and being accessible to the people. … People throughout the district are looking for a leader that will stand strong and fight for them. … All of the counties are important and play a major role in who will serve them in Nashville.”
But Hill is being taken to task by a blogger who posted an Internet video showing Hill telling a small group of people that he would consider opting Tennessee out of the Federal Highway Program.
“It’s easy when you’re on the Internet to post anonymously,” Hill said of the video. “The (blogger) is nothing more than a Democrat operative who has consistently sought to work against anything conservative, work against anything Republican, and work against the Hill family as a whole. What I’m interested in is taking a look from the ground up at the state level, but can we do better? If it’s taking a look at the Federal Highway Program and making sure it’s beneficial to the state of Tennessee, I’m all for it. I said we should consider (opting out of the program) for sure and basically saying everything is on the table. … We want to take a good look at everything.”
Legislative measures to get Tennessee out of the Federal Highway Program have not passed, according to Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi.
“TDOT obligated about $1 billion in federal aid last year,” Nagi said in an e-mail. “Opting out of the program would mean those dollars are no longer available to us.”
White did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
Early voting for the August GOP primary starts July 13.
The primary winner in the 3rd House District race will face Democrat Leah Kirk in the November general election.