Tennessee Right to Life, the state’s largest organization devoted to opposing abortion, endorses mostly incumbents and mostly Republicans in a list of candidates for the state Legislature that was released recently.
The list includes only two Democrats – Reps. Charles Curtiss of Sparta and John Mark Windle of Livingston. Neither has an opponent in the primary, but both will have Republican opponents in November. (Full list HERE)
There is no endorsement of any candidate opposing a sitting Republican legislator, though more than a score of incumbent Republicans face opposition in the Aug. 2 primary. There are endorsements in GOP primaries for seats where there is no Republican.
In Knox County, Right to Life open seat endorsements went to Gary Loe in House District 13, Roger Griffith in House District 17 and Roger Kane in House District 89. Loe faces Vanderbilt Brabson in the Aug. 2 primary. Kane is one of four GOP candidates, the others being former Sheriff Tim Hutchison, William G. “Bo” Pierce and Joey McCulley.
Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, said Loe and Kane had an edge because both have been personally active in helping the organization’s Knoxville chapter.
There were other East Tennessee open seats where Right to Life endorsed – all in multi-candidate races. They include:
-House District 3, where former Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons was the pick to succeed retiring Rep. Scotty Campbell, R-Mountain City.
-Senate District 8, where Rep. Frank Nicely was chosen over his three opponents as the preferred successor to retiring Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill.
-Senate District 10, where Todd Gardenhire is endorsed over Greg Vital in the Republican primary for a seat now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.
-House District 17, where Roger Griffith was endorsed over two opponents in the Republican primary. The seat, covering parts of Jefferson and Sevier counties, is now held by Niceley, who gave it up to run for the Senate.
There were a couple of races perhaps notable for the lack of endorsement.
In Senate District 8, the group endorsed neither incumbent Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, or challenger Scott Hughes, who has been active in anti-abortion work. Harris said that Hughes made “a compelling case” but Overbey has a 100 percent record of voting for legislation the group supports.
Under rules for endorsements by the group’s political arm, incumbents with 100 percent voting records get preference, Harris said. Another rule requires those endorsed to also fill out a questionnaire, which Overbey failed to do, Harris said. Still, the organization decided to stay neutral as a “courtesy” to Overbey’s record, he said.
The group endorsed three East Tennessee incumbent congressmen seeking reelection, but made no endorsement in the 4th Congressional District. Harris said incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais failed to return a questionnaire and has failed to sign up as a support of pending legislation that is being pushed by National Right to Life,,