On the ‘Nasty’ 6th Congressional District Primary

The nasty primary between U.S. Rep. Diane Black and tea party activist Lou Ann Zelenik two years ago is being repeated this summer, and Chas Sisk says signs are gathering that the race once again will feature the religiously charged and personal attacks that left the two camps bitter and bruised.
With the dust from 2010 barely settled, Black and Zelenik once again will face off in August for the Republican nomination to represent Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District.
With no Democrat on the ballot, the primary will settle who represents Nashville’s northern and eastern suburbs in Congress next year. The battle also could help shape the character of the Tennessee Republican Party for years to come — offering voters a straight-up choice between a firebrand activist and a veteran Republican lawmaker who differ in style more than they differ on policy.
…Both candidates are wealthy, with ample resources to wage political warfare. Black put more than $1 million of her own money into the 2010 campaign, and she finished the first quarter of 2012 with more than $700,000 in the bank.
Zelenik has not yet released fundraising totals, but she wrapped up the previous campaign with nearly $200,000 left over. She used that sum to repay a personal loan she had made to her campaign, meaning she could put that money back in if necessary.
The outcome of the race will send a signal to Republicans throughout the state.
A win by Zelenik would suggest Tennessee Republicans want their party to move still further to the right, even if it means antagonizing religious minorities and the party’s moderate wing. A victory by Black would indicate Republican voters have reached their limit, even in one of the state’s most staunchly conservative districts.

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