Durham gets a primary challenge

Sam Whitson, a retired Army colonel who lives in Franklin and is active in the city’s preservation community, will challenge state Rep. Jeremy Durham in this year’s Republican primary, reports The Tennessean.

“Our citizens must have a state representative with character, courage and a total commitment to our county rather than any personal or future political ambition,” he wrote. “I’m a life-long Republican who can bring a spirit of collaboration and a common sense approach to issues we face at the state and local levels of government. I’m not beholden to any special-interest group or political favors.”

The news comes as Durham, the House Majority Whip, faces a vote next week that could oust him from his leadership position following concerns about his behavior.

…Durham did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday morning. According to the most recent financial filings, the lawmaker has almost $150,000 in his campaign account.

…Whitson said that he had been exploring a bid for the seat for some time.

“I started this all before these issues came out on (Durham),” he said by telephone. “I feel like we have not been represented here in our county properly.”

In his statement, Whitson emphasized his commitment to the 65th House District — which stretches along the western part of Williamson County and includes Fairview, parts of Franklin, including much of downtown, and sections of Spring Hill — rather than future political plans.

Whitson wrote in his statement that as the grandparent of what will be five grandchildren in Williamson County schools next year, he sees the widely recognized top school district as a major asset for the 65th District. He added that infrastructure would be a priority for him as a legislator.

“I learned in the Army that teamwork gets results,” he wrote in the statement, adding that he would work with a variety of officials to improve roads. “Our county is the economic engine of Tennessee. Great schools and good roads will ensure prosperity for our district’s citizens.”

The 16-year Franklin resident is chairman of Franklin’s Battlefield Preservation Commission and has served as the chairman of the Carter House State Historic Site. Whitson helped spearhead the effort to remount four Civil War-era cannons on Franklin’s town square in 2014.