Tennessee Right to Life’s political action committee has announced endorsements in the Aug. 4 congressional and legislative primary elections. Most of the anti-abortion group’s backing at the legislative level may be seen as symbolic since many f the candidates have no primary opponents.
The endorsement list is HERE.
At the congressional level, the PAC is backing state Sen. Brian Kelsey in the crowded 8th Congressional District Republican primary and incumbent Rep. Diane Black, who faces a potentially serious challenge from former state Rep. Joe Carr and others in the 6th Congressional District. Incumbent Reps. Phil Roe in the 1st District, John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. in the 2nd District and Chuck Fleishmann in the 3rd District are given Right to Life blessings over token primary opponents.
Notably omitted from endorsements are Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn in the 7th District and Scott DesJarlais in the 4th. Blackburn, who has no primary opponent, currently chairs a Republican-launched congressional investigation into sale of fetal tissue obtained by abortion providers – widely supported by anti-abortion activists while condemned as a “witch hunt” by some Democrats. While generally anti-abortion, she has in the past supported exceptions in the case of rape, incest and for saving the life of the mother. DesJarlais, a physician, has been widely criticized for personally approving abortions in the past for patients and his former spouse.
Perhaps most notable in legislative endorsements is that given perennial candidate Pete Drew, running this year as an independent in House District 15, a seat now held by Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville. As an independent, Drew, a former state representative who converted to the GOP after election as a Democrat in the 1980s, will not be on the Aug. 4 ballot, but will be up against Armstrong – who has no opponent in the primary while awaiting trial on tax evasion charges — in the November general election.
Otherwise, Right to Life is endorsing Republican candidates in 13 state Senate races, all but one of them an incumbent and no challengers. The exception is state Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol, who has a contested race in the GOP primary to replace retiring Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in Senate District 4.
In state House races, there are endorsements in 59 races, including Drew. There are three Democrats without primary opposition: Reps. Kevin Dunlap of Rock Island, Joe Pitts of Clarksville and John Mark Windle of Livingston. Dunlap and Windle face Republican opponents in November; Pitts does not.
The others endorsed in House races are all Republican, most without any opposition to reelection. Exceptions include five favored incumbents with primary opponents: Reps. Jeremy Faison of Cosby, John Ragan of Oak Ridge, Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville, Mike Sparks of Smyrna and Jay Reedy of Erin. There’s also Davette Blalock, one of three Republicans seeking the party nomination to run against Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville.