Gas tax talk in Sen. Tracy’s GOP primary

Steve Lane believes the gas tax will emerge as a key election issue as he challenges state Sen. Jim Tracy in the August Republican primary for Senate District 14, according to the Daily News Journal.

“I oppose any gas tax increase,” said Lane of Murfreesboro, a candidate running in the Aug. 4 Republican primary against Tracy of Shelbyville and fellow challenger Matt Randolph of Ardmore.

The winner of the Republican primary, which starts with early voting Friday, will face Democratic candidate Gayle Jordan of Murfreesboro in the Nov. 8 election.

Randolph declined to comment for this story because he said he needed to research the gas tax issue.

A gas tax hike won’t affect the affluent who can afford new cars that are more fuel-efficient at the same level an increase will for a guy driving an old pickup truck, Lane said.

“Sen. Tracy supports it,” said Lane, who owns and operates a home construction business. “I think that’s one of the starkest differences. The people who can least afford it, the working class and the working poor, will have to shoulder the burden of the gas tax increase.”

Tracy, however, has said he wants more information about road needs and ways to pay for them before taking any positions on new gas taxes.

“I’m opposed to any kind of increase where we are today,” said Tracy, the Senate Transportation Committee chairman. “I signed a pledge last year that I was against the gasoline tax increase.”

…”I passed a bill that requires that all the money coming from the gasoline and diesel goes right into the transportation fund,” Tracy said. “It cannot be used in the general fund. It makes it against the law to do that.”

…But Lane worries that a TDOT study will lead to a recommended gas tax hike.

“I can’t remember seeing an elected official who is a true champion of the common man,” Lane said. “I’m a blue-collar guy. … My grandfather was a truck driver, and my dad was a truck driver. So opposing a gas tax increase is actually a fight for the working class.”

Note: A campaign finance snapshot in the District 14 GOP primary:

Tracy raised $88,450 in the last quarter, spent $38,315 and had $221,635 cash on hand July 1. Lane and Randolph both reported they had not raised or spent any money.