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On Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Her Five Foes

Excerpts from The Tennessean’s setup story on the 7th Congressional District race:
Re-elect her, Rep. Marsha Blackburn says, and voters will get what she’s always given them — a lawmaker passionate about staying in touch with constituents, making government transparent and curing its overspending.
Re-elect her, her opponents say, and voters will get someone who has turned into a Washington insider after 10 years in office.
Such are the battle lines in the race for the 7th Congressional District, the U.S. House seat that has drawn the most candidates in Tennessee this year, with six.
Blackburn, 60, a Brentwood Republican, says anyone who thinks she has become comfortable in Washington and no longer cares about changing things just isn’t paying attention.
“Look at who has been (making) an issue of out-of-control federal spending since Day 1,” she said in an interview. “I have been a solid member of a whole change-agent team.”
…Several of Blackburn’s five opponents, however, portray her as captured by the congressional lifestyle and the campaign contributions that come with it. Blackburn has raised $1.45 million for her 2012 campaign, and her personal political action committee and has cash on hand of $1.26 million. Sixty percent of her money comes from special interest PACs, a larger percentage than for any other Middle Tennessee member of Congress.
“She votes to take care of the needs of the corporate empire,” said Green Party candidate Howard Switzer, 67, an architect in Linden. Switzer says America needs decentralization of its economy — highlighted by more local food production — and more “earth-friendly” policies in general. Switzer also believes these are “apocalyptic times.”
The Democrat in the race is Credo Amouzouvik, a 34-year-old disabled Army veteran in Clarksville. Amouzouvik said he was motivated to run because the low approval ratings of Congress indicate voters are not getting the leadership they deserve.
…Another Army veteran in the race is independent candidate Jack Arnold of Kingston Springs, 38, who just graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. Arnold said he would emphasize changing a campaign finance system that makes lawmakers worry more about fundraising than addressing issues.
…Arnold is the only one of Blackburn’s opponents to report any campaign money to the Federal Election Commission. He’s raised $13,353, a mix of his own funds and some individual contributions, but no PAC money.
Another independent candidate, Leonard Ladner, 58, of Hohenwald, operates his own trucking firm and drives an 18-wheeler. Ladner said Blackburn is “a slick talker” and “a Republican who has been there too long.”
…The other candidate in the race is Ryan Akin, 44, a customer service representative from Bon Aqua who contends “the American way of life is diminishing right and left.”
Akin said his drive to preserve American values would emphasize the primacy of the English language, among other aspects of U.S. culture.

Marsha Blackburn Has Opponents

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is political media sensation virtually certain to win re-election, the Tennessean reports, But there is some opposition.
Her challengers acknowledge that taking on the Brentwood Republican won’t be easy.
But they are running, they say, because they don’t like what they see in Washington.
The four are independents Jack Arnold, Lenny Ladner and William Akin, and Democrat Credo Amouzouvik. A second Democrat, Chris Martin, also had filed to run but now says he has dropped out.
Howard Switzer of the Green Party is battling state officials in court over whether he also can appear on the ballot.
Arnold, of Kingston Springs, said Blackburn represents what’s wrong with Congress: partisan gridlock, the influence of moneyed special interests and a lack of term limits.
“It just doesn’t jive with what she presents herself as,” Arnold said. “She’s sort of the perfect example of why common-sense legislation and reform doesn’t get passed, and how that ties into campaign finance.”
Amouzouvik, of Clarksville, the only Democrat in the race, echoes those sentiments.
“As your congressman, I will always consult my conscience and my constituents, and not my party, corporate lobbyists, and those who give me campaign contributions as my opponent likes to do,” Amouzouvik says on his campaign website, which lists education and jobs as his priorities.
Amouzouvik, an Iraq War veteran and naturalized U.S. citizen born in Togo, is seeking a political science degree from Austin Peay State University. He could not be reached for comment
Arnold, who graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in May and spent a year in Iraq as an Army intelligence analyst, said campaign finance reform would be his first priority if elected. He also would focus on reforming the tax code and implementing term limits.
Arnold said he decided to run after Blackburn supported the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which aimed to crack down on copyright infringement. While Blackburn rails against over-regulation, Arnold said, she favored expanding the government’s reach to crack down on Internet pirates because the music, TV and motion-picture industries are among her biggest donors.
Blackburn’s campaign has received more than $61,000 from those industries since the 2010 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rep. Todd Criticizes Haslam Opposition to Chemtherapy Bill

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Curry Todd told a House committee on Tuesday that he has a form of incurable cancer.
The Collierville Republican informed colleagues about his condition during a House Commerce Committee hearing on a proposal to require insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy treatments.
The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin is opposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and the insurance industry on the basis that it creates a government mandate.
“How many have you walked into the doctor’s office and he’s told you you’ve got cancer?” Todd said. “This is a subject that’s close to my heart, period.”

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Former Rep. Ed Arnold Dies in Accident, Aged 77

From the News Sentinel:
Edwin “Ed” Arnold, a former state representative and assistant district for Blount, Roane and Loudon counties, has died. He was 77.
Mr. Arnold was killed Saturday morning when he stepped into traffic on Interstate 40 to help his grandson, who had just been in a wreck, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Mr. Arnold received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and his law degree from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. Arnold was active in the Loudon community as a member of the Jaycees, Lions Club and First Baptist Church in Loudon. He served in the Legislature from 1963 to 1967 and became assistant attorney general for Blount, Loudon and Roane counties.
Family will receive friends 12-1:30 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. today at First Baptist Church, 413 Wharf Street, Loudon. Services will follow at 7:30 p.m., with Rev. Richard Everett officiating
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Harwell Names 2 to Judicial Nominating Commission

News release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office:
(June 30, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced the appointments of Dyersburg attorney Leo Arnold and Hohenwald attorney Michael Spitzer to the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission.
“Mr. Arnold and Mr. Spitzer are both uniquely qualified to serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission,” said Speaker Harwell. “They are dedicated members of the legal community, and will be able to provide insight into issues and nominees that come before the commission. Their strong commitment to the highest principles of ethical conduct will maintain the quality of our judicial branch, and I am honored they have offered to serve.”

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