Tag Archives: challengers

Weston Wamp Joins Growing List of Potential DesJarlais Challengers

Weston Wamp, who lives in Hamilton County in the 3rd Congressional District though within sight of Marion County in the 4th Congressional District, and that figures into the possibility of him challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Desjarlais, reports Chris Carroll.
The geography isn’t lost on Wamp as DesJarlais attempts to overcome a scandal that demolished his image as an anti-abortion, family-values doctor. Four days after calling DesJarlais “kind of a creepy guy” on a Chattanooga television show, Wamp said he’s weighing a 4th District Republican primary challenge.
“It’s incredibly early,” said Wamp, 25, in a Wednesday interview. “If anything, this is on the backburner. But I won’t rule anything out. I live a lot closer to most of the 4th District than I do the 3rd District.”
The son of former Congressman Zach Wamp unsuccessfully challenged his father’s immediate successor, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, in this year’s 3rd District Republican primary.
A public relations strategist at the Lamp Post Group in Chattanooga, Wamp joins a host of potential DesJarlais opponents.

Meanwhile, here’s the Tennessee Journal list of prospective DesJarlais challengers:
● State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), whose base includes part of Rutherford County, the largest in the 4th District. Tracy finished a close third in the 2010 6th District primary before redistricting put him in the 4th.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), a public relations and conference manager at the Church of God headquarters in Cleveland. Although not all of Bradley County is in the district, the heavily Republican county produces the second largest vote total.
● State Rep. Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro), who insists it’s way too early to ponder a race but acknowledges he is “thinking about thinking about it” later on.
● Forrest Shoaf, a retired Cracker Barrel executive who in 2002 finished a distant fifth in the open 7th District Republican primary, which was won by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). Shoaf, a West Point graduate with a Harvard law degree, currently resides in Lebanon, which is not in the 4th District, but he is planning to move to Bedford County, whether he decides to pursue the congressional seat or not.
● Shane Reeves, a Rutherford County pharmacy company executive whose name often pops up in political speculation. He is a friend of both Tracy and Carr.
In 2010, DesJarlais defeated Franklin Republican Jack Bailey for the 4th District nomination. Then, riding both an anti-Obama wave and the coattails of Republican gubernatorial victor Haslam, he upset incumbent Democrat Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall).

Challenges to GOP Incumbents Equal Challenge to Harwell?

The center of gravity in Tennessee politics has shifted so hard to the right that two dozen conservative Republican incumbents are under attack as moderate squishes and cowardly sell-outs in their own party’s primary elections for the state legislature.
So says Jeff Woods at the outset of a look at legislative primaries.
This is the same legislature that in two years of GOP control has restricted abortion rights and banned gay nondiscrimination laws; opened the door to the teaching of creationism in science classes and prohibited any utterance of the word “gay” in public schools; declared Tennessee exempt from federal firearms regulations (the ATF, incidentally, begs to differ); OK’ed monuments to the Ten Commandments on courthouse lawns; eviscerated the teachers’ union; and proclaimed in a resolution that U.N. Agenda 21 — an innocent nonbinding blueprint for sustainable growth in emerging economies — could lead to “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth” among other very bad things. And that’s just to mention a few of the accomplishments that should have made the right wing proud.
Yet all across the state, rather than accepting tributes as expected from a grateful party faithful, 24 of these lawmakers have faced humiliation. Schlepping themselves around their districts in triple-digit heat, they grovel for votes door to door. Early voting started Friday for the Aug. 2 elections.
Inciting this insurrection is the tea party, the gun lobby and talk radio — together a loud and influential chunk of the GOP base that sees the legislature as not nearly radical enough.
Last week the state’s politicians were dismayed to learn the National Rifle Association is spending $75,000 to try to defeat the House’s No. 3 Republican, Hendersonville Rep. Debra Maggart. That’s probably the most a single special interest ever has spent in one legislative race in Tennessee.
The ultimate goal, insiders agree, isn’t merely to unseat these incumbents but to dethrone Nashville Rep. Beth Harwell as House speaker. She always has been seen, correctly or incorrectly, as way too moderate to suit the party’s hard-right base. By most accounts, Harwell only squeaked by tea party darling Glen Casada in secret balloting in the speaker’s election two years ago, and only then because of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting by Gov. Bill Haslam, another of the party’s so-called moderates. Since then, she has angered the GOP’s more radical elements by quietly working with Haslam at times to temper certain of her colleagues’ more extreme tendencies.
Haslam isn’t up for re-election until 2014, but rebellious elements of the party are harassing him already. Several GOP county chapters have adopted resolutions denouncing the governor for hiring a Muslim woman and some openly gay staffers, and for declining to sign that aforementioned anti-U.N. Agenda 21 resolution.

Surprise? Incumbent Legislators Out-raise Challengers

The 24 Republicans facing challengers in the Aug. 2 primary were able to out-raise and outspend their opponents by about two to one between April 1 and June 30, according to the Tennessean.
Those incumbents went into the final month of the primary campaign with nearly $1.7 million on hand, according to a Tennessean analysis of records filed this week with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance
“The incumbents have been raising money for the past year and a half, and the challengers have been raising money for the past three to six months,” said Sean Evans, a professor of political science at Union University in Jackson. “The problem for those running in the primary is their chances of winning are slim to none.”
After lifting Republicans to an overwhelming majority in 2010, tea party groups have said they expect to exert their influence in the primary by throwing out GOP incumbents who have failed to deliver on promises to advance conservative causes. But financial disclosures show their efforts have not translated into campaign cash — at least not enough to threaten sitting officeholders without the help of established donors.
Evidence of tea party efforts is most apparent in donations to Courtney Rogers, a former corporate spokeswoman and Air Force officer running for the 45th House District. Rogers brought in $38,397 in the second quarter, drawing from 39 donors around the state.
But that sum paled in comparison to the $106,380 that Rogers’ opponent, Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville, brought in over the same period. The chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus tapped 197 donors, despite a Tennessee law that prevented her from raising money until May 1, when the state legislature adjourned for the year.
Donations tell only part of the tale. Maggart outspent Rogers $45,650 to $31,752, yet retained much more cash.
As of June 30, Maggart had $146,796 in the bank. Rogers had $10,229

Red-versus-Red, Blue-versus-Blue Races Deciding Many Legislative Seats

Republican domination of the state Legislature and the redistricting plans enacted earlier this year have apparently combined with intra-party philosophical and personal disputes to produce an unprecedented surge in challenges to incumbent state legislators this summer.
Twenty-three incumbent Republican legislators face opposition in the Aug. 2 primary election. That compares to just five primary challenges to GOP incumbents in both 2010 and 2008.
On the Democratic side, seven incumbents face primary challengers this year compared to just three in 2010 and five in 2008 primaries.
The upsurge in Democrat primary contests may be attributed directly to the Republican-controlled redistricting, which is forcing Democratic incumbents to run against one another in the three House districts and one Senate district. Setting aside those four incumbent-versus-incumbent races, only three sitting Democratic legislators have primary challenges on Aug. 2.
Redistricting appears to have had a less direct impact on the surge in challenges to Republican incumbents. In several cases, a redrawing of district lines has left incumbents with new constituents, perhaps making them appear more vulnerable.

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