Democratic candidate Luke Dickerson said Republican state Rep. Rick Womick lacks “discernment” in making legislative decisions during their Wednesday debate at City Hall, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. “He didn’t ask about the online charter school,” said Dickerson, who contends the Tennessee General Assembly should never have funded the private education company’s request. “He has voted along party lines quite a bit.”
Womick defended his record representing the 34th District as well as the accomplishments of the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam.
“I have discernment,” Womick said. “We have made a difference. You’ve seen us bring jobs to Tennessee.”
..In Wednesday’s exchange, Womick bragged that the GOP-controlled state government has brought 90,000 jobs to Tennessee, including 4,500 to Rutherford County since he took office nearly two years ago.
…Dickerson also complained that the more than 4,000 bills introduced by GOP lawmakers was not an example of smaller government. But Womick countered that 25 percent of those involved getting rid of unnecessary laws.
For incumbent 34th District state Rep. Rick Womick and challenger Luke Dickerson, education lies close to their hearts. So says a review of their race in The Tennessean. Womick, a 54-year-old Republican from Rockvale, taught school for a couple of years in Ohio before joining the Air Force in 1983. Dickerson, D-Murfreesboro, currently works as a special education teacher at Northfield Elementary.
The pair hope their experiences and message resonate with voters as they head to the polls for early voting beginning Oct. 17 and on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Tennessee’s teachers face challenges with the state’s adoption of teacher evaluation systems. Womick noted that each district was given the option of choosing from a few different models, but most went with the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model, which drew a lot of criticism from classroom teachers and administrators alike.
“In Memphis and Chattanooga, they use TIGER, which has a lot to do with the teacher’s individual development, and they love it. I may be asking (state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman) to look at the possibility of adopting that statewide,” said Womick, now a commercial pilot who is married and has four children.
Dickerson, 28, who is entering his fourth year teaching English as a second language, said the reason many districts didn’t adopt TIGER is cost.
“The state is only supporting and funding TEAM. I think an evaluation system is important, but not worth spending $130 million like the state has. I think the most teacher growth and learning will come from Professional Learning Communities that we use here in Murfreesboro City and Rutherford County schools and having principals that are good leaders,” he said.
According to Stephen Hale, both the Democratic and Republican parties have deemed the state Senate District 20 race “critical.” The seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville. Before redistricting, parts were represented by Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville.
Democrat Phillip North, an attorney, says he got in the race partly in an effort to keep the statehouse from tipping over completely on its right side. “History has shown us that when that occurs, no matter which party it is, it gives the extremists in the party too loud of a voice,” he said during an interview at his downtown law office. “So I think the party that’s in charge now has gone too far and is leaning too far in an extreme direction. I feel like a Democrat needs to be added to the Senate, specifically, because I’m afraid a moderate Republican is either going to be shouted down — or have opposition in the primary — by the more extreme faction in the party.”
Republican Steve Dickerson, a physician, is an example of the Republican Party’s healthy bench, the kind that Democrats say they need to rebuild. Dickerson ran against Henry in 2010 and lost, but said he had planned to run more than once all along.
“When I ran against Douglas Henry I knew there was a very good chance I would lose,” Dickerson told The City Paper at his Berry Hill campaign headquarters. “He’s, at the time, a 40-year incumbent, maybe the most revered politician alive in Tennessee, well-loved by Democrats and Republicans alike. So I knew if he came up in the general election, there was a very good chance I would lose. I thought this was a two-step process. I sort of, psychologically, and my wife in agreement with me, committed to two runs.”
…On social issues, Dickerson said that when he suggests, or advocates for, legislation, it will be aimed at jobs, education or reducing government waste, adding that anything else would be a distraction. North agreed, saying the legislature should put social issues “on the backburner” and “deal with the problems at hand that are more pervasive.”
The money is flowing in the 20th Senate District, with Steve Dickerson and Phillip North both bringing in more than $100,000 in the second quarter, reports Chas Sisk. Dickerson, who is locked in a three-way Republican primary for the Davidson County district, raised $100,040 between April 1 and June 30, supplementing the $106,964 that he collected during the first quarter. Dickerson has also loaned his campaign $100,000.
North, meanwhile, brought in $100,885 in the second quarter. North likewise has loaned his campaign $100,000.
The two far outpaced Republican Rob Mortensen, who raised $31,040; Democrat James Baxter, who donated $767 to his campaign; and Republican David Hall, who raised $150. Hall also loaned his campaign $6,976 and borrowed $1,040 from his son’s campaign, which he subsequently repaid.
The heated Republican primary has eaten into Dickerson’s finances, as he spent $126,237 in the second quarter. That amount was more than five times the $23,933 spent by North and nearly eight times the $16,047 spent by Mortensen.
An anonymous mailer targeting 20th Senate District candidate Steve Dickerson hits the Republican for — shock! — playing rock ‘n’ roll, Chas Sisk reports.. “Exposing Steve Dickerson,” a tri-fold mailer that comes complete with a stamp of Ronald Reagan stroking his chin and Barack Obama photoshopped into a doctor’s coat, has been going out in waves this month to select recipients.
The mailer promotes an anti-Dickerson website, www.NoDickerson.com. It lists some of his donors who, like Dickerson, are doctors. But the real expose comes inside, with the disclosure that Dickerson plays in a hard rock band,
Documentation is provided in the form of photographs of Dickerson sporting an earring and bandana and making the horned-finger rock-star gesture.
“Are his values conservative enough for YOU?” the mailer asks. “If not, please vote for one of the other candidates.”
The sender may have had one of Dickerson’s competitors in mind, but none is mentioned. A quick response code in a corner takes the recipient to the No Dickerson website, which contains info on his Republican opponents. No organization is identified.
The Tennessean reports on the race for Senate District 20, where the GOP has carved out section Democrat-dominated Davidson County that both parties say is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. If Republicans were able to pull off a victory, even the plantation of Andrew Jackson, the father of the modern Democratic Party, would be in their hands — proof of the party’s strength in Tennessee.
…The seat’s current holder, Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes, will retire this fall after 28 years in the legislature. Three Republicans are vying to succeed him: physician Steve Dickerson, executive Rob Mortensen and contractor David Hall. The winner will face one of two Democrats in the fall: attorney Phillip North or professor James Baxter.
…North is favored to secure the Democratic nomination — so much so that party officials assume he’ll win the primary. He entered the race with Haynes’ blessing and has sought out campaign support from the state party.
Baxter, on the other hand, has not contacted party officials about his candidacy or shown many signs, such as a campaign website, of actively seeking the nomination. He did not respond to messages requesting an interview for this story.
“We have not heard a lot from James,” Forrester said. “Technically, we’re neutral.”
The Republican nomination appears to be up for grabs.
Dickerson, who lives in the Whitworth neighborhood off West End Avenue, hopes to build on the name recognition and experience he accumulated in an unsuccessful run for the state Senate two years ago, when he lost by more than 13 percentage points to Henry.
Dickerson looks to be the best financed of the three GOP candidates. He had raised more than $100,000 for his campaign when the first round of financial disclosures was filed in April. He has loaned his campaign another $100,000.
…Dickerson’s opponents in the Republican primary are unlikely to be able to match him in spending, but they have both worked to build competitive organizations.
Mortensen, the chief executive of a child services firm who lives near Lipscomb University, said he is logging as many as 10 appearances a week and has recruited close to 30 volunteers, including former Metro Councilman Buck Dozier, from across the district to campaign on his behalf.
…Hall, a home renovator from Goodlettsville, holds a reputation within the party of being a strong campaigner after a surprise victory in 2010 in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District. Hall upset a field of better-financed candidates mainly by employing his network of family and friends to knock on doors in Republican areas of Nashville, a strategy that he’ll largely repeat this year.
As Luke E. Dickerson introduces himself to supporters at a local Democratic fundraiser, The Tennessean reports, it only gradually becomes apparent that the 28-year-old is not just an aide or campaign volunteer doing legwork for someone else. He’s the candidate.
While Dickerson may be green in terms of experience compared with other candidates statewide, he is the oldest candidate in the primary election for a Murfreesboro state House district set for August. His opponent, Spencer Douglas, is a 23-year-old Rockvale resident who just graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in May.
Douglas and Dickerson are trying to unseat first-term lawmaker Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale. If either were to win the southwestern Rutherford County district, he would be one of the youngest lawmakers in the state House and the first Democrat to win that district in recent memory.
As Douglas sees it, his eligibility to run for the state House is all the requirement he needs to succeed if elected.
“At 21, you can run. I don’t see how not having much personal experience can be a disadvantage,” he said.