With the party conventions concluded, and the Clinton/Trump race underway, it’s easy to forget there’s an election on Thursday.
In fact, if you had forgotten about this week’s state primary and county general election, you’re not alone. Early voting turnout was below average because there is no statewide non-judicial office (governor or U.S. senator) on the ballot. Competitive statewide elections encourage political advertising and voter interest. There’s none of that this year.
State Rep. Bill Dunn says the so-called “kooky” bills introduced in virtually every legislative session grab media attention from more serious matters.
Seeking election to his 12th two-year term, Dunn works in a swirl of insanity called the Tennessee General Assembly. Earlier this month, the state attorney general reported that 22 women had claimed sexual harassment by Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham. Just last week, Rep. Martin Daniel accosted former Rep. Steve Hall in front of four witnesses at a local radio station.
Despite never being a favorite of the Republican establishment, Steve Hall served two terms on City Council and two terms in the state House and was putting up other people’s signs for years before he ever ran for office. Closely associated with former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, Hall has always been an outsider, perhaps best illustrated by his 2006 run against incumbent Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. He didn’t win, but he gave Ragsdale a brisk and unexpected challenge.
The Campfield relationship plus some missteps during Hall’s second House term – like landing on the wrong side of a controversy over changing Middlebrook Pike’s scenic highway designation at the behest of a new Tennova hospital facility and seeming to entertain conversation about selling Lakeshore Park – were a gift to his challenger, Martin Daniel, who ended up taking the seat in 2014.
The hottest contested legislative contest in 42 days is for the West Knoxville district where incumbent state Rep. Martin Daniel faces three opponents including former state Rep. Steve Hall whom he defeated two years ago in the GOP primary. The winner probably wins with a plurality (not a majority) of the total vote which is likely to be less than 5,500. In other words, 2,000 votes may win it for someone.
The youngest candidate is James Corcoran, 36, an attorney who lives at 5675 Eagle Crest Drive in northwest Knox County. He is married and the father of twins, James IV and Elsa, 20 months old. He and his family are members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in English as well as the UT College of Law.
A forum for Republican candidates for Tennessee’s 18th-district House seat came across a little like the story of Goldilocks − conservative, more conservative, most conservative and an outsider.
The candidates − incumbent Martin Daniel, his predecessor Steve Hall, former Stacey Campfield aide Bryan Dodson and attorney James Corcoran − spoke at last week’s West Knox Republican Club meeting. The 18th district is roughly constrained by Pleasant Ridge Road, Northshore Drive, Gleason Drive and Lovell Road.
Early voting is underway, and political observers are surprised that state Rep. Steve Hall has $42,000 left over from his narrow loss to Martin Daniel in the August GOP primary. Had he spent a couple of thousand more dollars he might have gotten another 160 votes and won.
What can a defeated legislator do with leftover campaign funds? He cannot convert it to personal use but is otherwise fairly free to spend it or give it away as he wishes.
The First Creek Greenway, announced by Mayor Rogero in her first budget in 2012, still has not been built two years later as she prepares her third budget. Perhaps no one at city hall is really pushing it, so little delays become long delays and people spend time on other issues.
New city press spokesperson Eric Vreeland says the greenway is actually ahead of schedule with a completion date of December 2016. Surely he jests, but actually not.