VOL. 127 | NO. 49 | Monday, March 12, 2012
Following Primary, Races Point to August
By Bill Dries
Two days after all the votes were counted in the Tennessee presidential primary, state Republican Party leaders had already worked out how many of the state’s at-large delegates would go to their top three candidates.
Those three – Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich – were campaigning in Mississippi, among the next primary states within a 24-hour period.
And the local non-partisan school board races as well as primaries for the Tennessee Legislature and the U.S. House all on the Aug. 2 ballot now begin to take shape.
Santorum, who won the March 6 Tennessee primary and carried Shelby County, gets 12 of the 28 at-large delegates from Tennessee to the August Republican convention in Tampa, Fla. Romney gets nine and Gingrich gets seven.
Still to come is the math on how the state’s 27 other delegates, split at three for each of the state’s nine congressional districts, will be apportioned.
“We think the turnout showed tremendous enthusiasm among Republicans,” said Adam Nickas, Tennessee Republican Party communications director. “We knew it was going to be a competitive primary. Ultimately we think this is a healthy debate for our party.”
Santorum’s victory over Romney is the second time in four years voters in the primary have gone with a candidate other than the one backed by the state’s Republican establishment.
“We think the turnout showed tremendous enthusiasm among Republicans. We knew it was going to be a competitive primary.”
Tennessee Republican Party, communications director
Santorum emphasized his conservative stance on social issues as Romney focused on economic issues, just as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee did four years ago in a similar crowded field that included Romney.
Nickas rejects the idea the 2012 results in Tennessee were a referendum on the type of conservative appeal.
“All four of our candidates have presented clear visions of how they get our economy back on track,” he said, including Ron Paul in the pack. “Everyone realizes that the economy and creating jobs is the No. 1 issue.”
Meanwhile, incumbents in the Tennessee Legislature began declaring their political intentions as state Republican leaders were still allocating delegates.
The biggest development among the West Tennessee incumbents was the decision by Covington Democrat and former state House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh not to seek re-election.
In the Shelby County delegation to Nashville, 16 incumbents – 14 representatives and two senators have picked up qualifying petitions in advance of the April 5 filing deadline.
There are 16 House incumbents in Shelby County but only 14 seats in Shelby County under the new redistricting plan approved by the legislature earlier this year.
The plan puts incumbents Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway in the same district and incumbents Antonio Parkinson and Jeanne Richardson in the same district. All are Democrats.
So far, Hardaway and fellow Democratic incumbent Mike Kernell have not pulled petitions.
The Shelby County senators who have petitions out are Republican Mark Norris and Democrat Beverly Marrero. Marrero was drawn into the same district as fellow Democrat Jim Kyle.
In the non-partisan races for the seven countywide school board seats, six of the seven incumbents now serving have picked up qualifying petitions. So have two prospective challengers to District 4 school board member Kevin Woods. The challengers are Edgar Babian and Betty Mallott.
Mallott is also on the countywide school board. She is one of the nine former Memphis City Schools board members on the expanded 23-member board along with the seven members of the former Shelby County Schools board.
The seven new board members who took office in October were appointed by the Shelby County Commission to a set of districts that cover the entire county. The 16 old MCS and SCS board positions will be abolished at the start of the 2013-2014 school year when the two school systems are merged.
The seven board members elected on the Aug. 2 ballot will remain. They will take office Sept. 1 and serve staggered terms in which half of the board is up for election every two years.
The only one of the seven school board appointees who had not pulled petition for re-election by Thursday, March 8, was Raphael McInnis, who represents District 3.
Only three of those with petitions out had filed as of Thursday evening, all three candidates in the state legislative primaries – Democratic incumbents Larry Miller and Barbara Cooper and Hendrell Remus, who would be challenging District 84 incumbent Joe Towns in the Democratic primary.