VOL. 127 | NO. 69 | Monday, April 9, 2012
New District Lines Lead to New Races
By Bill Dries
“This time I waited to be sure,” Ian Randolph said just before the Thursday, April 5, deadline for candidates to file in the Aug. 2 elections.
In this file photo, Courtenay Isabel prepares voting machines at the Shelby County Election Commission for a past election. The filing deadline for numerous elections to be held Aug. 2 was last week.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
In Randolph’s case, he was filing as a candidate in the Democratic primary for state representative District 90.
His remark reflected the uncertainty candidates have faced over the last three election cycles because of the redistricting process. Randolph was among those who filed in the Memphis City Council races in 2011 only to discover they no longer lived in the districts they had filed for. The council approved the new district lines two days before the filing deadline in 2011.
Candidates on the August ballot had more lead time. But the redistricting by the Tennessee Legislature has still created some seldom-seen political phenomena like incumbents of the same party running against each other because they are in the same district with new state legislative district boundaries.
At the filing deadline, however, the result was some unexpected match ups.
Democratic state Reps. Barbara Cooper and G. A. Hardaway wound up in the same district. So did Democratic state Reps. Jeanne Richardson and Antonio Parkinson.
But Richardson opted instead to run against Democratic incumbent John DeBerry in District 90 and Hardaway decided on a run against Democratic incumbent Mike Kernell in District 93.
The two Democratic state senators who were drawn into the same district – Jim Kyle and Beverly Marrero – will be running against each other, unless one withdraws by noon Thursday, April 12, which is the deadline to get off the ballot before it is certified.
Also on the August ballot are general election races for Shelby County district attorney general, General Sessions Court clerk, assessor of property and County Commission District 1, Position 3.
Four of the 16 incumbent state representatives in the Shelby County delegation to Nashville were effectively re-elected last week because they have no opposition in the primary or general elections. They are Democrats Lois DeBerry and Karen Camper and Republicans Mark White and Jim Coley. DeBerry is the longest-serving member of the Shelby County delegation.
The District 93 race is one of five state House races that will be decided with the Aug. 2 primary because there are no candidates running in the other party’s primary or as independents. Of those five positions, three will be decided with the Democratic primaries and two will be decided with the Republican primaries.
Meanwhile, the primary campaigns in the 9th U.S. Congressional district began promptly at the filing deadline last week.
Within an hour of the deadline, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen rolled out an endorsement by President Barack Obama.
“I urge you to vote for Steve Cohen, a tireless advocate for the 9th District,” Obama said in a written statement.
Cohen was an early supporter of Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential contest when New York senator and former first lady Hillary Clinton was still a contender for the nomination.
“I know that together we’ll continue to make good progress,” Cohen said of the endorsement in the heavily Democratic district.
Tomeka Hart, his Democratic primary challenger, who filed her petition two hours before the noon deadline, said her candidacy is being embraced by voters.
When she announced last year, Hart indicated that she expected to be outspent in the race by Cohen but would campaign in a different way with an emphasis on economic development and education issues.
Hart has been a school board member since 2004.
Two contenders in the Republican primary are each making their second runs for Congress in as many years. Charlotte Bergmann was the Republican nominee in the 2010 general election. Former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn ran in the GOP primary won by current 8th District U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher in 2010.
Flinn filed in the 9th District contest the day before the filing deadline. Two hours after the deadline, Bergmann attacked Flinn’s ownership of radio stations.
“He has enriched himself with his radio stations broadcasting music that downgrades the community,” she said in a written statement. “He broadcasts music that divides, instead of edifying the community. And now he wants to represent us?”
Cohen in his fundraising appeals to supporters has cited Flinn’s wealth.