VOL. 129 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 3, 2014
Hats in the Ring
By Bill Dries
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will be seeking a second term as governor, and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander will be running for re-election – both starting with the Aug. 7 statewide primaries that open for filing Friday, Jan. 3.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will be seeking a second term, joining several others across the state who will seek re-election starting with the Aug. 7 statewide primaries.
(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)
Friday is the first day candidates in the state and federal primaries as well as contenders in the nonpartisan judicial races can check out qualifying petitions for the ballot.
That includes races for all 99 seats in the Tennessee House and a third of the 33 seats in the Tennessee Senate, including three of the five state Senate districts that include, or are entirely in, Shelby County.
Meanwhile, Memphian Sara Kyle announced Thursday that she will not be running in the Democratic primary for governor. Tennessee Democratic leaders had been urging the former Tennessee Regulatory Authority member to challenge Haslam.
Also on the ballot are non-partisan races for four seats on the Shelby County Schools board in an overhaul of school board districts that will also create six new seats, all of which are on the August ballot.
The school board currently has seven members, each elected from a district. But the school board expands to 13 members in 2014, with a new set of districts approved by the Shelby County Commission and U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays.
Commissioners originally sought court permission to appoint six new members in the school board’s expansion. But Mays ruled that while the commission could expand the board to 13 members, the expansion would take effect Sept. 1, 2014, and would include those elected in the August 2014 county general election.
Four years ago, Haslam was one of four contenders in the Republican primary, all of whom campaigned aggressively statewide. He faced Bill Gibbons, who at the time was Shelby County district attorney general; U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga; and lieutenant governor and Tennessee Senate speaker Ron Ramsey. Gibbons dropped out of the race.
Haslam carried Shelby County in the primary and easily beat Democratic nominee Mike McWherter in the 2010 general election, with McWherter carrying Shelby County.
Haslam’s July campaign finance report filed with the Tennessee Register of Election Finance showed an ending balance of $2.1 million.
A July filing by candidate Jonathan E. White of Savannah, Tenn., showed a zero balance.
Alexander is facing opposition in the Republican Senate primary from Tennessee Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas, Tenn.
Carr is seeking the support of tea party Republicans who met this past summer in several cities, including Memphis, to weigh who they might support collectively.
A “Beat Lamar” political action committee has also been formed.
Some of the same tea party elements talked of trying to unseat Tennessee’s other Republican senator, Bob Corker, when Corker’s seat was up in 2012. But the challenge never materialized.
Alexander, a former Tennessee governor, U.S. Secretary of Education and president of the University of Tennessee, does not appear to be as much of a target as U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
In the 2014 Mississippi Senate Republican primary, independent political action committees had spent $586,650 in the last three months of 2013 in support of Cochran’s primary challenger, Chris McDaniel. The expenditures listed by the Federal Election Commission included a $243,152 October television ad buy as well as production costs, and a $245,233 media buy in November.
The Federal Election Commission listings showed no independent political action committee expenditures in Tennessee.
As of September, Alexander showed $2.8 million of cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Carr showed $285,507 on hand at the end of the third quarter.
Other potential challengers to Alexander who filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2013 include Republican Danny Page of Greenbriar, Tenn.; Democrats Terry Glen Adams Jr. of Knoxville and Larry R. Crim of Nashville; and Independent Edmund Louis Gauthier II of Dover.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is expecting to have opposition in the Democratic congressional primary for the 9th Congressional District. Earlier in the year, attorney Ricky E. Wilkins indicated he was interested in a possible primary challenge of Cohen.
Cohen, through the end of September, reported $837,433 cash on hand in his campaign account. Wilkins had not filed any campaign organization forms with the Federal Election Commission by year’s end.
Republican Charlotte Bergman, who has been Cohen’s general election challenger once, showed an end-of-November balance of $8,164 in her federal campaign account.
Republican Stephen Fincher, U.S. representative for the 8th Congressional District, closed November with a campaign account balance of $2.1 million.