VOL. 129 | NO. 215 | Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Amendments, Wine Dominate Election Day
By Bill Dries
The last of 2014’s three elections promises to be defined just as much by the questions on the ballot as it is by the choices among candidates.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4, across Tennessee, with polls open in Shelby County from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Election Day polls in Shelby County are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to the races for governor, U.S. Senate and a handful of municipal positions, voters will consider wine referendums and four amendments to the state Constitution.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
In the last weekend of campaigning, much of the activity centered on the four amendments to the Tennessee Constitution near the top of the ballot, as well as the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.
Meanwhile, voters in Memphis, Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown and Millington will vote on allowing wine sales in food stores effective in July 2016, and Lakeland voters will decide a ballot question on liquor by the drink that could be a preliminary to a later referendum there on wine in food stores.
Follow election returns at @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, after the polls close at 7 p.m. The Daily News Online, memphisdailynews.com, will also feature stories that recap the early vote when it is tabulated and the final unofficial results once they are all in.
Incumbents in the two congressional races on the midterm ballot are heavily favored to win in Shelby County.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis faces Republican challenger Charlotte Bergmann in the 9th Congressional District. The 9th District is entirely within Shelby County, covering most of Memphis as well as Millington and northern Shelby County.
In the 8th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump faces Democratic challenger Wes Bradley. The 8th District’s territory is mostly rural West Tennessee but also includes East Memphis and eastern Shelby County.
In the race for Tennessee governor, incumbent Republican Bill Haslam is seeking a second term, and a fractured Democratic Party is represented by Charles “Charlie” Brown, one of several candidates in the August primary who ran for the nomination without having the backing of the party’s establishment.
As early voting began, some Democrats, including Cohen, began advocating a “vote for anyone” strategy in the race – a move designed to affect the outcome of the statewide vote on Amendment 1.
Amendment 1 would give the Tennessee Legislature the power to regulate abortion, including in cases of rape and incest.
In order to become part of the state Constitution, each of the four amendments must get 50 percent plus one, a simple majority, of the total number of votes cast in the race for governor.
Some opponents of Amendment 1 want to boost the number of votes cast in the governor’s race to raise the bar for passage of that amendment in particular.
That also raises the bar for passage of the other three, including Amendment 2, which gives the Legislature approval of all nominations made by the governor to the state appellate courts while preserving judicial retention elections for appeals court judges.
Backers of that amendment have said the majority mark in the governor’s race will be a challenge for its passage.
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure became more vocal in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Those opposing the amendment include Cohen as well as the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association.
The contested elections drawing the most interest locally are two state Senate race in Memphis, the Germantown mayoral race and a single contested race for alderman in Bartlett.
Germantown alderman Mike Palazzolo and former Germantown community services director George Brogdon are running to become the next mayor of the city, succeeding Sharon Goldsworthy, who has served as mayor for 20 years and decided not to seek re-election to a sixth term.
The campaign has amounted to a referendum of sorts on the future direction of Germantown and how much to depart from the city’s path under Goldsworthy’s leadership.
Meanwhile, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald is running for another term unopposed. The only contested race in the Bartlett municipal races is between incumbent alderman Bubba Pleasant and challenger Mick Wright.
Most of Shelby County’s legislative delegation to Nashville is expected to win re-election, with the majority of them running without opposition.
Two of the four state Senate seats on the Shelby County ballot are one-candidate affairs, with incumbents Brian Kelsey and Reginald Tate facing no opposition in their respective districts.
Incumbents in nine of the 14 state House seats in Shelby County on the ballot are also running unopposed.
In state Senate District 29, Democrat Lee Harris faces Republican Jim Finney for the seat now held by Democrat Ophelia Ford. Harris defeated Ford in the August primary, making this the first time in 40 years that a member of the Ford family will not be the state Senator from the district.
In the special election for state Senate District 30, Democrat Sara Kyle faces Republican George Flinn and independent David Vinciarelli for the seat held by Kyle’s husband, Jim Kyle, until his election in August as a Chancery Court judge.