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VOL. 131 | NO. 71 | Friday, April 8, 2016

8th Congressional District Primaries Draw 22 Contenders, 13 Republican

By Bill Dries

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The Republican primary race to fill the 8th District Congressional seat Republican incumbent Stephen Fincher is giving up drew a field of 13 contenders – seven from Shelby County and four from Jackson, Tennessee – at the Thursday, April 7, noon filing deadline for the Aug. 4 ballot.

The large Republican field was expected at the filing deadline for those wishing to run in the set of state and federal primaries mixed with school board and judicial races as well as the contest for General Sessions Court Clerk.

The seven Shelby County contenders are: Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, state Senator Brian Kelsey, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood, former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, Raymond Honeycutt of Bartlett and David J. Maldonado of Collierville.

The four Jackson contenders are: Hunter Baker, a Union University associate professor of political science; marketing and advertising executive Brad Greer; George Howell and Terminix inspector Dave Bault

The other contenders from outside Shelby County in a district that includes rural west Tennessee are: Ken Atkins of Mason, Tennessee and David Wharton of Union City.

The 13 Republicans are part of a total of 22 seeking the seat – four Democrats and five independents.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis, representing the 9th Congresssional District drew three Democratic primary challengers at the deadline.

They are county commissioner Justin Ford, M. Latroy Williams and Larry Crim, a past candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination statewide.

In the primaries for Shelby County seats in the Tennessee Legislature, former state Senator Beverly Marrero filed to challenge current state Senator Sara Kyle in the District 30 Democratic primary

And several veteran Democratic state House members from Memphis drew primary challenges from what appears to be a ticket of younger Democrats active in the party in recent years.

Tennessee Young Democrats leader London Lamar filed in the District 85 primary as one of two challengers to incumbent Johnnie Turner.

Political newcomer Skip Ledbetter is challenging District 86 incumbent Barbara Cooper.

And Black Lives Matter activist Tami Sawyer filed for the District 90 seat held by John Deberry.

In the Republican state House primaries, Collierville incumbent Curry Todd has three primary challengers for the District 95 seat. They are former Shelby County Schools board member Diane George, Delta Fair promoter Mark Lovell and Dana Matheny, also of Collierville.

State Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville, meanwhile, was effectively re-elected at the filing deadline. He had no opposition – Democratic, Republican or independent.

That was also the case with four of the 14 state House incumbents representing Shelby County in Nashville – Republicans Jim Coley and Ron Lollar and Democrats Joe Towns and Karen Camper.

In the five Shelby County Schools board races, incumbent chairwoman Teresa Jones and board member Scott McCormick are unopposed at the filing deadline.

Incumbent board members Stephanie Love, Kevin Woods and Miska Clay Bibbs each had challengers.

The two countywide judicial races – Circuit and Chancery -- to fill out terms of office to 2022 were also contested as was one of the two races for Bartlett Municipal Judge. Incumbent Bartlett Municipal Judge Dan Brown had no opposition at the deadline.

The Aug. 4 ballot also features a countywide general election race for General Sessions Court Clerk between Democratic incumbent Ed Stanton and Republican challenger Richard Morton. Each won primary elections in March to advance to the August ballot.

The candidates who met Thursday’s filing deadline have a week to drop out of the races they’ve filed in if they wish.

After that deadline, the Shelby County Election Commission will certify the names for the August ballot.

The winners of the state and federal primary elections on the Aug. 4 ballot advance to the Nov. 8 general election and a ballot topped by the presidential general election.

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