VOL. 131 | NO. 6 | Friday, January 8, 2016
Candidates Already Gearing Up For August Elections
By Bill Dries
The ballot for the March 1 Tennessee presidential primaries and county primaries for General Sessions Court Clerk was set while many voters were focused on the holidays and preparations for the new city leaders taking office in January.
Candidates for the August state and federal elections as well as county school board races can begin pulling petitions Friday, Jan. 8, to be on the ballot. The filing deadline is in April.
(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)
But voters will see more demand for their attention starting Friday, Jan. 8.
That’s when contenders in the state and federal primaries can begin pulling qualifying petitions and filing to run on the Aug. 4 ballot. They have until noon April 7 to file with the Shelby County Election Commission.
There are no statewide primaries for Tennessee governor or U.S. Senate in 2016, races that usually lead to higher voter interest and turnout.
The August ballot will be dominated by the congressional primaries for Districts 8 and 9, the two districts that cover Shelby County.
Republican U.S. Rep Stephen Fincher is expected to seek re-election for District 8, which consists mainly of counties in rural West Tennessee.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has already indicated he will be running for re-election in District 9, which takes in most of Memphis and ventures into northern Shelby County.
State Sen. Lee Harris is considering a challenge of Cohen in the August Democratic primary.
Harris isn’t risking his Senate seat if he runs since his four-year term in the Tennessee Legislature runs through 2018.
The two state Senate seats in Shelby County on the 2016 ballot are District 30, represented by Democrat Sara Kyle, and District 32, represented by Republican Senate leader Mark Norris.
All 14 state House seats covering Shelby County are on the ballot in 2016.
The last time legislative incumbents were in serious peril as a group was in 2012, when redistricting changed some boundaries and put several incumbents in the same districts for primary elections.
The most serious challenges to state legislature incumbents are usually in their own primaries because of the way the legislature draws its own district lines once a decade.
Aside from those districts with two incumbents in the redrawn borders – usually both of the same party – most districts are redrawn with heavy Democratic or Republican majorities.
The last legislative incumbent to get picked off was Democratic state Sen. Ophelia Ford, who was upset by Harris in the 2014 primary elections.
The primary winners this August advance to the November ballot topped by the presidential election.
At least one candidate on the March ballot is already guaranteed a place in the August county general election.
Richard Morton, the Republican nominee for General Sessions Court Clerk, is running unopposed in the March primary.
Morton will face the winner of the March Democratic primary between incumbent clerk Ed Stanton and challenger William Stovall.
The Shelby County Election Commission’s website shows all nine Shelby County Schools board members are next up for re-election together in 2018.
But state law requires staggered terms for school boards across the state, and the SCS website shows school board districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 are on the August ballot.
Those seats are currently held by chairwoman Teresa Jones, Stephanie Love, Kevin Woods, Scott McCormick and Miska Clay-Bibbs, respectively.