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VOL. 131 | NO. 50 | Thursday, March 10, 2016

August Election Ballot Filling Out Ahead of April 7 Deadline

By Bill Dries

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The presidential contenders have moved on to other states and closed up their Memphis storefronts.

With the March ballot a fading memory, politicos are now eyeing the Aug. 4 state and federal primaries as well as nonpartisan county races.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

And the excitement of the national campaigns that burst into town all in one weekend just before the March 1 Tennessee primaries has shifted to the same frenetic political activity in other states.

But all is not quiet in local politics.

Contenders in the state and federal primaries as well as several county general elections on the Aug. 4 Shelby County ballot are pulling qualifying petitions ahead of an April 7 deadline.

The primary winners advance to the November general elections topped by the presidential general election.

Winners in the nonpartisan races and the countywide General Sessions Court Clerk’s race are done after votes are counted in August.

The clerk’s race pits incumbent Democrat Ed Stanton against Republican challenger Richard Morton. Each won their primaries on the March ballot.

As of Wednesday, March 9, 61 qualifying petitions had been pulled by citizens at the Shelby County Election Commission offices and 10 had been filed, according to the election commission Web site. Some of the congressional contenders could have filed in Nashville or other West Tennessee counties.

The Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District has the most would-be contenders of any field in Shelby County. There are seven candidates from Shelby County with some petitions still out for the open congressional seat.

Incumbent Republican David Fincher announced in February he would not run for another term, prompting a scramble to declare for the race.

Four of those with Shelby County petitions had filed as of Wednesday: state Sen. Brian Kelsey, former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood and businessman David Maldonado, who filed his petition in Nashville.

There are other contenders in Jackson, Tenn., vying in the same primary for a congressional district that covers parts of East Memphis and Cordova and large parts of rural West Tennessee as well as Jackson.

Four Shelby Countians have pulled petitions in the companion Democratic primary.

In the all-Shelby County 9th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Steve Cohen has two potential challengers, County Commissioner Justin Ford and businessman M. Latroy Williams.

Williams has already filed his petition and has been campaigning since last year when he withdrew from the race for Memphis mayor and began altering his campaign signs to show he was running for Congress.

There are four would-be contenders in the companion Republican primary. The only one to file so far is perennial candidate Ernest Lunati.

All 16 incumbents in the Tennessee Legislature from Shelby County have pulled petitions to seek re-election in races where incumbents rarely lose.

Nine of the 16 – five Democrats and four Republicans – have no potential opposition at this point in the August primaries.

The primaries are where legislative incumbents are the most vulnerable because of the short campaigns between the end of the election year, legislative sessions in Nashville and the August election date.

House District 85 Democratic incumbent Johnnie Turner has three potential challengers in the August primary. Her challengers include Stephen Christian, who has petitions out to run in District 85 and District 88, according to one list on the election commission Web site. But an individual listing of petitions pulled by the candidate’s name on the same Web site shows Christian has only pulled in the District 85 primary.

David Vinciarelli, who like Christian ran in the 2015 Memphis City Council election, has petitions pulled for three races in the August primaries – the Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District, state Senate District 30 and state House District 88, where he has run before.

The August ballot also features two nonpartisan judicial races.

Chancellor James Newsom, appointed to the court vacancy last year by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, is seeking election in August to fill out the rest of the term of office to 2022.

Attorney Michael Floyd has pulled a petition for that race as well as the one for Circuit Court Judge.

Haslam appointed attorney Valerie Smith to the Circuit Court position Tuesday, March 8. Smith had already pulled her petition to run for the rest of the eight-year term of office to 2022.

Five of the nine seats on the Shelby County Schools board are on the August ballot as well.

Through Wednesday, board chairwoman Teresa Jones was the only citizen to pull a qualifying petition in any of the five nonpartisan races, according to the election commission Web site.

PROPERTY SALES 64 151 1,493
MORTGAGES 45 105 1,152