By Cliff Hightower Staff Writer
Two Democrats will face U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Pall Mall, in the August primary, state election records show.
Norma Cartwright and Harvey Howard both turned in petitions last week to run in the 4 th Congressional District race, election officials said.
So far, three Republicans have filed petitions seeking the GOP nomination: Kenneth Martin, Alan Pedigo and Don Strong.
The winners of the two primaries will face each other in the Nov. 7 general election. The deadline for withdrawing from the race is noon Thursday.
Rep. Davis is seeking his third term.
"The congressman is focused on the job at hand," said John Rowley, a consultant for Rep. Davis’ re-election campaign. "The Republicans have not recruited a top-tier candidate or even a second-tier candidate."
As for the primary, Mr. Rowley said Rep. Davis would take any challenger "very seriously."
Mr. Howard, a Crab Orchard, Tenn., resident, ran for the congressional seat in 2002 and 2004 but lost by large margins, state election records show.
Neither Mr. Howard nor Ms. Cartwright, who is from Beechgrove, Tenn., could be reached for comment Monday.
"I suspect they’re running from him from the left rather than the right," Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor, said of the Democratic candidates.
Dr. Oppenheimer said Rep. Davis is viewed as a conservative Democrat.
"That dissatisfies some Democrats who are more liberal than he is," Dr. Oppenheimer said.
Mr. Martin is the third Republican to enter the race. The filing deadline was last Thursday. Mr. Martin, of Fairfield Glade, Tenn., said he ran as an independent in the 2004 race against Rep. Davis, but lost in the general election.
He said he is focusing on the primary right now and knows that Rep. Davis historically has faced competition.
"I think we saw that last election cycle, and he won by an overwhelming margin," Mr. Martin said.
The two other Republican candidates said Monday they think having Democrats challenging the incumbent shows discord among Democrats.
"It may be an indicator that there’s not complete satisfaction on the Democratic side," said Mr. Pedigo, an engineer from Columbia, Tenn.
Mr. Strong, a respiratory therapist from Crossville, said it was "good news" that Rep. Davis has challengers in his own party.
"Now he has to focus on them," he said. "I’m optimistic. I think I can beat Lincoln, and that’s what this is all about."
The 4 th Congressional District is made up of 24 counties running from the Kentucky border to the Alabama state line before making a dogleg toward Nashville. In southeast Tennessee, the district runs through Marion, Sequatchie, Bledsoe and Grundy counties.
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