By Michael Davis
Jim Hall , former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, announced Monday that he has dropped out of the 11 th state Senate District race, leaving Democrats without a candidate for the open seat.
Mr. Hall , managing director of a transportation consulting company, cited work opportunities and personal obligations in his decision. He also said the race would have called for a huge time and fund-raising commitment.
“This is a very heavy Republican district,” the Signal Mountain Democrat said. “I would have to raise a lot of money.” Rep. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, is the lone candidate in the Aug. 3 Republican primary for the seat, which is to be vacated by Sen. David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain, who is not seeking re-election.
“I guess (Mr. Hall ) made a personal decision,” Rep. Watson said. “I was excited about the race that we would have.”
Since April 13 was the deadline to withdraw from legislative primaries, Mr. Hall will remain on Hamilton County Democratic ballots in August, state Election Coordinator Brook Thompson said.
April 6 was the qualifying deadline for the August election, and no other Democrat qualified for the primary.
“I recognize that I have left the Democratic Party in a lurch, and I’m willing to do everything that I can to address that,” Mr. Hall said.
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Stuart James said he will not push for a write-in campaign in the Senate race. Instead, he said the party will focus on the 27 th state House District race. Mr. James said he wishes Mr. Hall was running, but he understands the decision.
“I think it did add a lot of credibility to our field of candidates, but I have a good field of candidates this time around,” he said.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis echoed his earlier comments accusing Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen of recruiting income tax supporters to run for legislative seats.
“(Mr. Hall ) must have been looking at the same poll numbers that we’ve been looking at all along,” Mr. Davis said. “Even though Phil Bredesen tried to get all his income tax buddies to run, Jim Hall must have come to his senses and realized that he couldn’t win.”
Mr. Hall has said he would not support a state income tax.
Bob Tuke, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, said Gov. Bredesen has been clear that he opposes and would veto a state income tax. He said Republicans are trying to create a wedge issue where none exists.
“There is no income tax agenda whatsoever,” he said.
Mr. Hall , 64, said he wouldn’t rule out seeking elected office in the future.
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