published Friday, October 7th, 2011

GOP hopeful Jean Howard-Hill says she’s ‘running to win’ this time


by Chris Carroll

KEY DATES

• Qualifying deadline: April 5, 2012

• Primary election: Aug. 2, 2012

• General election: Nov. 6, 2012

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission


JEAN HOWARD-HILL

• Age: 58

• Education: Bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, law degree from University of Tennessee College of Law

• Occupation: Educator, consultant; served as adjunct professor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Jean Howard-Hill, a political science professor and longtime Republican activist, said her quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in 2012 should not be compared to her prior congressional campaigns.

“Those were to raise awareness and to educate,” she said Thursday. “That’s a lot different from running to win.”

Howard-Hill, 58, said she knows she’s running against some big GOP names — first-term incumbent Fleischmann and Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp — but her goal of raising $50,000 before Jan. 1 is realistic.

Howard-Hill avoided directly contrasting herself with Fleischmann, but she said Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District requires someone who “knows the role of a legislator.” She said a freshman member of Congress should be able to work with colleagues, introduce bills and “hit the ground running.”

“We need someone who understands the process — not just going because of a desire to go to Washington,” she said.

Fleischmann’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Howard-Hill said her academic career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga makes her qualified for Congress. She has taught a number of courses on American government, international politics and non-Western cultures.

She said she was inspired to run by several issues, including high interest rates for student loans and an economic climate in which “teenagers can’t even get summer jobs.”

“And that leaves extra time for crime,” she said.

Chattanooga businessman Carnell Storie, a Republican, said he’s leaning toward supporting Howard-Hill.

“Jean Howard-Hill’s always been honest and consistent,” he said. “She believes the party should be more inclusive, as I do.”

Howard-Hill has a long political history, starting with an unsuccessful state Legislature campaign in 1980. She was a write-in candidate for the Republican primary in the District 7 Hamilton County Commission race in 2002, and six years later she ran for Congress as an independent.

In 2010, she entered a crowded Republican field when the elder Wamp gave up the 3rd District seat to run for governor. She received less than 1 percent of the primary vote.

The 3rd Congressional District snakes through 11 counties and much of East Tennessee, stretching from Georgia to the Kentucky and Virginia state lines.

Howard-Hill said she plans to visit each county and will collect donations large or small, including “one, two, three, four or five dollars a month.”

“People are hurting,” she said. “American politics needs to go back to the people, not the money.”

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