published Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Mike Carter has no opponent in race

Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah?

Lucky, likeable or a combination of both are 25 Tennessee legislative candidates who made it through the state's qualifying deadline this week with no opponent in either the Aug. 2 primaries or Nov. 3 general election.

Barring disaster or a very, very unlikely successful write-in challenge, these men and women are guaranteed election.

The luckiest one of them all may well be Republican Mike Carter, of Ooltewah, according to the secretary of state's unofficial list of qualified candidates.

The list shows Carter, a businessman and attorney, is the only candidate to qualify for a vacant seat without an opponent.

The other 24 are all incumbents -- 22 in the 99-member House and two among the 16 Senate seats up this year.

That breaks down like this: 14 House Republicans and eight Democratic incumbents have no opponents. Among them is Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, of Nashville.

The two sitting senators with no opponent are both Republicans. They are Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, of Blountville, and Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, who represents Rhea County among other counties.

And everyone else? Sometimes they have token opposition from somebody in the primary or general election. Some have serious opposition, and some fall in between.

After all, it only takes a wing and a prayer and 25 signatures to get on the ballot. Moreover, Tennessee has no filing fees to run.

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith said he did his dead-level best to field credible Democrats against the county's three Republican incumbents, but acknowledged early in the week he wasn't sure about getting anyone in District 29, where Carter is running.

The Times Free Press on Friday listed candidates in the five House districts and the open seat left by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, who is weighing a race for Chattanooga mayor next year.

But one of the local contests attracting the keenest interest among politicos at the Legislative Plaza is the Aug. 2 primary contest in House District 28, which majority House Republicans changed considerably during redistricting.

The black-majority seat is held by Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga.

But Republicans put much of fellow Chattanooga Democrat Rep. JoAnne Favors' district, including her home, into the 28th. Both are running. The winner will face Republican Johnny Horne in the Nov. 2 general election.

OTHER AREA MATCHUPS

• House District 31: Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, faces fellow Republican Ron Travis, of Dayton, in the GOP primary.

The district includes Rhea, Sequatchie, Bledsoe and southern Roane counties.

• House District 24: Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, has a contested GOP primary with Jack Epperson and Aaron Hyden, both of Cleveland, running. The district lies entirely within Bradley County.

• House District 22: Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, faces Republican primary challenges from David Kimbro, of Cleveland, and Jonathan Gladden, of Ocoee.

The district takes in largely rural areas of Bradley County as well as all of Polk and Meigs counties.

• House District 39: Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, will face Democratic challenger Doug Clark, of Winchester.

The district includes parts of Marion and Franklin counties as well as all of Moore County.

• House District 92: This seat was redrawn by Republicans. Republicans Larry Taft, of Lincoln County; Billy Spivey, of Lewisburg; Travis Monroe, of Lewisburg; and Ann Bankston, of Fayetteville, have qualified.

In the Democratic primary are Vicki Cain and Mary Rene Baxter, both of Lewisburg.

The district includes much of the southern portion of Marion County, part of Franklin County and Marshall County.

• House District 43: Rep. Charles Curtis, D-Sparta, faces Republican Derrick Waggoner, of Gruetli-Laager, in the general election.

Grundy was added in redistricting, and that's Waggoner's home. White County, where Curtiss lives, as well as part of Warren County are in the district.

• Senate District 16: A major slugfest is brewing in this open seat with six Democrats and four Republicans battling in their respective primaries.

Democrats include two former state senators -- Jim Lewis, of Kimball, and Steve Roller, of Smithville. Other Democrats include Justin Walling, of Spencer; Kevin Lawrence, of Viola; John Hargis II, of Tracy City; and Jeff Bottoms, of McMinnville.

Republicans are Janice Bowling, of Tullahoma, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress, as well as Ron Stoltzfus, of Winchester; Rod McClellan, of McMinnville; and Eric Chance, of Morrison.

The district includes Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie, Franklin, Coffee, Warren and Van Buren counties.

Candidates in all races have ten days from the qualifying deadline to withdraw.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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