published Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

GOP primary for Hamilton County mayor enters final week

Who should be Hamilton County mayor?

Today is the last day for early voting. Polls are open in these locations:

  • Eastwood Church: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Brainerd Recreation Center: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Northgate Mall: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Hamilton County Election Commission: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

As three Republican candidates for Hamilton County mayor enter their final week of campaigning, at least one of them says he's ready for a break.

Three men -- Jim Coppinger, William Turner and Basil Marceaux Sr. -- are running to fill the remaining two years of former Mayor Claude Ramsey's term.

Ramsey became deputy governor of Tennessee in January 2011, and county commissioners appointed Coppinger interim mayor.

A March 6 primary will determine which of the GOP candidates will face unopposed Democrat Richard "Rick" Wilson and independent Richard Ford in an Aug. 2 general election. Early voting for next week's contest ends today.

Coppinger has raised between $125,000 and $130,000 for the race, he said Monday. He's spent between $35,000 and $40,000 on signs, hats, T-shirts and a direct-mail piece, he said.

His team plans to spend the week "positioning ourselves for this primary that's coming up in a week," he said.

Marceaux, who has run for multiple local offices in the past decade, said he's thinking about sitting on the political sidelines until the next gubernatorial race in 2014.

"I was thinking about taking a break," he said. "I run for every office I can, and I'm getting burned out on elections."

He hasn't raised a dime for the mayor's race, he said Monday.

"I don't take money from anyone because everybody has dirty money," Marceaux said.

Turner, a contractor with a background in education, has raised and spent less than $1,000 but plans to continue his grass-roots campaigning this week.

"I am relying on word of mouth and the Internet," he said.

Having met all of the other candidates on the campaign trail, Turner said, "I believe all of our hearts are in the same place."

Coppinger said he's proud of his bipartisan fundraising and has been focused on his own record, not attacks on other candidates.

"It's about what I've done," he said. "I'm not running against anyone. I'm running for the county mayor's position."

Contact staff writer Ansley Haman at or 423-757-6481.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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