published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Democrat Mary Headrick joins Tennessee 3rd Congressional District race


by Chris Carroll
  • photo
    Dr. Mary Headrick is running in the Democratic primary to be the candidate for Tennessee's 3rd congressional district.
    Contributed Photo

DR. MARY HEADRICK

Age: 63

Education: Bachelor's in mathematics from the University of Tennessee; master's in computer science from the University of Tennessee; M.D. from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Occupation: Internal medicine physician

Family: Married, two adult sons

Poll
Which candidate do you support for the 3rd Congressional District?

Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary officially became a race Tuesday.

Dr. Mary Headrick, an internal medicine physician from Maynardville, Tenn., told the Chattanooga Times Free Press she would oppose businessman Bill Taylor in August's Democratic primary.

The winner will face U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., or one of his many challengers.

In an email to local Democratic operatives, Headrick, 63, said she would campaign to "spend no more dollars and lives in Afghanistan and Iraq," push for American manufacturing jobs and reverse a Supreme Court ruling that stopped government from limiting how much corporations can spend for political purposes.

"We should have one man, one vote," she said in an interview. "Not [catering to] corporations and ignoring how the people vote."

State legislators kept Union County within the 3rd Congressional District in a redistricting plan approved last week, but Headrick will face unique challenges. Her Maynardville home stands in the 3rd District's rural, northeastern quadrant, and she's not particularly well known in Chattanooga, widely considered to be the district's fundraising hub and urban center.

But Headrick lives 45 minutes away from Oak Ridge, and as a longtime campaign chairwoman for former Oak Ridge Mayor Ed Nephew, she has connections and political experience there. She also volunteered for John Wolfe, a Chattanooga attorney and four-time Democratic candidate for Congress.

"I'll put a lot of miles on my little car," she said. She said she'll soon set up a campaign office in Chattanooga. Her fundraising goal is $330,000.

Taylor, a 59-year-old Ooltewah resident and administrator at Physician Practice Resources, said he welcomed Headrick into the fold.

"Having someone else just brings more attention to what we're about," he said.

But Taylor wondered how he and Headrick would overcome "logistical difficulties" in a district that extends from Hamilton County to the Kentucky border.

"I've got to be a whole lot more well known up there, just as she needs to get more well known down here," he said.

Primary competition requires both candidates to "spend more money now and not have as many resources for the general election," said Taylor, who wants to raise $250,000 before February.

Paul Smith, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said his organization and others will host debates between Taylor, Headrick and whomever else enters the race. State and county party organizations generally do not endorse candidates until after primary elections.

At a time when Congress is talking Medicare reform, Smith emphasized the strength in having two health-care professionals angling for the nomination.

"One's a doctor and one's a person who helps doctors manage their offices, so they're both very knowledgeable," he said.

A Democrat hasn't held the 3rd District seat since former Congresswoman Marilyn Lloyd left it in early 1995.

Fleischmann, who declined comment through a spokesman, will have to win his own contested primary to face off against the eventual Democratic nominee. He's running against Ron Bhalla, Jean Howard-Hill and Weston Wamp in the GOP race. The primaries are Aug. 2.

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