published Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Political Notebook: Green Party may get spot on Tennessee ballot

People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Eleven candidates of the Green Party of Tennessee could be on the ballot under the party's name in this fall's general election in contests ranging from U.S. Senate to U.S. House to state House.

None involve Southeast Tennessee contests but, depending on a ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, some state House incumbents who thought they had no opponent may suddenly face one.

Green Party members last month nominated 11 candidates in the wake of a February ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Joe Haynes, who ruled as unconstitutional sections in state law that have made it difficult for third-party candidates to appear on the ballot with their party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans long have been able to do so.

The Tennessee Green Party, which has a strong focus on environmental issues, filed the lawsuit along with the conservative Constitution Party. Officials with both said they are interested in providing voters alternatives to the two traditional parties.

But the state has appealed Haynes' ruling to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals with a hearing set for July 25. The state's candidate-filing deadline was April 5.

If the candidates are allowed on the ballot, it will add a Green Party candidate to the U.S. Senate ballot and Green candidates in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th Congressional Districts.

Voters could see Green Party candidates on their ballots in state House Districts 3, 11, 15, 16 and 55.

Among them are three incumbents who currently have no challengers -- Reps. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville; Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville; and Gary Odom, D-Nashville.

Political conventions

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says Washington "has no business" shelling out tax dollars to fund the Republican and Democratic presidential elections.

Alexander supported a Senate amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would end taxpayer funding of national party conventions after this year. Senators voted 95-4 to attach the provision to the farm bill, then passed the farm measure.

"At a time when Washington is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, Washington has no business spending taxpayer dollars on our political party conventions," Alexander said in a statement. "Solving our budget problems will require many difficult decisions by Congress -- but this should be an easy one."

Haslam boosting Watson

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to join state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, Monday in support of the lawmaker's re-election bid. Watson's campaign is calling the "ice cream social" a "great time" to meet Haslam and enjoy some "great ice cream." The 4:30 p.m. event is at Watson's family- owned business, Village Tire at 232 Third St. in downtown Cleveland.

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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