published Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Democrats at forum skewer GOP no-shows


by Chris Carroll

Local Democratic nominees slammed their Republican opponents for skipping a Tuesday night political event that focused on the redistribution of wealth.

In her opening statement at a forum sponsored by the Brainerd Unity Group, Dr. Mary Headrick, the Democratic nominee in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, said Republican policies are helping “disintegrate” the nation’s middle class. She said reducing military funding and demanding more revenue from “the 1 percent” would result in a fairer tax code for all Americans.

But ultimately, the Maynardville acute care physician drew attention to the absence of U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the freshman Republican incumbent she’s trying to oust.

“As with the others, my opponent is not here to address you,” Headrick said. “Which I think is a disservice to the voters. I think you need to see us standing side by side and answering the same questions.”

Fleischmann will debate Headrick on Monday in Bradley County, but other Democratic challengers without a sparring partner Tuesday night are unlikely to get the same opportunity before Election Day on Nov. 6.

Johnny Horne was the only Republican at Tuesday’s forum. He’s running against state Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, in House District 28.

State Senate District 10 Democratic nominee and Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary pledged allegiance to the middle class and said he would fight business tax breaks to better finance public education.

But he used up most of his opening statement to hammer his Republican opponent, Todd Gardenhire, for not showing up.

“We’re trying to find him,” McGary said. “We’re going to keep looking for him. If we find him, we’ll let you know.”

Gardenhire missed the forum to speak with the Bradley County Farm Bureau. He debated last week with McGary at a forum that exposed the philosophical distance between the men, including stark differences on school vouchers and gun control.

“I’m not responding to any of my opponent’s personal attacks,” Gardenhire said Tuesday night in a phone interview. “I’m not running my campaign according to his schedule or game plan.”

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