published Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Army of candidates running against Tennessee Sen. Alexander, Gov. Haslam

NASHVILLE — Seems like everybody's interested in running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., this year as the former governor, one-time U.S. Education Secretary and two-time presidential hopeful seeks a third Senate term.

Memphis radiologist and radio state owner George Flinn of Memphis, who shelled out millions of dollars from his own pocket running in 2010 and 2012 congressional contests, is among eight Republicans who have filed to challenge Alexander in the GOP's Aug. 5 primary election.

That's according to the Secretary of State's Election Coordinator's Office, which released names of candidates for state and federal offices following today's noon filing deadline.

Flinn joins previously announced candidate state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, who hopes to rally Tea Party and other hard-right conservatives and defeat Alexander. Six other little-known Republicans are also running. Among them is Brenda Lenard of Sweetwater, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in 2012.

On the Democratic side, millionaire class-action lawsuit attorney Gordon Ball of Knoxville filed his qualifying petition. Alongside him is Terry Adams, another Knoxville attorney. Larry Crim and Gary Gene Davis, who lost in Democrats' 2012 U.S. Senate primary, have also filed qualifying petitions.

Eleven independents have filed as well.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, meanwhile, faces his own army of less well-funded foes as state Democrats failed to find a well-known opponent.

But it appears there'll be no lack of color in the contest.

Haslam's Republican opponents include Basil Marceaux Sr. of Soddy-Daisy, whose rambling 2010 campaign pitch to voters on a Nashville television news program during the governor's contest transformed him into a viral hit on the Internet and catapulted him into a late night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And if that hasn't got the governor's attention, maybe Mark "Coonrippy" Brown of Gallatin will. Coonrippy's bid is a revenge plot spurred by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission's confiscation of his pet racoon, Rachel. That came after Coonrippy became a viral sensation with online videos of him showering with his beloved critter.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates include Mark Clayton, Tennessee Democrats' surprise 2012 U.S. Senate nominee, a little known anti-gay rights activist whose views prompted Democrats to disavow him. One-time Sullivan County mayor John McKamey of Piney Flats is running as well.

And if that's not enough for Haslam, the legendary John Jay Hooker, Democrats' 1970 gubernatorial nominee and best known these days for his legal and political assault on the selection process of appellate court judges, is running as an independent.

A total of 17 Republican, Democratic, independent or Constitution, Libertarian and Green Party candidates are running against Haslam.

In Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, which includes Hamilton and part of Bradley counties, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., faces a repeat GOP primary challenge from Weston Wamp, son of former Congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga.

And Democrats' 2012 nominee, physician Mary Headrick of Maynardville, is running again. Independent Cassandra J. Mitchell of Heiskell, Tenn., has also filed to run.

In the 4th Congressional District contest, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., faces state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and six other Republicans. Other Republicans filing include educator Steve Lane of Murfreesboro; Oluyomi "Fapas" Faparusi Sr. of South Pittsburg and David R. Tate of Whitwell. Robert Rankin Doggart of Signal Mountain has filed as an independent.

Lenda Sherrell of Monteage, a one-time BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee executive, is the lone Democrat to file.

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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