published Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Hamilton County political parties looking to keep it classy


* Feb. 20 -- Qualifying deadline for county primary races

* May 6 -- County primary election

* Aug. 7 -- County general election and state primary

Candidates seeking to qualify for the May 6 partisan primaries:

Joe Manuel // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Pam Fleenor // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Jeffrey Atherton // R // Chancery Judge // Part 2

Larry Henry // R // Circuit Court Clerk

Ron Parson // R // Circuit Court Clerk

J.B. Bennett // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Catherine Cate White // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Jeff Hollingsworth // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 2

L Marie Williams // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 3

W. Neal Thomas III // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 4

Sherry Paty // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 1

Russell Bean // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 2

Bill Knowles // R // County Clerk

Randy Fairbanks // R // County Commission District 1

Fred Skillern // R // County Commission District 1

Jim Fields // R // County Commission District 2

Marty Haynes // R // County Commission District 3

Kirkland Robinson // D // County Commission District 4

Warren Mackey // D // County Commission District 4

Pam Ladd // D // County Commission District 4

Greg Beck // D // County Commission District 5

Isiah Hester // D // County Commission District 5

Joseph Graham // R // County Commission District 6

John Allen Brooks // D // County Commission District 6

Phil Smartt // R // County Commission District 7

Perry Perkins // R // County Commission District 7

Sabrena Turner // R // County Commission District 7

Pat Fountain // D // County Commission District 7

John R. Taylor Sr. // D // County Commission District 7

Curtis Adams // R // County Commission District 8

David F. Munger Jr. // D // County Commission District 8 - withdrawn

Tim Boyd // R // County Commission District 8

Brent Lambert // R // County Commission District 8

Chester Bankston // R // County Commission District 9

Jim Coppinger // R // County Mayor

Richard Ford // I // County Mayor

Bill Hullander // R // County Trustee

Brian White // D // Criminal Court Clerk

Vince Dean // R // Criminal Court Clerk

Gwen Tidwell // D // Criminal Court Clerk

Barry Steelman // R // Criminal Court Judge // Division 1

Rebecca Stern // R // Criminal Court Judge // Division 2

Don Poole // D // Criminal Court Judge // Division 3

Neal Pinkston // R // District Attorney

Gary Behler // R // Juvenile Court Clerk

Rob Philyaw // R // Juvenile Court Judge

Steven Smith // R // Public Defender

Pam Hurst // R // Register of Deeds

Ryan Epperson // R // Register of Deeds

Paul Parker // R // Register of Deeds

Jim Hammond // R // Sheriff

Chris Harvey // R // Sheriff

With early election records showing partisan primary contests in 11 Hamilton County races, Republicans and Democrats alike are training candidates to mind their P's and Q's.

So far, there are Hamilton County GOP primaries for the Chancery Judge Part 1 and Circuit Court Judge Division 1 posts; the Circuit Court Clerk seat; the Register of Deeds position; the Sheriff's Office and the County Commission's District 1, District 7 and District 8 spots.

County GOP Chairman Tony Sanders said the party will hold its second candidate training session Monday at the weekly Pachyderm meeting at party headquarters, 1428 Chestnut St. The party held a half-day session a few months ago, Sanders said.

The party is trying to teach candidates how to run effective, clean campaigns -- especially since they will be facing fellow party members on May 6.

"We are going to bring in people who have run campaigns and teach people what to spend time on and what not to. It's all about keeping the focus. What's the big picture? We're trying to win an election," Sanders said.

That means convincing rival Republicans to limit personal attacks and infighting.

"You can debate the issues and talk about what you are going to do. But when you get into the personal attacks, it's not going to help you win your election. And it will come back in the general election and give the opponents ammunition," Sanders said.

Monday will be the last session the Republicans put on before the primaries, but Sanders said candidates will get a new curriculum before the general election on Aug. 7.

"It's a very different election in August," he said.

The Democrats have fewer primaries, but the primary principles are similar, party Chairman Terry Lee said.

Local Democrats are slated to face off in the Criminal Court Clerk race and commission districts 4, 5 and 7, according to early election documents.

Lee said his party is not too concerned with the primaries getting ugly. The Democrats are focused on identifying and contacting potential voters -- and raising money.

But he said if the general elections get rough, the Democrats will respond.

Referencing the 2013 Chattanooga elections, Lee said the local left has learned turning the other cheek doesn't work in politics.

"We are not going to sit back this time if they say things that are untrue. We tried to show the Christian, nice-person approach -- and that didn't work. We aren't just going to sit back and take it this time," he said.

The Democrats have held several training sessions covering election etiquette and public speaking. But they've also taken tips from their national counterparts by using technology and voting records to identify the local audiences candidates need to target, Lee said.

Computer services like VoteBuilder and Catalist have been showing the local Democrats what voter groups exist in the area and what they are looking for.

"It's a pretty amazing piece of technology as far as being able to analyze past voter history. [President Barack Obama's] campaign has changed the whole ball game over the past few years," he said.

Knowing whom to reach -- and who not to bother with -- can cut a candidate's expenses by 40 to 60 percent, Lee said.

"It's even more important -- not only when you have limited resources. It helps you identify the people who will be making decisions, the independents and even leaning Republicans," he said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at or at 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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