Hamilton County election field set for 2014

Hamilton County election field set for 2014

April 4th, 2014 by Andy Sher and Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

Illustration by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

Document: Area qualifying county candidates

All the players in the 2014 election season have taken the field. And four incumbent state legislators from Hamilton County can just ease along this election season if they like.

That's because no one bothered to file by Thursday's noon qualifying deadline to run against them.

As a result, Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson; House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga; and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, are guaranteed to be re-elected.

Watson represents Senate District 11 while McCormick, Favors, and Carter, respectively, represent House Districts 26, 28 and 29.

"I don't know what happened, but I'm glad," McCormick quipped.

But the lawmaker said he thinks it was a combination of factors that led to the lack of opposition. All four are active in the community, routinely "make the rounds" and work hard to address local concerns, McCormick said. Moreover, he added, county-level offices have drawn a great deal of attention.

"There were lots of available seats to run for. Maybe that helped too," he said.

For freshman Carter, it's the second free ride -- he had no opponent in the 2012 election for the open seat either.

Two other House members from Hamilton County -- Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, who represents House District 30, and Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, in District 27, aren't seeking re-election.

Dean is running for the GOP nomination for Criminal Court clerk. He'll take on Gwen Tidwell, a Democrat.

The big primary battle to come from Thursday's deadline is Floyd's House District 27 post.

Four Republicans will battle for the job, including Tommy Crangle, a retired TVA engineer and former county election commissioner; Tom McCullough, a retired county school principal; Patsy Hazlewood, the current state Department of Economic and Community Development's regional "jobs base camp" director and 30-year veteran of South Central Bell and AT&T; and Charlie White, owner of ABC Bond Co. and Volunteer Bail Bonds.

The winner of the bout will face the lone Democrat, Eric McRoy, a technician at Anthelio Healthcare Solutions, in the November election.

In fact, local Democrats have no primary battles in state-level races on the August ballot -- a point the local party chairman laments.

"It would be better if we had more candidates. Obviously it makes it easier to focus on the races that are most important," said Chairman Terry Lee. "Unfortunately, a lot of people are hesitant to go up to Nashville as a Democrat right now, since there's such a minority."

Republicans hold the governorship, supermajorities in the state House and Senate, both U.S. Senate posts and seven of the nine U.S. House positions.

East Ridge City Councilman Marc Gravitt on Thursday became the lone candidate filing in House District 30 to succeed Dean. As a result, the businessman, who owns Gravitt Auctions & Appraisals, is guaranteed to serve in the 109th General Assembly that's elected in November. The district includes East Ridge, parts of Brainerd, East Brainerd and Collegedale.


Thursday was also the deadline for qualifying in county nonpartisan elections. County-level partisan primary candidates qualified in February.

There will be contests for five Board of Education races in Hamilton County.

Lee said local Democrats would help out any bona fide members in nonpartisan races.

"We will definitely be involved with them. For those people who are legitimately Democrats, whose voting records reflect that," he said. "Even if they are running in a nonpartisan race, but they are Democrats, they pull out the Democrat votes."

The same goes for the local GOP.

"The school board is nonpartisan, but we will assist our members in any way we can," said Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders. "They're in nonpartisan races, but the majority [of candidates] are from the Republican Party and we are going to do what we can to help them."

One such Republican candidate is Oscar Brock, a developer at McCormick and Brock Real Estate. Brock is seeking to unseat school board member Joe Galloway in District 6. C. Ballard Scearce Jr. is also in that race. Brock also is running for the Republican State Executive Committee for District 10.

There also are contests in Districts 3, 5, 8 and 9. Five people have qualified for the District 9 seat, which is being vacated by current school board Chairman Mike Evatt.

Only three of the 11 Hamilton County municipal and General Sessions Court judges face challengers in the Aug. 7 election. Collegedale, East Ridge and Division 1 of General Sessions Court are contested. The remaining seats will likely be filled by the incumbent judge after Thursday's qualifying deadline finalized the candidates list.


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 George Flinn, 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. 7 primary election.

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, along with 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.

Basil Marceaux Sr., of Soddy-Daisy, and Mark "Coonrippy" Brown, of Gallatin, are running, as is Democratic gubernatorial candidates Mark Clayton, Tennessee Democrats' surprise 2012 U.S. Senate nominee, a little known anti-gay rights activist whose views prompted Democrats to disavow him, and one-time Sullivan County Mayor John Mc-Kamey, of Piney Flats.

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.

Seventeen Republican, Democratic, independent or Constitution, Libertarian and Green Party candidates are running against Haslam.

In Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., faces a repeat GOP primary challenge from Weston Wamp, of Chattanooga.

And Democrats' 2012 nominee, physician Mary Headrick of Maynardville, is running again. Independent Cassandra J. Mitchell of Heiskell, Tenn., also has 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 Monteagle, is the lone Democrat to file.

Staff writer Kevin Hardy contributed to this report.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481.