One thing is clear: All the Republican candidates for the state House District 27 seat firmly believe in states' rights, gun ownership and limited government. And they can't stand the Common Core curriculum, illegal immigration and methamphetamines.
Two of the three candidates said so at a forum hosted by the Chattanooga Tea Party on Thursday -- and one candidate's surrogate agreed.
Tommy Crangle, Charlie White and Rick Mincey -- standing in for candidate Patsy Hazlewood -- fielded questions from local tea party President Mark West and members Thursday at the group's monthly meeting.
The three largely agreed that residents with handgun licenses should be able to carry weapons in public parks -- and keep them in private parking lots. They also agreed Tennessee should flex its 10th Amendment rights, which grants the states jurisdiction over any power not delegated to the federal government.
In fact there are very few differences among the three candidates -- but Crangle was quick to point out a few -- voting records and attendance.
Crangle said he was the only candidate running who has always voted as a Republican, and he criticized Hazlewood for sending a spokesman to the forum.
But White was quick to answer the volley.
"He's new to the area," White said about Crangle. "I've been here lifelong. There are two Democrats locally I've voted for, and they are sitting Republicans now. That's Jim Hammond and Bill Knowles."
White also said he voted in the Democratic primary in 2008 to vote against President Barack Obama.
In a phone call after the forum, Hazlewood answered Crangle's allegation that she was "an absentee candidate."
She said she could not be at the forum Thursday because she had another event that had been scheduled since May.
She said she looks forward to meeting her opponents at later forums.
"It was simply that I was with around 60 voters from my district this evening, and someone had invited me into their home. I couldn't pass that. I'm really good, but I can't be in two places at once," she said.
Another way the candidates differ is in fundraising.
According to first quarter campaign finance reports, Crangle started with nothing, but had $28,026 on hand by April -- including $25,000 he loaned to his campaign.
White on the other hand, started with the same sum but had $4,510 on hand by April.
Hazlewood did not file a first quarter report, because she did not declare her candidacy until after the deadline.
She doesn't have to file a disclosure until the second quarter. That deadline is July 10, according to Jay Moeck, audit director for the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
But according to her campaign, Hazlewood has $50,000 on hand, as of Thursday.
Whoever wins the Aug. 7 state Republican primary for the state House District 27 seat will face Democratic candidate Eric McRoy in the November election.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6481.