The voters of the 27th Tennessee State House District face a thorny dilemma. The district, which encompasses roughly the western third of Hamilton County, will either be represented by the big government Republican incumbent or his outlandishly liberal Democratic challenger.
The incumbent, Richard Floyd, is understandably beloved by many in the district for his church and community service endeavors. Still, many of the voters who elected him to three terms in the state House would be surprised at some of his illogical actions as a state lawmaker.
For example, before the recession, when the state government ran a surplus, Floyd was an advocate of increasing state spending. The result was a larger budget to fund when times got tight and less rainy day money saved to help cover state expenses when revenues fell.
Last legislative session, Floyd introduced a nonsensical set of rules, regulations, educational requirements and fees on locksmiths. Floyd also worked to empower cities with new authority to fine and harass people for minor property code violations.
Rather than employing state government as a tool to empower churches and community organizations to address issues of morality, Floyd apparently wants to use state government to beat people over the head with his values. For example, in a recent editorial board meeting with the Times Free Press and his opponent, Floyd admitted that he would like to ban alcohol and tobacco. While professing a commitment to empowering local governments, Floyd decried legislation that would allow the Hamilton County Commission to decide whether liquor could be produced in the county.
Instead of worrying about issues like improving Tennessee's business climate or addressing flaws in the state's educational system, Floyd is commonly at the forefront of controversial legislation that limits the rights of gay Tennesseans.
Still, Floyd's numerous inconsistencies and imperfections are easily overlooked when compared with the positions of his opponent, Frank Eaton.
Eaton's support of more taxes, more spending, more regulations, more subsidies for green energy and a living wage sound like talking points taken straight out of a union handbook for candidates.
Faced with a choice between two flawed candidates, Floyd clearly has more silver lining to his gray clouds. Floyd has a track record of working to reduce regulations on small businesses (except, apparently, locksmiths), he has pledged to work with other lawmakers to exempt Tennessee from as many oppressive Obamacare mandates as possible, he consistently votes to empower parents with the right to decide how best to educate their children, and he understands that Tennessee has weathered the economic downturn better than most states as a result of low taxes and right-to-work policies.
As a result, the Free Press endorses re-electing Richard Floyd to the Tennessee General Assembly.
We can only hope that Floyd one day realizes that it's not state government's role to be the moral authority for its residents.