In the Aug. 7 general election and state Democratic primary, the Times endorses:
3rd District Congress
27th District, State House
John Allen Brooks
General Sessions Court, Division 1
Yolanda Echols Mitchell
Criminal Court Clerk
Board of Education
Ballard Scearce Jr.
While Tennessee's Sen. Lamar Alexander campaigns to keep the tea party alligator known as Joe Carr off his heels, a young innovative Democrat named Terry Adams is campaigning around the state.
For now that Democrat, and another named Gordon Ball, aren't getting much attention. (They don't have the star power of conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham, who visited Nashville last week to campaign for Carr and compared Alexander to an old sweater, a hooked fish, beige wallpaper and a baseball player who has struck out.)
Alexander, 74, is seeking a third six-year term. He began billing himself as a true conservative in early 2012 to fend off the tea party challenge, and he has been an ardent critic of the Affordable Care Act. Although he brought more fire on himself from the ultra-right when he voted for immigration reform last year, he's still expected to fend off the primary challenge.
That next day is when Adams' challenge might get interesting -- if he survives the primary. Adams, who would vote to raise the minimum wage, fight climate change and stand up for veterans, is an attorney and title company owner who was recruited to challenge Alexander by state party leaders.
Adams' leading primary opponent, Ball, also is an attorney who has said he plans to spend $400,000 of his own money on a TV ad campaign. Adams says Ball's support for a 15 percent flat tax would result in Ball himself seeing his marginal tax rate cut 62 percent while the poorest Americans would see their tax rate increase 50 percent.
"It's not the first time a multimillionaire proposed a tax cut for himself, but we don't see it often in the Democratic Party," Adams said in a news release. To balance the budget after replacing the current tax code with a 15 percent flat tax, Ball would "gut Medicare, and cut education grants, housing assistance, health-related research, veterans' benefits, homeland security, the federal justice system and environmental protection," according to the release.
Adams said he wants to protect the social safety net by closing tax loopholes on corporations and the super wealthy and by raising the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes.
Altogether, Alexander faces 10 challengers: six from the GOP and four Democrats. Apparently it's safe to say the senator has tenure and name recognition, but the name recognition is not all good.
What he does have, however, is staunch support from the 800-pound gorilla of politics: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Alexander says he and the Chamber share a common goal of jump-starting the slow economy "by liberating the free enterprise system."
After 12 years in Congress, he also has a few influential (albeit tired) friends. Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson also have endorsed him.
We endorse Adams.
Unfortunately, Bill Haslam has no viable opposition in the state Republican primary.
There's our own perennial candidate-for-everything Basil Marceaux and Mark "Coonrippy" Brown, a Gallatin animal control specialist who gained Internet notoriety a few years ago with his pet raccoon which was seized later by wildlife officials. And there's Donald Ray McFolin, a Davidson County wildlife artist who has run unsuccessfully for school board and governor.
Haslam also has no statewide-known opposition on the Democrat primary ballot, though we're hoping that perhaps William H "John" McKamey might gain some traction and offer Haslam some sand in November -- if McKamey wins his primary as we believe he should.
Many Democrats believe their best hope for a Haslam challenge is with McKamey, a retired schoolteacher, coach and county executive from Sullivan County in East Tennessee.
But defeating Haslam will be a tough climb. The governor has a $4 million campaign war chest. Couple that with the fact that no Tennessee governor has lost a second term since Ray Blanton went to prison shortly after his first term ended in 1979.
But has has his own record of errors. During his tenure, he and his fellow Republicans have worked to expand charter schools, rejected a measure that would have required equal pay for women and refused to expand TennCare with the Affordable Care Act. While Haslam criticized some of those moves, he didn't take the bold step of bucking them. Instead he rolled right over and went along with a series of partisan ploys that ultimately hurt Tennesseans.
This is where McKamey may be his own best advocate. He has said Haslam and other Republicans have taken the wrong approach to government.
"Government is a service," McKamey is quoted by the Nashville Tennessean, "not a business."
We're with you, Mr. McKamey. And we endorse you.