Opinion: Little for Republicans to settle in August state primary election

AP File Photo/Mark Humphrey / Since he is unopposed, Bill Lee will have an easier time in the Republican gubernatorial primary than he did in 2018 when he had to thread the needle between Randy Boyd and Diane Black.

Lost in the August county general elections across the state and in Tennessee's first ever partisan school board elections is the state primary election. With an incumbent governor who has no primary opposition, no U.S. Senate race and many state legislators running without opposition, it would be easy to overlook what's on the ballot. But we urge you to take a look:

> Governor: Bill Lee, who threaded the needle between favorites Diane Black and Randy Boyd to win the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, has an easier path this time around. He is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Four years ago, he won 36.7% of the vote in the primary and went on to easily defeat Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor, 59.6% to 38.6% in the general election.

During his tenure, Tennessee was named the best fiscally managed state in the country, the best for business climate in the U.S., number-one in the nation for advanced industry job growth, and the best state for small business growth.

Business commitments during his three and a half years in office were secured to create nearly 40,000 jobs and $12.9 million in capital investments. Among the biggest was Ford Motor Co., which has pledged to invest in a $5.6 billion production plant and employ some 6,000 people.

Lee also has made substantial annual investments in education, enticed the General Assembly to pass a very limited voucher program (we wish it were larger) and has helped engineer a new basic funding formula for K-12 education.

Under his leadership, the state also has passed strong pro-life legislation (before the U.S. Supreme Court repeal of Roe v. Wade), criminal justice reform and cut some taxes.

We have disagreed with Lee on a variety of issues but overall believe he has been an excellent governor and will be easily re-elected - against one of three Democrats contending in the August primary - in November.

> U.S. House of Representatives: U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, seeking his seventh term in Congress, has but token primary opposition in Sandy Casey.

Casey, an Ohio native and resident of Oliver Springs in Anderson, Roane and Morgan counties, calls herself a constitutional conservative and favors ridding the government of "unconstitutional agencies" (NPR, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, etc.), smaller government, eliminating pork barrel spending and term limits. If elected, she pledges to spend no more than three terms (six years) in the House.

"Sandy has the integrity and determination to do the dirty, behind-the-scenes work," her website says. "She does not seek nor want popularity, but only a return of government BY the people, FOR the people ... a return to the Democratic Republic which our Founding Fathers set forth in our Constitution."

Fleischmann calls himself "a fiscal and social conservative," prides himself on being the state's only member of the House Committee on Appropriations, contends he stands behind district projects like the completion of the Chickamauga Dam replacement lock and the various nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, and checks the usual Republican boxes of support for cutting taxes, reducing the debt, stopping illegal immigration, defending the right to life and protecting the Second Amendment.

His website and campaign Facebook page prominently display his support for re-election by former President Donald Trump, for whom he signed an amicus brief to a lawsuit filed contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Since initially being elected in 2010, Fleischmann has never received less than 61.5% of the vote in a general election. He will face Meg Gorman, his 2020 opponent who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November.

We endorse his primary election.

> General Assembly: Not a single member of the Hamilton County delegation has a primary opponent in the August election. We believe that indicates either satisfaction with those who hold the offices or the realization of the difficulty inherent in defeating an incumbent.

So, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson (District 11), Republican state Reps. Greg Martin (District 26), Patsy Hazlewood (District 27), Greg Vital (District 29) and Esther Helton (District 30), and Democrat state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem (District 28) will sail through to November.

The only one of the group that will have an opponent in November is Martin, who is the temporary appointee for his Hixson area seat after state Rep. Robin Smith stepped down earlier this year pending an honest wire fraud charge. He will face one of two Democrats, either Allison Gorman or Tim Roberts.

Conventional opinion is that in this era where few incumbents lose, if candidates are not defeated after temporary or interim appointments or after their first term in office, they will be very difficult to beat in the future. Even given that, we think the November election will be Martin's to lose, and we see very little likelihood of that given the district's conservative leaning.