Opinion: State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood rated 100% by small business group for legislative votes

Taking care of business

State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, was one of 16 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives to score a 100% voting record on issues flagged by the Tennessee Federation of Independent Business during the 112th General Assembly in 2021-2022.

The 12 issues on which the organization based its score included bills involving workers' compensation reform, unemployment reform, regulatory reform, tort reform, tax relief, right-to-work and labor protection.

The scores for the other House members in the Hamilton County delegation were Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, 55%; Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, 92%; Greg Martin, R-Hixson, incomplete; and Greg Vital, R-Georgetown, 80%.

Vital won a special election in September 2021 to fill the unexpired term of state Rep. Mike Carter, who died in May 2021, so he did not vote on any legislation during the 2021 session. He voted "yes" on all of the legislation flagged by the business group during the 2022 session.

Martin was appointed to the legislature in April, replacing Robin Smith, who had resigned the previous month. He voted "yes" on the two votes flagged by the business group during the remainder of the 2022 session.

Among state senators, Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, scored 83% and Bo Watson 92%. Gardenhire was one of only two Senate Republicans to score below 90% on the business issues.

"Tennessee remains a very pro-small business state for many reasons, including that many legislators own or have owned their own businesses," TFIB state director Jim Brown said. "They understand the challenges many of our members face in these difficult times, with soaring inflation, supply chain disruptions and significant workforce shortages."

Incumbent satisfaction

For the first time in at least 32 years, only one seat in the Hamilton County state House delegation will be contested by a Republican and a Democrat in the August primary or the November delegation.

Current members Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, in District 27, Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, in District 28, Greg Vital, R-Georgetown, in District 29, and Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, in District 30, have no opposition from the opposing party in either election, though Hazlewood does have an independent challenger in November.

The only seat contested by a Republican and Democrat is District 26. The seat is currently held by state Rep. Greg Martin, who was appointed to the post in April.

Martin, who had been the District 3 representative on the Hamilton County Commission, will be on the Aug. 4 ballot both for the state post and his commission seat (for which the ballots were printed before he resigned his seat).

State law indicates a person can run for a state and county seat but not two state or two county positions.

Martin said previously he would resign his county commission seat after he wins it - he has no Democratic opposition - to concentrate on election for the state House.

Opposing him will be either Allison Gorman, a writer and editor, or stay-at-home father and husband Tim Roberts, who will face off in the Democratic primary.

Mother, daughter candidates

Allison Gorman, one of two Democratic candidates for the District 26 state House seat, is the mother of Meg Gorman, who was the 2020 Democratic candidate for Tennessee's 3rd District U.S. House seat and is the lone Democratic candidate running for that seat this year.

She and her daughter are believed to be the only mother and daughter pair who have appeared on the same ballot in Hamilton County and perhaps in Tennessee.

Allison Gorman's husband, Tim, was a candidate for the District 2 seat on the Chattanooga City Council in 2021. In the nonpartisan primary election, he finished third out of three candidates, garnering 20.04% of the vote won in a runoff by Jenny Hill.

Gorman's campaign website suggests she'd like to go to Nashville to "fix two big problems," the state's "struggling public schools" and "lack of access to health care." If you fix those two big problems, she says, you "fix a lot of little ones."

She apparently would like to capitalize on the resignation of the seat's previous occupant, Robin Smith, who resigned in March after being changed with one count of federal wire fraud.

Gorman, on her website, says: "When our elected leaders feel entitled to ignore our real problems and pass careless and cruel legislation, it's obvious that they feel unaccountable to us. That's how we end up with leaders who use their public office for personal gain, which is what happened with the last two people elected to represent District 26. They both left after committing acts of fraud. We deserve better."

We're not sure where the candidate is getting her information, but Smith's predecessor, Gerald McCormick, chose to drop his re-election bid in June 2018 and resign from his House seat on Oct. 1 of that year in order to move to Nashville, where he took another job and his wife spent most of her time while working for the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Gorman's opponent in the primary is Tim Roberts, who says he is a stay-at-home husband and father who has not been able to do door-to-door campaigning because he needs a hip replacement.