Two-way race in District 30: Independent candidate drops out, endorses Democrat

Two-way race in District 30: Independent candidate drops out, endorses Democrat

October 10th, 2018 by Judy Walton in Breaking News

Michael Holloway, left, announces his endorsement of his Tennessee House District 30 opponent Joda Thongnopnua.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Updated at 5:17 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

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The independent candidate running in Tennessee's House District 30 race is tabling his bid and throwing his support behind Democrat Joda Thongnopnua.

J. Michael Holloway, an attorney, said in a news release Wednesday that while his name will be on the ballot, he's urging voters in the district to back Thongnopnua.

"Over the past several months, it's become clear to me that Joda is the best choice for District 30 and Tennessee. He has demonstrated he will show up, work hard, and get things done for working families in our community," Holloway said in the release. He and Thongnopnua held a news conference outside the Hamilton County Election Commission on Wednesday.

Holloway said that as an independent, he has voted for candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties as well as third parties and other independents, and he believes Thongnopnua will work across party lines.

"Politics is as divided as ever and we need public servants willing to bridge that divide and go to work for Tennesseans. I'm confident that Joda will do that and I'm confident that Joda is the kind of leader we need."

Thongnopnua faces Republican Esther Helton, a nurse and East Ridge City Council member, in the campaign. The seat opened up when Republican Marc Gravitt was elected to serve as Hamilton County Register of Deeds.

Helton said Wednesday Holloway's move is a "ploy" she'd been expecting.

"I always thought that would happen — I thought he was probably a Democrat," she told the Times Free Press.

"I think this is good for me — his name's on the ballot and he's probably going to get some check marks anyway."

Thongnopnua has criticized Helton for refusing multiple joint appearances and debates. Helton's campaign manager said she's running her own race, meeting with small groups and sharing her personal story with them. She's focused her campaign on economic development, health care and education.

The release said Holloway will actively campaign for Thongnopnua through the rest of the race.

Thongnopnua welcomed Holloway's endorsement and said the two share several values and priorities.

"I am honored by Michael's support. He's a capable attorney and a guy who has the best interests of his community at heart. When we sat down and talked, I couldn't help but notice how many priorities we both shared," Thongnopnua said. "From an opportunity to continue reforming our criminal justice system to ensuring every Tennessean has a shot at the American Dream, Michael and I are on the same page."

Early voting begins Oct. 17 and Election Day is Nov. 6.