Political Notebook: Democrat calls for debates in District 30 campaign

Political Notebook: Democrat calls for debates in District 30 campaign

September 23rd, 2018 by Staff Reports in Local Regional News

Document: District 26 order

Read the order dismissing the lawsuit.

Democrat calls for debates in District 30 campaign

Joda Thongnopnua, the Democratic candidate for state House District 30, is asking for a series of debates and forums in what he calls "the most competitive state legislative race in Hamilton County" and is asking Republican candidate Esther Helton to participate.

In a news release, Thongnopnua said important issues in the district include funding local public schools and expanding Medicaid throughout Tennessee.

"When voters go to the polls, they'll be making a pretty big decision when they choose their next state representative," Thongnopnua said in the release.

"This person will vote on a range of issues like whether or not to raise the minimum wage, to expand Medicaid to over 280,000 working families or not, and will have a vote on whether or not our local school system gets the funding it needs to thrive. We can't afford to skip a discussion about the very real differences my opponent and I have on the issues and our visions for Tennessee."

He said he expects community stakeholders, neighborhood associations and resident groups to host events ahead of the Nov. 6 election. The district includes the East Lake, Missionary Ridge, East Ridge, Brainerd, East Brainerd, Concord, Apison, and Collegedale communities.

Helton's campaign manager, Vince Butler, said she is attending many events in the district, including a big meet-and-greet set for Wednesday at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"Esther was successful in the primary because she knocked on doors, went one-on-one in neighborhood meetings and community meetings and told people her story," Butler said. "That direct voter contact is what we're putting our time and effort into because it's more beneficial to the campaign."

Mancini to speak at party fundraiser

The chairwoman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Mary Mancini, will be guest speaker for the annual fundraiser of the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women, according to a news release.

The event is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the IBEW, 3922 Volunteer Drive.

Meals will be $30. The deadline is Oct. 2, and checks should be sent to Jeanie Stearns, 9036 Birchwood Pike, Harrison, TN 37341.

McCormick responds after District 26 lawsuit dismissed

Rep. Gerald McCormick, whose unexpected decision in June not to seek re-election in state House District 26 led to a lawsuit over his replacement as Republican nominee, released a statement refuting what he called "unfounded accusations" about the issue.

At the time, McCormick said he dropped out because he had accepted a job in Nashville, meaning he wouldn't live in the district. After the Hamilton County Election Commission reopened qualifying and Republicans nominated Robin Smith, the Tennessee Democratic Party sued to try to keep her off the ballot. The lawsuit claimed his excuse wasn't credible, given that he had just defended himself in a residency question after he bought a home in Nashville last year. The Democrats argued that a job-related move was one of the few reasons that allowed the Republicans to reopen qualifying.

Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton dismissed the suit on multiple grounds, including that courts should not interfere with political parties' right to choose their candidates. The Democratic Party is appealing.

In his statement, McCormick said he wanted to "set the record straight" over "dishonest political attacks" by a "hapless" and "inept" state Democratic Party.

He said the residency question was raised by an anonymous accuser working for a Democratic candidate for District 26. The accuser "admitted to sneaking into my backyard" to gather evidence, McCormick wrote, but he said financial and other records refuted the "ludicrous" charge before "the proper authorities."

He said the accusation that he "falsely" signed a loan document for the Nashville house appeared to come from an opposition research firm working for the Democratic Party. The Times Free Press reported McCormick signed a document stating that the mortgage was for his principal residence, although he insisted he actually lives in Chattanooga.

"The mortgage company saw it differently from these political opponents and that matter also went nowhere," McCormick wrote.

He called the Democratic Party's lawsuit a "frivolous attempt" to disenfranchise District 26 voters.

"Anyone who knows me dismisses these unfounded accusations but I wanted to once more clarify the events for the record," McCormick wrote.