|Elections 2012: Candidates shift into high gear|
|Wednesday, July 11, 2012|
Candidates are ratcheting up their rhetoric as they shift into high gear. Early Voting starts Friday the 13th (Triskaideka Day) for the Aug. 2 state and federal primaries and county general. The second quarter financials through the end of June are coming up for disclosure with results being rumored.
The monthly Sumner County Republican Party breakfast had a roomful of faithful Saturday that exceeded the triple-digit temperatures. The count was 106, not counting two reporters. Congressman Diane Black was present with no sign of primary rival Lou Ann Zelenik.Three Senate District 18 candidates who are recognized members of the Sumner County Republican Party participated Saturday in a final forum. A fourth candidate, Brock Ewell, is not a member and did not participate. Vice president Marty Nelson asked four questions to allow the three to present reasons for voters to elect them.
Tony Allers touted experience in law enforcement and local government as credentials along with working to change laws over the years.
Jeff Coker claimed he was “the conservative candidate for state Senate.” He cited his 14 years of local party experience since 1998 as “a member of this party longer than any of my opponents.” At one point, Coker pointed to his youth as a reason to elect him so he could build seniority.
Allers countered to laughter: “Look at your audience. You’ve gotta kind of know your audience when you are talking about age, Jeff.” He added: “By the way ‘Senator’ comes from the Latin word ‘senex’ which means ‘old man.’”
Ferrell Haile pointed to experience. “Past performance is the best indicator of future performance” was his slogan. He cited service as interim state Senator in 2011. He added that, when he ran for the Senate seat against incumbent Jo Ann Graves in 2000, the party was lucky to get a dozen people at a meeting and that Coker was sometimes there. He claimed a role in setting up Diane Black’s Senate win in 2004.
To muzzle or not to muzzle
The taking of local per diem is the most polarizing issue candidates are exploiting or defending. Coker fit it every chance. “I believe it is fundamentally wrong for legislators when they live within one hour of Nashville to be accepting the per diem of $170 a day. That was intended for West Tennessee legislators or East Tennessee legislators that have to stay overnight in a hotel while they are in Nashville. I won’t accept the per diem and I just think it’s fundamentally wrong for any that do.”
In his close, Coker even turned Haile’s slogan against him by pointing out that Haile took the per diems to drive to Nashville. He said that at the June 28 SURG forum: “Ferrell refused to say that he wouldn’t take it in the future. I don’t think that’s right. I think that’s a fundamental issue in this campaign and it indicates how you view government and how you view elected officials of that government. Public service is a privilege. It is not a right. It is not an entitlement. We need to lead by example.”
Haile stated in his close that people got what they paid for and this time quoted a proof text. “Per diem. Look. I’m not ashamed. Scripture says, ‘Don’t muzzle the ox.’ I may return some of that. I don’t know how much expenses will be. But I know there is expense there. My dad always said: ‘You get what you pay for. You’re electing me because you think I can do the job for you. That’s what I intend to do. I intend to do it full-time.”
Allers closed by appealing to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment. “I would not attack another Republican. Period. I believe in that. We need to support our Republican candidates.” He added: “I promise you this, if you choose me, I will not accept the salary for the position.”
The new Senate District 18 includes all of Sumner and Trousdale and a portion of Davidson County. Allers attended the Davidson County Republican Party annual picnic after the forum and met with US Senator Bob Corker. Allers also spoke from the stage. Straw poll results showed Coker with 59 followed by Haile with 40 and Allers 17.
The Tea Party is motivating its troops. Over 60 people showed up for the monthly meeting of Sumner United for Responsible Government Thursday. Courtney Rogers was the main speaker. Rogers is challenging Rep. Debra Maggart in House District 45. Maggart did not attend. SURG is not taking a position in the race. However, Larry Cunningham took the opportunity during the question-and-answer session to ask Rogers why she was running against Maggart when she was doing a good job. Rogers explained that she was offering voters a choice and that she was not going to bad-mouth her. In the parking lot, Cunningham’s vehicle sported a Maggart sticker.
An emergency meeting on ObamaCare was tacked on to the SURG meeting. Members are looking for ways to counter the Supreme Court decision. With no hope of defeating Corker, they were encouraged to get involved in states where they could affect the outcome.
By Jesse Hughes