Roy Exum: Early Voting To Begin

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’m told it is impossible to predict political races in Chattanooga and Hamilton County and, while most of this spring’s contests will be as boring as the Masters Golf Tournament finish late Sunday afternoon, I’m silly enough to give it a try. So as “early voting” for the May 6 primary begins on Wednesday morning, I’ll share what I think is going to happen.

The biggest primary races are for the Circuit Court Judge (Div. 1), Chancellor (Part 1), and for three of the nine seats on the Hamilton County Commission. Many of the key jobs, from County Mayor to Sheriff to County Clerk, will not be challenged but there is enough interest where early voting will set the tone for the Tuesday, May 6, vote in the next two and a half weeks.

Here’s what I think we’ll see in the primary races before the State Primary and County General Election will be decided by the voters on August 7. The General Election for state offices and municipalities will be held Nov. 4:

* * *

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 1 – J.B. Bennett (R), whose dad Bill has been such a delight as Hamilton County’s Property Assessor, has a well-earned yet slim edge going into the primary but I believe Catherine Cate White (R) would also serve us well. (Bill Bennett (R) was re-elected in 2012 to a four-year term.)

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 2 -- Jeff Hollingsworth (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 3 – L. Marie Williams (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 4 -- W. Neil Thomas (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CHANCELLOR, PART 1 – Pam McNutt Fleenor (R) has been a tireless worker and has an edge over Joe Manuel (R) in the primary. Both are fine people and, as in the Div. 1 Circuit Court race, the hope is that whoever loses will try again. The winner will be unopposed in the general election.

CHANCELLOR, PART 2 – Jeffery M. Atherton (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 1 – Barry Steelman (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 2 – Rebecca J. Stern (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 3 – Don W. Poole (D) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY – Neal Pinkston (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election. (He will replace the retiring Bill Cox and was such a popular choice that several worthy candidates chose not to run.)

PUBLIC DEFENDER – Steven E. Smith (R) and Ardena Garth (D) are unopposed in the primary.

COUNTY MAYOR – Jim Coppinger (R) will easily defeat Basil J. Marceaux (R) in the primary and Independent Richard Ford in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 1 – Fred Rees Skillern (R) has such entrenched backing it will be hard for Randy Fairbanks (R) to  beat him in the primary election. Fairbanks has been heavily endorsed but the view here is that Skillern has done a good job for both the district and the county. The winner faces no opposition in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSIONER, District 2 – James A. ‘Jim’ Fields (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 3 – Marty Haynes (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 4 – Pam Ladd (D) has a slight edge over incumbent Warren Mackey (D) and a sizable edge over Kirkland Robinson (D). (Ladd is a former member of the Chattanooga City Council.)

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 5 – Incumbent Greg Beck (D) has a healthy lead over Isiah Van Hester (D). The winner will be unopposed in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 6 – Joseph ‘Joe’ Graham (R) and John Allen Brooks (D) are both unopposed in the primary election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 7 – Perry Perkins (R) has an edge and I feel is the best candidate after Phil Smartt (R) and Sabrena Turner (R) hurt themselves with bickering before early voting began. Ezra Maize (D) is an impressive newcomer and has an edge over Don Brown (D) in the other primary. The district is heavily Republican.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 8 – Curtis Adams (R) will best serve the district and has a slight edge over incumbent Tim Boyd (R), whose caustic personality has hurt his chances as well as the district during his one term. Brent Lambert (R) has promise but lacks the clout Adams knows is needed on the commission. If defeated, Lambert should run again since Adams says he plans to only serve the one term necessary for District 8 to regain its footing. The winner in the primary will face Kenny Smith (D), who was defeated by Boyd in 2010, in the general election.

COUNTY COMMISSION, District 9 – Incumbent Chester Bankston (R) and Melinda Bone (D) are both unopposed in the primary election.

COUNTY TRUSTEE – Bill Hullander (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

JUVENILE COURT JUDGE – Rob Philyaw (R) and Yolanda Echols Mitchell (D) are both unopposed in the primary election.

SHERIFF – Incumbent Jim Hammond (R) will easily defeat Chris Harvey (R) in the primary and is unopposed in the general election.

CIRCUIT COURT CLERK – Larry Henry (R) has a wide edge over Ron Parson (R) and Lisa Zarzour Bowman (R) in the primary election and is unopposed in the general election.

CRIMINAL COURT CLERK – Gwen Tidwell (D) has a wide edge over Brian D. White (D) in the primary and will face Vince Dean (R) in the general election.

JUVENILE COURT CLERK – Gary D. Behler (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

COUNTY CLERK – W.F. ‘Bill’ Knowles (R) is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

REGISTER OF DEEDS – Pam Hurst (R) has a wide edge over Ryan Epperson (R) in the primary and is unopposed in the general election.

CITY OF CHATTANOOGA

CITY COURT JUDGE, Div. 1 – Sherry Paty is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

CITY COURT JUDGE, Div. 2 – Russell Bean is unopposed in the primary and in the general election.

royexum@aol.com



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