The special election race to fill the vacancy in the 62nd District State House of Representatives seat has attracted the attention and involvement of party officials at the state level.
Democratic nominee Ty Cobb, Republican nominee Pat Marsh and Chris Brown, endorsed by the Constitution Party but listed on the ballot as an independent, are seeking the seat, which was made vacant when Ty Cobb's brother, Curt Cobb, resigned in late June. The election will be Oct. 13.
Currently, Republicans hold a razor-thin 50-49 majority in the state House. The Speaker of the House, Kent Williams, was elected with Democratic support over the Republican caucus' chosen candidate. Williams still identifies himself as a "Carter County Republican" but has been rejected by his party's leadership for siding with the Democrats.
The balance of power in the House, and the fact that the special election is being held at a time when no other races are underway, has resulted in the race receiving attention it might not have otherwise gotten.
Both Cobb and Marsh have hosted statewide elected officials at their rallies: Cobb had a rally with Gov. Phil Bredesen, while U.S. Sen. Bob Corker appeared on behalf of Marsh. Bredesen will return to Shelbyville Saturday for a 5 p.m. fish fry on Cobb's behalf at the American Legion Center on Kingree Road.
State Sen. Jim Tracy, interviewed Thursday morning on talk radio station WWTN-FM (99.7), praised Marsh's business experience and criticized Cobb's union ties. Marsh's campaign issued a news release calling attention to the interview.
"You've got a guy that's going to be in the back pocket of the unions or you've got a businessman, an independent businessman that's never been involved in politics that knows how to make a payroll and balance the budget. So it is a big difference, a contrast," Tracy is quoted as saying in the news release.
Meanwhile, state House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner has come to Cobb's defense in connection with the issue of Cobb's endorsement by Tennessee Right To Life.
"Pat Marsh was rejected by Tennessee Right to Life because, among other things, of his stance on human cloning," Turner said. "Marsh needs to take responsibility for his actions, and his allies need to stop using smear tactics that most people find absolutely deplorable," said Turner in a news release.
Meanwhile, the campaigns are using new and old media to reach voters:
The Tennessee Democratic Party web site features a campaign photo of Cobb prominently on its home page, linked to online forms for soliciting volunteers for door-to-door canvassing and phone bank operations.
However, the Tennessee Republican Party web site had nothing about the 62nd District race on its home page or its news release page as of mid-morning Thursday.
The Tennessee page at the Constitution Party web site prominently features Chris Brown, with contact information and a link to his web site.
The use of unsolicited telephone calls, either by volunteers or by machines playing pre-recorded messages, has been employed by both the Cobb and Marsh campaigns or their surrogates. But the overwhelming majority of participants in a non-scientific Times-Gazette web site poll don't like it.
The poll asked, "What statement most closely reflects your attitude towards the election-related telephone calls you receive?" with the following results:
* I don't mind them and it helps me make up my mind as a voter: 1.9 percent (7 votes)
* I don't mind talking to a live human being but do not like the pre-recorded calls: 8.1 percent (30 votes)
* I do not mind the pre-recorded calls but don't like it when I'm called by a human being: 1.4 percent (5 votes)
* I do not like receiving such calls at all: 88.6 percent (328 votes)
A total of 370 votes were cast. Voluntary, self-selected web site polls are not considered scientific because there is no way to document that the persons who chose to participate in the poll represent a true cross-section of the target group.
"I always hang up on pre-recorded phone calls of any kind," responded one participant.
"They call me at 8 p.m. and I am trying to get my son to bed," stated another.
One participant reported receiving seven calls in the past two weeks, all from the same candidate.
"Why are these folks able to call you when you are on the national no-call list?" asked another.
Actually, neither the state nor national "Do Not Call" lists prohibit political calls. The state "Do Not Call" list web site explains it this way:
"Calls from political candidates or other political telemarketing is not covered by this program. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech, and while the U.S. Supreme Court allows the regulation of commercial speech, it provides much greater protection from government regulation of political speech."
Early voting continues through Oct. 8 in the basement of the county courthouse. Hours are 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
Tennessee Democratic Party: tndp.org
Tennessee Republican Party: tngop.org
Constitution Party, Tennessee page: www.constitutionparty.com/view_states.ph...
Chris Brown: votechrisbrown.info
Ty Cobb: tycobb62.com
Pat Marsh: marshfortennessee.com