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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Leming hits campaign trail at midnight

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ben Leming, left, greets patrons at the Huddle House in Shelbyville during an overnight tour to begin his Congressional campaign. Leming was legally prohibited from campaigning until May 1 due to his prior status as an active duty Marine captain.
(Submitted photo)
Democratic congressional candidate Ben Leming of Murfreesboro, legally prohibited from campaigning until midnight Saturday morning, wasted no time crossing the Sixth District with a 15-county tour that hit Shelbyville at 1 a.m. Saturday.

Leming visited the Huddle House on North Main Street.

In a telephone interview later in the day on Saturday, Leming told the Times-Gazette that voters at his middle-of-the-night campaign stops were bewildered at first, but when the situation was explained they appreciated the effort.

"They liked the fact that I was out there and that there was someone who came and spoke to them," said Leming.

He said jobs was the primary issue mentioned by voters.

"People want to get back to work," he said. "Getting back to work is what will give us back the confidence in ourselves and our economy."

Leming said the economic slowdown should be an opportunity to work on infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, public buildings, schools and hospitals, putting people to work immediately but also helping to make communities more attractive for new businesses and economic development.

Leming said he was not intimidated by the conventional wisdom that the district is moving into the Republican column. In fact, he said that as he looked forward to his civilian life a few months back he was told by friends that the seat was expected to shift Republican and this was what prompted his entry into the race.

"As a Marine," he said, "I like those odds."

He said he hopes to appeal to both Democrats and independent voters and that he stands for fiscal responsibility.

Leming was a Marine Corps captain, and legally prohibited from engaging in political activities until his discharge from active duty. He was permitted by the Secretary of the Navy to file his candidate papers in March but could do nothing else personally until May 1. Family members including his wife Sarah and his mother Sue Leming Lee had stood proxy for him at various events; his mother attended last week's Democratic Party banquet in Shelbyville. But even the family members had to be cautious about expressing political views; a video news conference held last month by his wife avoided any mention of issues and focused more on Leming's background.

Leming, a graduate of the Naval Academy, was born in Tullahoma but raised in Murfreesboro. He was a helicopter pilot, a military intelligence officer, and later a company officer working with cadets at the Naval Academy. According to his campaign web site biography, he flew medical and casualty evacuation flights under enemy fire during the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He told the Times-Gazette his father's family hails from the Normandy area and that he has many fond memories of fishing at Bedford Lake.

A total of seven Republicans (including Jim Tracy of Shelbyville and Dave Evans of Wartrace), five Democrats and five independents are seeking the Sixth District seat; incumbent U.S. Rep Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of Tennessee's congressional delegation, is not seeking re-election. Party primaries will be held in August with the general election in November.

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