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6th District hopefuls speak out at forum

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

State Sen. Jim Tracy speaks to a crowd at an MTSU-sponsored political forum Tuesday night.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
MURFREESBORO -- Nine candidates and one spokesperson gave their views as the clock ticks down on primary season in Tennessee's 6th Congressional District race.

With ten people in the running -- six vying for the Republican slot, three wanting the Democratic nomination and one running as an independent -- the stage at the Tennessee Livestock Center at Middle Tennessee State University was packed.

Republican Diane Black was represented by a spokesperson, while the rest of the candidates appeared in person.

Master of ceremonies of the forum was Pettus Read, director of communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, who said the event was "a great opportunity to meet your next congressman."


The crowd that turned out for the forum were predominately made up of Tracy supporters.

Tracy, of Shelbyville, said he has a "need to serve" the 6th district, adding that the country is running down the wrong road.

"We need to take Tennessee's values to Washington," Tracy said. "We need Tennessee common sense."

Tracy also said that Americans can't stick their heads in the sand when it comes to dealing with radical Islam.

He also said that America needs to seal its border and begin to penalize those who hire illegal aliens. Tracy stated he supports lowering the capital gains tax and revamping the entire tax system, saying it is far too complicated

Tracy announced on Monday that his campaign has raised $713,789 from over 1,000 individual donations.


Republican Lou Ann Zelenik told the crowd that the government was overtaxing citizens and that she will stand up to an "overreaching government."

"Tennessee needs to go back to work, let the free markets work," she said.

Zelenik said she opposed cap and trade legislation, amnesty, and stated that in 2012, a Republican Congress and president will overturn government run health care.

"Do you want politics as usual? Pick someone else," she said.

On the question of illegal immigration, Zelenik said that jobs need to go to "our kids, no illegals," pointing out that 17 percent of illegal immigrants have criminal records.


Democrat Ben Leming stated that he welcomes the title of "freedom fighter," and said he wants to take the Marine code of conduct to Congress.

"I am tired of the politics of fear," Leming said. "We need leaders that are courageous."

When answering questions about immigration, Leming stated he supported comprehensive immigration reform.

Leming also picked up the endorsement of the Tennessee AFL-CIO on Monday.


Republican Dave Evans stated he was "not going to be politically correct about what I say," adding that the state of the economy is national security.

"Put God back in our lives, and all the other problems will fall into place," Evans stated, "I'm a country boy with country values."


George Erdel said he is the type of Democrat that "your granddad was like," saying that the federal government is "spending us into bankruptcy," and that he will not support any new taxes.

He also said that he would take books by financial guru Dave Ramsey to Washington to show them how to run the government.

Erdel also blasted "political harlots who sell their votes for favors," and called for the repeal of the 17th amendment, describing himself a "tea party democrat."


Republican Gary Mann slammed an overreaching federal government and said that the main problem is not a red state versus blue state issue, but how America has slowly moved toward being a socialist country over the past 70 years.

"We're headed down the wrong path as a country, we have to turn it around," he said.

Black's substitute

State Sen. Diane Black, a Republican, was unable to attend, but spokesperson Andy Nash stated that "if we don't stop them (Congress) now, we won't recognize our county when they are done."

"You'll never get spending under control unless you stop feeding the beast," Nash stated.


America is broke, accountant Kerry Roberts said, and the solution is to send accountants and business people to Washington, D.C.

"You can't spend more than you make," Roberts, a Republican, said, adding that he wants to stay in Washington for 10 years to help solve this problem.


Democratic candidate Brett Carter said that his service in the National Guard is only part of his story. Boasting a master's degree in tax law, he said he has worked with businesses and non-profits and will stand up to members of the Republican party as well as his own party.

"Everyone is tired of politics as usual, we need new people to lead, not to become another career politician," Carter said, but to move the country forward.


Independent Stephen Sprague stated that no one owns him and no political party will tell him what to do. He stated that the one topic he is a zealot on is the condition of planet Earth.

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