Under fire from supporters of Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Beck for what they call political opportunism, the Rev. Bernie Miller, who's running against Mr. Beck for the District 5 commission seat, shot back this week.
"There's a story in the Bible about the prodigal son who came back home," Dr. Miller said. "His father welcomed him, but his brother complained when he heard and saw the prodigal getting all of his father's attention. Mr. Beck reminds me of the other brother in that biblical story."
Dr. Miller ran as a Republican against Mr. Beck in the 2006 election for the District 5 seat. He is now running as a Democrat.
At a Monday campaign kickoff event, Beck supporter Stuart James said Dr. Miller is "not a Democrat," and Mr. Beck said he didn't believe his constituents could be "flim-flammed by a flip-flopper."
City Councilwoman Pam Ladd said of Mr. Beck: "He's never switched parties. I know he's a Democrat."
In response, Dr. Miller pointed to Hamilton County Election Commission records that show Mr. Beck pulled a Republican ballot in the 1998 county primary.
Mr. Beck said that one vote didn't indicate a change of philosophy.
* April 5: Last day to register to vote in county primary
* April 14 - 29: Early voting in county primary
* May 4: County primary election
* July 6: Last day to register to vote in county general
* July 16 - 31: Early voting in county general
* Aug. 5: County general election
"I didn't switch parties," he said. "I voted for my boss, and a man is a fool to not vote for his boss."
At the time, Mr. Beck worked in the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office under Republican Sheriff John Cupp.
Likewise, Dr. Miller pointed to Mr. James' decision to pull a Republican ballot in the 1998 primary and Ms. Ladd pulling a Republican ballot in the 2006 county primary.
Mr. James said he pulled a GOP ballot because there was no Democrat to vote for in the Signal Mountain area's County Commission race.
Ms. Ladd said she picked up a Republican ballot in 2006 to vote for a friend of hers, Andy Derryberry, for sheriff. She said there are plenty of reasons someone in one party could pick up the other side's ticket.