published Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Mary Headrick announces congressional candidacy

Mary Headrick is back at it.

The retired East Tennessee physician is seeking the Democratic nomination for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, now represented by Chattanooga attorney Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican.

Headrick captured the Democratic nomination in 2012, defeating Chattanooga health care businessman Bill Taylor in the primary before falling to Fleischmann in the November general election.

But the health care veteran is giving it another try, and this time, she has Taylor's solid support.

The primary election is Aug. 7.

"My platform is similar [to 2012], but I think I've learned better how to communicate with the voters, so my delivery will be different," she said Wednesday.

Priority issues for Headrick include protecting Social Security and Medicare, building solid middle-class jobs and reforming campaign finance laws. In a campaign announcement, Headrick said residents of the 3rd District "deserve representation we can trust, not uncompromising ideology."

Since her last push for office, the Maynardville, Tenn., resident has fully retired from her work as a physician and consultant. In 2012 she split time between work and campaigning. Now, she says she can devote more time to effectively getting her message out to the sprawling 3rd District. The district is made up of all or parts of 11 counties in East Tennessee.

"I need to be much more direct and refer people to the Internet where I can post more details and not put them through that when they're in a political meeting expecting a two-minute speech," she said.

During the 2012 primary she and Taylor supported one another despite their competition for the Democratic nomination. Until recently, she expected him to run again.

Taylor said Tuesday timing for a political run this year was better for Headrick. He said they had talked about the race several times and he is happy to support her candidacy and will be campaigning for her in coming months.

Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, said it is important for there to be a Democratic challenger who can raise issues affecting the middle class like minimum wage, health care and public education especially in the traditionally Republican district that Headrick is seeking to represent.

"A common-sense Democrat far better represents the views and values of the Third District than another Tea Party Republican," Herron said in an emailed statement.

In the Republican primary, Fleischmann faces Weston Wamp, who unsuccessfully challenged the Ooltewah resident in 2012.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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