published Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Cook: Voting the Democrat ballot


• Registered voters can cast their ballot today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EDT) and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CDT).


Read up on Hamilton County candidates running in today's primary election at


• For up-to-the minute coverage of hot races in today's primary contests, go to after the poll's close at 8 p.m.

It's a lonely, defeated feeling. You hang your head, like a Vol fan in late October.

Take today's ballot. (Please).

Republicans in Hamilton County are fielding 38 candidates. A fat flush of 38 names appears on today's Republican ballot. That's a major league baseball team.


To the Republican 38-man roster (and yes, all but seven are men), the Democrats are fielding only 16 candidates. That's a carpool.

There are 29 races on today's ballot. Republicans have candidates in 26 of them.

And Democrats have candidates in 11 of them.

There are 18 races without one Democratic candidate. Most of our races (yes, I normally reach for a Democratic ballot) aren't fielded; there's only one bubble for us to fill in: "No Candidate Qualified."

If you vote Democrat today, the candidate you'll be voting for most often is no candidate at all.

Nobody for sheriff. Zippo for two of the three Criminal Court judge slots. Nobody for county mayor. Only one for four Circuit Court judge positions, and that candidate -- Stuart James -- has already dropped out.

"I have made the decision to permanently suspend my campaign," he said in March, just after the deadline for withdrawal, which is why his name appears -- satirically -- on today's ballot.

Let's say you live in a part of town that doesn't have any Democratic candidate running for County Commission. You will only have to make one single choice today: Gwen Tidwell or Brian White, both running for Criminal Court clerk. Every other race? All the candidates are running unopposed (it's not really a choice if there's no one to choose against) or there's no candidate listed.

The Republican ballot is stuffed, like Rush on Thanksgiving, and pretty much every other day of the year.

Our ballot has echoes. Helloooo? Our ballot sounds like a kickball game: ghost man for sheriff!

It shouldn't be this way. We're not ebola. Local Democrats matter as much as Republicans. We've got Ardena Garth, who's running for public defender, and is one of the toughest and smartest women this side of the Bering Strait. She ought to be public defender, and mayor, and sheriff, too.

In one race, we're fielding three top people -- Kirkland Robinson, Warren Mackey and Pam Ladd -- all for one county commissioner spot. Each of those folks should be eyeing an open position somewhere else: board of education, the commission, Ladd For Mayor.

But here in Hamilton County, Democrats have become an afterthought. We're the forgotten ones. Garfunkel to your Simon, the Gang to your Kool.

Primaries are supposed be the appetizer for fall elections, the opening gambit so that political dueling can begin. But really, today is the election. In 18 races on the ballot today, the Republican winner will waltz into office simply because there is no Democratic challenger.

It's a terrible thing for an election to go to waste.

Even though I lean to the left -- as does the human heart, positioned on the left side of our chests -- we should all be troubled from such a lop-sided, lollygagging ballot.

Politics needs a packed house, a full and wide spectrum of beliefs that challenges, increases and broadens our perspectives. Your Republican-ness should challenge my liberalism, and vice versa. None of us exist without the other.

That big mindedness is the Jaws of Life that pries us out of the narrow political narrative, one that falsely positions us in a dualistic, either-or landscape.

You're not just a Republican. Or only a Democrat. Don't sell yourself so short. We are not a one-party people.

Our truest selves are a mishmash of conservative and liberal, progressive and not, Clinton and Bush, Nader and Marx.

We are complex, intricate and vast people who ought to search out ways to agree with ideas across the aisle. We should be ashamed at our political "Kramer vs. Kramer" irreconcilability. The greatest danger we face as a people is this political division, for until it is solved, no other problem can get solved.

Tonight, one party may win the election, but we all lose.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

"yes, I normally reach for a Democratic ballot"

Well duh!

Mr. Cook there are places where you can go where virtually everyone is a Demoncrat.

Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco are a few where you would fell very comfortable and be satisfied.

May 6, 2014 at 8:28 a.m.
riverman said...

The fewer Dims on the ballot the better off the community, state and country are.

May 6, 2014 at 9:36 a.m.
aae1049 said...

That's right David Cook, I love the County Wide elections where those Obama liberals win no seats. Perhaps a Register of Deeds is the best you Godless libs will do.

Dems get no seats, the way it should be.

The majority of voters in Ham. County are independent R's. The TFP liberal huggers and the liberal Lindsay Street Cartel are not represented of Ham. Co. I have been volunteering races along time, and Ham. Co. loves the Bible, and conservative principles.

Perhaps you should relocate to DC or something.

May 6, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.
clmccallie said...

For those of you happy Republicans outnumber and win most seats and have been for many years now, did you know among the 50 states, and similar to other "red" states, Tennessee ranks 45th in income level, 42nd in overall health, 40th in access to affordable healthcare, 41st in education level, ranks 10 highest in poverty level, 13th highest in teen pregnancy, has one of the lowest rankings in upward mobility, and one of the highest rankings in obesity, and will lose $2,000,000,000 in federal funding by the year 2022 by not expanding medicaid to those who need it most under the ACA?

Are you sure your Republicanness is serving you well?

May 6, 2014 at 2:11 p.m.
aae1049 said...

The entire country is poor in case you have not noticed. Baby boomers that have been around awhile, know what a great country is.

The Lindsay Street Cartel has perpetuated and grown our local poverty rate from 17 to the current 26 percent in trickle down notion that only grows poverty.

Conservative is serving me better then spaced out Dems.

May 6, 2014 at 4:21 p.m.
clmccallie said...

And "red" states are the poorest of the American poor. hmmmm

May 6, 2014 at 4:33 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Well clmccallie, we are Number minimum wage jobs.

Keep drinking that red kool-aid April.

May 6, 2014 at 9:26 p.m.
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