published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

... And another thing: Election notes, recalls and crossovers

Investigator Samansela Blount, left, and Sgt. Derrick Stewart stand amidst a sea of election signs while on hand to direct traffic Tuesday at Concord Baptist Church in East Brainerd.
Investigator Samansela Blount, left, and Sgt. Derrick Stewart stand amidst a sea of election signs while on hand to direct traffic Tuesday at Concord Baptist Church in East Brainerd.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Election Notebook

• According to unofficial totals, the Hamilton County sheriff's race drew more interest — 16,950 votes cast — than any other on Tuesday's primary election ballot. That was followed by the 16,144 votes cast in the Circuit Court judge's race in which J.B. Bennett was elected to an open seat over Catherine Cate White.

• That means, in the race with the most interest, only 7.7 percent of the county's 219,708 eligible voters showed up to vote.

• In examining May primaries over the years, 29.05 percent of voters turned out in 1990, 14.2 percent in 1998, 10.66 percent in 2002, 13.68 percent in 2006 and 8.37 percent in 2010. Countywide totals from the 1994 election were not available on the Election Commission website.

• If it can be assumed each district has approximately the same number of residents (roughly 24,412), which it must have by law, District 7 had the best turnout with 3,359 votes cast (13.8 percent of its voters) and District 4 had the worst with 1,337 votes cast (5.5 percent of its voters).

• If District 7 Republican primary winner Sabrena Turner wins her general election in August, she would become the first female District 7 county commissioner.

• County Mayor Jim Coppinger, in securing a win in the Republican primary, drew more votes than any other candidate on the ballot -- 15,003 -- in his win over Basil Marceaux.

• Public Defender Ardena Garth, who was unopposed, was the most popular Democrat on the ballot with 5,620 votes. In August, she faces challenger Steven E. Smith, who also was unopposed but picked up 12,031 complimentary votes.

• Larry Henry, who won the three-way Circuit Court clerk's race, will be the first male in that position since at least the 1960s.

• Pam McNutt Fleenor, in her win over Joe Manuel, will be the county's first female Chancery Court judge in modern history.

Anderson Recall Short

Chattanoogans who appreciate sensible government may all breathe a sigh of relief today since the recall election of Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson will not go forward, a move to force a new election lacking the number of proper signatures, as certified by the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Area residents are lawfully allowed to bring such recalls, and they are warranted in the likes of fraud or malfeasance, but issues supported by a candidate -- though maybe not by a majority of the electorate -- do not warrant such recalls. One does not need to appreciate Anderson's pushing of same-sex benefits for city employees to understand the difference.

If the councilman's agenda or actions as a councilman are not welcomed by the majority of voters in the district, he will be duly voted out of office in 2017.

Ponder 'Most Vulnerable'

The nonpartisan Roll Call paper in Washington, D.C., recently listed U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., as one of the nation's top 10 "most vulnerable" congressmen. If Democrats weren't paying too much attention, they might see District 4 as a possible House pickup.

The incumbent, after all, is a "self-described abortion rights opponent" who "encouraged his ex-wife and a former mistress to get multiple abortions," according to the newspaper.

But while DesJarlais could lose in the August Republican primary, the district is still drawn to favor the GOP. And top primary challenger Jim Tracy, a state senator from Shelbyville and one of six Republicans challenging the incumbent, has a reported $914,000 cash on hand to DesJarlais' $198,000.

Democrat Linda Sherrell has approximately $100,000 cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.

With only one Democrat in the race and Tennessee one of only 13 states with an open primary system -- in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in a particular primary -- a possibility exists that Dems could cross over and vote for the damaged DesJarlais.

That would leave the November general election choice between the incumbent and Sherrell, a trained accountant who seems to be running as a fairly conservative Democrat.

It could get interesting. Stay tuned.

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