County Democrats field candidates in county, state elections

By Thomas Wilson

   Being in the Republican stronghold of Northeast Tennessee isn't deterring the Carter County's Democratic Party from fielding several candidates in the county's general election and state primaries.
   The party's local chairman believes the budget battle that led to the state's four-day shutdown could cause a shakeup among state legislators in November.
   "I think there are going to be a lot of people go home in November," said John D. Fetzer, chairman of the Carter County Democratic Party. "I believe there will be some changes."
   County Democrats heard from several local candidates at a Rotary Park gathering Tuesday evening.
   Democrat Janet Hart Hyder is running for County Executive while county commission incumbent Jeff Treadway is seeking re-election in the 7th District in the county general election.
   Other Democratic candidates seeking a seat on the county commission include Amos Stevens Jr. (2nd District), Steve Hyder (4th District), Benny Franklin (5th District) and Robert L. Davis (8th District).
   Oscar Brown and Thomas C. Jessee are running for the nomination of Democratic State Executive Committeeman. Helen Tester is running unopposed for the Executive Committeewoman's nomination.
   Richard Gabriel of Gray is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for state Senate. Gabriel would oppose either incumbent Rusty Crowe or challenger Kevin Cole, who are vying for the Republican nomination, and independent candidate Charlie Mattioli of Elizabethton in November.
   "We are going to do our best for these candidates and we are going to be working hard for Bob Clement and the Democratic nominees for governor, whoever that may be," said Fetzer.
   Former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, Randy Nichols, and ex-Tennessee Board of Regents President Dr. Charles E. Smith are among the leading candidates after the Democratic nomination for governor.
   Democratic candidate Van Carrier of Bluff City would face incumbent Republican Jason Mumpower in the November state election if both win their respective party's nomination on August 1.
   Fetzer recalled the days of Carter County native sons Robert and Alf Taylor, who ran against each other for the governor's office in the 1880s. Robert Taylor, a Democrat, defeated his brother, who ran as the Republican nominee.
   Alf Taylor was later elected as a Republican governor in 1920. A flashpoint in Tennessee's history due to more reasons than one, said Fetzer.
   He recalled the women's suffrage movement of the early 1900s and how Tennessee became the first southern state granting women the right to vote in the 1920 election.
   "All the evangelical preachers and conservatives said if we gave women the right to vote, the state would go to the dogs," said Fetzer. "And it did. We elected a Republican governor."